Henley Festival hosts thousands of well-dressed individuals for five days along the banks of the River Thames with just one crucial code of conduct. Black-tie dress code. Now turning up to a festival in a bow tie and smart shoes, the atmosphere of the celebration was an eye-opener to what a gala can be. All of the festivals I’ve been to prior I’ve had mud and spilled alcohol on me before even setting up a tent! The contrast between Henley Festival and the festival norm is one of the features why this festival is well known.
A spectacular evening of comedy, music, and glamour – the Friday evening of Henley Festival was a big hit. With a wide selection of exquisite food and drinks stores varying from the Snob Lobster to Moet, there’s enough to go around for everybody!
Amongst the chat and whiff of extravagant cuisine, an art exhibition was also at hand inspiring the artist in all of us featuring fabulous creations from Rosamond Lloyd, David Mach and more. I found myself poking my head into the exhibition between live acts, revisiting the stunning work. The festival was full of the creative arts as the exhibition’s artwork also circulated throughout the grounds of the Henley Festival mainly other sculptures from artists Colin Spofforth and Laura Jane Wylder. Attendees could also take part in the on-going performances across the festival as I did catch a mobile diner with included antique seating and installations, the attraction even came with its own vocalist! Henley Festival doesn’t shy away from the unordinary.
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums were one of the highlights of the night for me, with their ability to throw together a comedic sketch with each other which is absurdly funny and modern often referring to current events such as Donald Trump’s UK visit and England’s position in the world cup. Paul Merton and the other performers of the group, Mike McShane, Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch and Suki Webster have no trouble exciting the festival goers through audience participation and suggestions for the unprepared, unapologetic hilarious scenarios.
Headlining the Friday evening of Henley Festival on the spectacular floating stage was world-renowned disco divas Nile Rodgers and Chic. Not only was it a blessing for Chic to be performing their iconic disco era anthems, but some of Nile Rodger’s other written work was also implemented into their set such as Diana Ross’ – ‘Upside Down’, Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’, Sister Sledge’s ‘Lost in Music’ and more. It is said Nile Rodgers’ written work with his famous Fender Stratocaster ‘The Hitmaker.’ has touched over two billion worth of music. My favourites from Chic were ‘My Feet Keep Dancing’ and ‘My Forbidden Lover’ which reminds me of the Black Eyed Peas’ use of the sample in their song ‘Fashion Beats’. Kimberly Davis’ vocals power stunned the festival also finishing off songs with soulful runs and little effort. There isn’t any question as to why Chic is so successful just by the sheer talent of the musicians involved with improvised solos from all across the floating stage, from brass to percussion. The whole team of Chic have the stage presence of global superstars with every single listener in the crowd mirroring their enthusiasm to “Get up off of your seat and repeat, Chic!” during Chic Cheer. “If your friends are Chic, Consider yourself unique” and the crowd were unique dancing to disco from a floating stage!