The ‘House of Fun’ Henley Festival opened last night with revellers finally enjoying the wonderful sights and sounds after 18 months away with Madness headlining on the floating stage.
Madness returning to the festival after playing in 2013 kicked off their set with One Step Beyond which got the crowd on the feet straight away. Afterwards, front man Suggs said, “It’s so lovely to be here, to be doing something after one year and a half.” They went on to play their hits My Girl, Wings of a Dove and Driving in My Car. They also played some of their well lesser-known songs like NW5, Grey Day and One Better Day. Before playing House of Fun and Baggy Trousers, Suggs said, “If I had any hair, I would let it down. Let’s get ready to rumble!” The crowd got their chance to really sing on their own when they played the classic hit, It Must Be Love with Suggs afterwards saying, “You’ve saved us 50p on the electricity!”
After returning to stage for the encore, Suggs remarked, “Are you still here?” They went out with bang playing Madness and Night Boat to Cairo for all those wearing their fezzes!
New for 2021, is a vintage fairground with rides including a big wheel, dodgems and waltzer at the entrance and the Pure Heaven nightclub has moved next to this. Roaming elephants, mermaids, walking topiary and men on flying machines greeted festival-goers many of whom got into the Madness spirit by wearing trilby or fez hats and dark glasses. The roaming entertainers are all part of the unique appeal to the Henley Festival and loved by everyone with many selfies being taken. The Jazz tent and comedy salon have switched places, the popular Bedouin tent is larger and back to its former glory and the floating Marina Bar which is becoming a bit of local’s bar has returned with fantastic views out over the river.
The large art installations are always a bit part of the Henley Festival too, we love the lit up umbrellas high up on poles, the rings and Dawn Conn’s cheeky swimmer sculpture on the lawn.
Henley Festival wouldn’t be the same without the firework display and Titanium’s display didn’t disappoint.
Our tip is get there earlier than you normally do as the light fades earlier and remember to wrap up warm as the September day temperatures quickly cool.
James Blunt will be headlining these evening. There are still a few tickets left. To book go to https://henley-festival.co.uk/whats-on/thursday/