Henley Festival has revealed this year’s line-up, featuring five unmissable summer nights with Rag’n’Bone Man, Westlife, Nile Rodgers and Ministry of Sound Classical headlining the floating stage from Wednesday 5 July to Sunday 9 July.
Opening this year’s Henley Festival on the iconic Floating Stage is Rag’n’Bone Man, with his characteristic blend of traditional blues and hip hop, and powerfully deep baritone voice. Rory Graham’s stratospheric rise to fame saw him win the BRIT’s ‘British Breakthrough Act’ and ‘Critics’ Choice Award’ in 2017, followed by the record-breaking release of his 4x platinum #1 debut album Human. Rag’n’Bone Man has since collaborated with international artists including Gorillaz, Logic, Calvin Harris and Pink, and last year his second #1 album Life by Misadventure spent 7 weeks in the Top 10.
Henley Festival’s first night will be brought to an energetic ending by Ben Portsmouth: This is Elvis, and his jaw-dropping tribute to The King of Rock and Roll, invoking the Henley Festival Club with the spirit of Elvis.
On Thursday, the Floating Stage will host Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Shane Filan and Mark Feehily, aka the most successful Irish boyband of all time: Westlife. With 36 #1 albums worldwide, Westlife are the UK’s top selling group of the 21st century. They are one of pop music’s most influential boy bands and have sold six million concert tickets worldwide and counting. Westlife will thrill the Henley crowd with their chart-topping hits including Flying Without Wings, World of Our Own and Uptown Girl.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and a multiple Grammy Award winning songwriter, composer, producer, arranger, guitarist and music legend, Nile Rodgers will headline on Friday. As the co-founder of CHIC, Rodgers pioneered a musical language that generated chart-topping hits like “Le Freak”, the biggest selling single in the history of Atlantic Records, and sparked the advent of hip-hop with “Good Times.” His work in the CHIC Organization including “We Are Family” with Sister Sledge and “I’m Coming Out” with Diana Ross and his productions for artists like David Bowie (“Let’s Dance”), Madonna (“Like A Virgin”) and Duran Duran (“The Reflex”) have sold over 500 million albums and 100 million singles worldwide while his innovative, trendsetting collaborations with Daft Punk, Daddy Yankee and Beyoncé reflect the vanguard of contemporary hits.
On Saturday night, the Floating Stage crowd will be on their feet as Ministry of Sound Classical takes on the very best tunes hand-picked from dance music history and recreates in a breath-taking performance by an incredible 30-piece orchestra. The beautiful riverside backdrop will set the scene for a live music spectacle, featuring guest DJ Danny Rampling and stunning vocalists performing classical remakes of iconic dance anthems including Fatboy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now and The Chemical Brothers’ Hey Boy Hey Girl – alongside a sound and light experience like no other. This is no normal DJ set, and a night Henley will not forget!
The final evening – ‘Sunday Night Sessions’ – will reflect the breadth and depth of this unique festival, with something to entertain the tastes of all culture vultures. Following an inspirational Chamber Music performance by family string ensemble The Kanneh-Mason Trio in the Spiegel Tent – who have wowed audiences since their semi-final success on Britain’s Got Talent in 2015 – the euro-disco phenomenon Boney M. with the original lead singer Liz Mitchell are back by popular return, performing international chartbusters with a 15-piece band as the sun goes down on The Floating Stage and this year’s phenomenal edition of Henley Festival.
Henley Festival will once again be bringing the laughs to the Thames riverside with multi-award-winning Marcus Brigstocke kicking off this year with his blisteringly funny stand-up show Absolute Shower, celebrating the personal triumphs and small victories of the past couple of years, while acknowledging it has, in so many ways, on so many days, for the most part, been an absolute shower of shit. Also on the bill is one of the UK’s best comics, Jo Brand – star and writer of Getting On, the BBC’s BAFTA award-winning series set on a hospital’s geriatric ward – who will be entertaining the crowd, and TV favourite Chris McCausland – a regular face on Have I Got News for You, Would I Lie to You? and his recent Channel 4 travel show: The Wonders of the World I Can’t See. On Saturday night, award-winning comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay will share hilarious anecdotes from his bestselling literary sensation This Is Going To Hurt, plus new stories from the forthcoming: The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out of Patients, in an electrifying evening of stand-up and music.
As part of Henley Festival’s new charitable programme nurturing the next generation of talent – RISE – this year’s festival will give a platform for young musicians, comedians and visual artists taking their first steps on stage, as well as offering opportunities for young people aspiring to work behind the scenes.
The announcement to reveal the line-up was held at Phyllis Court on Friday evening for Friends of the Festival, sponsors and the press.
Chief Executive of Henley Festival, Jo Bausor said, “We’ve very excited and would like to thank our sponsors and including our Ruby sponsors which we introduced last year which are many local businesses. You’re massive supporters and we could do it without you, thank you very much. Also our partners and big thank you to our friends of the Festival. You’re absolutely amazing and come year after year and night after night. We introduced our RISE programme last year to support immerging talent so lots of our membership and the tickets we hope you’ll buy this year a lot of money will go towards that. We’ve managed to double the amount of RISE performers this year and a dedicated stage.”