A MAJOR new music and arts festival celebrating the best of Oxford is set to take place in the city’s South Park.
The Oxford Mail can reveal plans are under way for the three-day event in September which is expected to attract more than 20,000 visitors in total.
Run by London-based Eleven 11 Events, ‘Oxford Oxford’ will include a day of film, another day of music and a third day of free community activities.
The production company’s director Owen Kent and project manager Pete Monaghan are both Oxford Brookes University graduates who were inspired by the idea of running a festival in the park during their time spent living in the city.
Mr Kent, who is a classically trained double bass player, said he had waited almost a decade for an opportunity to hold a large event on the site.
He said: “I lived on Cowley Road while studying music at Brookes and became infatuated with Oxford and its music scene.
“As a student I wanted to develop an event for the city and after nearly 10 years of planning it’s amazing to have this opportunity.
“Going round the country I have seen great gigs and festivals and it’s a shame Oxford doesn’t have that.
“There is so much going on in the city and we want to bring it all together and celebrate it. Oxford has so much to offer.”
No bands or artists have yet been announced for the event, which will take place from September 26-28, and coincides with Oxford Brookes University’s freshers’ week.
The events firm has applied to Oxford City Council for a licence to run the event and a decision has yet to be made.
A report seen by the Oxford Mail spells out plans for the festival, which will be centred on a circus-style big top.
In its application, the company requests permission to stage live music, cinema, dance, drama and boxing or wrestling. Attendance is expected to be limited to 2,500 for Friday’s film event, up to 10,000 for Saturday’s music programme, and up to 8,000 for Sunday’s community activities.
Tickets would cost £15 and £30 for the cinema and music events, respectively, while Sunday’s festivities would be free.
Mr Kent, 28, said: “We are hoping it becomes an annual thing and are working closely with the council to make that happen.”
The event comes 13 years after Oxford band Radiohead’s South Park show, which had a capacity of 40,000.
Since then the park has been used for a number of events including the now defunct Party in the Park pop concerts and the 2012 Olympic Torch evening ceremony.
It will follow the Oxford Foodies Festival, which runs from August 23-25 and itself expects to bring in up to 30,000 visitors over the course of three days.
Mr Kent said he was still talking to artists and added: “I’ve got a nice long list of bands I’d love to have and there’s a definite nod to Oxford. It should be quite special.”
Ceri Gorton, cultural development manager at Oxford City Council, said the authority was pleased to be working with the firm.
She said: “An event application has been sent out to stakeholders which includes residents which advises them of the planned event in South Park. It is very early stages yet and we continue to look forward to seeing the organisers’ plans for the event.”
Graham Jones, a Liberal Democrat Oxford city councillor for St Clement’s, welcomed the festival, but said consideration must be given to those living near the site.
He said: “The problem is when the music becomes an irritation rather than a pleasure.
“I’m encouraged by the fact the music will stop at 11pm, but people need to be told in good time so they can make arrangements if they need to go away. I am not putting a dampener on the plans, but I want a balance that makes East Oxford a good place to be.”
Eleven 11 Events
The company has been involved in:
- The programme of music and entertainment on the Olympic Park
- Coronation Festival Gala, 2013, Buckingham Palace, London: E11E oversaw production and provided stage management services
- Go local! Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 2013. E11E helped run the UK’s largest volunteering event curating a two-and-a-half-hour show which saw 24 artists perform for an audience of 30,000 people
- Festival West Coast, USA. As well as OxfordOxford, E11E recently announced a partnership in the USA to produce a new boutique music and arts event designed to introduce European festival culture to the West Coast.