PlanetSKI at the Henley Festival
17th September 2021
Last modified on September 23rd, 2021
It’s the latest in our adventures in the UK this summer as we have been unable to get to the mountains. Us skiers at the event decided to dedicate it to the approaching winter season as it has some snowsport connections. UPDATED
The Henley Festival is a boutique, black tie festival by the banks of the Thames.
2020 saw a digital edition of Henley Festival, the return of a physical event once again sees some festival goers arriving by boat as they step onto the green lawns of the festival area.
It was established 38-years ago as a classical music charity event.
The Henley Festival is the UK’s only black-tie festival.
Our editor, James Cove, scrubbed himself up.
A rare sight indeed from his prefered attire.
Local ski friends of ours from the Henley area at the event are the ski PR guru Vanessa Fisher, the BBC Ski Sunday presenter and former Olympian, Graham Bell, and our good friend Francesca Smith who ran Powder N Shine and has a new business for this winter, Mountain Spy.
A certain James Blunt was the headline act and not only is he a very keen skier, he has a chalet in Verbier and a lift named after him.
He officially opened the 6-seater chairlift from above Les Ruinettes to Attelas several years back, but everyone in the resort simply calls it ‘The James Blunt’.
Concerts and tours permitting he is in Verbier many times across the winter ski season.
But he didn’t seem to stick to the strict dress code at Henley.
More of James Blunt later, but the Henley Festival is much more than the music.
The organisers bill it as “Glastonbury meets the Great Gatsby” and who are we to disagree?
Smart maritime vessels moor up.
And the occasional duck.
First up in the comedy tent was the comedian Al Murray, better known as “The Pub Landlord”.
Lets just say he seemed to rather enjoy sending up the audience of city bankers, investment analysts, financial advisers, hedge fund managers, insurance brokers and crypto-currency dealers.
One in the crowd claimed to be a ‘full-time mother’, which he applauded as the first real job he had heard.
On further questioning from Mr Murray it turned out she had a single child to look after, and the said 11-year old off-spring was at a prep boarding school for much of the year.
Another was a “senior sales and distribution manager in the automotive industry for a luxury car manufacturer.”
“Oh, so you flog cars,” was Mr Murray’s observation.
Other festivals have T-shirts and temporary tattoos to buy, at the Henley Festival there were other more permanent offerings available.
There was Michelin starred food on offer from Angela Hartnet MBE in what is claimed to be Europe’s biggest field restaurant, the Riverside Restaurant.
Rather than the traditional festival fare of burger and chips, the PlanetSKI editor joined in the spirit of the event and choose sushi as he prepared to watch James Blunt.
James Blunt rose to fame in 2004 with the release of his debut album Back to Bedlam, achieving worldwide acclaim with the hit singles ‘You’re Beautiful’ and ‘Goodbye My Lover’.
Both were played.
Back to Bedlamwent on to become the best-selling album of the 2000s in the UK, with over 11 million copies sold worldwide.
The singer has received numerous awards, including two Brit Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards and two Ivor Novello Awards, as well as receiving five Grammy Award nominations.
“This is the poshest place I have ever played and I am a posh boy. Posh totty everywhere!” he told the crowd.
“This is a big night our for me post-covid and my voice may be a bit rough as I haven’t sang for a while.”
He was right on the first count, but not the second.
After the performance it was strolling around and soaking up the festival atmosphere – Henley style.
The evening was rounded off with fairground rides.
The Henley Festival
It runs from Weds 15th – Sunday 18th September with headliners including Sophie Ellis-Bextor, James Blunt, Sister Sledge, Madness & Yolanda Brown.
There’s comedy from Al Murray, Milton Jones, Shappi Khorsandi & many more.
There is Jazz music, World Music, Classical Music as well as food from Micheline starred chef Angela Hartnett MBE and Jimmy Garcia.
“Henley Festival is situated alongside the river Thames, with festival goers arriving by boat – fireworks every night, and a family friendly day on Sunday.
“The perfect way to get dressed up to celebrate the end of the summer.”
See here for the full details: The Henley Festival.
General admission tickets are £50, with the seated area priced at £75.
Regular PlanetSKI readers will know we forsook summer in the mountains this year due to Covid-19 and the associated travel restrictions and decided to do a host of things in the UK instead.
One was also on the Thames.
And after the Henley Festival we spent a day on the Thames at Marlow with Boat Rental Thames for a day of kayaking and stand up paddleboarding.
And guess which boat we saw on the river?
We started our day with Gin Fizz cocktails from a festival taking place at Marlow.
And then just chilled out.
The pictures tell the story of our utterly relaxing, family day out on the Thames:
This summer we’ve hiked part of the South Downs way, been cycling in Cambridgeshire, taken a flying lesson over southern England, lived it up at the Latitude Festival, and much else besides.
We dressed somewhat differently from Henley at an earlier summer festival this year.
And here are some of our other summer excursions in the UK:
And what is next up on our summer activities away from the mountains?
We’re going kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding this weekend that is co-incidently just downstream from Henley at Marlow.
We were there this time last year.
And then its the London to Brighton cycle ride this Sunday, September 19th.
We prefer the mountains in the summer , but who says summer in the UK can’t be fabulous too?