No sooner has Christmas come and gone, the New Year starts and thoughts turn to headline acts as the summer festival line-ups are announced. In South Oxfordshire, that mean gathering excitement waiting for the Henley Festival announcement of which legendary performers will be gracing the floating river stage.

Henley Festival stage and audience

Henley Festival stage and audience (c) Jim Donahue

Technically titled the Henley Festival of Music and the Arts, this black-tie event is held each year in July right on the banks of the River Thames, with the first held way back in 1983. It’s a location that will be familiar to many fans of Midsomer Murders, with Henley being a prominent filming location during the show’s almost twenty year run. And just like the show has brought some big names to the screen, the festival showcases some of music’s biggest and best-known performers in the fields of pop, world, jazz, blues and classical.

This year the headline acts are particularly impressive. Along with Shirley Bassey, Elvis Costello, Will Young and Bryn Terfel, the legend that is Sir Elton John will be rocking on the main stage. This is by far and away the festival’s biggest coup in its history and really shows its calibre and as one of the main dates in the UK event calendar.

Sir Elton will open the festival on Wednesday 6 July when he is performing on the floating stage. It’s probably the only time you’ll ever get to see him perform on the water, unless for some reason he takes a fancy to playing the cruise ships.

Art and Gastronomy also feature alongside the music. Taking the stage at the festival will be some of the UK’s top comedic talents. These include Al Murray, Reginald D Hunter and Nina Conti. You also have the chance to see some of the country’s brightest up and coming new stars on the new music stage. Local acts performing include the Henley Music School and Henley Youth Choir. Sunday is, as always, a family day with plenty of attractions for all the family.

The festival is on between the 06 and 10 July 2016 and will welcome audiences of around 30,000 people keen to enjoy the distinctly Henley atmosphere. Tickets will sell out fast, so don’t hesitate applying for your chance to see some of the world’s best performers in a magical location by the Thames. And an impressive freworks display too. As a final tip from the organisers – ‘you can never be too overdressed at Henley Festival‘.