UPTON JAZZ FESTIVAL
Location: Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire
The town of Upton upon Severn, beside the River Severn, will be offering multiple venues playing a blend of modern, traditional and swing jazz. People turn up from far afield for a long weekend of fantastic music, good company and great food – as they have been doing for years – this is the event’s 31st anniversary. There are also dance classes available (Dance@Upton); a fantastic addition to the weekend’s amusements.
Beneath the rolling Malvern Hills, and beside the beautiful River Severn, lies the small and characteristic town of Upton upon Severn. Every year they have hosted one of the greatest jazz festivals in the country – attracting up to 12,000 people, coming from the world over. Formed by a group of friends in 1985, this event has grown hugely and now includes ten different venues, a Mardi Gras carnival parade, a gospel church service and river boat shuffles with live jazz played onboard the Conway Castle.
The venues spread right through the town, and include a few marquees for larger spaces, and the jazz riverboat – of course. There are expected to be over sixty different performances, and they have now extended the weekend to include a couple of ‘welcome’ sessions on the Thursday night, at no extra charge.
Best of Young Jazz was set up eight years ago, and is an educational project aimed at offering opportunities for young musicians to play with the renowned musical talent that comes to the festival, as well as attend intensive workshops – both instrumental and vocal. It also offers them chances to go to and even play at other festivals around the country.
The other brilliant addition to the festival, mentioned briefly before, is the Dance@Upton programme – which, since its inception three years ago, has begun to attract an even wider audience to the event. As they say, “Jazz and dancing have developed together since the 1900s. […] Our dance lessons at Upton will combine many of the vintage dance styles which are suitable to enhance the enjoyment of the music played by todays jazz practitioners.” Specific ‘dance’ bands have been lined up to provide inspiration. The most important thing, they urge – is to have fun, and you’ll be doing lots of that in these classes. From beginner classes for those who don’t know anything to a few ‘improver’ workshops, you’ll come away from these lessons with a new spring in your step.
The town itself offers a warm welcome to festival goers. With ever improving food and drink stalls, as well as the pubs and restaurants in the town, you’ll have plenty of delicious nourishment. You can go for lovely long river walks too to work up an appetite; that is, if you’re not already famished from dancing and great music.
Every year all elements of the festival are considered and improved – including camping and accommodation options. They have moved campsites a couple of times and now are in their best spot yet – close to the marquees and with great facilities. The only way you could better your camping experience would of course be to do some boutique camping. Glamping at Upton Jazz Festival; what could be more enchanting? Spend your days captivating and educating your musical ear and dancing step – and then come back to a gloriously comfy bell tent filled with all the delightful little touches that make you feel at home, in luxury.