Getting back into the festival mood

Autumn events make limited comeback as pandemic confidence rises

Following the success of last month’s Big Oxford Beer Bash, attended by around 1,000 people at TOAD distillery on the edge of South Park, attention is now turning to other autumn events – starting with the 23rd Charlbury Beer Festival which will take place on Friday/Saturday October 15/16. The Moreton Beer Festival, just over the border in Gloucestershire, was also a big success, but sadly there will once again be no Oxford Beer and Cider Festival this year, an event traditionally held at the Town Hall in October and the highlight of many people’s calendars.

Planning a festival has been very difficult throughout the pandemic, and although very few were held even in summer 2021, the number is now picking up. CAMRA would not support any festival for well over a year, and that ruled out planning for the Oxford event as a financial commitment would have been required that we were in no position to make. The biggest uncertainty remains the ebb and flow of the pandemic especially as winter approaches, but there are other challenges too. How many people will want to attend indoor festivals with no limit on numbers, when limiting entry could make big events such as Oxford unviable? How many volunteers, bearing in mind their average age, would come forward? How many beers could be sourced, considering that some of the major wholesalers who supply beer to festivals are no longer trading?

The Charlbury festival was held every summer at the cricket club, being an outdoor event with marquees in case of rain. But this is not the time of year for planning outdoor festivals, so this year’s will be different. It will be held indoors at the Charlbury War Memorial Hall in the town centre and has an Oktoberfest theme, and instead of a free-for-all (well, not exactly free!) the organisers are laying on three separate four-hour “sessions”, each with a capacity of 180 visitors. You will need to show a valid NHS Covid Pass or evidence of a recent negative lateral flow test, and visitors are advised to space themselves out and not congregate in large groups. The festival’s code of conduct is available to view online.

Here’s the beer list:

8 Sail – Mayflower IPA – 4.7

Abbeydale – Daily Bread – 3.8

Animal (XT) – Roadrunner – 4.6

Bateman’s – XXXB – 4.8

Blue Monkey – BG Sips – 4.0

Blue Monkey – Infinity +1 – 5.6

Bruha – Session Pale – 3.9

Chadlington – Pale Ale – 3.8

Dark Star – Solar Eclipse – 4.5

Goff’s – Cheltenham Gold – 4.5

Goff’s – Jester Brew 10 – 4.7

Gun – Parabellum – 4.1

Hop Shed – Sebright – 3.8

Little Ox – Yabba Dabba Do – 4.8

Luna – Rocket Man – 4.0

Lymestone – Abdominal Stoneman – 7.0

Manchester – Elephant Juice – 4.5

North Cotswold – Millenium Monarch – 10.0

One Mile End – Salvation – 4.4

Roosters – Highway 51 – 3.7

Swan – Green Swan – 4.1

Titanic – Raspberry Pale – 4.7

Titanic – Plum Porter – 4.9

Turpin – Golden Citrus – 4.2

Unbound – Godiva – 4.2

Vale – Red Kite – 4.3

Vocation – Bread & Butter – 3.9

White Horse – Colt – 4.5

Wily Fox – Dark Flagon – 4.4

Wriggly Monkey – Ambassador – 5.5

The sun shone at the Big Oxford Beer Bash, but most festivals from now on will be indoors

There will also be a range of ciders, wine, soft drinks, a great selection of food and live music throughout. Every session will have a distinct musical ambience:

Friday October 15: (6pm-10pm): Covers night with Sirloin and the Steaks.

Saturday October 16 (12pm-4pm): Acoustic session with Dave Oates and Jess Marshall.

Saturday October 16 (6pm-10pm): Beer festival favourites with ska sensations Hope and Glory.

The festival raises money for community projects, both in the Charlbury area and overseas, and so far the funds raised for good causes total well over £250,000. Donations to 50 local organisations include Charlbury Primary School and the town’s Pre-School, local sports clubs, Charlbury’s Day Centre and Community Centre, while 12 overseas projects are supported in Africa, India and South America. 

Charlbury can be reached by an hourly train service from Oxford in less than 20 minutes, and there are also buses. Festival tickets (pre-booking advised) cost £15 (£20 Saturday evening), including five drinks tokens. Visit

  • Pub festivals are also increasing in number. Coming up on October 21-24 is Autumn Beer Fest at the White Horse, Banbury.