Henley on Thames is famous for its regatta, but there’s a long list of festivals in this lovely part of the world… here we share eight of our favourite.
1. Henley House and Garden Show (12th – 13th March)
Exhibitors from the world of house and gardens provide inspiration, advice and entertainment. There are workshops for adults and children covering craft and artistic skills, talks by expert speakers, exhibitors and the highlight home decor fashion show. A light show featuring images of the river and Regatta will illuminate the Town Hall and other buildings in the Market Place.
2. Henley on Food Festival (30th April – 1st May)
Henley on Food is a new event that aims to unite food lovers with well-known cooks and culinary writers. Feast on interactive cookery sessions, discussions, Q&As, wine tastings, pop-up restaurants and events for children at the Thames-side setting of Shiplake College grounds and historic buildings.
3. Henley Arts Trail (30th April – 2nd May)
This annual event over the May Bank Holiday weekend, sees local artists and makers throw open the doors of their workshops, studios and galleries at numerous locations around the town and area. Often it’s possible to meet the artists while enjoying a great excuse to explore local villages.
4. The Royal Regatta (29th – 3rd July)
First held in 1839, the Royal Regatta is Henley’s most famous and most prestigious annual event attracting visitors from all over the world. For five days it is one of the highlights of the summer sporting calendar and the English social season. Thousands of people watch hundreds of international standard races between Wednesday and Sunday, including Olympic class crews, famous clubs and renowned schools. Aside from the rowing, Henley Royal Regatta visitors enjoy the garden party ambience and facilities within the Enclosures and along the riverbank.
5. Henley Festival (6th – 10th July)
Henley Festival is a potent mix of music, art, culture, dining and location set in the town’s beautiful riverside. A total of 5,000 tickets are available for each night of the black-tie event, which also offers fine dining, comedy shows, art exhibitions and street theatre performers. Expect celebrity chefs’ pop-up restaurants, champagne sipped beside the Thames, an armada of twinkling pleasure boats, dance, street theatre, art and sculpture, with fireworks traditionally following each evening’s performance.
6. Thames Traditional Boat Rally (16th – 17th July)
The Rally is a two day display of around 200 traditionally built boats, of any age, both powered and unpowered. Highlights are the floating Illuminated Parade on Saturday night, sail-pasts of the various boat classes attending, bank-side displays, craft and produce, costumes, and vintage cars and bicycles.
7. Rewind Festival (19th – 21st August)
Love the 80s? The annual Rewind festival is a showcase of the decade’s most successful bands and artists and takes place at Temple Island Meadows near Henley. As well as the main stage line-up, get your leg warmers out for a roller disco, funfair, kidzone and fireworks as Henley becomes awash with dayglo, smilies and tutus at this massive party. River taxis are available to provide transport between the festival site and Henley town centre.
8. Henley Literary Festival (26th September – 2nd October)
Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2016, Henley is regarded as one of the best literary festivals in the country. High profile attending authors now see Henley rival the reputations of Hay, Edinburgh and Cheltenham but the intimacy of the events in this riverside town gives it a distinctive personality. For seven days the festival creates a buzz around topics including politics, current affairs, fiction, history, food and sport.