Last Updated on December 28, 2019
Revisit the 80s at Rewind, Henley.
Rewind South is the definitive 80s festival and is held on the beautiful fields on the edge of Henley-on-Thames. Now a well-established event, it hosts the very best of 80s bands, with appearances by Lulu, Selector, Sister Sledge, The 4 Tops, Midge Ure, Hazell O’Connor to name just a few at Rewind South 2019.
The music is mainly based on established 80s artists, so you can expect all the classics, but you can also expect some of an artist’s newer tracks to see how they have matured. Some artists are simply 80s only, like Toyah and Doctor and The Medics, giving the audience a pure memory of the height of 80s music.
This year knowing I loved the lineup, I went for the whole weekend. The highlight for me was Midge Ure, who played a complete 80s set, and got more people on their feet singing than I thought possible. A huge shout out goes to Lulu – her mic failed as she came on stage and she sang for a couple of minutes before noticing. She stopped the set (with lots of swearing) and restarted, saying that the audience deserved better. She gained a lot of respect (and followers) from that. The weather was good, I wore a great Beetlejuice costume, got hugged by complete strangers and had the time of my life.
As well as the headline acts there are also other stages around the festival, catering for comedy, tribute bands and Karaoke. You will never be short of something to see at Rewind South, and this formula works for Rewind North and Rewind Scotland. There is a phone app that is easy to use to keep you informed of what’s going on, with acts starting at 12 and finishing at 11.30 pm
Getting to Henley is best by train, the festival being only a scenic 1-mile walk along the river bank from the station or a 10-minute hop on the frequent river taxis. River taxis cost around £12 for a return, and the illuminated night cruise back is worth it if you are not staying on-site. Driving is the last resort – although there is adequate well sign-posted parking, you can expect long delays.
There are ample camping spaces in a well thought out and secure area, along with more upmarket glamping options for those who want a more comfortable night. Air BnB is available in the area, but make sure you book something where you can easily walk to the festival itself on the outskirts of town.
The average age of Rewind visitors is around 50, each and every one an 80s music lover. This helps to set the tone for a lively festival. Fancy dress is almost obligatory – over half the audience were dressed up! Look out for disco divas and Madonna outfits, as well as film costumes – Star Wars, Baywatch, etc. If it happened in the 80s someone will bring it back and wear it.
In front of the main stage is a standing-only area for those that want to stand and dance. Behind this, as far as you can go, is the area for people to sit, picnic or otherwise watch without getting in the way of those dancing. It’s ideal for groups who bring their own chairs and blankets. Huge screens either side of the stage mean they won’t miss anything either.
You can also expect the festival to be friendly. The older audience makes for a very civilized time; don’t expect to see any drunks or violence, but do expect strangers to want their picture taken with you if you have a great costume. If you lose anything, go to the lost property tent; the atmosphere here means that people do hand in dropped wallets, complete with cash and cards!
On that note, most bar and food areas take both cash and credit card. Food is usually about £8 for a substantial meal while we felt that drinks were a tad expensive at £5 for a can of cider or lager. There are numerous different food stalls, Mainly in street-food style, from Chinese to Indian, Italian to American, with most offering good vegetarian and vegan options, as well as a real ale bar for those that want pints (in plastic glasses of course) alongside an indoor crazy golf course.
There are plenty of facilities around the festival, and the humour in the gents is incredible amongst strangers. For girls, do make sure you have some wet-wipes or tissues on hand… loo paper seemed a little scarce!
At the closing of the festival each day, there is a large firework display, and for me, it is the most impressive you will see outside of New Year’s Eve in London.
Rewind Festival happens in Scotland, the North and the South, making it accessible to all, with unique line-ups for each. Tickets prices are around £120 for the weekend or £160 with camping. The dates and bands for Rewind 2020 are out now. See you there.
Henley-upon-Thames is about an hour’s drive from London or can be reached by train from London Paddington in about the same time.
Temple Island Meadows
Henley On Thames
Looking for information about a different festival? Latitude is one of our favourites and well worth going to for a multicultural experience – so much so that last year we wrote a Latitude guide! We also love On Blackheath and Neverworld – find out what to expect in 2020 from our reviews of last year’s festival. And, we are big fans of the Underbelly pop-up summer festival on the Southbank.