BMW Henley Festival


Written by Chris Cummins
Photos and illustrations by Chris Cummins
17 Wednesday 17th July 2013

We were very fortunate to be invited down for the closing night of the 5 day festival which took place on the Sunday courtesy of BMW. We also got to take a ride down in the brand new BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo (and get chauffeured back in it!).

The 3 Series GT is BMW’s new baby model of the 5 Series GT, and filling that unusual gap between the 3 Series Saloon & Tourer (Estate). Although borrowing many features of the usual 3 Series range there are a lot of specifics, obviously most notably the rear end. But things such a be-spoke lights and bumper trims and inside noticeably a higher driving position.  

It’s definitely a very spacious car and the boot is far bigger than you would expect. The ride is very pleasant as you would expect from BMW, and the car pulls fantastically through the gears when on the motorway.

After a relatively short drive from Bristol we arrived at the BMW centre, where we greeted by BMW staff, before shortly being taken to a champagne reception upon the BMW floating Water Pavillion. Not only was this a very pleasant area to meet people it also had had had the best view point of the festival, ideal for spotting some of the crazy street acts going on...

These were hilarious, 3 Grannies on converted segways with boomboxes in, blitzing around like drunken dithery women!

This guy has been at a few festivals, a modified piano bicycle contraption, he was always on the move throughout the evening!

This little bus thing was constantly blitzing about through the whole festival, popping it’s exhaust and honking its horn (and usually full of screaming women enjoying themselves!)

After the reception it was time to take in some of the festival before heading over to the Cafe Du Soir for a 3 course meal.

Starter, Assiette de poissons. Smoked salmon, dill prawns and kiln roasted salmon served with lemon, cracked black pepper and sweet mustard sauce.

Main Course, Hand carved sirloin of British Beef served with a tomato and garden herb jus, horseradish fondant potato and baby summer vegetables.

Then to finish up for dessert, Tarte au citron. Classic Lemon tart with raspberries.

The food was absolutely delicious and the presentation not only of the food buy how it was served (all plates being served around the table in synchronicity by several waiters).

After a short stroll it was on to see Paloma Faith. I have heard her work previously and was looking forward to her performance, but was about to be totally blown away.

This will go down as one of my all time favourite concerts. If you have never seen her live I urge you too! With her new album due to come out I’m sure she will be on the circuit a lot of the next few months. She has such an amazingly huge voice which I’m not going to lie gave me goosebumps at points!

After a set that must have gone on for over an hour, including a 3 song encoure it was time once again to stroll about and take in the amtosphere and sites going on.

Last on my list was to catch comedian Rich Hall. Although there were various things going on across the festival, I had yet to see him live so had to catch him! His set was completely improv with his live band, and is a must see! I was in stitches as was the whole crowd. Definitely the best way to finish the night!


So after all this entertainment it was time to head back to the BMW area to be chauffeured home, feeling somewhat gutted that only one of the days was spent here, but also extremely content with how perfectly the weekend had ended.

It’s certainly something we will be attending again next year, it’s such a fantastic excuse to get dressed up and get cultured while seeing some fantastic acts... although I think next year we may have to get a boat!

For further information on the festival visit:

For more info on the car we drove head over to:

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