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Updated: Jul 24, 2023

ESP’s live music reporter Rob Bull celebrates the return of The Willow Festival to Peterborough.

It’s great to see The Willow Festival returning to Peterborough Embankment this summer for the first time since 2014. Once ranked as the biggest free music festival in the world, the three-day, now ticketed event, begins on Friday July 21 and is showcasing 170 bands and artists across seven stages. It’s sure to be a musical spectacle not to be missed.

I caught up with some of my musician pals to ask just what TWF means to them, and what they're most excited about for the festival's return this weekend.

Mark Stevens - Solo artist and member of the acoustic duo Division

“I remember years ago bunking off school to head to The Willow Festival and chilling on the grass in the glorious embankment sunshine with my friends, so I'm ecstatic to be playing at the festival this time around.

“I've been keeping an eye on the full line-up and it's going to be an amazing event full of top-quality acts. I'm really excited to check out Dogs Teeth, they're a new originals band who describe themselves as quirky, soulful and irreverent.

“I've been given a cracking spot for the festival - Saturday afternoon at 3.45pm. I'll be playing my EP Rodeo in full along with new and unreleased material.”

Jimmy Doherty - Lead singer, High Rollers

“I think it’s been 10 years since I last played at The Willow Festival so I can’t wait. I'm buzzing that the festival is happening again. Back then I was with my old band, Heist. It was such a cool day, we played well and we had a lot of bodies in the tent. It was just one of those times where everything slotted into place and felt right. I'll be playing this time around with my new outfit Cush on the Sunday at 6.20pm.

“There are so many great acts and bands playing, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Austin Gold (pictured below) on the Saturday night. They're good friends of mine and they always bring the house down.”

Ricky Worraker - Lead singer, Velocity

“We’re extremely excited to be performing at The Willow Festival this year. It’s great to have such an iconic event return to the embankment for 2023, still with a huge variety of top acts which we can’t wait to be a part of. We’re on stage 7.40pm on Sunday July 23.

“We had just formed Velocity back in May 2012 and the very same month I caught Children of the Rev for the first time in one of the tents at The Willow. That weekend was one of my first real introductions to the other bands on the circuit, and as a young band at the time, it showed us that there was a large music community in the area, and we were excited to become a part of it.”

Andy Hughes – Solo acoustic artist

“I'm feeling a lot of excitement tinged with a hint of nostalgia for the festival’s return, I performed at a few of the previous ones many moons ago and it's amazing to see the event being resurrected and revived again. It will be a weekend to remember, for sure.

“My fondest memory of performing at TWF is when I played with Let There B/DC back in 2013, I was their ‘Angus’ back then and we performed in front of thousands of people on the main stage, it was highly nerve racking but really good fun. That was until my wireless pack cut out during one of the solos – a quintessential Spinal Tap moment! This time around I’ll be playing an acoustic set on Saturday July 22 at 7.30pm and I’m really looking forward to it.”

An entire weekend ticket is available for just £10 from

Rob Bull


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