The Dankworth Family Festival returns for 2017

Posted 6th July 2017

On 14, 15 & 16 July 2017, the U.K.’s most celebrated family of jazz and some famous musical friends come together for a weekend of world class performances in a magical setting.  In celebration of her 90th year, Dame Cleo Laine will play host to a stellar line-up of artists as she once again opens to the public her enchanting private gardens at the Old Rectory, Wavendon for the 2017 Dankworth Family Festival. All profits after expenses from this year’s event will go to the Beds and Northants Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre.

The festival’s amazing line-up includes classical guitar great John Williams, Britain’s best known soprano Lesley Garrett with clarinet virtuoso Emma Johnson; the internationally acclaimed Brodsky Quartet; poet, playwright and novelist Ben Okri, accompanied by American vocalist/pianist (and Dame Cleo’s son-in-law) Charlie Wood and band; jazz and soul vocalist/songwriter Natalie Williams; classical guitarist Craig Ogden; plus a full complement of Dankworths: U.K. jazz diva (and Lady Dankworth’s daughter) Jacqui Dankworth will perform, as will Dame Cleo’s son, renowned bassist and bandleader Alec Dankworth, and her granddaughter, jazz and world music vocalist Emily Dankworth.

On Sunday afternoon, get set for festival headliner Dame Cleo Laine and Friends hosted by jazz vocalist and radio presenter Todd Gordon and featuring guest performances by classical guitar legend John Williams, musician/comedian Earl Okin, jazz violinist Chris Garrick & classical violinist Peter Fisher, American cabaret and West End star Lorna Dallas, and many others.

On Friday evening, guests are invited to enjoy a pre-concert Opening Night Reception from 6:30pm, featuring apéritifs and canapés by festival chef Elisabetta Del Soldato.  Signora Soldato’s culinary creations will also grace the tables of the Festival V.I.P. dinner on Saturday evening, with tickets available to the general public who might wish to mix and mingle with some of the performers and special guests.

Scattered throughout the garden of the Dankworth family home, the Old Rectory (built in 1848 by William Butterfield), are various nooks and crannies which the late Sir John Dankworth delighted in naming after beloved musicians, such as Acker’s Archway (a woodland pathway named for trad jazz clarinettist and vocalist Acker Bilk), Shearing’s Clearing (an area devoted to the British jazz piano legend), and Tracey’s Trace, devoted to the great British pianist/composer Stan Tracey.

On Saturday and Sunday, guests are invited to bring along a picnic basket, a blanket, a bottle or two of wine (no corkage fee – additional alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase), an umbrella and a smile and enjoy a summer picnic on the lawn.  Kids twelve and under admitted free.  For tickets or further info, please visit