Preview: Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham

A jaunt with the Village people
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The Independent Culture

The Wychwood Music Festival has acts as diverse as The Proclaimers, Welsh soul sensation Duffy and The Imagined Village.

Since it began in 2005, the festival has quickly established itself as an intimate event evoking early Glastonbury and Womad, where the line-up incorporates world music, dance, folk, roots and indie acts. Now in its fourth year, Wychwood has also been nominated for several awards, including best family festival.

Headlining on the Sunday, The Imagined Village are a folk collective of musicians including Billy Bragg and Eliza Carthy. The band leader Simon Emmerson, producer for Baaba Maal, will be strumming the cittern – an oversized mandolin that preceded the guitar in early English music – while his bandmates will play sitar, fiddles, drums and bass.

"It's a really lovely festival," he recalls from his Wychwood debut last year with Afro Celt Sound System. "I really like the vibe. There's a whole new wave of festivals coming through that are small, creative and friendly. You don't get the sense of being put through a sausage machine.

"There's a good creative line-up, plus it's in a beautiful setting. It's very much our festival. The great thing about The Imagined Village is this incredible depth of music and styles, and cross-sections of musicians with different backgrounds. But we've stopped being an interesting project, we now have a cohesive sound."

Other highlights include the American-Cambodian sextet Dengue Fever, plus performances from the Mercury Music Prize nominee Kate Rusby, and this year's winner of the BBC Radio 2 Folk "Horizon" Award, Rachel Unthank & the Winterset. Also on hand will be Emma Pollock, the former singer with Scottish indie band The Delgados, and the iconic West African band Orchestra Baobab.

In addition to the four music stages there will be film screenings, comedy from Phill Jupitus, and more than 100 workshops, from drumming to dancing.

31 May to 1 June ( www. wychwoodfestival.com), media partner 'The Independent'

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