An Interview with Duncan Wheeler (Stowaway Festival)

Hello Duncan – so first thing’s first, where are you from & where do you live today?
I live at Blackpit Farm, a 430 acre event site and home to Stowaway Festival each year

Can you tell us a bit about Blackpit Brewery?
We started the brewery back in 2016, to brew beer for our events. We installed the brewery kit inside a beautiful old brick stable yard at Blackpit, where we craft the beer and run a small taproom. It’s been an amazing project to be involved with – and the beer’s not bad either!

Little Dragon will be at this year’s Stowaway

So, Stowaway Festival – where, when & why did the idea for the festival first take place?
We’ve been running a variety of different events at Blackpit for the last 10 years. Having said that, with our wealth of event experience and love of music festivals, the progression was a natural step for us.

Why the name change?
The event began as ‘The Festival of Beer’, a traditional beer festival vibe, with live music and street food. As we started to book bigger acts over the years, the event quickly evolved into a music festival. We changed the name as we felt the Festival of Beer didn’t give the event the credit it deserves!

When do you start booking the acts, & how easy is it all?
Our wish list of acts usually looks very different to our final line up! A lot depends on timing. Sometimes we can’t believe how lucky we are to have secured a particular artist. Other times, it’s not that easy so you have to be flexible, but not compromise on the quality of the music.

Can you tell us about your site?
Blackpit is part of the former Stowe Estate, occupying 430 acres of beautiful parkland, ancient woodland and lakes. The site is a Grade 1 listed Park & Garden. It’s a stunning location to host Stowaway and we feel incredibly lucky to be able to share it with our Stowaways for the weekend!

What kind of a relationship do you have with your local council?
We’ve been working with Buckinghamshire County Council on events for nearly 15 years. We couldn’t have asked for better assistance from our local regulators, whether it be from Licencing, Environmental Health, or Policing departments, who have all been nothing but supportive of our events over that time.

What kind of line-up have you got for us this year?
Our music line-up is always very diverse. Our incredible daytime live performers this year include Little Dragon, House Gospel Choir, and Roy Ayers, who is now on his farewell tour. By night, revellers can find themselves deep in the woods, soundtracked by some of the UK’s most cutting edge electronic music from the likes of Eats Everything, Jamz Supernova & Dan Shake, as well as rave classics from the legendary Todd Edwards, Nicky Blackmarket and many more!

What else is on offer outwith the music?
There is much more to Stowaway than just the music. All of the activities in our Kid’s Kingdom are available to young Stowaways of all ages and included within the ticket price. Our comedy line up is headed up by the incredible Jack Dee, Lou Sanders and Jessica Fostekew. We have fine dining, presented by Chef James Cochran of North London’s 12:51 restaurant and Great British Menu winner. For those wishing to relax after a night of partying we also have a rejuvenating spa, complete with hot tubs, ice baths and more! But, above all of that, our site is a stunning place to enjoy a party; you can swim in the lake or party late into the night down in the woods. There’s something for everyone.

Irvine Welsh will be at this year’s Stowaway

Every festival is a step in the great learning curve of life, what improvements have you made on last year’s festival?
We’ll be making tweaks here and there. We’ll be introducing a new late night venue in the woods and have some exciting plans up our sleeves for that. We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve always done, which is welcoming people into our beautiful home for a great party!

To somebody who has never been to your festival before, what are they to expect?
An amazing party set in a beautiful location, built by a small team of festival lovers, for festival lovers. Come & see for yourself!

August 18-20
Stowe, Buckinghamshire

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