Review of 'Countryfile Live 2017'

We so much enjoyed CountryFile Live last year (see my review here) that we decided to go again in 2017. As with last year we visited on the final day, on the Sunday but the event is actually on for four days and is probably best visited on Thursday or Friday when the crowds are likely a lot more manageable.

When booking tickets you have several choices to make including whether you want parking (they do offer a shuttle service from neighbouring train stations but there are large car parks offered nearby which are good value and generally quite easy to get in and out of), whether you want to pre-purchase a show-guide, and what talks/events you want to attend. The tickets do NOT include entrance to Blenheim Palace itself though it is unlikely you would have time during a visit to the show to also visit the palace…

This year was a bit confusing as it turns out you are now only able to sign up to one event whereas last year you could sign up for as many as you like. It is not a big deal as this only gives you a guaranteed seat at the event - You can just attend any event you want to generally without any problems. I received a phone call when I booked several events and forced to pick one (very politely, it has to be said). What you can sign up for is quite varied but generally they are talks from the various presenters of the television program or the big show (this year the big show was “Countryfile Close-Up” in the “Countryfile Theatre”). We chose the “Who's a Countryfile Whizz?” show to get tickets for (in the “Countryfile Theatre” as well) as this featured all of the presenters (it was at the end of the day at 5 pm) but was quite disappointed as it was a bit boring.

We also got tickets offered separately for John Craven to talk at the “Quilter Cheviot” theatre earlier in the day as we enjoyed his talk last year (and did again this year).

Again it was a bit of a walk from the car park, despite being early (as advised to avoid the traffic that was so bad it hit the news during last year's show) to the showground which occupies a large area behind Blenheim Palace. As we were early we were allowed to pick up our showguides then pass through security but we were only allowed into the front section of the show to wait for the show to open at 9:30. This initial area had a number of vintage tractors and historical items which occupied our time while waiting to be allowed into the rest of the show.

It is worth doing some work in advance to at least decide what you do not want to miss and plan accordingly. The maps provided are very helpful as are the schedules but they can be quite daunting. Best to have a look though otherwise you could miss a lot of what is here.

Main attractions are scattered pretty evenly throughout the show:

  • This year we were quite surprised to see the number of exhibits and activities down at the water in The Waterside area - Much more than last year. We spent some time there today walking across the rather wonky plastic pontoon bridge.

  • Adam's Farm in the Passion for British Livestock area this year was quite impressive with a lot more animals that you were allowed to touch and handle with lots of people around willing to answer questions. We even met Adam himself as he was signing books (though he apologised for having to run for an appointment before he was able to sign ours…).

  • Another interesting thing was the Stihl Timbersports British Championships which featured lumberjacks demonstrating their talent with, typically, chainsaws including carving.

  • The Equine Arena featured throughout the day a number of different demonstrations. We spent some time watching the “6 Horse Shire Display Team” (a team of six shire horses pulling a brewery cart around the arena at a thundering cantor). We were able to visit the stables around back, patting the horses and talking to their minders.

  • Farming in Action was again very interesting seeing the various farm equipment in action, much of it antique.

There were a lot more live stages to keep the crowds entertained as well as a large assortment of places to eat and drink (not just burgers by any means). Many of the tents containing vendors were extremely busy and very difficult to get around with narrow aisles so in the heat of the day we visited we generally stayed clear of them. The “Craven Arms” was once again here (named in honour of the presenter) and much expanded with a large number of covered tables surrounding it to serve the crowds.

Though often many of the vendors on site offer specials this is not a show to visit on the cheap with a lot of artisan and specialist shops charging accordingly. It is a good place to try a lot of interesting artisan food and drink though…even if it is just samples!

As to be expected with a show like this it was often a bit of a walk to get to the toilet facilities but they were certainly well maintained (clean) and not overly busy.

So, tips for anyone visiting:

  1. Plan your visit in advance - Not only getting to the show early but also try to get familiar with what is there as soon as possible and definitely book any events you want to see in advance, if possible. Make sure you note the times and places of what you cannot miss…
  2. Arrive early - Be there BEFORE the gates open and avoid the massive crowds later in the day.
  3. Get a showground map - You will need it.
  4. Be prepared to walk - It is a big show.
  5. Bring cash - Some vendors have card machines but not all…
  6. Be prepared to whatever weather - It can be very hot it can also be very wet at the show.
  7. Drink lots of water - Temptation with all the alcohol around to drink it but go easy and stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  8. Take your time and enjoy!

An exceptional value and an exceptional show. There is so many interesting things to see and do we will be definitely back in 2018.


Review Date: 2017-08-06

Blenheim Palace

Location: Woodstock (England)

Address: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1PP ENGLAND

Public Transport: NRLOGO Oxford Parkway NRLOGO Bicester

Telephone: +44 (0) 1993 810530


blenhem2.jpg Ancestral home of the Duke of Marlborough and famously the childhood home of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is a beautiful stately home in the Oxfordshire countryside (see my Oxfordshire page) surrounded by wonderful parkland and a scenic lake.

Though you can take public transport the easiest way to get here is by car (parking facilities available) or by tourist coach. The house is definitely the highlight but the grounds certainly deserve a lot of your time as well as the formal gardens around the house.