We headed to Oxfordshire and found out why VIP is the only way to go at Nocturne Live. We think Winston would approve too
The sound of 7,000 collapsible chairs snapping open in Blenheim Palace’s Great Court can mean only one thing: the return of Nocturne Live. Woodstock locals descended on Winston Churchill’s birthplace for four days this summer, to watch Noel Gallagher, Nile Rodgers, Elvis Costello and Gary Barlow light up 2,000 acres of Oxfordshire countryside.
As we approached the 296-year-old, baroque facade, it’s not an overstatement to say that The Cheeky Girls could be playing and we’d still be impressed. Inside, the standard food and drink offering is slightly less impressive. Despite views over the sprawling lake (which we hear is a mode of arrival for corporate events) we had expected something a little more impressive, not to mention the 20-people-deep queues for both the bar and the toilet.
We weren’t lucky enough to try the VIP option but we wish we had. The State Room Dining Experience allowed guests the chance to explore the state rooms of the palace – think wall-mounted tapestries, oil paintings and period furniture – before taking their seats for three courses that included smoked duck breast, lamb noisette and chocolate and profiterole tranche. Drinks are included (score) and of those 7,000 chairs, they got the premium ones. This is how to entertain those big-paying clients.
We were, however, lucky enough to be in the crowd to see Nile Rodgers & Chic bring Thursday night’s audience to their feet. The ‘classics box’ was well-and-truly ticked as the 65-year-old (you’d never know) and his band struck the famous chords from ‘Everybody Dance’, ‘I Want Your Love’ and ‘Le Freak’. In all honesty, we’d forgotten just how many hits the legendary music producer has been responsible for – that was until the medley kicked in. You know Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’? Yeah, he did that. And Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’. And ‘Notorious’ by Duran Duran. And so much more, including all of those State Room packages selling out. As the sun set over that historic Cotswold stone though, we reckon the setting had something to do with that too.