EASY-going, charming and given to hearty bursts of laughter, Alex James is most unlike the image of a celebrity rock star.

There is no posing, preening or showing off from the bassist of multi-platinum-selling band Blur – just cheery honest chat about his three loves – his family, his West Oxfordshire farm... and the festival he runs on those rolling acres every August Bank Holiday.

“I absolutely can’t wait for the gates to open!” he says with a grin, as we chat during a lull in the preparations for his Big Feastival which kicks off at his farm in Kingham, near Chipping Norton, today.

Everything you need to know about this weekend's Big Feastival...

“It’s ‘scorchio’ too!” he laughs. “I looked at a weather forecast I like, and I’m not not looking at any more. The weather is really important but it looks like the best bet for any event this year. What a way to celebrate the end of summer.”

The sun is indeed shining – a welcome sight for the organiser of any festival, especially one which prides itself on its touches of luxury. With champagne bars, gastronomic delights and a safe family-friendly site, this cosy Cotswold knees-up is a comfortable affair and certainly no Reading or Glastonbury. It is, however, lots of fun. And the line-up is second to none.

Music come from Sigala, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Nile Rodgers, Morcheeba Reef, Judge Jules and Ella Eyre. Also up are Norman Jay The Cuban Brothers, Max & Harvey, Zara Larsson, Tom Walker, All Saints, Maisie Peters and Emily Burns, and Kawala, while the foodie side of the line-up features chefs Nathan Outlaw, Tom Brown, Mark Hix, Ching He Huang, Matt Tebbutt, James Knappett, Steven Lamb and Romy Gill.

Then there is Alex’s cheese and tunes venue, the Cheese Hub – a chance for him to serve up his own dairy delights along with floor-fillers from himself, his son Geronimo and friends.

In a dynamic music-food crossover which is surely ‘peak Big Feastival’, rapper Professor Green will team up with chef Gizzi Erksine for their Giz ‘n’ Greens show.

“Giz and Green always come and have a good time but this time they’re actually doing some work too,” Alex laughs.

While weekend tickets have sold-out, tickets for today are still available. “It’s so easy to get here form Oxford,” says Alex – admitting he only bought his farm because of its proximity to Kingham Station – with its trains to Oxford and London.

“The last train back on Friday is 11.38pm, which gives you time to see Sigala, come back to the Cheese Hub for a snack and dance and get the train home.”

After a year off because of the pandemic, he says it feels particularly good to be opening the gates now.

“It’s always great to open the farm but this year it is even more special,” he says. “It looks absolutely amazing and the line-up is the best yet.”

While Covid security is being taken seriously, with compulsory checks on vaccination and test status, Alex says we have to get back to business.

“It’s been a funny old summer and a bit of a white-knuckle ride, but you’ve got to be sensible,” he says. “It will be pretty busy down the front when Chic are doing Le Freak, but if you’re double-jabbed and fit and healthy what have you got to worry about? If you’re 99 and have co-morbidity, maybe stand at the back.

“This is what the future looks like now!”

Tickets for today are still available from thebigfeastival.com