THE Upton Blues festival got off to a good start with thousands of music lovers streaming into the riverside town for four days of rhythm.

This year’s festival, which started on Thursday, is the biggest ever, with over 170 gigs across the official stages.

Organiser Graham Bunn said: “We had over 2,000 campers arriving on Thursday, and we were expecting another 2,000 to arrive on Friday.

“The pubs and venues in the town itself are already doing really good business.

“There’s a real buzz all through the town - you have to experience it to know what it’s like.

“One of the innovations this year is blues festival ambassadors, who will be going through the crowds, talking to people, helping them and answering their questions.”

The festival is also doing its bit for the planet this year, with the introduction of the Upton Blues fest enviro-cup.

They are available for £5 each at the festival bars, the merchandise stall and selected pubs.

The cups replace single-use plastic beer glasses, which are not being used at this year’s festival.

There are also no plastic straws in use this year, and water will be tinned and not bottled, reducing the festival’s plastic usage even more.

And to encourage use of the cups, there are 20p discounts for people using them at the festival bars, Bar Severn, the White Lion, Ye Olde Anchor, the Boathouse and the Swan.

Among the top names to be performing at this year’s festival are the Voodoo Sheiks, Xander and the Peace Pirates, Beaux Gris Gris and the Apocalypse, Willie and the Bandits and the Dave Ferra Allstars.

Local favourites like Vo Fletcher and Trevor Babajack Steger will also be performing.

Mr Bunn said: “Blues is a broad church, and you’ll find something for everyone to enjoy.

“Once again, the main road through town will be closed for the weekend to promote the carnival atmosphere and to make it safer and easier for you to move between the main venues: the Riverside stage, the Big Top on the rugby field, and the Acoustic Stage, which has a new home in the parish church.

“Across the river, happy campers can enjoy the Campsite Music Stage, and an expanded catering operation.

“All the pubs stage musical events that add to the carnival atmosphere, and I would like to thank all the publicans for giving the festival such tremendous support by paying for all their own bands.

“It’s easy to forget that there’s a charitable dimension to the festival; last year’s event raised £25,000 for various causes and organisations, bringing the total donations for the last five years to a staggering £100,000.”

Mr Bunn said that he hopes that festival-goers will take the time to explore some of the other attractions that Upton has to offer.

He added: “These include the wonderful river banks and all the boats moored up for the festival, the unique church which houses a fascinating heritage centre, the Tudor Museum, and the olde worlde streets.”