Summer may seem a long way off yet, but preperations start early to make the Henley Festival a success. Mike goes to this year’s launch party to get a taste, literally, of what’s on offer this time around.

It seems fitting that the Henley Festival launch event is in the Ivy Restaurant’s posh upstairs bar. It’s all wood panelling and plummy accents as I enter and grab a glass of red. I’m told there will be canapé – served on a silver spoon perhaps?

Suzanne Yeates, the festivals event and artist manager, corrects me “It’s not the Regatta. Her festival stands proudly independent over five evenings between 11TH – 15TH of July and is not just well-to-do glitterati quaffing champers, she insists, honest. Her pleasant demeanor isn’t overly privileged so I’m confused, how can it not be posh?

Miniature shepherd’s pie is the first canapé, not an elite dish but does miniaturization make it so? Or Jeffrey Archer? But he’s done time. Spicy lamb mini croquettes arrive and are delicious yet classless. I am further confused.

The festival promises Michelin-starred food, with headline chef Angela Hartnett creating menus for’Europe’s largest field restaurant’. She’s not posh, she’s from Kent isn’t she? Also featured is gastro pub pioneer Paul Clerehugh, pop-ups from Jimmy Garcia, Snob Lobster (sounds a bit jet set) and the Cooking Cooks and bars serving lashings of champagne, cocktails and, yes you guessed it, PIMMs. Rah-rah wot?

Stewart Collins, the festivals creative director, introduces tonight’s sample of live music, Purdy, a tall blonde with an easy-going jazz vocal backed by guitar and double bass. Come the summer she will perform in the festival’s’bohemian Bedouin’ tent, (bohemian is a posh word for posh).

Music headliners are Rita Ora, Grace Jones, Nile Rodgers & CHIC and Curtis Stigers. Ronnie Scott’s Big Band present’Sinatra At The Sands’ and the English National Opera perform – irrefutably highfalutin. Class aside, it’s an impressive line up with something for all social strata.

Paul Merton and Mark Watson head a strong comedy line-up, neither of whom could be described as members of the nobility (though Mr Merton often sports a cravat). Lee Nelson and Lucy Porter appear as well as young talent Alfie Brown who steps up to do a sample spot for us now. It’s a tough gig but he earns a large’can he say that?’ laugh by describing oysters as’come in phlegm’, I agree. I mean, I imagine I would agree.

Tickets start at £50 an evening for great food, excellent comedy and visual art, as well as pop, world, jazz and classical music. Suzanne lets slip the whole event is black tie – ah ha! It must be posh, although she prefers’Boutique’.

I may attend but still have one concern: A post Regatta invasion of (former Henley MP) Bozza and his Bullingdon bum chums demanding raucous badinage, but I’m sure that’s not likely …is it?

The Henley Festival 2018