The inaugural Oxford Festival of the Arts was launched in June 2008.  It was a modest affair with a couple of dozen events but even in its first year some of the highlights included talks by leading theatre director John Caird and MP Tony Benn and a new commission exclusively for the festival by composer Cecilia McDowall.

Over time the festival has grown its scope, duration and artistic aims, and twelve years on, the Oxford Festival of the Arts or OFA,  is a well-established highlight in the cultural calendar of Oxford.

Each year the festival offers a broad programme of events, which embrace music, theatre, talks, comedy, film, literature, dance, art, photography and more. OFA celebrates Oxford’s diverse communities and offers something for everyone irrespective of age, background or artistic experience.  It is a testament to the success of the Festival that it attracts nationally and internationally renowned artists and performers and acts as in incubator for new works and arts-based initiatives.


The Arts are essential to humanity. Magdalen College School recognises this in every aspect, which is why the Oxford Festival of the Arts is an integral part of its fabric. It is a delight and an absolute privilege to be part of the MCS family.

Dr Michelle Castelletti, Director, Oxford Festival of the Arts

We work extensively with cultural partners across Oxford and further afield. In 2019 these included Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education, Blenheim Palace, Alliance Française, Queen Mary University London, The Oxford Playhouse, Arts at the Old Fire Station and many more.

Oxford offers many historic buildings and beautiful performance spaces and the Festival is able to use these to create unique experiences for audiences who may not have enjoyed the chance to visit them.

The Festival Director, Dr Michelle Castelletti, particularly enjoys being able to juxtapose performances and places such as silent films in the atmospheric setting of the Magdalen College Chapel and contemporary dance at The Old Fire Station.

In 2019 OFA held the world premiere of an opera based on the life of Frida Kahlo and even hosted an interactive whodunnit performance on a moving Oxford bus!