In 2016 we will be supporting The Good Life Experience through a number of articles and promotions. We will also be attending the event to let those people, who can’t make the festival, know what they are missing.
Following an incredible response last September to The Good Life Experience’s second year of music, food, books, talks and The Great Outdoors, this very special festival with a difference is planning an even more wonderful extended weekend in 2016 on the Hawarden Estate in North Wales. The Good Life Experience was founded in 2014 by four friends, broadcaster and singer Cerys Matthews, her husband, arts consultant Steve ‘Abbo’ Abbott and founders of homewares brand Pedlars, Charlie and Caroline Gladstone. The festival came about as a response to mass consumerism and all that it entails; phones, social media, box sets, fast fashion, laptops, internet shopping… Post 2008 with the return –to an extent- to post war austerity, people have begun to think differently. They want to make things with their hands, to reconnect with the simple things and escape from mass consumerism. There is a real hunger for craft and The Good Life Experience has done something about it.
One of the core passions of the four founders is supporting and promoting traditional British craft, and one of their promises for 2016 is to at least double the number of workshops and demonstrations on offer. This year festival-goers were given the chance to watch demonstrations and take part in workshops from a hugely skilled and talented group of craftspeople and makers, including a blacksmith, a potter, an enamel maker, carpenters, butchers and much more. All of this was wildly popular; indeed demand for classes far out-stripped supply and each craftsperson was overwhelmed. Alex Pole, the blacksmith at The Good Life Experience 2015, declared “It’s great that you are getting out there and telling people about this type of thing – it helps us craftspeople no end! I have been at the forge for just over 22 years now and it’s extremely exciting that finally it’s getting some main steam attention”. Plans for this expansion of the Makers’ Row area of the festival are already well underway, and the call has gone out to the very best craftspeople up and down the country.
Festival co-founder, singer, author and broadcaster, Cerys Matthews –who has the most listened to digital radio show in Britain- will again curate an unbeatable and eclectic music line-up, and there will be even more top chefs, outdoor activities, culture, yoga, books, campfires, foraging, craft workshops and talks on offer. In short, the Good Life Experience celebrates everything that goes into making life really good. This year the festival more than doubled in size with 4500 attendees, and whilst it expects to grow again next year to a sustainable level, there are absolutely no plans to become huge and it is committed to remaining a small and intimate festival.
The Good Life Experience 2015 saw unforgettable performances from Wilko Johnson, Revolucionarios Cubanos, Murray Lachlan-Young, and Catrin Finch, and lots more. Big Boss Man and Public Service Broadcasting rounded off the Saturday night with incredible performances that got the whole festival jumping. Festival co-founder Cerys Matthews is set to put together another excellent line-up of both legendary performers and newcomers too.
On top of the outstanding musical performances, The Good Life Experience makes a meaningful connection with The Great Outdoors. Last year’s festival saw countless talks with experts from a wide range of fields. Highlights included a campfire-side talk by adventurer and educator Ben Fogle, a more than 80-strong mushroom hunt with renowned forager Roger Phillips, a naturally navigated walk with Tristan Gooley and inspirational campfire cooking displays from Fabulous Baker Brother Tom Herbert, Genevieve Taylor and Trish MacCurrach, and much more. Axe and outdoors experts Best Made Co came all the way from New York City for the second year running to host an exhibition tent, host a shop and give inspiring axe workshops. The Good Life Experience also offers delicious and locally sourced food and drink provided by the Hawarden Estate. On top of that there were amazing cooking demonstrations and campfire displays from festival favourites Tom Herbert,Valentine Warner and Wahaca’s Thomasina Miers, to name just a few.
The Good Life Experience prides itself on being a festival like no other. There is no VIP area, and the festival is hugely dog friendly and family friendly, with children being given the opportunity to get messy and run free. Last year saw Ben Fogle, Thomasina Miers, festival co-founder Cerys Matthews, and other popular names, taking part in all that the festival had to offer with their families. There truly is something for everyone, with all of the talks included in the ticket price, and the majority of activities going free. You can enjoy endless free rides on the vintage fairground, take part in child-friendly climbing, abseiling, axe-throwing and archery, listen a whole host of inspiring talks, learn how to whittle a spoon and watch amazing musicians perform late into the night – all in one weekend. There is good news for families in 2016 as the age limit for children to go free has been raised from 9 to 12 years old, and the upper age limit for youth tickets has risen from 16 to 17 years old.
We will bring you further posts with the line up and acts in the short future. For now why not visit the festivals website and buy some tickets and get involved.