It’s been four years since we were last at The Good Life Experience festival, and a lot has changed. It still has great speakers, inspiring people in bucket loads, fantastic makers and foot stomping bands – but what has changed is the site. Now occupying the grounds right outside the Hawarden Estate Castle, the lake and the cricket pitch.
Let me tell you more about the festival….
The festival was launched back in 2014, it was an ongoing discussion about The Search for the Good Life that led four friends -broadcaster, musician and writer Cerys Matthews, record industry and arts consultant Steve Abbott and retailers, farmers and authors Charlie and Caroline Gladstone- to create The Good Life Experience, a festival with a difference.
They made a conscious choice to focus on more than just music, or food, or craft. Instead we poured our energy into creating a festival full of powerful, memorable and -most importantly- FUN experiences.
This is the story of how The Good Life Experience was born...
We’ve had boom and bust, mindless consumption and enforced austerity. And interesting things have come out of that austerity; a retreat to values and fashions that seem to encapsulate simpler times, the good old days. We’ve found ourselves yearning for the more honest and straightforward world enjoyed by our parents and grandparents.
Superficially, this has meant that bicycles and baking, beards and tweed, vintage style and gardening are now more popular than ever; on a deeper level it has meant that millions of people are returning to craft as a source of solace and comfort, that more people than ever want to get outdoors, to discover and consume things that are made with passion by small business.
People are trying to discover what makes them truly happy.
At its core this movement can best be defined, perhaps, as The Search for The Good Life; a life that’s fulfilled and considered, yes, but is also fun and values the things that matter… family, friends, a real connection with The Great Outdoors, proper food and drink, discovery, music that comes from the soul, great books, craft. All the things that don’t cost a great deal but that make life richer, more rewarding and better fun.
If it fits in with the founders’ idea of The Good Life, it features at the festival; great food, axe throwing, campfire cooking, mass sing-a-longs, comedy, beer served by experts, talks by explorers, raucous music, abseiling, a 1930s fairground, butchery displays, poetry, literature, endless How To… talks.
Everything is aimed at adults and children alike.
Arriving on Thursday night in our Bailey Caravan Motorhome , we rocked up after dark, and settled into the campervan site. It was too dark and late to explore, so settled in for the night.
The following morning, we were up in the sunshine, and ready to explore the festival. With a large line-up of speakers, events, workshops and music ahead of us, we couldn’t wait to get fully immersed in the good life.
The boys love a festival, and want to do everything! So when there is an opportunity to try throwing a pot, they are there. Charlie stepped up to the wheel, and shaped the clay, whilst Rufus sat on the bike and pedalled, which in turn moved the wheel round. Team work. The result, a pretty little pot, ready to be fired.
Their interest spiked, they were on to the next activity. Axe throwing.
Dan and the boys, stepped up to the block, and was taught the technique on how to throw the axe so it embedded into the target. Much to their surprise, they were pretty good!
After all the busy activities, we headed inside the castle to the drawing room to listen to a few talks. On Friday, Mark Shayler had curated a series of guest speakers all discussing how they made the most of their lives. We listed to Nat Lee (Style me Sunday) share her honest and heartfelt story of growing up in London. And how she now spreads the word on body positivity and how with a a clear mind set you can achieve anything.
This seemed to be the over-riding message throughout the festival. You can do it, you can create, live the life you want, you can achieve your goals, you can live in a better world, make the changes you want – not just in your mental health, your own career, but on a global way – helping the environment, reducing your footprint, eating vegan, eating good quality meat from good suppliers – so on and so on.
So much to take in, absorb and implement when you return home.
Outside the main festival arena with the makers row, stalls and fairground, you can also find moments of calm. My favourite spots was down by the lake, where you can go wild swimming or use the kayaks. Such a beautiful relaxing location. If you do go, remember to take your wetsuit as the water was super cold! Although if you do swim to the other side, there is a camp fire to warm yourself by, before you swim back to your clothes.
Rest and relaxation is a big thing at the festival. With the music only starting at 4pm each day, which gave the whole place an air of chilled quiet. A chance to lie on the grass and watch the world go by or listen to a speaker tell their story.
Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, was one not to miss. We sat there enthralled listening to her story about training as an astronaut in Russia.
Four years since our last time at this brilliant festival, and we still love it. We are already planning next year! Perhaps with more time to explore the grounds a bit more, and perhaps see more speakers. Definitely taking the motorhome again – I can’t see me camping ever again.
The Good Life Experience
10th – 13th September 2020
Early Bird tickets: thegoodlifeexperience.co.uk/tickets
Collaboration Note: We received family weekend tickets and a camper van pass for the purpose of this review. Thank you for supporting the posts that make this blog possible.