31 Oct, 2018
In 2019 we’re changing The Good Life Experience with the aim of making it even better. A lot of people have asked us what we have planned and although our thoughts have yet to fully crystalise, we have some clear aims that are informing the process. So, this is where we are at the moment.
First, many thousands of wonderful people have supported us in our first five years. Every single one of those people has been an important part of creating a festival that is genuinely different; warm, friendly, fun, intelligent, creative, original, litter-free, exciting. And the most common feedback we get is this: "we LOVE it; don’t get too big".
We agree; we don’t want to have a massive festival because our original aim was to create an event that is intimate, friendly, warm. Perhaps even an event where everyone can meet everyone else. And anyway, big events come with massive financial risk and we can’t face that.
So we are going to make The Good Life Experience smaller in 2019. It can’t be too small because there are costs (security, medical care, water, tents, sound equipment, health and safety compliance) that we have to bear in order to put on a safe and professional event. And acts and performers and entertainment cost money and we want those to remain of the highest quality.
But we think that we can find a sustainable level that at once achieves these aims and allows us to pay our team and stay out of trouble with the bank. Running a festival is a huge job and involves crazy amounts of expenditure but we believe we can create a new business model which might not make us rich but will be fun for us and for you, our guests.
This leads us to our second aim. And this is simple; to be excellent in everything we do. Excellent entertainment, excellent food and drink, excellent facilities; great music, speakers, campsites, makers, loos, showers, staff. Our definition of excellent is -in part at least- partly about intimacy. We want you -our guests- to make proper connections with our speakers, musicians, crafts people, chefs; in a world of arena tours and block buster exhibitions and ten-year-sold-out theatre runs we think there is room for smaller events. We mean, who wouldn’t rather go to a gig or talk or reading in a small chapel or hall than in an arena? Exactly!
Our third aim is to give you a weekend in the countryside and to show our part of Wales in the best possible light. To this end we are aiming to move the event closer to Hawarden Old and New Castles and to open up both buildings for events. Again, it’s about intimacy but also about beauty and that rare and almost intangible thing, hospitality. We want this to be truly special, magical, warm, friendly. Add to this The Lake (which for the rest of the year is a privately managed conservation area) and the Castle Gardens and we think we might have one of the most beautiful festival locations anywhere and -indeed- one that is used for only one event a year. That really is rare.
Fourth, we will continue with our unique mix of activities but in a smaller, more intimate environment. We are called The Good Life Experience for a reason. We have a clear view of what constitutes The Good Life and it’s this; food, craft, music, outdoor activity, family, books, ideas and drink, all in equal measure. We are not a music festival with a craft area attached or a food festival with a few bands at night. We take every aspect as seriously as the next. High brow and low brow, frivolous and deadly serious, experimental and widely understood, healthy and unhealthy, exciting and comforting; they all come together because we believe that there is nothing better than a weekend spent learning, discovering and hanging out with like-minded people during day light hours and a massive party at night. But why does everything have to get bigger and bigger? It doesn’t. Or at least we don’t think it does.
So, that’s it in a nutshell. A smaller, sustainable event that’s magical and intimate in a truly beautiful place. Fewer people; more connection. Amazing entertainment in smaller venues and beautiful listed buildings. Gardens, nature reserves, ancient trees. Something that welcomes whoever wants to come; old, young, festival veterans, first timers, dogs. A place to meet people and have an amazing time. No litter. No VIP area. The opposite of most festivals; a large group of friends (or potential friends) doing life affirming stuff in a safe, warm, hospitable environment. We think we can do our bit; all we need is you!
Please join us.
All imagery by Department Two.