Thursday, 5 June 2014

My Perfect Summer Festival | Fashion, Food & Festivities With Joules

My perfect summer festival
Photo credit (modified)

I'm not a seasoned music festival goer - I've never been to a Glastonbury or a Reading festival - but I'm not averse to camping and indeed the whole vibe you can experience at other types of festivals. Today you get balloon festivals, car festivals, literary festivals, food festivals... the list is endless. I have a pretty nostalgic view towards camping, festivals and county shows. As a kid, we went camping a lot as a family, and although I'm sure my parents would disagree, I always loved the drama of our huge 1960s tent going up with its psychedelic orange curtains and weird musty smell at the beginning of the holiday. We'd then trot off in search of county shows and crafts fairs in fields, knowing we'd be returning to a barbeque and tea made from a tin kettle boiled over the gas stove.

That lovely nostalgia all came flooding back last weekend - I popped into the Joules clothing store during our weekend away in Cheltenham, and was absolutely delighted to find a whole section on camping and festival gear, all covered in one of their signature floral prints. There were enamel mugs, sleeping bags, picnic hampers, Wellington boots, foldaway chairs; everything you could possibly want for a summer camping trip. And it got me thinking: I'm not a huge fan of massive music festivals with their rows upon rows of tents and less-than-savoury portable toilets [she shudders], but what would my perfect summer festival actually look like?

Joules home & outdoor equipment SS14
L-R: Navy Floral Lazy Chair, Navy Floral Picnic Basket (in store only), Creme Floral Enamel Mug, Tiffin 2 Stack Tiffin Box, Navy Floral Picnic Blanket

Firstly: I'd make it a thoroughly British affair with fabulous florals and coordinating accessories. I couldn't do camping in the same way I did when I was 18, where my friends and I would take a tent, a sleeping bag and pretty much nothing else (to our regret when we got there). No eating from the burger van for me - I'd take the full camping gear and include cooking equipment. I love the idea of a gorgeous, fully equipped picnic hamper and matching blanket, with a folding chair to relax in by the fire until it's pitch black and you can't see a thing without... wait, where did we put that gas lamp...?

Joules clothing SS14
L-R: Striped Indigo Coat, Fluorescent Pink Striped Top, Light Denim Shorts, Creme Floral Reversible Sun Hat, Red Stripe Welly Boot

Secondly: outfits. Bold, stripey wellies. A fabulous raincoat. A hat in case we get any sun, and denim shorts to go with the wellies. It may not be Coachella-cool, but this is just the sort of outfit I'd want to wear to a festival. My favourite item in the Cheltenham store was the fluorescent pink striped top (above - I toyed with the idea of buying it for ages). It's quite a neon coral colour in the flesh and has a very loose knit, so perfect for not-too hot summer days, and slightly chilly summer evenings round that camp fire. I know there's loads of stripes going on, but I'm guessing if the raincoat is needed it would cover the top - but I love a mishmash of patterns anyway and that whole idea of dressing mostly for practicality when you're doing festival fashion.

Joules tunics SS14
Left: Indigo Check and Stripe Tunic, Top to bottom: Millie Foulard Creme Tunic, Green Floral Tunic Dress, Indigo Stripe Tunic

That said, I'll always fancy a slightly more dressed up look for times when shorts and wellies just don't cut it: I'd take a couple of pretty, festival-ready tunics (my favourite being the indigo check and stripe tunic, above) over jeans or leggings and maybe a neck scarf or two. I need to look smart when hanging out at the crêpe van or queuing for that organic falafel wrap at my ideal festival.

British festivals to attend in 2014
Here's my pick of (real!) UK festivals to go to if you're looking for an alternative to Glastonbury and the various music festivals on offer:

Intellectual Festival
Also Festival, Compton Verney, Warwickshire 21-22 June 2014
The chance to get up close and personal to the biggest minds and freshest ideas: artisan food, craft beer, music, campfire cooking, cocktail tastings and lake zorbing. "Brilliant ideas in intimate spaces".

Balloon Festival
Tiverton Balloon Festival, Tiverton, Devon 11-13 July 2014
I went to this festival on one of the hottest weekends of last year and it was stunning. It's described as an "exciting ballooning, music and aerial extravaganza"; weather permitting, 30 balloons take to the skies and provide evening entertainment with a fire and light show, choreographed to music alongside fire jugglers and a lantern procession. If you're in the area do not miss it.

Foodie Festival

Kendall Calling, Lowther Deer Park, Lake District 1-3 August 2014

This is mainly an independent music festival, but it has the homely charm of a local fair with the best food, from posh burgers to vegan delicacies and a real ale festival. Fun, eclectic and unashamedly unpretentious apparently!

Arts & Outdoors Festival
Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire 7-10 August 2014
Live music and dancing, banquets, feasting and gastronomy, late night revelry and spectaculars and processions. Wow.

All of these events sound much more up my street and the sort of festival where my matching florals and stripey wellies wouldn't look out of place. In fact, you can see how Joules would do festivals with this one-minute video - it pretty much sums up the sort of hazy, British summer days and very slightly retro feel I want for my perfect festival. Enjoy (especially 0:41...)

Basically I'm hoping Joules' signature floral prints will evoke the same sense of nostalgia for today's kids in 30 years' time as the psychedelic flowers do for me now. Give me the smell of musty canvas and a picnic hamper over portable toilets any day.

Are any of you keen campers? Or do you have plans to go to one or more festivals this summer? Do share in the comments!

I have written this post in collaboration with Joules. All content is original, however, and opinions are my own and 100% honest.



  1. Such cute gear! Let the festival season begin!
    Dawn Lucy

    1. I'm pretty sure I'm going to the balloon festival again, Dawn - I may need to check out some of the others..!

  2. Your camping "ideal" sounds an awful lot like mine, dear Catherine...I need a flush toilet and a shower, or it's simply not happening!! :D On this side of the pond, we call it "glamping" - camping with all the luxuries (ie. glamour!) thrown in!! Your picks for this hypothetical festival are spot-on...but may I also suggest a cozy little airstream trailer (caravan?) with the aforementioned washroom facilities and a real bed?!

    1. Yes the times I have been camping (as an adult) have been on proper campsites with toilet facilities and showers - no I couldn't do the portaloos!! And yes we have glamping here, but it's super posh I think and you have a tent all set up with proper beds - if anyone's been do tell us about it here!
      C x

  3. Great selection!

  4. Hi Catherine. Just stumbled across your blog and loving it. I love your fashion style and your blog is interesting and informative. Thanks. Xx

    1. Aww Sandy that's so nice of you! Thank you for stopping by and your lovely comment, hope to see you again x

  5. When you mentioned balloon festivals, I thought you were going to mention Bristol's famous balloon festival! It's the biggest in the UK and one of the biggest in Europe, set in a lovely park with rolling countryside views. They have all sorts of shapes i.e. I saw a Snow White shaped balloon go over my house last year. And they do the 'night glow' where they're all lit up in time to music.

    Bristol is basically the festival capital of the UK. The Harbour Festival takes over the whole city with food, crafts, entertainment of all kinds... and you can even stay in a nice hotel while you experience it. I recommend The Bristol Hotel as its right on the harbour and is nice. Come visit!

  6. In short: I hate camping, I hate sleeping on a boat and going to a yacht shower in the morning. I like 5 star hotels. OK, you can say I am spoiled, but I am not. I just don't go on holiday much. When I was a child my parents sent me off on a week holiday camp. Hated it. Hated tents, the smell, the discomfort. It convinced my I was an adopted child and I was a sort of a princess in reality. Turned out, I am not.


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