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?
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…?
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.
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:
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”.
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.
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.