THE GOOD LIFE EXPERIENCE
Dates: 12th - 15th September 2019
Location: Hawarden Estate, Flintshire
This sublime weekend was created in the steadfast pursuit of a hedonist’s perfect holiday. Founded by four friends, it takes place in the vicinity of a couple of castles on Hawarden Estate in Flintshire, Wales. BBC 6 Music Cerys Matthews MBE, Steve Abbott and Charlie and Caroline Gladstone curate a weekend that includes anything and everything that fits in with their idea of the good life. There’s a big focus on learning; whether it’s how to skin a rabbit or making S’mores around the fire. What’s even nicer? Everyone is welcome – children, dogs and all. There are activities for guests of each and age, which means no grumpy teenagers or whining toddlers; or anything in between.
Music plays a major role in the weekend with the line ups carefully tailored by Matthews. Artists from around the world feature alongside local talent; her background in music has allowed her to meet plenty of musicians and often they are chosen simply on how well they fit in with the festival attitude. There’s no backstage or VIP area, so everyone just mucks in together.
What it all comes back to is a sense of nostalgia for days gone by; when fun was all about creating memories; rather than the endless mindless distractions of today:
“Value to me is not measured in terms of material wealth but in experiences. We started the Good Life Experience so that memories can be made, whether that’s climbing a 100 year old oak tree or discovering a new act. At our festival you can hear the best authors, best musicians, poets and chefs, be inspired by collectors and makers, and get your hands dirty wood carving or fire starting. It sidesteps the lust for selfies and the smoke and mirror of celebrity in favour of hands on experience.”
And people love it – The Good Life Experience appeals to thousands of visitors who relish this hands-on sense of adventure and exploration. Since it started in 2014, it’s won a fair few awards; including being listed as one of the UK’s top 16 Summer Festivals in 2017. Whether it’s the down-to-earth, positive living approach that people love or the genuinely impressive line ups of musicians, authors, poets and performers, it’s clear to see that the organisers recognized something we didn’t even know we were missing.
As outlined on their website: “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.”
The food and drink options are usually superb, and there’s a range of cooking lessons on offer which vary dramatically from Brazilian barbecues to concocting pickles and preserves. Talks and workshops expand your mind and your occasionally even your hand-eye coordination – you’ll never stop filling your time with actions of substance.
Accommodation at The Good Life Experience is all about the camping – whether it’s your own or in the luxury of bell tents and all that comes with them. Arriving at a pre-erected bell tent gives you more time to head out and enjoy all the delights being offered at the festival, without in any way compromising on the fun of the camping experience. Nights under canvas are good for the soul; especially when you’re sleeping on comfy beds under cool, crisp sheets and sumptuous duvets.