In July 2018, a pioneering new luxury festival will take over the historic Althorp Estate in Northampton. The Resident headed for the launch party in Spencer House, Green Park, for a taste of the cultural and culinary delights in store…
With the full use of the house and grounds of Althorp, Princess Diana’s ancestral home, Residence festival is an addition to the summer circuit that promises to redefine our expectations of festival revelry. Among numerous high-end attractions, well-heeled guests can enjoy the use of 27 lavish bedrooms, imposing state rooms, Michelin-starred gastronomy with a wine list to match, and an exceptional line-up of top musical talent to be revealed in October 2017.
There is, of course, a helipad, for those who wish to arrive in style. Otherwise, the 500-year-old property, which houses one of the largest private art collections in Europe, is a mere two hours by car from London or just over an hour by train.
It’s the brainchild of John Saunders (Managing Director, Exosphere) and Sally Davies (Managing Director of Universal Music UK’s U-Live division), who have been working with Ed Dolman (the former Director & Founder of Secret Garden Party & Wilderness, no less).
Dolman, speaking exclusively to The Resident, said: ‘Partly it was due to the three of us coming together at the right time. We were all looking to create something new. It’s a luxury festival dedicated to the finer things in life and Althorp is a big part of that, because of what it stands for.
‘There isn’t really anything out there that’s similar at the moment or anything with such a high-end level of production that we can benchmark it against. Immaculate curation of the detail – that’s what’s going to set us apart. Lots of festivals have flashes and pockets of luxury but there isn’t anything on this scale.’
Immaculate curation of the detail – that’s what’s going to set us apart. Lots of festivals have flashes and pockets of luxury but there isn’t anything on this scale
It’s billed as a three-day celebration of music, gastronomy, art and culture, laced with style. A roster of carefully considered brand partnerships across the automotive, fashion, drinks and hospitality sectors are also yet to be announced, so watch this space.
‘Obviously Universal have quite a number of contacts in the industry but we’re looking to work with quite a number of partners bringing all sorts of things on board,’ hints Dolman.
The rather exclusive, hush-hush launch party at Spencer House in Green Park saw performances from singer songwriter Una Healy and top composer Max Richter give just a taste of the collaborations and acts to be revealed later in the year.
‘At Residence, we’re going to have music that will suit every person’s tastes. We’ll cater for families, but we imagine most people will take the opportunity to leave their children at home.
‘In my career, I’ve always tried to push the boundaries of what exists in the festival market. It’s a collaborative process and there’s a great sense of achievement in seeing it all come together when you set your goals slightly higher.
‘Festivals started off as just big stages and fields – we’re trying to create a new concept with a different level of service, a festival that’s one step beyond all the others. It’s redefining what people expect with luxury in every single aspect – everyone there will be a VIP.’
Charles Spencer, the 9th Earl Spencer, is delighted to welcome the inaugural festival to Althorp: ‘This unique interpretation of a festival fits well with my long-held wish to make Althorp a byword for excellence, adventure, and supreme good taste,’ he has said. ‘It’s very good to know that the Estate and its rich heritage will be enjoyed by a fresh array of discerning visitors.’
Meanwhile, the 14th Althorp Literary Festival will run this year between 28 September and 1 October 2017. Groups visiting the literary festival can expect a line-up of speakers, with a number of talks taking place on each day, as well as live music, poetry and exhibitions.
Residence Festival runs 20-22 July 2018 for members only (to apply see residencefestival.com). Pricing and further details will be available from October 2017
Photography: Justine Trickett