Yearning for the perfect life balance? West Londoner Cerys Matthews is on hand with a festival set up to give you just that – The Good Life in Wales. Running the weekend of 16-18 September 2016, the festival is the epitome of all things great about the world when you strip it back to basics, tossing aside the constant screams of Instagram, Twitter, Brexit and Pokemon GO
While juggling her duties on her Six Music radio show, The One Show and socialising with the likes of Sir Tom Jones, Notting Hill resident Cerys Matthews has poured her passion for the simple life into creating a three day festival designed to let families have a bit of R‘n’R in the countryside.
Having met the Gladstone family, who founded The Good Life festival, held at Hawarden Castle in Flintshire, they soon realised that they had a common idea to create a festival that is accessible to all and draws upon the concept of unfussiness and authenticity.
‘We realised immediately that we shared the same principles,’ she smiles. ‘We are also huge fans of festivals and the platform they offer, so wanted to make one that concentrated on quality as opposed to hype.’
At the heart of the festival is a break from mass consumerism and all that it entails: phones, laptops, social media, internet shopping, Pokemon GO etc etc. Cerys Matthews talks of how people want to connect with simpler things, and The Good Life Experience has done something about it. As a result, the festival has just made the Condé Nast Traveller list of Best Festivals in the World.
‘At its core, it’s a weekend totally opposite to the working week. A chance to go wild in the country, try new things, eat great food, and hang with like-minded people in a field where everything is picked because of its sheer quality – whether that’s the music, the food, the beer, the authors, the archery or whatever,’ enthuses Matthews.
It’s about reconnecting with nature and acknowledging the joy of the simpler things in life too. We live in an increasingly hectic and digitally connected world, so the festival is a breath of fresh air
‘I guess you could say it’s about reconnecting with nature and acknowledging the joy of the simpler things in life too. We live in an increasingly hectic and digitally connected world, so the festival is a breath of fresh air. It’s a great opportunity for all the family to log off and have an adventure, try some new experiences and enjoy the “real world” and the great outdoors instead.’
There is one element of the festival that really sets it apart from others – in addition to the low entry price, that is, as over 95% of the activities are free and included in the ticket price. It’s not only about music and drinking at this event, but is instead about trying something new and getting your hands dirty. With the trend of crafts and the art of making seeing a huge resurgence over the past few years, this is something that is in abundance and at the heart of The Good Life – and it’s not just for the children either.
It’s a weekend of just letting your hair down too. You can just fill your glass with milk or vodka and enjoy the music, it’s filled to the rafters with great acts
‘We have 40 craftspeople gathering in one tent to give demonstrations and teach everything from knot-tying and leatherwork, to sketching, mosaic making and becoming a blacksmith,’ says Matthews. ‘But it’s a weekend of just letting your hair down too – you don’t have to work! You can just fill your glass with milk or vodka and enjoy the music, it’s filled to the rafters with great acts.
Notting Hill resident Matthews feels that west London offers a slice of the good life and the country in the city. ‘I like Tavistock Square a lot. I like watching all walks of life, all colours, the greenery and shapes in Notting Hill,’ she says. ‘I love the fact that we can eat Moroccan fish and Spanish tapas, but walk down the road and find Korean shops. It’s got it all – like the festival!
‘We love to head to the countryside when we can – I used to love making swings and tunnels in the hay shed and I love it when we go back to Wales and watch the children climb cliffs, roly-poly down the hills and generally get soaking wet and covered in mud. This festival is perfect for that.
‘The best bit for the kids at last year’s festival was making a straw slide and smashing literally hundreds of pumpkins – all free and no rules. They looked into my face with their rosy cheeks and said it was the best weekend they’d ever had and slept like logs. We can’t wait for this year.
The best bit for the kids at last year’s festival was smashing literally hundreds of pumpkins
‘Our ethos is hinged on great value and the great outdoors and that everyone joins in,’ says Matthews. ‘There’s no VIP area, so all our performers, chefs and explorers walk around the fields giving talks and demonstrations around camp fires.’ As the Gladstones told me, last year they felt like every person within the festival could have been their friend.
This passion for the cause shines through Matthews and it’s clear that you can make of the weekend whatever you want to. ‘It’s a platform where like-minded people get together and celebrate the wonders of the world, without being branded with huge corporations,’ Matthews says. ‘It’s about enjoying the basics and we’re really proud about it.’
- The Good Life Experience Festival celebrates the music, makers, the great outdoors and the search for a simpler, more rewarding life
- An adult weekend non-camping ticket starts from £69. A camping ticket, from £99, entitles you to four nights of camping.
- Expect music from the likes of the Booka Brass Band, Cerys Matthews, Vod Music and lots more.
- There will be campfire talks with adventurer and educator Ben Fogle, and cooking displays from the Fabulous Baker Brothers, Tom Herbert, Genevieve Taylor, Thomasina Miers and Trish MacCurrach.
The festival is pet-friendly, so the whole family can enjoy it.
16-18 September 2016 at Hawarden Castle, Flintshire; thegoodlifeexperience.co.uk