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Thousands flock to North Wales to enjoy The Good Life Experience

Festival organisers Cerys Matthews and Charlie Gladstone greet the crowds from the music tent stage. Photo: Angela Ferguson

How long is it until the next Good Life Experience festival?

That’s the question we came away asking after soaking up the sights, sounds and utterly chilled out atmosphere of this relatively new addition to the festival scene.

It was organised and curated by four friends, namely broadcaster, musician and writer Cerys Matthews, her husband,  record industry and arts consultant Steve Abbott and retailers, farmers and authors Charlie and Caroline Gladstone, who are descendants of British Prime Minister Sir William Gladstone and whose family seat is Hawarden Castle.

Simpler things in life

The four friends cite a desire to share their love of the simpler things in life as the motivation behind the festival, which was founded last year and has grown this year to encompass a whole weekend.

Chilling out: A festival Tai Chi class in full flow. Photo: Angela Ferguson

The aim is to offer guests a hefty serving of the good life, with a range of activities and events put on, encompassing the world of adventuring, craft, music, food, drink and books.

Axe throwing

A talk on axes drew a crowd. Photo: Angela Ferguson


A wander around the site can involve anything from trying your hand at axe throwing and archery to listening to adventurers like the Meek family talk about how they sold their home, gave up their jobs and embarked on a series of adventures with their two children.

It was a real family friendly festival, with happy children of all ages enjoying the activities, including a good old fashioned tug of war contest, a vintage fair ground and the rather newer pastime of smashing pumpkins used to decorate the site. Yes, the amusing irony of this happening at a music fest was not lost on us.

Oh, and rather refreshingly, dogs were welcomed to the festival as long as they were kept on leads. And they abounded across the site, fitting in perfectly with the ethos of the Good Life Experience.

Vintage fair: A beautiful helter skelter proved popular with young and old alike. Photo: Angela Ferguson

Visitors can either arrange their own accommodation or take up the option of camping in either pretty rows of pre-erected bell tents or in the campers’own tents or motor homes.

Cultural pick and mix

The festival takes place in the cosy and stunning surroundings of the Hawarden Farm Estate, just over the border in Flintshire, North Wales. Think of it as a kind of festival version of Cerys’s Radio 6 Music show – the kind of cultural pick and mix that leaves you hugely inspired and with a head full of ideas for new things to eat, listen to, see and do.

We spent the weekend on site, absorbing the huge amount of activities on offer, from a chance to enjoy the sounds of uber cool band Public Service Broadcasting to a mushroom foraging hunt with ‘shroom guru Roger Phillips. There were also plenty of cooking demos from chefs such as Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers.

Headliners Public Service Broadcasting on the main stage. Photo: Angela Ferguson

World of discovery

We didn’t want our taste of the good life to end. It was like entering a little world of discovery and tranquility where every step led to some fascinating encounter with an array of lovely people.

Indeed, we kind of felt like we’d been invited to a very special and exclusive weekend gathering by Cerys and pals, often exchanging a cheery hello as we saw them across the festival site on a regular basis.

If we’re not mistaken, they too appeared to be having the time of their lives and, if they were anxious about how successful this year’s bigger festival would be, then they didn’t show it and they certainly didn’t need to be, judging by the glowing post festival feedback shared across social media.

Wilko Johnson

The legendary Wilko Johnson entertains Good Life crowds. Photo: Angela Ferguson

Highlights for us included catching the legendary Wilko Johnson and Norm Watt-Roy performing, along with hearing about the adventures of the amazing Meek family. Oh, and the food was divine, from chicken flatbreads and crab burgers to pizza and Indian street food.

So thank you Cerys and friends for an enticing and hugely warm and welcoming taste of the good life. We will be back.

Here are a few more photos from our Good Life Experience weekend. Wish we were as stylish as the canine festival goer below.

Most stylish festival goer award should go to this chic pooch. Photo: Angela Ferguson

All the fun of the vintage fair. Photo: Angela Ferguson

Catrin Finch enchants the crowds with her performance. Photo: Angela Ferguson

The Gladstone Bar: a place to chill and enjoy a drink or a bite to eat. Photo: Angela Ferguson

Disco mobile: We Are Chester music writer Paul Clark’s dream motor. Photo: Angela Ferguson

Chilled out vibe: Festival goers soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the hay bale seating. Photo: Angela Ferguson

About Angela Ferguson (66 Articles)
I'm a writer, journalist and blogger, as well as the founder and editor of culture webzine wearechester.co.uk. I'm also a university lecturer in journalism and media communications and a presenter at Flipside Radio.

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