If you know me personally, you will probably also know that most of my taste in music, style and general life comes from a different era. Often, I wonder what it would be like to time travel, and always come to the conclusion that, above anything else, I would suffer with motion sickness.
However. Last weekend, I was able to successfully transport myself back to the 1950s, and didn’t even need a sonic screwdriver to do so, although it might have helped us put up our tent!
From the 9th to the 11th August, Newbury Showgrounds in Thatcham becomes home to one of the largest vintage fairs in the UK, Retrofestival, and it is definitely not one to miss. If you are at all into vintage style, music, dancing, food (not vintage, don’t worry) or are a bit like me and are into all of that rolled into one, then this weekend is absolutely perfect. And it’s dog friendly, so you’re basically guaranteed an amazing weekend. Below are some of my highlights!
During the day, a myriad of vintage and retro stalls are open for you to meander through, hosting a broad collection of unusual artefacts and bargains for you to get your hands on. From plaques and signs and old movie posters, to 50’s and 60’s knick knacks, Beatles memorabilia and enough trinkets to put any good hoarder to shame, the marquees at Retrofest are a true example of an Aladdin’s Cave. A highlight of mine had to be visiting the gorgeous Guns N Posies and getting my hands on some of their outrageous sunglasses, not to mention pawing over all of their gorgeous acrylic jewellery! I urge you to have a look at their website, you will not be disappointed!
While you shop, Retrofestival hosts a wide selection of vintage dance tents offering workshops, classes and swing dancing socials, which anyone is welcome to take part in. Whether you’re into Northern Soul and the swinging sixties, Lindy Hop or Jive, or fancy a more relaxed 40s style tea-dance, there is something for everyone. Alternatively, you can have a seat with a cup or glass of something and simply watch and enjoy the show. As a former (and extremely novice) Lindy Hopper, I absolutely loved stepping in to the various tents, but wasn’t quite brave enough to ask anyone to dance this time. Maybe next year!
With the music and dancing at Retrofestival creating an atmosphere fit for any mid-20th Century weekend, it was no surprise that the festival fashion coordinated too. Spotting other festival goers emerge out of the campsite in their suits and floral swing dresses really was something to behold. At this festival, dressing up is not compulsory, but if you’ve been waiting for a chance to ditch the jeans and t shirt and don your favourite fascinator for the weekend, then this is the place to do so. I, of course, made myself a hat to wear, inspired by the gorgeous prints of Collectif Clothing’s iconic Dolores swing dresses.
The Cartwheel hat is one of my favourite shapes to wear, and this was my first attempt at making one. What do you think? Some of the headpieces I spotted over the weekend reminded me of my vintage inspired mini-series, Colour Pop, which you can check out here! Top tip: If you’re dressing vintage, make sure to bring a mirror. Getting the perfect pin curl brush out is hard enough in a tent as it is, without the added difficulty of balancing a compact on your knee in an attempt to crudely see your reflection!
Wandering through the pitches of classic cars and vintage fairground rides meant, alongside everything else, there were plenty of opportunities to snap a photo in your best vintage gear next to a vehicle that, most probably, would match your outfit. My knowledge of cars in general is beyond poor, so, I will admit that the majority of photos I took over the weekend were on a ‘that car looks nice’ basis. Still, I did manage to find one to obsess over, in the form of a black Cadillac Coupe-Deville. I really want one.
Make sure to check out Retrofestival’s website so you can nab your tickets for next year!