If you’ve done the Leeds and Readings of the festival circuit and are fed up with teens in hot pants watching the weekend through their mobile phones and are looking for a smaller, much more eco festival, then Galtres in North Yorkshire should be right up your street.
What’s fantastic about this little gem on the summer festival line up is that it’s not just a music festival; it’s a beer and cider festival – bringing you the best local ales and apples to try over the weekend. The festival treats you like a real adult, giving you a real glass to use throughout your time at Galtres – and take home when the festivities are over!
Cider aside, you’ll not be short of talented musicians as the festival has a hot line up of national and local bands ready for you to rock away to. Without further ado, we caught up with James, festival organiser extraordinaire, to talk about Galtres festival, it’s eco credentials and what’s not to be missed at the Festival.
Your festival started out the back of a pub! How have you managed its growth?
Carefully – we’re well aware of the festivals which have been seduced by the smell of opportunity, grown too fast, and imploded. We’ve grown steadily, focussing more on developing a strong community of musicians, artists and supporters around the event, than on simply booking famous acts and trying to sell loads of tickets. We have a strong core, and a lot of people willing to work for next to nothing to make it good. This has largely been achieved by sticking to our core values – good local food and drink from local suppliers, supporting talented emerging musicians and performers, donating profits to charity, and working to reduce our carbon footprint.
Also on a personal level I like to get stuck in and be involved in all areas of the event – from choosing beers and bands to writing the programme. A larger event would leave me managing a business, or managing a contract with an events company – and that’s not what interests me. Limiting our event to around 5000 people means we can run it ourselves and enjoy it.
Can you ever see the festival being 100% carbon neutral?
We would love it to be, but it’s hard to be able to truly claim that 100% figure. The August Bank Holiday is not known for its hot sunshine (!), so solar heating for our showers will always have to be backed up by another power source. Similarly until technology improves we will always need to have a diesel generator backup. It’s possible but hard to guarantee.
The biggest factor of course is carbon emissions from cars carrying people to the festival, and there’s only so much we can do about that. We lay on excellent and frequent buses, connecting with trains, and provide good information about public transport – and a lot of people use them – but it’s especially hard for families with small children to arrive on buses with all their camping equipment.
We do our best to minimise delivery miles, facilitating for example the various small breweries who supply our beer to share delivery and collection. Similarly all our cider is collected by single operator.
What are the greenest steps the festival has taken?
One of the most significant things we do is the tree planting programme. When people buy a ticket for the festival in our online shop, a £5 ‘plant a tree’ fee is automatically added too – it’s described as a voluntary carbon tax. Not everyone pays it, but many do, and over the years we have planted many thousands of trees through this scheme. Most recently we’ve teamed up with ‘Treemendous York’ to help fund them to plant trees throughout the city – it’s a great scheme.
Another initiative – one of many supporting local provenance – is to require our caterers to source their ingredients locally. We have put together a directory of local suppliers (including many farmers on whose fields the festival takes place) and pass this onto our caterers. We check their purchase invoices to make sure they have used them, and there are financial penalties if they don’t. Many festivals claim to serve local food, but all too often that means the tins were bought in the local cash & carry. Ours can genuinely make that claim.
Another example is our festival glass policy. Most festivals are strewn with thousands of discarded plastic cups, empty bottles and cans. We have none of that – we give everyone a festival glass on arrival (actually a polyglass for safety) and this is what they drink out of all weekend. It’s a nice glass, branded, and they take it home and continue to use it. Simple, but makes a huge difference.
We’re also hot on recycling and composting – and use compost made at the festival when we plant trees. Any tents or camping equipment left behind are collected by a charity and re-distributed. All our printing is on recycled paper and done by a local firm.
Probably however the biggest thing we can do is educational – showing people there are realistic alternatives, and leading by example.
Would you consider offering discount to people who arrived via carbon neutral transport e.g. bike walking?
Yes, we’d love to do that – we just need to work out how to implement that effectively – maybe rather than a discount we could offer some food and drink vouchers to people who don’t arrive by car. But how to verify that? We could end up with the same bicycle being presented by dozens of people, all after a free pint! Any suggestions …?
What is your ‘not to be missed’ highlight of Galtres 2012?
Hard to say, but the jousting tournament by The Knights of the Damned will be pretty spectacular – part of this year’s Dragons & Knights theme. As will the dragon procession through the site. The headline bands should all be fantastic – Adam Ant, ASH, Buzzcocks, Ocean Colour Scene, Billy Bragg etc etc but some of the smaller bands such as Fossil Collective and Horse Guards Parade are not to be missed, and the night cabaret’s feature some weird and wonderful acts. One of the most special parts of the festival will be the ‘Solid Air Sessions’ put together to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the recording of John Martyn’s seminal album. We’ve got together some of the most amazing guitarists in the country, headlined by Jon Gomm, for this event. It will be mind-blowing!
Galtres Festival takes place 24th-26th August. Day and weekend tickets are available for the festival. Visit their website for more information and to book.
See you in the fields!
Laura heads up our editorial team here at Hello Eco Living. She loves knitting, cup cakes and new adventures!