The Festival of Thrift

Jam making with Sam at the Festival of Thrift 2016.

Jam making with Sam at the Festival of Thrift 2016.


Last year, more than 35,000 people descended on Kirkleatham in Redcar to enjoy a free festival. Mayhem? Not really. Like Glastonbury for music lovers and Port Elliot for the literati, the Festival of Thrift has become a diary staple for people passionate about good living in sustainable ways.

This year, the Festival looks bigger and bouncier than ever with two days of family-friendly activities that blend ethics and creativity with fun, fun, fun. If you ever needed a brisk retort to the claim that being sustainable is all about guilt and asceticism, the Festival of Thrift is it.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Co-founder Wayne Hemingway MBE, of Red or Dead and HemingwayDesign fame, has mileage in exuberance with social change at its heart.

He’s proud of FoT: “The festival proved that ‘thrift’ isn’t just a flash in the pan. It’s a genuine response to the economy and the state of the world that is creaking under mass-consumption.”


Meet the Scone of Destiny. Picture: The Festival of Thrift

The festival is officially award-winning, with the Best Event Teesside (in 2015 and 2017), Gold as North East Tourism Event of the Year and the Observer Ethical Awards for Arts and Culture under its belt.

What to look out for? Amidst the carnival of demos, stalls, talks and workshops, all with a philosophy of make, mend and money-saving, shine a few quiet - and not-so-quiet - gems.

We like the sound of the Scavengers (making new things out of junk), wild baking and the gloriously named Always Drinking Marching Band. Apparently, they’re Mediterranean.

Harbuck & Futtock, milliners of Distinction, will create 200 original hats to order, on the spot in their hatmaker’s shop. Bistro Du Van is back on site, campervans ready and waiting. They just need amateur chefs to design and cook the food. And if you ever wondered what really goes on in a man’s shed, the UK Men’s Sheds Association (UKMSA) will uncover its mysteries.


Ladies and Gentlemen by the Cholmondeleys returns. Picture: the Festival of Thrift.

Experts and a range of equipment will be on hand to help you find your own fix for your broken items at the Fix It Cafe. Lea Anderson’s beguiling and jocular soirée of magic, music and dance, Ladies and Gentlemen by the Cholmondeleys, returns.

The variety is extraordinary. Download the full programme here and choose for yourself. Happy thrifting.

The 2017 Festival of Thrift takes place on September 23 & 24, 2017, at the Kirkleatham Estate, Redcar, TS10 5NW.