What inspired you to start a festival?
I’ve got family, and it’s quite tricky between work, school and all the other things in the modern world, to make enough time for the children to make the memories that I remember making. Going wild in the countryside, roly-polying, lighting fires and picking fruits… And I thought it would be a wonderful idea to get a new festival on the circuit that made it easy for all generations to come along for the weekend, and do the opposite of what we do every day. Families can allow their children to go a bit wild safely in the country.
The other impetus behind it was, being a festival-goer all my life, festivals seem to be getting so big and commercial. I really hankered after being part of a story. It’s really important that it’s great value for money, there’s no VIP area and we’re in it together. And then you’re invited if you want to take part, whether that’s signing up to singing with a Bulgarian choir, or loads of other workshops. It’s music, workshops, crafts and pit cooking with international chefs.
Is it more important for youngsters to get outdoors?
As we move forward into the future, nobody is reminding us of the miracle, beauty, fun and feel-good-factor of the natural world, because there’s no profit for anybody.
We’re bombarded with things that we need in our life, whether it’s a car, branded shoe, branded gadget or social media site. There’s all this pressure to be connecting with that kind of world, and the sound of nature is getting quieter and quieter. Yet it’s free and scientifically proven that it releases serotonin. I don’t want to sound too new age, but I want it to be a really fun weekend which enables people to go out and into nature, and reconnect with the landscape, whilst also filling your brain.
And it’s great to be able to take people to Wales to show off what you’ve got?
I’m doing it there because it’s with the William Gladstone family and he happens to have gorgeous, rolling, green hills in Flintshire – which is only 10 minutes from Chester. His ethos, William Gladstone, if you read about it, is the one Jimmy Hendrix took the line from, ‘It’s not the love of power but it’s the power of love’. And it was also him that was radical enough to say, ‘Listen, if I’ve got problems to solve, mental problems to solve, I’m going to go out into the countryside and try and figure it out that way’. And for him, chopping down trees helped find solutions, so it’s the perfect place to have a festival.
We’ve got Zip World there, Snowdonia, and it’s the year of legends this year. It doesn’t take much of a hop and a skip with your imagination when you go out in the Welsh landscape to start thinking about King Arthur and all these myths and legends we’ve grown up with.
Who is your living Welsh legend?
Gareth Bale is up there, because of the style of football he plays and the amount of enjoyment he has given to all of us. The whole motto of ‘together stronger’. Last year’s Euros was totally unforgettable, and a lot of that has to come from the inspiration he gave.
What’s new about the festival this year?
I’m so hands-on with it. Michael Rosen is coming and so is Norman Jay. We’ve got one of the best jazz groups on the circuit called the Kansas Smitty’s House Band. If you love the early jazz music, it’s absolutely spine-tingling stuff. We’ve got an authentic wordsmith hoedown on Friday as well, with a stomping banjo player. I hand-pick everything for the festival – it really matters to me that every single thing – whether you’re a philosopher or a chef – is the best we can find.
Do you think more people are coming to Wales?
I’m a big fan of what the Welsh government is doing at the moment. The team that are in charge of it are doing a great job in being imaginative. Offering things for local people and people from further away, and I work alongside them. I was there for the Champions League final and It was amazing to see these brilliant Real Madrid players, and the Juventus fans who were melodic and lively until the last twenty minutes.
But of course, it’s a beautiful country. It’s full of people who are curious and imaginative, and the whole landscape offers so much. I’m always proud to be part of the Welsh story.
:: The Good Life Experience takes place on September 15-17 in Hawarden, Flintshire, For more information, visit www.thegoodlifeexperience.co.uk