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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jolly Old England: Green Festivals and Solar Circuses

Looking for great entertainment and headed to England during the summer? Want to do some festivals, but not really into the whole Renaissance Faire thing? Here’s a few possibilities. First, there’s the circus: the Green Roadshow makes its home in Somerset but travels throughout the country doing entertaining and educational events related to sustainability. It’s the only solar powered big top with the felicitous name, Croissant Neuf Circus. All of the exhibits and displays are run by renewable energy. Imagine your favorite carnival rides powered by the sun, a clown show with “practical pollution solutions,” all presented from a unicycle. There is a sustainable fountain, great educational materials in a tent, and lots of activities. The best way to see them this year is in August at the Croissant Neuf Summer Party in Glastonbury. As its website proclaims, the intimate, boutique style and all power on site provided by renewable energy, organic food, locally brewed ales and one of the most eclectic music line-ups of the year make this a bit of spectacular fun. For those who can't find a B&B and don't fancy tents, there are rentable Tipis and Yurts. Held just outside Usk, Monmouthshire, it purports to be an ideal green weekend in the country.
Too late for this summer (as this year’s festival just ended), the big Glastonbury Festival also includes Croissant Neuf, mainly as a terrific venue to see great music. Thelineup for this year in the Big Top included Paolo Nutini, the Madibles, Mankala, the Correspondents, King Porter Stop, and Freefall Collective. The stage is solar powered with LED lights and wind power supplements many of the events. And when you need a break from the music, there is always Ian the Interdimensional Wizard and Kevin the Clown who wandered the festival touting unusual ideas and inventions (imagine watching the magic of hydrogen power and 250,00 volts of solar power from a unicycle.) These two British Green fests include a booth sponsored by Sensory Solutions, a group of modern day witches and herbal remedy providers who sell alternative remedies, provide therapeutic massage, and other healing consultations from the back of a funky airstream trailer. And if you’re quick, you can catch the witches at the Big Green Gathering coming up July 29th – August 2nd. Also in Glastonbury, this festival features everything from green enterprises to music to traditional crafts. For accommodations, TBG Gathering has a unique village full of Podpads, adorable brightly colored huts with amenities that give visitors some privacy and a bit of luxury without damaging the festival grounds or using a lot of local resources. They're made of sturdy plywood and are decked out with a solid floor, fitted carpet, shelving, interior strip-light and additional 12v power socket, a vanity mirror and of course, a lock. The green crafts area features amazing traditional crafts like a master bronze caster alongside blacksmith, farrier, tin, copper and silversmith, fibre experts in weaving, spinning, dying, felting and knitting working alongside basket makers, bodgers, wood-turners, clevers, hewers and charcoal burners, as well as stone-masons, flint-knappers, glass-blower, jewellers and oak frame builders. Whichever event you choose, you can be sure your stay in England will be sunny and sustainable.

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