A TINY History Of A Festival for Tinies
Making Festivals That Inspire Other Festivals
In a land far far away, an idea came into existence from a walk I took in the park – Bell Meadow in Chelmsford, Essex to be exact.
It was a beautiful park with multiple trees, flower beds and even a riverrunning through it. It seemed the perfect setting for an outdoor event, however, far too small for a conventional festival. The thought then came to shrink the audience rather than look at another space – and The 3foot People Festival was born.
Except that at this point there wasn’t a name and there were no other outdoor festivals for pre-school children in the UK to compare it with. The first idea for a name, something quirky and to make it stand out, was The 4foot People Festival – but then my manager at the time, Jon Gower (someone who actually had a toddler at this time), pointed out to me that pre-schoolers only reach about 3ft in height…
But then why was nobody else in the UK doing this type of event? Why was there no other pre-school festival? What would the children actually do? Would anyone come? The usual questions asked by an event producer but with the added factor that this hadn’t been done before. Looking back, there was no need to worry but hindsight is wonderful when the truth is that a pioneering spirit was at the heart of the festival and it was unique to the city of Chelmsford.
Since it started the festival has grown in popularity and scale at an incredible rate and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Like the toddlers who attend, the festival grew quickly and moved on from the Bell Meadow (at 2400 people) to the larger Central Park (growing from 5200 to 6600 people).
It inspired new life in the form of The Fling – an adults-only festival, focused on the kind of playfulness that comes easily to children. And now, The 3foot People Festival and it’s curious offspring The Fling, have each matured with more space to breathe at the vast Hylands Park. The move was controversial, the intimate beauty and convenience of Central Park hard to beat – but the truth was we also had to increase capacity to cover growing costs (just like a real growing child, eh?!) as the children’s festival shot up to 11,800 and then stabilised around 12,600 people.
The move was intended to allow both events to thrive, nurture new talent and accommodate everyone who wished to attend. Plus, in case nobody noticed the link… the idea was for The Fling to become The Hylands Fling at some point!