How The Fling Was Flung
The idea came from a short walk that I took in the park… Bell Meadow in Chelmsford, Essex.
A beautiful park with multiple trees, flower beds and even a river running 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. This was the older sister to The Fling, which was not quite yet conceived.
The 3foot People Festival was a unique festival dedicated to preschool children attended by 13,000 people.
After a few years of running this festival, which took place on week days (because the pre-schoolers didn’t need to be anywhere else in the week) I thought – Why should kids have all the fun? It’s important to invest in their future, etc, but what about the grown-ups who have struggled to grow-up or adults who have become so burdened with responsibility that they’ve forgotten the everyday curiosity and wonder seen through children’s eyes?
Adults should have their own playtime but without children, I decided. Their own storytellers, craft workshops, dance lessons, music, shows, silliness, creativity and general playfullness (and perhaps a little alcohol, unlike at the children’s festival!).
And bigger people need a bigger field too. And we could share the tents, fencing, generators and perhaps even some performers from The 3foot People Festival… keeping stuff in place for the weekend, which is usually when grown-ups can relax.
After a few years, it could grow and grow, and become as great a festival as say Latitude or Boomtown, perhaps better.
So the idea for The Hylands Fling popped into my head. The perfect venue for a large scale, and yet village-feel mass gathering.
Except that the first iterations of the festival were too small to justify moving to such a vast park and so just 600 pioneering people helped me test the idea of The Fling in Central Park in year one.
That first Fling was a cheeky named special moment in time that brought together those seeking stimulating alternatives to the usual day/night out in town.
Since then, the ‘festival of assorted amusements’ grew in popularity and scale at an incredible rate and the response from audiences has been wonderfully positive.
As it settled into it’s predestined home at Hylands the hope was that it would eventually accommodate all who wished to attend and eventually realise its potential as a festival that showcased and explored the varied talent and creativity of grown-ups in touch with their inner child.