10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Festival of Thrift

14 Sep 2019

Festival of Thrift is above and beyond my favourite event that we have here in Teesside. I look forward to it coming around every year and 2019 was no exception. It would be my fourth or fifth time going along, so I thought that was the perfect excuse to share exactly why I love the festival so much and give you some reasons to visit too!

If you're unfamiliar with Festival of Thrift, let me fill you in. It's a weekend-long event that is dedicated to sustainability and eco-living, but delivering those messages in a fun way. It's now in its seventh year after starting out at Lingfield Point in Darlington. It made a big impact regionally and nationally, with 27,000 visitors - 17,000 more than expectedSince then, the festival has grown massively in popularity and had to move to a larger venue. In 2016, it was announced that it would be held at Kirkleatham Hall in Redcar, which is luckily a short drive from my place, continuing to promote the message of living sustainably, being creative and bigging up the Tees Valley.

If that wasn't enough to sell this festival to you, here's a few reasons why I love it and think absolutely everyone should visit.

1. There are tons of free activities to get involved with

Taking part in activities at events like this is just so much fun, and luckily, if you're feeling a bit thrifty, there are plenty of free activities to try your hand at. In the image above, you can see pieces of waste plastic, which were being melted down and turned into sheets for people to take home and transform into keyrings, coasters, place mats or anything else that they fancied. I may have made a beautiful blue, green, yellow and white creation to cut into coasters for our dining table.

2. There are paid workshops too

If the freebies just weren't enough, there are also countless paid workshops to try your hand at. This time around, I didn't try any out, but I fancied the copper ring making or the stained glass workshop. Many of them only cost a couple of quid and are drop in sessions, but always make sure you keep an eye on the website to see which workshops are ticketed!

3. There are brilliant local music acts

If you're a music fan, Thrift is a great place to discover new artists. With a few stages dotted about the site, you're guaranteed to hear music at some point during your time there. I particularly enjoyed listening to The Wild Rover & The Haverton Hillbillies this time around, which is an Ireland-meets-Teesside group with a fun folk style. Make sure you check out the stage lineup to see who's performing!

4. There's always a theme

If you like dressing up, you'll love this. Every year, Thrift has a different theme, which can be seen in the performances and activities, but there's also the opportunity to go along in fancy dress to be in with a chance of winning Best In Show! This year, the theme was centred around the moon landing, given that it's 60 years since, so there was plenty of space-related things going on. I think that's a pretty good dress-up theme too - think of the cool alien designs you could come up with or you could be even more unique and go as Laika the dog!

5. There's so much food to try

This could quite possibly be my favourite reason to go to Thrift... the food. There are SO MANY food stalls to look at and try out, it is unbelievable. From street food to pies-in-hand, to jam and marmalade to brownies and cupcakes, this event has it all. And the best bit about it is that most of these food stalls are from the North East, so you can be certain that you're supporting the local economy. Nothing quite beats grabbing a box of churros with chocolate dipping sauce and listening to the musical sounds coming from the bandstand!

6. The weather is (usually) always amazing

I swear, every time I've been to Thrift, there has been nothing but glorious weather, and that's saying something, given that it's held in September! Of course, always make sure to pack for rainy weather and always check the what the weatherman is saying before you go along, but honestly, this year, we had coats and jumpers on, only for the sun to roast us.

7. It's perfect for kids

While there's so much for adults to do, this festival absolutely doesn't leave children out. There are kid-friendly workshops, such as Jamalittle where they can make their very own jam, and street performances, storytelling, and so much more. I actually teared up a little bit watching Space Rebel Princess when all the kids in the audience got up at the end to dance with the main character. It was absolutely adorable and everyone was having the time of their lives!

8. There are so many pretty things to see

There have been years where I've gone along to Festival of Thrift and not actually been involved with any of the workshops or been booked on to anything, but I've simply loved walking around and taking in all of the sights. It's such a colourful event with incredible people who are creating incredible things. With clothes, jewellery, home decor, crafts and countless other things on display, it really is a feast for the eyes.

9. There's a real community vibe

I love nothing more than shouting about the North East and all the people that live here, which is exactly the kind of atmosphere that you can find at Thrift. You end up talking to people and finding out about all these amazing businesses that you didn't even know existed. You learn things and you're made to feel a part of this fabulous Thrift family. Everyone is so upbeat and happy that it's hard not to catch the same feeling! Everyone is included and everyone seems to have the best time.

10. It's totally free to attend

Overall, this is the biggest selling point and yes, you read it right, Festival of Thrift is totally free to attend. You don't have to purchase tickets and you aren't under any obligation to spend money there (you could bring a picnic if you didn't want to buy food from a vendor). The only thing you would possibly have to pay for is parking, which is £5 per car and it all goes towards the running of the festival, but if you wanted to avoid that (and be more eco-friendly), you could bus, bike or walk! It's quite simple to turn into a very low cost day out, which is most definitely a big appeal to me.


I'm loving watching this festival go from strength to strength, and I'm certain that it's something that the Tees Valley will be able to enjoy for years to come. It truly is a remarkable event and I'm so grateful to have something like it right on my doorstep. I can't wait to see what they pull out of the bag for next year!

Let me know if you're visiting Festival of Thrift or whether it's something you think you'd enjoy!

Festival of Thrift is being held on September 14th and 15th from 10AM - 5PM at Kirkleatham Museum & Grounds, Redcar, TS10 5NW. Click here for more information.


Would you like to comment?

@thenorthernist