How to start your own festival

It seems every Tom, Dick and Harry is putting on a festival this summer – from the people behind the spooky Woolfire to this one, run by 29-year-old Alex Trenchard. Standon Calling started in 2001, and takes place in his mum and dad‘s garden. Here, he tells us how to set one up under your own parents‘ gazebo

  • Having rich parents helps

    ‘We started it in the garden,’ says Trenchard, ‘and we’ve gradually moved into the fields surrounding. My parents own some of the land and we work with a farmer who lends us a campsite. Last year we had a secret stage, so people were watching New Young Pony Club in the garden of a seventeenth-century house. I think we’re the only festival with a swimming pool, too.’

    A good vibe is essential, maan

    ‘There haven’t been any trashings of the garden. Part of the reason is that we have an amazingly friendly vibe. We’ve grown [Standon Calling] by word of mouth. Until last year , if you wanted to come you had to be invited by somebody who’d been before, so everybody felt more linked into the vibe.’

    Use your friends…

    ‘The first and second year we just had DJs, generally people I knew. The third year we had the first bands. A couple were mates and one was Do Me Bad Things, who I knew through a friend. We didn’t know how to build the stage properly so the drummer ended up in a hole.’

    …and family

    ‘They see me as a slave driver. You always drive your family harder than you’d drive anyone else, but that’s family.’

    Always be on the lookout for talent

    ‘In 2002 this South African guy turned up and spent the entire party at the barbecue. Subsequently I was walking down Portobello Road and saw a food stall selling Spanish meats and it was run by the same guy. So we got him in. This year, because we’re bigger, we want more variety, so I’ve been speaking to stallholders at Borough Market.’

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    Step 1: move your parents' furniture outside and invite your mates over

    Rent-free land is essential

    ‘If you look at most small events they tend to be on property without rent, or they have an agreement with a farmer that should it get to a certain size they’ll look at somewhere else. It’ll be interesting to see, with grain prices going through the roof, if farmers will keep doing that.’

    Shake things up a bit

    ‘We think the process of putting on a festival is like a theatrical production, by which I mean you don’t see the event as being static. We set-design secret areas, open them up at midnight – there’s always something happening. Music is essential, but I put a lot of thought into getting set designers in, artists in, just to try and make it more three-dimensional.’

    Standon Calling

    When August 1-3Where Standon, HertfordshireLine-up Super Furry Animals, Dan Lec Sac Vs Scroobius Pip, Mystery Jets, Acid Mothers Temple, Johnny Flynn, Late Of The Pier and moreTickets £120 parent and child ‘early bird’, then £150; £69 ‘early bird’, then £89; free under-13sInfo

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