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Dom Joly: How to not organise a Non-Existent Festival

PUBLISHED: 10:06 11 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:31 11 August 2014

This weekend on Dom Joly’s farm, the NO Festival Festival is not happening. You can’t buy tickets and there is NO VIP. NO bands are playing, NO celebrity chefs are cooking, NO activities are going on for kids.” DON’T BOOK NOW

This weekend on Dom Joly’s farm, the NO Festival Festival is not happening. You can’t buy tickets and there is NO VIP. NO bands are playing, NO celebrity chefs are cooking, NO activities are going on for kids.” DON’T BOOK NOW


No bands are playing, no celebrity chefs are cooking, no activities are going on for kids. DON’T BOOK NOW!

Comedian and Cotswold Life columnist Dom Joly with his dog Fitzgerald / Photo by Antony Thompson (Thousand Word Media)Comedian and Cotswold Life columnist Dom Joly with his dog Fitzgerald / Photo by Antony Thompson (Thousand Word Media)

I like a knees-up as much as the next grumpy middle-aged man, but what is it with the Cotswolds and festivals? Anywhere else I’ve ever lived there has been one, maybe two, ‘events’ a year. That was fine. That was something I could handle. Not in the Cotswolds however - there appears to be the need for a festival of something every day otherwise terrible things will clearly happen.

Just a quick flick through the volumes of leaflets that are forced through my door informs me that I’ve just missed the Bird Festival, the Science Festival, the Racing Festival, the Food and Drink Festival… but don’t worry because the Cricket Festival is on and there are innumerable Folk Festivals and then there is the Beer Festival (I quite like that one), but you had better get your tickets for the Literature Festival and start thinking about the Xmas Festival and by the way, would the kids like to go to the Medieval Festival?

People keep ringing me up - “Are you going to the Feastival? Did I see you at Cornbury Festival?” STOP! I just want one weekend with no festival. I want a weekend where I am not badgered by my wife or my kids to fork out vast amounts of money to go and hang out with people I don’t want to hang out with at something I have no interest in. I think what I really want is a No Festival Festival?

Maybe I’ll set one up.

“This weekend on Dom Joly’s farm, the NO Festival Festival is not happening. You can’t buy tickets and there is NO VIP. NO bands are playing, NO celebrity chefs are cooking, NO activities are going on for kids.” DON’T BOOK NOW.

I’m going to do it. You’ve inspired me. Well done you. In fact I’m going to set it up right now. This column is to officially mark the establishment of my No Festival Festival and to let you know that my Non Festival will take place through the whole of August. Tickets are £1,000 each. Please make cheques out to Dom Joly. I will give a small discount if you hand me cash on the street and I am open to mutual trading so if you are, say, Whole Foods and you want your name attached to my big event, then you can have a banner up in my kitchen if you give me free shopping for the year.

Before you commit, you probably want to know what sort of activities I don’t have going on at my Non Festival? Activities will include me lying on a sofa watching television and shouting at my wife to bring me some toast please? Dom Joly will also be pottering around his garden muttering to himself that he really should mow the lawn on a daily basis. Don’t miss the 2-4pm “I take my dogs for a walk” (book early). Every evening there will be an opportunity to see me try to decide what to have for supper. Often, I will be doing a kitchen demo in which you can learn how to overcook an expensive joint of beef or murder a kumquat. Please remember to bring a twin headphones jack with you. I can often be found lying in the garden listening to ‘tunes’ exclusively DJ’d by me. If you bring the jack you can plug in and listen along with me.

That was easy. I’m quite excited about my Non Festival now. The preparation is going to be a nightmare but it will be worth it because it will bring the community together, something we hardly ever do any more. Also it will give everyone something to do rather than go to all those bloody festivals that are just after our money and our precious leisure time. If things go really well I might make my Non Festival an annual thing.

My wife thinks that we should do a Non Christmas Festival in Mauritius and I’m giving it some serious thought. The moment we make a decision I’ll let you know where you can get tickets. My book How Not To Run A Non-Existent Festival is out in September and I’ll be talking about it at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.


This article by Dom Joly is from the August 2014 issue of Cotswold Life


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