Dig out some flares, dust off your Raleigh Chopper and channel some Ziggy Stardust vibes because the Guernsey Retro Festival heads to the Market this weekend for a fun-packed celebration of all things 60s and 70s.
After a successful event at the Peninsula Hotel in August, Guernsey Retro Festival is bringing its old-school flavour to the heart of Town. But while there’ll definitely be more than a few nods to the past, this weekend’s event is also about celebrating the present.
A free nostalgia trip for frontline workers
On Friday 18 September, the festival, which will take place inside the old flower market, will be free for all frontline workers, with tickets including free food and drink vouchers, plus free entry to watch live music including Buffalo Huddleston and Cor Damme Lars.
“We want to say a big thank you to anyone who worked on the frontline this year. We’re offering free entry to anyone who drove taxis, worked in a supermarket, care workers, people who delivered parcels, bus drivers – not just people in a medical profession”, said Jeff Fox, who co-founded Guernsey Retro Festival with Dennis Le Prevost in 2018.
“HSSC has taken 100 tickets and there are 500 free tickets for frontline workers at Beau Sejour. Just go along and tell them what you did during lockdown”.
Celebrating the best of the past
On Saturday, there’ll be free daytime events from 11am to 6pm, including children’s dance lessons, a classic vehicle display, retro market stalls and a special wheelchair dance to celebrate the presentation of two powered Ypush Hybrid Wheelchairs to St John’s Ambulance Service, bought by funds raised by the festival.
Saturday evening is a ticketed event which will include performances from Sons of the Desert and The Devotees, plus food stalls and festival special gin and rum slushis from Randalls Brewery. On Sunday there’ll be more live music with the Guernsey Big Band Collective, Shades of Blue and more.
“We’re a celebration of anything retrospective. If you look back to the past, your parents and grandparents will tell you how good things used to be. And they’re right about some things, which is why we want to revisit the best from those eras”, said Jeff.
“I think there was a lot of retrospection during lockdown. People weren’t going out, they were spending more time at home with family, perhaps playing board games, rediscovering old records and films. There’s a real appetite for all things retro right now”.
Raising money for the community
Jeff and Dennis launched the Guernsey Retro Festival in response to a VisitGuernsey competition searching for new ideas to boost tourism. The festivals are part of registered a charity, Guernsey Revival. All proceeds go to local charities.
“Our idea won and the States gave us £1,000 towards our first event, which didn’t go very far, so we went to a couple of companies, including Supersavers and Sure, who helped us get the money together for our first event.”
Bad weather forced the cancellation of the first Guernsey Retro Festival at Government House in 2019 – though it wasn’t a complete wash-out. What was planned as an outdoor event, moved indoors into the vacant former HMV premises in the Market. The event proved to be surprise smash, attracting more than 3,000 people.
“I think that once VisitGuernsey could see that we were serious, they offered to help out a bit more and they encouraged us to apply for a grant for this year, which we got and it’s allowed us to be a bit more ambitious with our plans”.
In 2019, the festival harked back to the 50s and 60s. This year sees the addition of the 70s, with all things 80s planned for 2021.
“Right now, more than ever, we want to help people have a good time. Mental wellbeing is so important and it’s at the heart of the charitable work we do. A bit of nostalgia can be really good fun, and that’s what the Retro Festival is all about”.
Tickets for the Guernsey Retro Festival are £5 and are available from Beau Sejour, Ray & Scott on The Bridge and The Streat in the Inner Market. Free tickets for frontline workers are available from Beau Sejour and Ray & Scott.