What makes a greener festival? – We look at Croissant Neuf’s Summer Party

by Hope Wisechild

2013’s UK Festival Awards Shortlists for Jury-decided awards have now been announced, and solar energy pioneers Croissant Neuf are again in the running for the A Greener Festival award.

Croissant Neuf Summer Party, an independent family festival run entirely on renewable power, has already won this Award three years in a row, while its many other accolades include Highly Commended by Green Parent magazine in 2011 and 2012.

The August event at a beautiful Monmouthshire site is built around Glastonbury Festival’s longest running stage – the Green Fields’ Croissant Neuf tent. This magnificent Big Top’s massive, industry-quality sound system and stage lights are powered entirely by solar panels.

The Summer Party was created in 2007 as a flagship green festival, and while most festivals work to mitigating their environmental impact, Croissant Neuf boasts its average festivalgoer uses on 90% less water and generates less than half the CO2 they would over a normal weekend at home.

All electricity used on site, including by caterers and traders, comes from solar or wind generators, and last year’s event was run on just 11Kw. This was achieved by a comprehensive energy-saving policy including low-consumption LED lighting -with the main stage lights using less than a typical hairdryer – and hand pumps at the bar.

A committed recycling team makes sure everything possible is recycled – in 2012 achieving an impressive 95% recycling of waste produced. Other sustainability initiatives include an organic food and drink policy, with ingredients sourced locally and/or fairly-traded wherever possible.

Festivalgoers are actively encouraged to minimise the impact of their travel to the festival by choosing trains or buses, car sharing or, ideally, cycling. Cheerful stewards greet them at the gate, using wheelbarrows and horses and carts to ferry guests and their camping equipment around.

To compensate for emissions generated by revellers driving to the event, more than 4000 native British tree saplings have already been planted on and around the event site – three trees for every car journey.

If all this sounds a bit worthy, you probably haven’t yet experienced the festival’s water balloon fights, jousting, tea dances and general air of friendly silliness uniting all ages, or enjoyed the site’s pristine site, clean air and stunning Usk valley views.

A typically balanced and consistently lively, funky bill this year featured Nizlopi, Ellen & The Escapades, Zervas & Pepper, Smerins Anti Social Club and everyone’s Glasto greenfields favourite, the Biggles Wartime Band. Sunday’s headliners Gabby Young and Other Animals contributed to the playful spirit by performing their set wearing horses’ heads.

Your own event may not share this focus on green ethics or attract a Green Parent-reading crowd, but there’s bound to be something you could do to make it greener. Whether you’re inspired to hear that it can be done, or daunted by the challenge, why not visit Julie’s Bicycle for all the ideas, inspiration and tools you’ll need to make a start or up your game.

The UK Festival Awards are sponsored by Peppermint Bars, and you can follow the results live here.

Thanks to Hope for the pictures in this article



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