If you're looking for a day's or weekend's worth of new, unique and uplifting experiences, seek out a ticket to Tandem Festival. The volunteer-led collaborative effort, featuring partnerships with many of Oxfordshire's beloved community-run institutions (Cultivate, Tap Social Movement, Oxford Poetry Library and Upcycled Sounds to name a few), appeals to those looking for new causes to support, as well as those seeking a traditionally hedonistic festival experience with a side of social consciousness.
The guilt you might feel about the self-indulgent partying of many festivals is alleviated by the festival's green ethos, which permeates all aspects of the experience, from the compost toilets (which were remarkably more pleasant than their chemical counterparts) to the reusable drinks cups to the entirely meat-free catering. The measures taken to reduce waste are far from tokenistic, instead seeming to have been truly taken to heart by attendees: as well as reducing the festival's carbon footprint to almost nothing, it was pleasing to wander among the natural delights of the festival site without seeing litter everywhere.
This is the kind of place where you will learn from and be inspired by others, rather than constantly dodging lairy revellers. Despite over 100 events filling the weekend's programme, the set-up is carefully planned so that you never feel overwhelmed by the variety - there's a sincerely chilled out vibe that encourages one to try lots of different things, alongside the ever-present option of finding a lovely shady spot for relaxing in. Much of the joy of the day was derived from exploring the farm which was enchantingly decorated with a range of colourful exhibits, with twinkling fairy lights and handmade crafts guiding you to the different areas. Although we were fortunate to have brilliant weather this weekend, enough of the stages and activities were indoors, achieving a great balance of showcasing the best of the Oxfordshire countryside while offering shelter in case it was needed!
I went along on the Saturday and got to sample loads of bands, enjoy two gorgeous veggie meals, try my hand at screen-printing a t-shirt, try my two left feet at Latin dancing and listen to a varied hour of performance poetry. While there was a well-stocked bar offering all the usual alcoholic fare, my drink of choice was the smoothie my friend produced for me with the wonderful Smoothie Bike - never has refreshment been more well-earned! With a fully-fledged programme of kids' entertainment, the festival is serious about providing a weekend of entertainment that the whole family really can enjoy, with the added bonus of providing artistic, social and environmental inspiration.
Head to Tandem Festival's website to be the first to hear when tickets for next year go on sale!