For Lovers of Old-School: 5 Vintage Revival Festivals

Take that outfit to a festival! Image courtesy of lostin1950.blogspot.com.

Summer is prime time for festivals.  Thanks to warmer weather, you’re likely to encounter at least one anywhere you are during the summer months, whether at home or travelling, in a small town or a big city.

Festivals create a fun and relaxed atmosphere for individuals to gather and indulge in shared interests or areas of pride. There are festivals for everything under the sun (pun intended) –  city heritage festivals, music festivals, religious festivals, cultural festivals, festivals for book lovers, and many more.

Every festival encourages its own special atmosphere, through specific events, vocabulary, food, music choices, and even dress codes. Whether it’s Carnival in Venice, Italy; Stampede in Calgary, Canada; or even just your local St. Patrick’s Day party,  donning the ‘costume’ and mannerisms promoted by any local event is a great way to feel more involved and meet people!

The vintage scene is an ideal candidate for festivals. In the last few years, several “Vintage Revival” festivals have popped up around the globe, growing quickly in popularity and duration as vintage trends become more common and accepted in popular culture.

Celebrating the fashions, music, activities, paraphernalia, and vehicles of the mid-1900s, here are some of the best annual revival festivals at which to don your favourite swing or 1950s prom dress, dance all night to big band acts, and drool over perfectly restored cars and motorcycles from the 1910s to the 1960s!

Twinwood Festival in Bedfordshire County, England

Britain’s biggest vintage music festival, Twinwood, sees 60 bands play over the course of 3 days, offering up music from the Roaring ’20s to the early ’60s. Held at the end of August, the event features extensive dance floors for those who want to practice their Charleston, Lindy, Jive, or Twist moves, while side attractions abound. Classic vehicles, vintage burlesque and comedy shows, a vintage market, hairdressing parlours, and beauty salons are all part of the action, as well as the “Miss Vintage UK pageant” for those ladies who are seriously dedicated to vintage fashions.

The John Miller Orchestra performing at 2010 Twinwood. Image from Wikimedia Commons.
The John Miller Orchestra performing at 2010 Twinwood. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Goodwood Revival in West Sussex County, England

Love motor-racing, old cars, and vintage glamour? Considered the high-class vintage event, Goodwood is comparable to Ascot — while racing may be the official event, everyone’s attention is focused on the elaborate clothes! Held at a historic racetrack, events include motor races featuring cars from the late ’40s to mid-’60s, top rockabilly music acts, and high-end vintage shopping. Channel your inner movie star, dig out your very best (preferably couture) vintage clothes, and head to Goodwood in early September for a taste of the elite’s lifestyle mid-century.

Goodwood Revival Festival
Off to the races at Goodwood Revival 2010. Image courtesy of Christine Matthews.

The Vintage Revival Montlhéry in Montlhéry, France

A racing event exclusive to cars and motorcycles built before 1940, Vintage Revival Montlhéry is considered Goodwood’s early 20th-century, middle-class, French cousin. Unlike its British counterpart, this is a laid-back, smaller revival event — a chance to relax and cut loose while sporting vintage fashions and enjoying your love of vintage vehicles and music. Held each year in May, it’s a great way to say hello to summer for any vintage-loving girl or guy!

Viva Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Billed as the world’s biggest rockabilly event, Viva Las Vegas focuses on the rockabilly lifestyle and music scene — the revival of 1950s style, vehicles, and classic rock and roll. A massive four-day event, this April festival attracts thousands of attendees and includes multiple main attractions and side events. Live music acts, burlesque shows, tattoo parlours, fashion contests, a vintage car show, Jive and Jitterbug dance classes, and even wedding ceremonies held during the car show are all on the menu at Viva!

Rockabilly girls at Viva Las Vegas. Image courtesy of lasvegasginger.blogspot.com.
Rockabilly girls at Viva Las Vegas. Image courtesy of lasvegasginger.blogspot.com.

Lost in the 50s in Sandpoint, Idaho, USA

Dedicated to all things 1950s,  Lost in the 50s attracts vintage car lovers from across the States and Canada to Sandpoint, Idaho each May. Held throughout the city, the involvement of both locals and visitors  invokes a small-town-America nostalgia for participants.  Attendees can enjoy or participate in a classic motor vehicle parade, whirl away the night at sock-hop-themed live band dances, and indulge in wearing saddle shoes and poodle skirts. Small scale and friendly, this is the vintage revival event that will appeal to those who aren’t sticklers for accuracy but revel in the kitsch and nostalgia of the 1950s.

While so far the big, yearly vintage festivals are located in Europe and North America, the continued growth and increasing popularity of the vintage revival (and accompanying rockabilly and swing dance) scenes means small festivals are starting to crop up on an irregular basis in other regions, including one last year in Malaysia. Here’s hoping that there are soon options for travelling vintage lovers all over the globe to celebrate and recreate 20th century days gone by!

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