Ever since we began The Vintage Tourists, the one festival that we heard the most about and the one we most wanted to visit was Twinwood. But having already blown our annual ‘tourist’ budget on our earlier trip to Berlin (read about it if you haven’t already!) how were we going to manage it?
Held every August Bank Holiday weekend at the historic airfield site, Twinwood is a festival packed with music, dancing and shopping. The site opens on the Thursday until Tuesday with 3 full days of entertainment (not even counting the Friday night). We knew that one day would not be enough and also that we were going to be pushed to afford tickets for the amount of time we wanted to stay for. And we didn’t want to wait for 2019!
So, as luck would have it Twinwood organise a Mr and Miss Vintage competition every year and offer free tickets to those who manage to make it into the finals – worth a shot we thought!
The competition has several rounds, the first being an online Facebook vote. The contestants who make it into the top 30 based on votes get through to the second round where the organisers of Twinwood choose the 10 that they want to put into the finals (a show on the Sunday in the Colonial Club).
Despite having reservations about putting our mugs out there on social media to be judged we did it anyway, and we were relieved to see only positive comments made… and even better, lots of votes!
In fact both of us made it through to the second round (yay!) along with a good friend of ours who we work with at the Forties Experience when we volunteer there.
Although we never like to compete with one another, the fact that we promised to take each other meant we only needed one of us through – the odds looked good.
Given that we are writing about Twinwood goes to show that one of us made it through and so we hurriedly rearranged Bank Holiday plans and sorted childcare and imposed a summer shopping ban on ourselves so that we could justify a big shopping spree at Twinwood! (and boy, did we!)
Arriving first thing on the Saturday morning the sun was shining and we had no idea what to expect. We had decided to dress casually for the day (there would be enough outfit stress on the Sunday for the comp) and after a quick coffee we got stuck into the stalls around the main arena. In record time we had made purchases (I snapped up a lovely blue sweater from Cherry Retro and Emma found a beautiful 70’s does ’30s dress).
These stalls were just the tip of an amazing shopping iceberg!! Some of our favourite sellers were there including The Heritage Milliner, Pin Up Curl and Deborah’s Vintage, as well as House of Foxy and What Katie Did.
A particularly exciting moment was spotting a display of the American cosmetic brand Besame on the Voodoo Vixen stand (they are now UK stockists!!), and we saw for the first time the full range of beautiful products and lipsticks, walking away as proud owners of the 1941 shade Victory Red! Another shopping ‘coup’ was getting a full head turban by Sarah’s Doo Wop Dos! Anyone who has ever set their timer for her Etsy restock will appreciate how lucky we were to peruse a CHOICE of items on sale at her salon!
After a few hours our arms were aching with purchases and we had to do a ‘car drop’ so that we could relax in the afternoon!
Entertainment at the festival is fantastic offering something to suit all vintage tastes. Numerous dance classes are offered around the site for all levels of ability and we enjoyed a lovely cup of tea in the Colonial Club watching a beginners class.
The main arena has some incredible acts and visitors to the event bring their own chairs to sit and enjoy the various performances – a highlight for us was enjoying a gin and tonic watching the fabulous Glenn Miller band!
Evening entertainment is equally varied and there are so many venues to choose from. We chose the Casablanca Club – an intimate seated venue with atmospheric lighting where we enjoyed some wonderful music by the fabulous Sara Spade before heading to bed ready for the Miss Vintage finals the following day.
MISS VINTAGE FINALS
Sunday brought with it heavy rain, but having spent a fortune the previous day we were happy to dedicate Sunday to prepping for the Miss Vintage finals.
I had booked into the hair salon run by Sarah’s Doo Wop Dos to have my hair done (too many stressful hair calamities have made me run late to events before!) and Jess did a fantastic job of a 1940’s page-boy type style that would go well with my hat. (She can be found on FB and IG as ‘Rock’n’Rolla Hairstylist’).
I had chosen my outfit to represent the aspect of history that I find most interesting – fashion for the ordinary 1940’s women. This era was all about utility and austerity, and although a risky choice for a competition like this I could only be comfortable in an outfit that meant something to me.
The dress was an original 1940’s piece (sourced on ebay) and had all the features of the ‘make do and mend’ era. The collar had been re-stitched numerous times and the skirt section was decorated with embroidered flowers which in fact hid moth holes and damage. I loved that the original owner had worked hard to keep the dress going – and had done such a good job that I was able to wear it in 2018, still in good condition.
I needed a hat and decided (since hats were never on ration anyway) to have one made. I have long admired the Heritage Milliner’s pieces and Karen, the owner, made me a fabulous black felt hat with orange stitching to match the dress.
Bag and gloves were original pieces from Etsy sellers The 1940s Shop and Glitx and Pieces.
Being in the finals involves a rehearsal early on in the day to mark places on stage and go through the order of the show. Due to the rain and the number of people sheltering in the marquee we had quite an audience for this and it was good preparation for what was to come!
The other finalists were all lovely ladies and as we got ready in the dressing room (not as glamorous as it sounds!) it was great to see so many lovely vintage outfits and eras represented. Emma was there keeping me calm and stopping me from having a third gin and tonic (I’d already sunk two rather quickly in the hour before the show for some ‘Dutch courage’!) as well as reassure me that my outfit was good enough.
Then on to the show…
Lining up backstage were a lot of very nervous ladies ready to strut their stuff. I kept thinking ‘whose idea was this again?’ but show organiser Sarah Dunn (yes, of DooWopDo’s!) was so lovely and supportive I managed to make it up the stairs and on stage!
I can’t quite remember what I said as I was dazzled by the lights and the huge crowd but hosts Lola Lamour and Dusty Limits were very supportive and I got through it somehow! It was comforting to look out into the crowd and see my fellow vintage tourist waving (and stressing even more than I was!!)
When the results came I was honoured to be placed third and took home some fantastic prizes from the show and its sponsors.
Can I recommend entering Miss Vintage? Yes, if you have nerves of steel! Despite the backstage terror I’m so glad I entered and that we were able to attend this fantastic festival. We met so many amazing people, in particular some Instagram friends that we were delighted to catch up with for the first time.
This is an amazing event full of great entertainment and truly wonderful, friendly people. We’ll definitely be back!