Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Nudefest

I promised several people I would write about Nudefest, the UK's biggest clothes-optional (but largely clothes-free) festival. It is easy to find out some basic information about the week from the British Naturism website, but from a non-BN member's perspective, in my opinion, it's a little hard to find out what's it's actually like to attend. Experiences are often written up in BN's magazine but this is only available to members once they've joined. Given that I went to Nudefest before joining BN, I feel this is a bit 'wrong way around', so here's my blog where anyone can read it.

This blog got a little long, but was fun to write given that almost everything to do with my time at Nudefest has been a brilliant life experience :)

The Event 

(images ©Newperran 2014)

Nudefest is an annual week-long festival at Newperran Holiday Park near Newquay, Cornwall in July (5-12 July in 2015). Newperran is a regular caravan and camping park, 40 acres in size. For comparison, if Newperran were a fully clothes-optional venue it would be the second biggest such venue in the UK after the Naturist Foundation in Kent. Newperran has all the facilities you would expect of a large holiday park: a large bar that can be converted to include a dance floor and live music, restaurant, shop, large indoor swimming pool, children's play area, multiple bathroom-shower-washing facilities, greens for picnics/games, and static caravans available for rent as well as room for 400+ guests with vans or tents.

Nudefest is a BN event, and as such big discounts are available for BN members BUT Nudefest is open to everyone, whether they be single, couple, or family. Unfortunately, Nudefest week falls outside the school holidays which is a shame but the bottom line is that no-one is excluded or left out. It's only for one week of the year, but statistically it's the best week weather-wise. The second week of July is the warmest week on average. Of course this is the UK, so averages don't mean very much! Chances are good though for decent weather. In 2013 we had not a cloud in the sky all week with temperatures in the mid to high 20s. The year before we had...not such good weather ;) The bad certainly makes you appreciate the good though!

The dress code covers the entire park and is 100% clothes-optional everywhere. Saying this, the majority of folks attending take the clothes-free option primarily because of the event's status as the UK clothes-free summer holiday. This has its good and bad side from a perspective of a first-time visitor to a social naturist event. It's certainly good in that no-one will bat an eyelid at anyone choosing to be clothes-free. In fact you can be so all week if you like! It does make for a very 'full on' experience though. It's not unusual for almost everyone to be nude in the bar in the evening (albeit many sporting wraps or such-like) for example as well as for activities like sun bathing or swimming. This is not the case at some naturist venues. I should also say that the clothes-optional dress code also covers all the activities that take place away from Newperran, be it organised visits to attractions, walks, or beach days. All of these are organised with venues in advance and agreed. The only time at which clothing is absolutely required is in travelling to and from external activities or non-organised personal trips outside Newperran. This includes walking locally. Please don't surprise the locals!

I'll give some examples of activities and trips in a while but I need first to say this...Naturism is naturism, which means this holiday is about having the opportunity to be clothes-free and having the respect of everyone else at the venue. It also means visitors must be comfortable themselves with seeing people nude. That's it. ALL other values we hold are the same. This is NOT an excuse for taking things towards a more 'liberal' extreme. Anything else considered indecent at any other time of the year at Newperran is still indecent at Nudefest. All that changes is the dress code. It's difficult to describe how brilliant that small change makes the holiday...but i'll try...



The Experience

I've previously blogged about my trip to Clover Spa in 2011, my seminal social clothes-free experience. That was an experiment to see if it was for me. Once over I was ready to try something a little bigger. Nudefest in the same year was it. I thought I was under no illusions what I was going to. I was ready for a camping trip with a different dress code, but I hadn't realised how different the experience would be...how much better than a run-of-the-mill camp at your average campsite.

Despite Nudefest being a week-long event, the first year I just went for a couple of nights to see what it was like. Upon driving in, the first thing that struck me was that in relation to regular camping, nothing much was visibly different. A banner was placed at the entrance and a marquee had been erected on the central green area but otherwise everything was very 'normal'. I don't know what I expected to be different...high security fences?...rules everywhere telling you to take your clothes off?...'nudist police' patrolling? Nothing of the sort. The upshot of this was an immediate feeling that the 'pressure' surrounding nudity was definitely off. Common sense presides over the week. The majority walked about nude without a care, but dressed or not I would have felt comfortable. There's certainly enough space so as to not feel like you're surrounded by constant nudity! This put me at ease straight away. There's nothing different about living without clothes except the lack of clothes!

I've written before some reasons why I've fallen into a clothes-free way of life. It makes sense to me when the environment is suitable, so it was no surprise that once pitched and ready to explore the site a bit I quickly decided to strip off and wander without clothing. The sun was out and it was warm. An all-over tan simply from walking around! It goes without saying that swimming and sunbathing are two great reasons for stripping off...convenient, comfortable, common sense, but strangely I got more happiness and well-being from doing more day-to-day things such as going to the shop, having a drink at the bar, sorting out my tent, fixing something to eat or washing up afterwards. This is where simply being nude becomes a true way of life. Some folks would get dressed again after topping up the tan or climbing out of the pool. Horses for courses. For me not having to worry about clothes has become natural.

Then of course there's the issue of the shower block. I can't emphasise enough how brilliant it is not to have to faff with clothes going to take a shower at a campsite! Every time I've been 'regular camping' going to the shower block is a right pain. The cubicles are so small that trying to keep clothing completely clean and dry is nigh-on impossible. The air is always slightly damp so it feels yucky trying to get dry and dressed and clothes feel sticky. Then you need to do a magical 'hop-dance' in order to get the clothes on without them touching the wet floor. Just carrying and keeping your stuff together feels awkward. The whole process feels farcical and....it's completely unnecessary. At Nudefest, take one wash bag...go and shower...and walk outside to dry off in the breeze. Done. Amazing. No faffing...no frustration. This is the kind of common sense thing that makes clothes-free camping so much better. If the weather's just right you don't even need a towel :)

The other big thing I need to write about is the community. Regular camping in the UK with the common stand-offish attitude permeating through our society means everyone stays regimental in their little space. Little or no cross border communication. Isolation. Maybe it's just me! It does seem to be the British way though and it's very sad. Nudefest was a revelation. I don't usually feel confident enough to walk around randomly striking up conversations but for the clear reason that everyone immediately has something in common, at Nudefest this felt less of a problem. The friendliness and approachability of others was strides ahead of any other camping experience I'd had. Within half an hour I felt like I'd made several new friends. There's no sense of isolation. You're immediately welcome and part of a community enjoying a joint holiday. Yet at the same time I felt a kind of over-arching respect; a respect that allowed me to join in or go apart with absolutely no pressure. The festival and the events, trips, activities, games, and music that goes with it is worth the money for sure, but the community and atmosphere is something that felt almost priceless. Very similar to any festival then really!

This leads me on to write about the festival 'bit' itself. A clear reason why Nudefest is definitely worth at least one visit to.

Get Involved

The fantastic thing about the week is that it really is a festival. There's always something going on, whether it be at Newperran itself or a trip to some of the great places to go in Cornwall. External venues have warmed to Nudefest attendees following extremely positive press coverage so it isn't just the small attractions inviting us over for a clothes-free wander. Here's a list of trips around Cornwall from the last four years. Some are annual trips whereas others are booked every few years to keep things fresh and interesting.

Poppy Cottage Gardens   Bodmin Moor Hike     Coastal Walk    Perranporth Beach Day
Skinners Brewery  Ten-pin Bowling     Newquay Zoo  Blue Reef Aquarium 

Maritime Museum, Falmouth (2013)
A couple of these stand out for me. The Eden Project was a top place to visit having the whole place to ourselves. This included being able to wander around the tropical dome in a much more comfortable state. Even the staff were talking about stripping off! The last visit in 2012 was accompanied by live music, food and drinks. The National Maritime Museum in Falmouth is a must see anyway. I particularly homed in on the weather exhibit...no surprise there!
Sitting on top of Bodmin Moor (2012)

My favourite annual trip outside of Newperran is walking on Bodmin Moor. I've done this for the last three years and look forward to as a keen hill walker. There's nothing quite like walking free of clothes in the countryside, made even more satisfying being in a group of like-minded people. Walks are generally 8 to 10 miles with short cuts for those who would like a more gentle stroll. The biggest gotcha in recent walks has been protecting against the sun. Yes there have been moments when Joe Public has seen us, but never a bad word said.

Here's a look at the huge variety of things-to-do at the venue itself. There's always something going on and chances are I've left off an equal number of activities. Some take place every year (I'm very proud of my perfect water polo record!) whilst some are great one-offs that I'm sure will return if the festival goers yell loud enough! The programme is made available very shortly before Nudefest begins and it's always different and always springs a surprise.

The choice of live music caters for everyone whether it be acoustic or classical to accompany a picnic in the sunshine, to folk, pop or even a bit of rock and roll in the evening. Returning visitors to Nudefest include the now famous Billy Bottle and Martine....as seen on BBC's The Voice! A bit of modern dance music in the early hours after the cheesy classics have worn some folks out. A popular finale to the holiday is the final night disco including (optional) body painting. This always turns the bar into a spectacular scene with colour lighting and glow sticks.

Go for it

If you've read down this far and from the UK, then chances are you're already an attendee or would consider coming along. I wholeheartedly recommend it. It was absolutely one of the best decisions I've taken in life. This blog might make it sound a little daunting. It's really not. If you're a single then the community feel to the week will make meeting people and making friends ridiculously easy...probably within minutes of arriving! For couples it's the ideal trip to get used to a clothes-optional environment, particularly where one partner is keen and the other hesitant. The balance of women to men as always close to 50:50 so there's no danger of being outnumbered.

The pricing system means that joining BN is worthwhile if you want to stay for 3 or more nights out of the 7. The cost (except if staying in a static caravan) is pretty much the same as regular camping at a venue of Newperran's size and amount of facilities. Perhaps a little higher...but then you get the benefit of all the trips and activities too! Day visits are also available if you just want to come along for a few hours.

Nudefest in 2015 is 5-12 July and I've included the flier below. Here's to another great week. You coming?



2 comments:

  1. I would like to go but I worry about the reception as I'm a mid 60's divorced male. Also are there rail stations close.

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    Replies
    1. The reception will be one of everyone treated equally whatever their life situation. I grant you there are tales of some clubs and venues being very strict on who gets invited in. For BN events however, there is no discrimination of any kind. At Nudefest, folks are not even required to be BN members, although any stay greater than 3 nights gives a discount greater than the annual membership fee! The only exclusions will be for those who misbehave, but fortunately this is very rare. Pitches for camping and vans are bookable right up to the week in question so there's plenty of time to decide. As for rail travel, Newquay branch line is nearby and lifts can be arranged. One advantage of BN membership is the ability to interact before the event on the BN community. Naturists are happily willing to lend a lift to those coming down by rail. Many from the north use Newquay airport as it is worth checking to see if it is cheaper that way.

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