We are a community interest company, Festival of Thrift CIC, with a mission to

 “ carry out activities to benefit the  community and to advance public awareness of sustainable living through Festivals, exhibitions and other activities”.

Every penny we raise goes back into organising these activities and increasing the number of people we can engage.

Like many cultural organisations who have had to cancel major events though, it’s been a tough year. Our income is less than a quarter of previous years, and we will need to fundraise for next year. As a community interest company, we can accept donations – every little helps- so imagine buying a cup of coffee at the Festival of Thrift this year – and donate the cost instead to our build back better fund for 2021!

The first Festival took place in 2013 at Lingfield Point in Darlington, , the former home of Patons and Baldwins. The idea began with John Orchard, Wayne Hemingway MBE and Gerardine Hemingway MBE in Autumn 2012. They invited Festival Director Stella Hall to develop the project, she brought enthusiasts together and established a small team, including David Bilton to make their ideas a reality. That first event made a big impact regionally and nationally, with 27,000 visitors thronging the site, 17,000 more than expected.

By 2015 35,000 visitors were pouring through the gates to celebrate all things sustainable including the beginnings of public transport – the 190th anniversary of the first passenger steam train (between Stockton and Darlington).

In 2016, at the invitation of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, the Festival moved location to the beautiful Kirkleatham Museum & Grounds in Redcar.  Audience numbers were maintained as over 35,000 people came along to be entertained, inspired and educated about how to live thriftily and sustainably in style.

Redcar and Cleveland have welcomed us back ever since, and we have been delighted  that even more folk have joined us over the last four years. We are proud of what we achieve, and couldn’t do it without the wonderful artists, traders, craftspeople, businesses, educational establishments and community organisations that contribute to our success. We have won a multitude of awards since starting out, including Best Event Teesside (in 2015 and 2017), Gold as North East Tourism Event of the Year and the Observer Ethical Awards for Arts and Culture, recognising the fact that artists are embedded in the programme as agents for social change. More important though, is your feedback, which helps keep us on the right track. Each year we listen to what our partners and visitors say and make the changes you want to see.

We are now permanently based in the Tees Valley, and will soon be running activities during the year, as well as building our online presence. Sign up to our newsletter to keep in touch and get involved. It’s YOUR Festival after all!


  • Promote the concept of sustainable living and be a voice for sustainable issues globally and locally.
  • Build a unique and distinctive, fun, sustainable national event which draws positive media attention to our partners, Tees Valley and the North East.
  • Celebrate the heritage and contribute to the future prosperity of Tees Valley and its industry.
  • Ensure wider economic benefit through encouraging extended visitor spend on travel, accommodation, restaurants and businesses.
  • Contribute to community cohesion through targeting communities with less access to cultural activities.
  • Highlight the skills and creativity of the region’s artists and craftspeople, to inspire people of all ages to learn old ways, and find new ways to be creative in their every day lives.


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