Worldwide audience for Festival of Thrift’s pioneering and ongoing digital event

People from across the world have been tuning in, joining in and thrifting in their thousands for the Festival of Thrift’s first-ever online outing.

This year’s festival is taking place via its website as Thriftfest Upcycled, an alternative to its usual large-scale outing which, in true thrifty fashion, the organisers repurposed and took online rather than cancel after it was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Analysis by the festival team of the latest element of the event – a day long live stream – found it attracted an audience from as far afield as New Zealand, Iowa in the USA, Spain, The Netherlands and right across the UK from the north of Scotland down to Cornwall and the South West of England.

Thriftfest Live, which streamed on Saturday 12 September, offered a packed programme included 13 activities, 10 workshops, 6 talks, 4 demonstrations and one beautiful moment as well unveiling footage from a mini Festival of Thrift that the organisers had put on for two streets in a secret location, see below for a behind-the-scenes look at the day.

The Festival of Thrift team’s ongoing and pioneering digital alternative to its hugely popular annual celebration of sustainable living, which usually attracts up to 40,000 festival-goers to Kirkleatham near Redcar, was launched during the summer.

In August, an online programme was unveiled to enable festival-goers to re-create elements of the fun of the festival at home and thousands of ‘Thrift Your Place’ activity packs, pictured below, have since been downloaded via the newly designed Thriftfest Upcycled website.

Containing ideas to inspire all ages to get involved in creating, fixing, swapping and sharing at home, the packs include activities ranging from guides to cloud-spotting, releasing your inner Dandy and creating wearable sculptures from household objects to making beautiful flowers from beach waste plastic and how to organise a swap shop in your street.

A series of inspiring discussions presented in partnership with Tees Valley Nature Partnership covered topics from Green Energy and Food Banks to listening to young voices about the future sustainability of our planet.

A virtual marketplace selling sustainable goods from selected independent traders, also up and running on the website, has attracted thousands of virtual visits by shoppers too.

Festival of Thrift director, Stella Hall, said: “People couldn’t visit the festival this year so we decided to bring the joyful spirit and thoughtful ethos of the event into people’s homes instead.

“We’re absolutely delighted that so many have joined us, and from such varied locations, and have been able to enjoy our unique festival.”

The  Festival spirit continues online with a recording of the live stream available to view for a limited period as well as a range of online workshops – ranging from cooking with foraged food to making toys out of electronic waste –  plus talks on a range of topical sustainability issues which are all still freely accessible to watch.

Stella added: “The Festival lives on – there’s still plenty to see and do, so log onto our website and join in!”

The Festival of Thrift’s digital edition for 2020, Thriftfest Upcycled, can be found at

The following organisations are partners and supporters of the 2020 Festival of Thrift Community Interest Company and its ongoing work. The company is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and enabled through a partnership with Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council together with County Durham Community Foundation, Tees Valley Nature Partnership and The Northern School of Art.

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