Vintage Festival History

Type: Placemaking & Events
Date: 2010 onwards

Vintage Festival Origins

In 2007, Wayne, Gerardine and the HemingwayDesign team developed the concept of a festival that rejoiced in the history of British creativity. Working with researchers from Wolverhampton University, they forensically assembled the archives, experts and knowledge bases that would enable an authentic display of the music, fashion, art, design, film and food of the 1920s onwards, whilst looking at how these ‘decades of cool’ are influencing today’s world-renowned British creative culture.

The concept had its birth in August 2010 on The Sussex Downs and a whopping 50,000 people came to the party, the majority dressed to the nines. From that point on, Vintage 2010 not only dominated the media coverage of summer events, but also the nominations at that year’s Festival Awards, walking away with the Best New Festival category. The feedback proved the Hemingway hunch that there was a glaring gap in the summer festival calendar for an annual event which reunites music with fashion and ties in Britain’s wider cultural influences.

Vintage on the Southbank, 2011

The Vintage Festival has gone from strength to strength, and in 2011, we moved to London’s Southbank to coincide with the Festival of Britain celebrations, where over 200,000 people a day enjoyed a Southbank Centre that was totally transformed. From swing, rockabilly, mod, soul, funk, disco, ska, film, to art or design, or if you just wanted to dress up and get an authentic make-over for a day, Vintage at Southbank Centre was a sensual delight, a big dressing-up box, a collector’s dream and a joyous creative feast for all ages. For one glamorous weekend we celebrated the music, fashion, film, art, design and dance from the 1920s to the 1980s featuring unique performances by soul legends Percy Sledge and Booker T, electronic pioneers Thomas Dolby and Alan Wilder, 60s icon Sandie Shaw and over 150 DJs, including Andrew Weatherall, A Guy Called Gerald, Greg Wilson and Norman Jay. Royal Festival Hall was set dressed like never seen it before. The six levels of this great building was transform into a multi-venue playground where, over 13 hours each day, pass holders could  ‘learn the dances’, take in 70+ live performances, 100+ exclusive DJ sets, catwalk shows, brilliantly conceived food and cocktails, or take advantage of all the wonderful vintage shopping on offer in the Vintage Marketplace.

Check out this DJ line up! A Guy Called Gerald / Mike Pickering / Jon Da Silva / Graeme Park / Colin Curtis / Greg Wilson / The Revenge / Horse Meat Disco / George Power / Ian Dewhirst / Norman Jay MBE / Chris Hill / Dr Bob Jones /Chris Bangs / Eddie Piller / Jeffrey Hinton / Mark Moore / Paul Rae & Ralph Randell / Princess Julia

Preston Guild 2012

Preston Guild is an event that takes place every 20 years (yes, every 20 years!) and to be asked to play a major role is an honour indeed. So in the Olympic year of 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad, it was a case of ‘all come back to ours’ to enjoy a good ol’ Northern knees-up and celebrate the creative history of Preston and wider Lancashire. Our Vintage Guild Weekend was the opening event to the Guild City Festival, and by focusing on the Guild years of 1922, 1952, 1972 and 1992, the current artistic scene and our vision for 2032’s local creative landscape, visitors were treated to an immersive selection of live entertainment, activities and performances.

Working with festival director, Stella Hall and her team, Preston Guild 2012 was a run-away success, with over 150,000 vintage-lovers flocking through the gates and our founder Wayne Hemingway describing the weekend as ‘one of the best things I have done in my career‘.

Vintage New Year’s Eve, Southbank Centre

The first Vintage New Year’s Eve Party took place in 2012 and has since established itself as the most glamorous New Year’s Eve Party in London – nay, the UK, we reckon!

Each year, HemingwayDesign curate the iconic extravaganza that is A Vintage New Year’s Eve. The Royal Festival Hall transforms into five floors of set-dressed entertainment including six pop-up Vintage nightclubs with live bands and dance classes, stylish dining, evocative cocktails, a hair and beauty salon, photo studios, and a private terrace overlooking the Thames from which to view London’s world-famous NYE fireworks. Over 3,000 guests dress in their vintage finery, and dance to pure pop silliness, soul, rhythm n blues, funk, disco, or house – there is really something for everyone! Our core nightclubs have included: Torch Club with its 1930s and 1940s swing band glamour; the Soul Casino, if Studio 54 and Wigan Casino had a baby; the Warehouse, a celebration of house music; Let it Rock, a jumpin’ and jivin’, rockin’ and rollin’ 1950s hop; and the Tiki Bar, where you can sip a tropical cocktail and listen to exotic sounds while overlooking the River Thames.

Vintage on Ice

In 2012 and 2013, Vintage took to the ice of Somerset House to host a fabulous Soul Casino vintage disco. We skated to the sounds that shaped British pop culture, from deep funk to northern soul and we awarded those in their vintage finery with a Best in Show accolade!

Vintage Glasgow (2013 and 2014)

After a sell-out and critically acclaimed Scottish debut in the summer of 2013, the Vintage Festival returned to Glasgow as part of Festival 2014 and we held a mini Classic Car Boot Sale as part of the Merchant City Festival in 2015. Festival 2014 was a massive Commonwealth Games time celebration in Glasgow running alongside the sporting action, transforming the city with an invigorating mix of entertainment, culture and enjoyment filling the streets, spaces and stages of Glasgow. Vintage took place in the streets and evocative venues across the Merchant City, the first weekend of the Games. Set right in the heart of the Merchant City Games Live Zone for the first time ever, Vintage reached out to embrace and rejoice in vintage music, arts and culture from across the Commonwealth.

Vintage on the Dock (at Transatlantic 175)

Vintage on the Dock first arrived in Liverpool as part of the Transatlantic 175 celebrations. To celebrate 175 years of transatlantic travel from Liverpool, the site of the world’s first scheduled ocean steamship travel on 4th July 1840, HemingwayDesign curated a creative culture clash between Britain’s home-grown music, fashion, art, design, and film and those that trickled over from across the pond. Over 200,000 people attended. 

One element was The Very Big Catwalk whereby over a few months we coached a myriad of Liverpool’s diverse community groups, emergency services, sports and leisure clubs to “catwalk” in an attempt to break Mexico City’s Guinness World Record for the most models on a catwalk. We smashed it and 3,651 beautiful people of all ages, size, shapes and background smiled, danced, cartwheeled and even kung fu-ed down the catwalk. The event, in partnership with Liverpool Council, was heart-warming and moving, and we shed more tears and it tugged more heartstrings than at any of our other events.

Vintage on the Dock returned to Liverpool’s Albert Dock on 9th & 10th July 2016 for a celebration of 20th century vintage cool. The Telegraph voted Vintage on The Dock one of the 20 best family-friendly summer festivals 2016.

Transatlantic 175
Vintage on The Dock 4
Transatlantic 175

Vintage by the Sea (Next event 3rd & 4th September, 2022)

Vintage by the Sea burst onto the festival scene back in 2013. Produced under our events brand to celebrate the iconic Morecambe hotel The Midland’s 80th anniversary and now attracts around 40,000 people to the town at the end of every summer.

“In my 24 years in Morecambe I have never experienced anything that quite matches this year’s Vintage by the Sea Festival which it is estimated to have attracted more than 40,000 to Morecambe for the weekend. We should never lose faith in Morecambe’s intrinsic potential. This spectacular success of the event showed conclusively and convincingly that a real breakthrough has been made in bringing something unique and energising to Morecambe and which will be talked about for years to come.” – Coun Ron Sands, Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism.

The award-winning annual festival Vintage by the Sea has returned every year since 2013 (excluding 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic), and it celebrates the brilliance of 20th century design, fashion, vehicles and entertainment. Visitors can experience live music, classic cars, street theatre, workshops, marketplace & crafts, heritage bus rides, vintage fairground and pop-up dance, with one of the highlights being the Torch Club – an evening with a themed dinner and dance, transporting guests back to the golden age of the 1930s and 1940s, and set in the beautiful art deco interior of the Midland Hotel.

The Classic Car Boot Sale

The Classic Car Boot Sale began in 2014 on London’s Southbank and now has its home in Granary Square Kings Cross, London. The event assembles the finest vintage and upcycled fashion, accessories, and homeware traders operating from the boots of vintage vehicles. This runs alongside a show-stopping display of classic cars, London’s finest street food vendors, impromptu musical performances , DJs and street theatre to create a carefully curated vintage experience for all our visitors. The event is a car lover’s delight, a vintage shopper’s dream and a true mecca for all things vintage. Clothing, accessories, household goods, memorabilia, vinyl, impromptu musical performances, street theatre and amazing vehicles come together for a day of shopping, entertainment, dancing and design eye candy.

The CCBS occasionally goes on charabancs and has popped up on Hastings pier and Glasgow’s Merchant City! Who knows where we will be next!