© Cathie Heart

© Cathie Heart

Born from a rather different event, L Fest is the UK’s one and only award-winning music, arts and comedy festival for lesbians and allies. This year, the festival site is moving to Bodafon Fields in Llandudno in north Wales. As she battled traffic on her way there, we caught up with festival director Cindy Edwards about the power of inclusivity and saying ‘yes’.

How did L Fest begin?

I used to run a football tournament called Stanstock 7’s. We had 400 women in that – it was all football with a DJ at night. During that event I looked around and being a little bit stereotypical thought, ‘Well there’s lots of gay women involved, and what about gay women that may like this type of event but aren’t into football?’ So L Fest was born. It really is the product of people adding in different bits as we’ve gone along. In the first six months of organising we just had a beer garden stage and sports activities, but by the time of the first event we also had an arts stage and a cinema.

© Cathie Heart

© Cathie Heart

The role of volunteers must be crucial to the success of L Fest.

Definitely – we have what we call the L Fest crew. On the weekend itself we’ll have 100 of those and we have others that are involved in the build-up throughout the year. We want to say yes – so if people come to me with any idea we try and add it in… within reason.

What were the thoughts behind the move to north Wales?

Last year we moved to Loughborough which was a lovely site but the weather was not kind to us whatsoever and we had three days of torrential rain. Every year we look at the feedback and one of the people that came to our L Fest last year suggested Bodafon Fields. We’ve been very Midlands-based because people come from all over the country – so to put it in north Wales was a bit of a risk but we limited the numbers this year and the tickets sold out quicker than ever.

 Heather Peace at L Fest 2016  © Cathie Heart

Heather Peace at L Fest 2016
© Cathie Heart

Can you tell us about L Fest Del Mar?

My background is actually selling houses in Spain. Before I got involved in L Fest I knew this particular area and I was out there with a friend one time and we came across this villa. She said, “You could have an L Fest in here.” I thought she was probably right – that’s all I need, I don’t need much more of a push than that for anything in life. So L Fest Del Mar is basically L Fest in the sun. Again, it’s evolved – we’re now into our fifth year and we now have a whole hotel which we take over for the week.

Did you ever feel compelled by a feeling that the ‘L’ in LGBT didn’t get enough visibility?

It didn’t at the beginning but it’s definitely something which has come across on the journey. Even when you go out to bars, it is very male-oriented. When you go abroad, people talk about Gran Canaria and the Yumbo Centre and again it’s very male-dominated. That’s not one particular person’s fault, it’s just the way it is, and it’s made our event more of a necessity.

For the future, is it a question of saying yes to evermore things?

We want to keep growing – the festival costs a lot to run and part of the move to a slightly smaller site was to make it more sustainable. We did a Q&A which you can see on our website. We asked questions like ‘How does L Fest make you feel?’ and ‘What would you feel if L Fest wasn’t here?’ The answers show that people really depend on it. Particularly people who have got isolation issues – it might be the only thing that they come to every year. We’ve got the L Fest Solo Club which is a group comprising people that come to the event on their own. They meet up during the months before L Fest and do all sorts of activities together. They don’t have any gay women friends so that’s also really important. ‘If L Fest wasn’t here’, I think someone literally answered ‘I’d be dead’ – this is why we continue.

L Fest | 13-16 July | Bodafon Farm, Llandudno


L Fest director Cindy Edwards (centre)

L Fest director Cindy Edwards (centre)

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