A blog by Jackie Elton, CEO of Christian Connection and Single Friendly Church
For many people, going to Greenbelt each year can feel like returning home to a community of family and friends. But for others, it can be very daunting – particularly if you are coming on your own, or for the first time.
But the rewards of being at a Christian festival on your own can be transformational. I have personally made lifelong and life changing friendships through encounters with people I simply bumped into unexpectedly at Greenbelt.
So how can you take your courage in both hands, and not just survive the festival on your own, but thrive? We’ve compiled our top-10 list of suggestions and insights from festivalgoers about how to get the best festival experience.
So, in no particular order…
- Buy a festival guide and download the App. Plan your weekend, but still enjoy the unexpected and chance meetings… this is part of the festival experience.
- Chat to people in the queues. You’re attending the same event so you already share a common interest. At the end of a talk or session, turn to the person next to you and share your thoughts.
- Eat with friends. Make mealtimes social. Find out who else is coming. If you bump into friends, arrange a few lunches and dinners. Make it a time when you can look forward to being with other people.
- Grab a book and a coffee & relax. Go where you like, when you like. Dip in & out. Contemplate. Pray. Meditate. Listen to music.
- Pick a venue and hang out. Go somewhere were you can grab a drink and mix and mingle with others. Who knows who you might bump into?
- Don’t feel upset when confronted with “exclusive” behaviour – groups asking you to move to give them space or not letting you take a seat. Expect it and don’t worry. Forgive them. They just don’t get it.
- Look out for organised activities – pub quizzes, organised walks, interactive events, including alternative worship services.
- Soak it up. Try a little bit of everything, or nothing. Don’t feel pressured – take your time, go at your pace. Soak up the sun and the atmosphere.
- Pitch up next to other single festivalgoers. Avoid the family areas and find people you connect with.
- Volunteer! Either be an official volunteer or just offer your help to a particular organiser, cause, exhibitor or venue. When Christian Connection ran speed dating, we were always short of helpers and were delighted to welcome friendly volunteers.
Remember, lots of people go to festivals on their own – you are one of many. You have every right to be there, and being on your own is not the same as being alone. There will be good moments and less good moments. A bit like life, and the same for most of us.
If you are on your own and want a little structure to meeting others, take a look at the Christian Connection and Single Friendly Church events at the festival this year:
Welcome to Greenbelt
Friday 6pm at The Forge
Meet Someone New: Social drinks for singles
Saturday 7pm inside the Jesus Arms
Communion meet-up for anyone on their own
Sunday 10am at Glade Big Top (meet at the Tiny Tea Tent)
Panel discussion on The Future of Dating and Relationships
Sunday 5:30pm at The Telescope
OuterSpace LGBTQ social drinks
Sunday 7pm inside the Jesus Arms
Look out for our flags and umbrellas at the events and come and find out more about Single Friendly Church at our Takeaway stand. Full details will be in the Festival Guide.