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Great British Weekender: Festival fashion fun in the Cotswolds

PAINSWICK, Gloucestershire – Paris, Milan, London eat your haute couture heart out, because Gloucestershire is hot on your Jimmy Choos with its own happening slice of head-turning fashion festival brilliance; and the kids love it.

Art Couture Painswick is a bit like the boy next door. One day he’s spotty, shy and slightly odd. The next, he has a six-pack you could play Green Sleeves on and a smile that makes you wish your pelvic floor didn’t give out on a trampoline (or is that just me?)

The point being, the first time small child and me headed to Art Couture Painswick – previously known as ‘The Festival of Wearable Art’ – we met it in its adolescence. Here was a fashion festival about to blossom, gets its driving license and move away. But, thankfully, it hasn’t.

Today, Art Couture Painswick has flowered into one of Gloucestershire’s finest mini-festivals – yet despite its rippling good looks it has stayed true to the little village of Painswick (‘Queen of the Cotswolds’) giving those who live here even more reason to feel proud.

More colourful than Vivienne Westwood’s knickers

Held on a Sunday in mid-July every year (this is its fifth year), Art Couture Painswick is a unique free art festival where tots, tweens, and teens compete to create art that they can wear.

The artists and their creations then take to the snaking streets of Painswick, sashaying their flamboyant genius in parades and catwalk shows that transform the timid village into a flash of colour and energy.

My small child loved spotting the different entrants in their homemade finery, and because the models just mill about amongst the throng of people, there are plenty of chances to chat to them and see their creations up close.

Live music, street performers – boredom is NOT possible

In-between the parading, you’ll pass human statues that either delight your kids or scare them to death when they blink; face-painting (beware the queues); food vans (look out for the stone-baked pizza VW van, OMG); and a potpourri of craft stalls that tweens and teens can splash their pocket money on.

And if that isn’t enough, there’s live music playing throughout the day, the chance to rub shoulders with famous faces – Savannah Miller (sister of Sienna) often makes an appearance, as does local resident Keith Allen – as well as a ‘most imaginatively dressed’ competition for experimental grown-ups.

Although, I am under strict instruction NOT to enter. As if I would.

Take you there?

Where: Painswick, Gloucestershire, England

What: Art Couture Painswick – Arts festival

When: July 13th 2014, 11am – 7pm

Who: Perfect for families and solos with kids

Profile photo of Claire Robinson

Meet Claire. An award-winning freelance writer, based in Gloucestershire, England, with an obsession for travel and gin. Her difference? Everywhere she goes, she seems to bring calamity along also. So her stories have a humorous edge - and are mostly about Claire making a travel buffoon of herself. For Claire, too much travel content is serious and high-brow. Her take on travelling is the opposite - her view is a fun one, with a lightness of touch that makes travelling feel real and human. And if she makes people laugh along the way with her tips, personal stories, and guides, then all the better.

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