Festibowl 2018 is over, with the final FridayNightPartyBowls session taking place on August 3, but because it so clearly captured the hearts of Londoners this summer, we thought it fitting to do a short review of what made it such a huge success and a lifestyle sport for the future.
Did someone order a heatwave?
Yes, climate change has reared its scary head, but that head has also been (un?)ashamedly pleasant…for where there is unusually consistent heat there are Londoners forced to seek out more and more outlandish ways to enjoy their summer evenings. And it doesn’t get more outlandish or quintessentially British than lolling on a beautiful bowling green surrounded by white garden parasols and colourful bunting that wafts the wry voice of a Master of Ceremonies gently lampooning all the goings on, dressed in bowler hat and braces. Welcome to Festibowl; a laid back and slightly tongue in cheek lawn bowls experience for 21st Century summertime revellers.
With a record-breaking heatwave there was a noticeable slowing down in the city, which might have lead to a more lackadaisical approach to lawn bowls, but that was certainly not the case in Finsbury Square this summer. In fact, games got pretty heated…
Whether it was a showdown between World Champion Ellen Faulkner and a competitive chap with beginners luck, a group of lads on a Friday night or a company summer party with tournament style play offs, people really got into lawn bowls!
This was mainly down to the way, founder Will Goy, adapted the game to make it shorter and more accessible for all.
By simplifying and speeding up the game, he aimed to do for bowls what 20:20 has done for cricket and was inspired by his time in Australia.
Down under he saw how bowls had become a new millennial sport as it gave people the perfect excuse to be outside playing sport as well as drinking beer!
This is where the summertime revelling elements of Festibowl start to play their part! Bowls is, of course, the reason people pitch up; it’s a novel, easy to play game where everyone can have a go, that sometimes gets competitive, but only ever in a sociable and fun way. The reason people stay, come back for more and have such a great all round experience is down to the fully loaded bars, delicious street foods and open air music.
The bars this year had sponsorship from Bombay Sapphire, Moet & Chandon, Jagermeister and Red Bull, which naturally led to some delightfully refreshing and energising cocktails. We especially liked the Bombay Bias – Bombay Sapphire, Elderflower, Lemon, Soda, Cucumber; The Spicy Back Bowl – Jagermeister, Ginger, Fresh Lime and the Festibowl Fizz – Moet Brut, Bombay Sapphire, Chambord. Moet & Chandon actually had a standalone bar from which people could order bottles of Moet Ice Brut, Moet Ice Rose, Moet Brut and Moet Rose to be delivered to their tables in crisp white buckets overflowing with ice accompanied by branded glassware.
The former is a regular at Finsbury Square, satisfying the local community and the Festibowl crowd with fresh, fast and filling wraps filled with everything from halloumi to pulled pork to chicken and guacamole. The latter is relatively new on the London food scene and so attracted a lot of attention from foodies and influencers.
Rightly so, as there Truffle Burger was the epitome of food porn and it didn’t taste too bad either. How could it not when it comprised of a beef and bacon mixed patty, raclette cheese, truffle mayo, fig jam and crispy shallots? Yes please and thank you!
But it wasn’t only Truffle London who had the carnivores salivating because there was an even newer street food shack in town – Carcass London. Appropriately named, these boys serve up “British Rare Breed Meats, Cooked over Smoke and Fire” and boy does their barbecue deliver.
We would recommend the Bone Marrow Brulees and their Dry Aged Onglet, Mopped in Beef Fat with herbs. There was a creamy and oozing Mushroom risotto provided by Truffle London for vegetarians in the mix, but not much for vegans we’re sorry to say. We are sure the Festibowl team will step it up for next year though.
Location Location Location
Last but not least, in the reasons why Festibowl was such a blast, is down to where it takes place. Not only does Finsbury Square boast one of the oldest bowling green’s in the country, but it is surrounded by beautiful buildings that give the setting a sense of grandeur.
So your bowling arena feels at once like an oasis of green, but also like a gladiator’s stadium. You’re in London or maybe even Rome, but you also feel like you could be having a long, lazy summer evening in the country.
Added to the feel and atmosphere of Finsbury Square is its prime central location. It’s close to lots of worker bees, looking for some refreshing post-work vibes and near enough to Shoreditch for further drinking and dancing when the venue shuts. All in all this made it perfect for office parties, date nights or just hanging out with friends.
With so much demand, we are sure Festibowl will be back next year even bigger and bowlder than before. There was certainly a lot of interest expressed for more weeknight and weekend sessions, so here’s hoping that lawn bowls really does becomes de rigueur in a Londoner’s lifestyle next year.
We certainly enjoyed running their PR and social media and wish the team the best of luck!
Check out our short review of Truffle London here.
© Photography by Jake Davis (fb.com/hungryvisuals) and William Goy
As with most large events in the UK and across the world there is always opportunity for brands and specifically restaurants and bars to capitalise on them from a PR point of view – the Royal Wedding this weekend is a perfect example of this. Executing a simple and well thought out PR campaign can not only lead to press coverage but an increase in sales.
The Royal Wedding this weekend is one opportunity where restaurants and bars can do this. From a kooky cocktail to a royal afternoon tea – customers, especially tourists travelling for the occasion will be ready to lap up this opportunity.
Examples of PR Campaigns for the Royal Wedding
Take the Royal Wedding Champagne afternoon tea at Dukes Hotel who have partnered with The East India Company to create an afternoon tea to celebrate the occasion. Both brands have historic Royal connections and have utilised this to create an afternoon tea that shows off both brands to excellent effect.
Afternoon teas are always a popular hit with consumers – The Sanderson Hotel’s Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea is the highest grossing f&b activation they have done. When executed well it is the perfect opportunity for venues to earn during the lull time between lunch and dinner service.
The timings of the Royal Wedding lend itself perfect to venues screening the event and having brunch specials – Dead Dolls House in Islington are screening the event as well as offering £10 jugs of Pimm’s. There will also be a free shot for anyone named Meghan or Harry – a simple yet fun PR idea to engage consumers and the press.
Screenings will be popular across London and the UK – To top off the wine-filled celebrations, the London Wine Week Hub at Flat Iron Square will play host to a Royal Wedding garden party on Saturday 19th May, complete with bunting, confetti and of course, plenty of fizz. With a live screening of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day and dedicated menu of Champagne and cake, guests will enjoy a good old-fashioned knees-up throughout the day.
The Royal Wedding will be screened throughout the afternoon; starting with the ceremony at Windsor Castle at noon, followed by the carriage procession around Windsor Town. Free to attend, it’s the ultimate fizz-lovers’ celebration of the royal nuptials.
Above are a few examples of campaigns that restaurants, bars and brands are doing to create PR opportunities for themselves from the Royal Wedding.
Key Points for activating a PR campaign
1. Keep it simple – don’t go over the top sometimes the simple ideas are the most effective
2. Think outside the box – journalists like things that are different and unusual
3. Decide if you want to do an idea that just gets press – sometimes the wacky ideas will get you lots of press but no necessarily resonate with consumers – decide what you want most out of the campaign.