Check out this article published in The Telegraph
NY expats gear up for first British festival
Louise Gale, co-founder of expat group Big Apple Brits, gives the inside scoop on what to expect from the first annual BritFest.
By Leah Hyslop
Published: 3:52PM BST 27 May 2010
Two of Big Apple Brit's co-founders, Louise Gale and Derek, at the launch party of the group.
Louise Gale, who founded expat meet-up group Big Apple Brits with two friends in 2009, says that she began thinking about holding a British festival in New York soon after the group was established: "I was sitting with my co-founders Patricia and Derek, and we were talking about the vast amount of parades and festivals New York has. We realised that though every other nationality seems to have some form of day or event, Britishness goes rather uncelebrated in the Big Apple.
"We'd all heard of Brit Week, a similiar event held in LA, and so we decided to organise our own festival. It seemed not only like the perfect opportunity to have a bit of a knees up with the members of Big Apple Brits, but a good chance to meet many of the other expats in New York we don't yet know."
Six months on, BritFest, which runs from June 4th to 10th, is is ready for kick off. The analogy is apt, as the organisers have deliberately timed the festival to coincide with the week leading up to the World Cup tournament. "A lot of expats here are football fans," says Louise, "and that, combined with the fact it's summer, made it seem a perfect time to hold the fest."
The festival begins on Monday 4th June with a club night at the Stone Creek lounge, dedicated to British dance music and ending, Louise reckons, "either when the DJ stops spinning tunes or we all fall over, whichever comes first!"
After that, there's a live music and comedy night, as well as a British BBQ - "complete with all the Pimms and proper British sausages you could want" - on the 5th, followed by craft exhibit on the 8th. Finally, there is an evening of British theatre on the 9th, and a World Cup kick off party on the10th. A busy week then? "Yes- it's going to be manic!"
The festival has taken months to organise, but according to Louise, the team are already planning for next year: "We've got a lot of different events this June, but we had to be realistic about what we could plan in so short a time. So we've already started thinking of what we can do for the second festival. I'm hoping to do more family orientated things, for example, and maybe something on British fashion.
"Eventually, we hope the festival will become an annual occasion which brings the British community in New York together, as well as any resident Anglophiles who'd perhaps like to learn more about British culture. Being an expat can be quite lonely, and the festival will with any luck help us support eachother - as well as perhaps provide an opportunity to support British owned businesses."
Big Apple Brits has around 1500 members, and Louise says that she is expecting a good turn out of up to 100 at each event. "We hold a lot of meet-ups throught the year, and we always try to celebrate the big British events like Guy Fawkes night or St George's day, which we miss out on over here. People enjoy those, so we hope our members do pitch up for this one - along with anyone else who wants to come along."
Before that however, the organisers of the festival have what Louise dryly refers to as "a lot of sleepless nights" to get through. And a lot of Pimms to make.