Dear friends and supporters,
After an incredible eight-year journey, the Women's Trad Festival has come to its conclusion.
Since our founding in 2016, the Women's Trad Festival has grown year after year in size, heart, and impact. It has provided a space for learning and connection to thousands of attendees, outdoor professionals, and volunteers. Throughout this time, our ambition has remained constant: to help beginners transition from indoor to outdoor climbing, support women and other marginalized genders in outdoor leadership, and help create an inclusive network of trad climbers.
When we set up the festival nearly a decade ago, the face of climbing in the UK was distinctly different. Since then, the landscape has changed. As thousands of climbers have passed through our festival gates, we have seen a great increase in diversity, and the stereotype of a ‘climber’ has been challenged. There is still more work to do, but we are heartened to see greater inclusivity within climbing and more support for underrepresented climbers than ever before. While we can’t take sole credit for this change, we are exceptionally proud to have been a strong stepping stone on the path to true equity and equality within climbing.
As a team, we have gained a huge amount from dreaming up, creating, and organising the Women's Trad Festival. It has brought a monumental amount of joy into our lives. We have grown as individuals and as a team in ways we could never have imagined. The festival has shaped us as we've shaped it. It holds a piece of our hearts.
Brought together by guiding principles we share as individuals, our core values of sustainability, mental wellbeing, and accessibility have resided at the heart of the festival, impacting every decision. Beneath this, our passion for co-creation, shared leadership, and doing something 'for the love of it' has underpinned our work. We passionately believe in the importance of community. Alongside this, a sense of responsibility to care for our planet and a desire to uplift others, making the outdoors accessible to all has provided constant motivation.
Returning to the present, the time has come for us to take a step back. As directors, we are each ready to take the values we hold, which we poured into the festival, and invest them in other new and blossoming ventures. We deeply love the Women's Trad Festival and working with each other, so this decision has not come easily. But giving ourselves time this year has allowed us to see that we're ready for the next chapter.
As we stand, looking back, we see so many people who created this with us. We want to send out the biggest thank you and love to everyone who has supported our vision over the years.
Thank you to all the friends and volunteers who made each event so smooth, well supported and truly special! Thank you to the leaders and mentors who have given their time, often over many years. You were the ones who took our vision and made it happen in such professional, kind, fun and engaging ways.
Thank you to all the sponsors and supporters over the years. Thank you for understanding what we were creating and for enthusiastically backing us, for everything you gave, in time, equipment, funds, expertise and more. Thank you to Rachael, Vicki, Olivia and Roxy for the invaluable part you each played on our team.
And last but by no means least, thank you to all the folk who have attended the Women’s Trad Festival. For being brave, open, enthusiastic, and ready to learn and be together. For shaping the festival with your feedback. For calling the festival into being. We have always done this for you, shaping it around what was needed in the community each year.
We are sad to be reaching the end of our time together as a community but are glad and grateful to be able to look back and remember everything we achieved together. Collectively, we have created something special, born out of love. Together, the Women's Trad Festival became more than a dream, more than the sum of the time and energy of its four organizers.
We would like to celebrate that. Celebrate what the Women's Trad Festival has been, and exploded into during its lifetime. Celebrate everything we as a community have co-created, and everything that has and will come from that.
Finally, and most importantly - this is an opportunity - where one path ends another begins. If you feel inspired to take the mantle forward and continue the work of the Women's Trad Festival get in touch. We would love to mentor a new team and have a lot to share from our years of learning. Our door is open.
Thank you for sharing our vision and helping us give others the platform to shine.
Hetty, Gilly, Charlie and Ellie
The end of an era
A few final words from our festival-goers…
“This was a festival of dreams. I have not stopped smiling since I left the campsite. I have spoken to everyone that will listen about how amazing the experience was. I have learnt so much about climbing, but more importantly about myself. I believe in myself so much more. You will never know just how much this experience has changed my attitude to life.”
“One of the most joyous and life changing weekends that completely exceeded my expectations in every aspect.”
“It was one of the best experiences of my life and I would repeat it infinite times if I could!”
“Your beliefs, core values and ethos ensured every single person in that field felt welcome and appreciated and it is a truly amazing talent to have the ability to create such an environment. You made the doors to a sometimes inaccessible world, fly open and rolled out the red carpet to us all."
“WTF showed me that I belong in the climbing community despite my disability, chronic illness, and mental health.”
“It is hard for me to express how much climbing means to be personally, and how much this festival did. If it had been any other event I was going to where I only knew one person, and I would be spending a weekend pretty much surrounded by strangers, I wouldn't have gone. I can't explain how happy I am that I didn't let the anxiety win, and that I came. This festival was a perfect reminder during a difficult time that in climbing I have found a home.”
“Never before have I felt so at home among such a varied mass of people - all of whom were vastly individual, but commonly welcoming and motivated by climbing.”
“I came on your funded ticket, really stuck with how to progress, learn or simply participate in a sport I love. I nearly cancelled so many times, even in tears about how I would cope on my own, would I be good enough, will I be the largest lady there and send my belayer into the sky! How would I get there, I've got no gear, the list goes on but oh my word..... You have things sorted and more, I felt loved supported, able, and alive for the first time in a climbing environment and that is down to the amazing team and beautiful WTF community.”
“I often felt like it was my own shortcomings that were stopping me from being a part of the climbing community, rather than existing barriers. The WTF created a space in which I felt part of the outdoor climbing community, and a space for me to grow into as a climber. I cannot explain how much this has meant to me.”
“The festival is genuinely true to its values in every aspect - not many events can really say that. It represents the very essence of what climbing is about.”
“Being pretty new to trad and just over a year in to my climbing journey I didn’t know if I would fit in or be “good enough”…. But I was so wrong! I feel empowered and ready to embark on the next chapter of my climbing.”
If Women's Trad Festival has sent a ripple into your life in anyway, we would love to hear. Send us a message or email email@example.com.