A new addition to the ever growing list of van life events for 2023 is the Vanlife and Overlander Celebration, held at Newbury Showground. I booked a last minute ticket, drove 4 hours and these are my thoughts.

Like a great deal of people going to the event I booked an early bird ticket to arrive on thursday and of course being my normal organised self, taking 4 hours to load up the van, I managed to arrive at 8pm and to be greeted by a closed gate. Thankfully Heather was already on site with the “cow people” and a few minutes later a chap called Donk rocked up and happily let me in. It was clear that although I was a bit late he was enthusiastic about the whole event, guiding me to my pitch for the weekend, ensuring all vans were equally levelled and spaced out.

Me being me there’s no chance of just sitting down and chilling out, like most of my cohorts for the weekend who were already well in the sprit of things so off for a walk I went. One thing the Vanlife and Overlander Celebration had in spades was enteraintment. There were 3 stages in effect, a live acoustic chilled area under a tent with the customary hipster Campervan, just outside of the shopping area was a live jam area (criminally under used due to the weather) and the main stage inside the barn.

The main stage was used from DJ mixes, live bands through to presentations and whilst inside the barn near the bar, the barn was so big that music echoed too much and the bar was just a little too far away. The best way to describe this would be listening to music in the style of train station announcement where the last few letters echo at the end of a sentence. Had this been a much larger festival where crowds would get dancing near the stage and a seating area behind for those wishing to sit down and listen to bands or presentations this would work but alas this time the spacing was just a little too big.

Food Offerings

No event is complete without a plethora of food stands but before all that lets get to one of the important parts of any van life festival.. the bar. All due credit to the bar here, there’s no charging for a plastic glass here. All pints of beer, lager and cider was just £5, that cheaper than a pint in a London pub or indeed local pubs around the coast line. When I asked the bar owner about the pricing he said

I’d rather have a little of a lot, than a lot of a little.

bar owner guy

and this is an important part of festivals. Yes we are in a cost of living crisis however I do believe that food should be priced in a “cant be bothered” zoning. As in when you’ve been out walking all day, looking at vans, maybe a little bit of lubrication and getting to the point of “cant be bothered to cook” is an option rather than going out for food once over the long weekend.

If you wanted sweets, coffee, donuts, vegan food, greasy spooner, pizzas, Mexican and Thai all was on offer.

Pricing was ok with a breakfast wrap being around ^6.50, a basic pizza being £12, Thai curry along the same. Next up the shopping village

The Shopping Area

It’s; great to see a mix from refurb and used converse and clothes right through to companies doing lithium conversions, underslung water tanks and all things in-between. A honourable mention to the local shop which as it implies has all those things that people might me forget when going away for the weekend.

There was more than enough to take a 10 minute gander around and as per the norm all vendors were friendly and more than happy to chat and have video and YouTubers take videos..


All the elements are in place to make it a cracking a weekend. Food, music, entertainment, van talks something was a little missing, but that’s not to say it was a bad event.

The weather didn’t help at all. Most nights myself and other were not only wrapped up in a coat but also having a blanket across themselves… IN JULY.

Overall myself and my van life cohorts had nothing bad to say about the event but but just lacked that something. That’s not to say it was bad at all, we all had a great time, culminating in many late night conversations… normally about how blooming cold it was.

The Politics and Supporting Smaller events

The unspoken words of the internet and van lifers are “Warner group”, “damo” and “van life festival uk”. Ive been to a. few events now where you are either team this or team that and it saddens me. It’s not about taking sides and if you are then you are forgetting the whole point of the van life movement. To be able to go to affordable events in a van to meet like minded people. It should never be about supporting or preferring one YouTuber over another.

If we arent careful as a community to give a fair shake of the stick to new events, then like every industry we will end up with a monopoly which invariably ends up with prices going up and then excluding those who arent rocking up into events with 70k plus yoghurt plans or vans.

Thats not to say im defending this or any event just giving an overall opinion, not every van life event will be in the sun etc.

Final thoughts

Despite the weather, despite it not being a sell out and missing that… something it’s a clear 7 out of 10. That may seem high given all the negatives but there’s a true element of this is the first year and giving the benefit of the doubt. Other events I’ve been too have said the same thing however with the parent company running similar events all over the uk, its more of a cliche excuse rather than a real feeling.