On 14 July 2018 London will host the first festival for cat lovers. Catfest launches next year at the Oval Space, the multi-use arts space in Bethnal Green. The show, a celebration of all things feline, will feature an onsite adoption lounge brought by the charity Feline Friends.
Catfest is the brainchild of Britt Collins, a music journalist and author of “Strays”, a book that tells the story of a lost cat, a homeless man, and their journey across America, which is scheduled for launch in the UK in June next year.
The festival will take up the exhibition hall as well as the outdoor space, plus a small room at The Pickled Factory, the next door venue, to host the adoption lounge.
Collins has teamed up with the charity Feline Friends to raise awareness about welfare efforts and help cats in need. She told Access that the adoption lounge will be located at The Picked Factory and that the charity would provide the cats.
Feline Friends will take care of the handling of the cats, and determine how many people would get in the adoption lounge at any given time.
“There will be a sofa area where people can sit down and fill in the adoption papers. The charity would do home checks first because they have to make sure people are suitable to take care of them,” she explained.
Catfest will showcase a range of stylish cat-related products for cat folks, from books, and art, all hosted at the exhibition space. The outside area at the Oval Space will be set to host veggie street food vendors.
The festival will also feature a stage to host live music, film screening and inspiring talks from bestselling writers and animal experts.
“We have invited a number of speakers to Catfest. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, the author of The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats, is coming as well as Gwen Cooper, the author of “Homer’s Odyssey”, a book about her blind cat,” she enthused.
Collins continued: “There will be animal experts, like Jeremy Campbell, the vet who launched the first feline-only vet clinic in London.”
Why do you want to launch a festival for cat folks?
BC: I used to go to a lot of music festivals, as a music journalist and I still do because I love music! I used to think for years that how cool would it be to have a festival for cats and cat lovers rather and at the same time to raise money for charities. I know how thin they are, basically running with the help of volunteers.
What is the vision you have for the event?
BC: I want to run a very stylish, well-curated festival for cat lovers, but also to raise money for cats and home cats, and want to turn it into a road show, so take it across Europe, like Lolapalooza; a Catpalooza kind of thing!
BC: After the first year I would like to take it to Europe. Rome, Berlin, and Paris, for example, for the event to become a summer festival! We can find the local charity for animals in these cities. I know where are all the charities around the world, as I tend to look for them when I travel.
How do you expect the adoption lounge to work?
BC: We want the cats to be in a stress-free environment so the adoption lounge will be set up in the same way as a cat café; you only allow a certain number of people that can stay for 10-15 minutes to get the next slot.
Is everything ready for the event next July?
BC: Right now, I’m dealing with food vendors to set up in the outside area of the Oval Space. I get constants emails about trading and vendors, but I want to have really cool and lovely stuff on display at the show.
At The Pickled Factory, there is a little outdoor space, and we are going to have food traders there, too. We want to have food and drinks there as well because people would have to wait for coming into the adoption lounge. So yes, the event in July is taking shape and is all carefully planned.
Collins told Access she is in talks with companies interested in partner contracts with Catfest. “At the moment we are funding the event ourselves and talking to interested sponsors. We are going to talk to pet food and cat care companies.”
Catfest is gearing up for the event in July with ¾ of pre-sale tickets already sold and booking space for traders is selling at the same pace.