With the recent warm weather, Spring is most definitely well on its way. At this time of year when our orchards are bathed in blossom, we love nothing more than gathering communities together for a perfect springtime blossom picnic.
Inspired by the centuries-old Japanese tradition of ‘hanami’ (meaning ‘flower viewing’), now is the time to start planning your event. Timing a blossom celebration on home turf is a fickle business: the unreliable British weather could see you well wrapped up in a blanket, rather than sitting on one enjoying your sandwiches (we’ve learnt that the hard way!).
For hosting a picnic we’d say the later the better, as even if you don’t get to host your picnic at peak blossom time, it’s still a great excuse to get everyone together and some apples and pear blossoms can last well into the end of May and early June.
So here’s our top 10 tips for hosting the perfect blossomtime picnic
- PLANNING – We like to go public around four to six weeks before any event. Have a think about whether you want to charge for entry to raise funds for your orchard or keep it free. Our experience tells us that a small ticket price encourages people to not pull out last minute and that can be spent on extra luxuries that can help make it a great outdoor event.
- TIME IT RIGHT – Plan your event at a weekend or half term holiday. Go for a lunchtime start time and invite guests to bring their own picnics and picnic mats. Remember, If in a public park or open space you may need to get permission from the council or land owner.
- PERFORMERS – If possible, book a great storyteller, performer, band or all three! They can entertain the crowds and you can play host, telling people about what you’ve been up to in the orchard and hopefully signing up new volunteers.
- MARKETING – Get your marketing right! A great poster will really “sell” your event. Think about featuring your performers who may be able to supply you with professional promo shots. Or commission a local artist, illustrator or graphic designer to help promote your event if funds allow. Once that’s done share, share, share. Print posters for local notice boards. Use all the social media channels you can. We’ve even done door-to-door event flyers for the houses near to an orchard. Don’t forget to let the local press know too.
- ENTERTAIN YOUNGER VISITORS – If charging for entry you could likely afford to hire in a pro face painter. They are worth their weight in gold (facepaint!). You could take small donations from parents and the money raised could be ploughed back into the orchard.
- SET THE MOOD – Hiring or borrowing a battery powered PA helps with background music and you can use it to make announcements too. Find the best spot for your performer(s) and lay out your picnic mats ready for your guests if you’re providing them. TOP TIP: We pegged ours down so they didn’t blow away! Add bunting as everyone loves it! Either make it yourself or it can be hired in or even purchased locally with your own branding.
- FOOD – You might want to speak to local food vendors. You may even be able to charge them a pitch fee as you never know, hundreds might attend! If the weather is looking AMAZING speak to your local ice cream van driver or buy in some ice lollies in advance.
- PHOTOGRAPHY – We’ve all got smart phones that can take cracking pics these days, but it could be worth hiring in a pro for the day if funds allow. You’ll get great shots of the trees looking their best. Just remember to have consent forms ready for permission from parents as you’ll want to put these all over social media.
- WASTE – No one like a mess and you’ll likely need extra bins so that you can process the leftovers, recycling, and perhaps add to your own compost pile. At previous picnics we’ve used some brightly coloured giant planters which look attractive and can be recycled elsewhere afterwards. We separated the food waste from the paper and plastic recycling and took this off site.
- ENJOY IT! – If you’ve set things up well the event should almost run itself and you can be the perfect host.
Photo credit: Hannah Beatrice.