I had Festival of 50 and here's why you should to!


So, you've hit the big 5-0, (or any significant age) huh? Congratulations! You're officially a member of the half-century club. It's time to celebrate in style and turn this milestone into a month-long extravaganza - welcome to the #festivalof50. 

Turning 50 is a milestone age - and for me and I should think most people - it's a pure privilege.  As my friends and I started to consider how we would celebrate our 50ths, I began to let it percolate. What began to bubble to the surface, was that celebrating wasn't going to just be reserved for the day itself - no m'am, this celebration deserved days, in fact a whole month.  



What's the Festival of 50, you ask?

Well, it's a whole month dedicated to celebrating you and all the amazing things you've accomplished in your 50 years on this planet. Think of it as your own personal music festival, but instead of bands and beer tents, you've got friends, family, and fabulous activities!

How to Kick Off your own Festival

Start by creating a festival lineup of events and activities that you've always wanted to do but never had the time for. Whether it's taking a pottery class, skydiving, learning to salsa dance, or finally taking getting that tattoo now's the time to make it happen!

Get Your Squad Involved

No festival is complete without your crew, so make sure to invite your friends and family to join in on the fun. Whether it's a weekend getaway, a fancy dinner party, or a brunch, surround yourself with the people who make you feel like a rockstar.

To be fair, Cancer really gave me the push I needed to allow me take the fanciful idea from my brain into fruition. But it's a lifelong love of birthday-month-style excitement that really tipped me over the edge.  I LOVE BIRTHDAYS (Yours, mine, others).  It's that simple.  We're a big birthday family.  I love going all out for my kids and hubby and so the #FESTIVALOF50 was born. 

But what was it?  I was sober living, bar the idea I wanted a glass of champagne on my birthday, and didn't want a massive party like our 40th.  So I started there and worked my way backward and here's what I came up with. Welcome to the #festivalof50 playbook.

The Festival of 50 Formula (Please insert any age/stage/celebration here)

It's so important to celebrate significant milestones in our lives - but sometimes us girls can be a bit timid in throwing the big ones for ourselves.  But this time, I knew I wanted to mark 50 in a special way.  Not so that I could collect presents. No, I wanted more quality time, I wanted more peace and quiet and wanted more connection with the ones I loved, time in nature, reflection, fun memory making moments, big-fuck-off moments and dopamine soaked grin inducing, juicy and delightful surprises.  

Give yourself your birthday month

And so the #Festivalof50 was born.  I began with a blank sheet of paper and started with a cup of coffee and a Sunday morning of writing a list of things I'd love to do and people I wanted to share my birthday month with. I looked something like this;

  • Coffee Dates
  • Business Friend Catch Ups
  • Walks on the Beach
  • Climbing a Volcano
  • Burning my Teenage Diaries 
  • Getting a Tattoo
  • A Sunrise Swim on my birthday
  • Shopping with Friends
  • Girls Day
  • Brunch with mates from out of town
  • Guo Pei Exhibition with my mum 
  • Say Yes to excitement and leave room for impromptu fun
  • Dinner Parties with Old Friends
  • Movies with my boys

As the list evolved, I tightened it up and  it became exactly as I wanted it to be. I felt uplifted, excited and so so relaxed about turning 50.  I had a focus and a goal for the whole month of May, rather than putting too much expectation on one day, my actual birthday (which my darling husband and besties ensured was the best day ever). 

For a control freak like me (I am happily accepting of this fact now), having May planned out for myself, just how I wanted it, with no expectation, except for joy and delight and plenty of space for quiet and pockets of spontaneous fun allowed, meant I was ready for a Festival of fun.  

Your Festival, Your Fun

Your Festival, dear reader can take place anywhere you like.  It can cover as much time as you like. For my #festivalof50 I chose my birthday month so that I could centre it around my birthday and it wouldn't get too much "scope creep". Turns out, it was perfect.  A concentrated period of celebration, appropriate enough without it turning into selfishness.  And babes - you/we deserve a little bit of us time from time to time ok!  But also, bring the whole whanau along, include your mates.  The fun is actually infectious.  All I asked of my husband and teens at the start of the month was to not dampen my joy or stifle my silliness this month. Let me be me!

Once you have your set list for your festival, start booking in those dates.  Yes, spontaneity is a delight in life, but if you're expecting delight, planning is key.  Months in advance is preferable.  I had some setbacks when first planning, due to scheduling conflicts that I hadn't anticipated, but we worked through that, as you do. I loved that this really forced my hand to allow more time for spontaneity but also not book out the whole day, but just do an hour or two for events - and that in fact was perfect.  I'm 50, not 21 after all. A nap was still needed ;-).

So with the dates set in place, the people on board, all that was left, was to bring the joy and leave the spontaneity and some of the delight up to other people.  Plus the actual delight comes from the easiness of the days and the moments themselves. Sometimes this meant the cameras stayed in the bag because the chat was so good, we forgot to take photos - something I regret now, but in the moment, who can regret those special times!

If you've read this far, then I can assume that you're keen and perhaps ready to set yourself on the path to celebrate your own festival.  For whatever the reason, put yourself first for a bit, its a cathartic and special exercise to list all the ways you can celebrate you. Whatever you decided and however you do it and whoever you do it with, I can promise you, you won't regret it x

The #Festivalof50

I now have wonderful memories of witnessing the majesty the the Guo Pei exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery with my mum - the stunning designs enthralling us, making us giddy with her intricate work. Climbing Rangitoto on Mothers Day with my son's and husband - a beautiful Auckland Day, scrambling up the volcano and watching the Piwakawaka sprint across the flats and then devouring burgers in celebration of a climb well done.  Accidentally eating the hottest curry that night at my mums and the kids guzzling milk to stop their tongues burning.  Being surprised & delighted and forever humbled by the team at the Dark Hampton (whose scarves I wore when I was bald through Chemo) kindly naming a scarf after me THE JOHN and its now on sale (OMG MUM - check it out!!!) .  Getting #midlifeink / #fuckcancer tattoos with my husband- a true festival moment. Being surprised by my besties of 35 years for lunch on my birthday in their matching Leopard Print shirts and one girlfriend popping up from Sydney. My Husband hosting a surprise drinks on my birthday and my oldest son giving me the most heartfelt speech. Burning my teenage diaries with those same besties and raucously laughing at the teen angst and happily bidding it farewell in flames. Having brunch with some dear girlfriends and lazily shopping in our gorgeous city on a stunning Saturday morning.  Catching up with my business besties and doing cake, coffee & chatter.  Finding out that Niki Bezzant's new book came out and that she not only quoted me but that she's dedicated a chapter on style! Then in the final week, I got the call up to head to Sydney to go to Disco Club - a bucket list event - and May closed out on a high.  

Instead of drinking my way through one party and not really spending decent time with those I loved, I got to spend oodles of time with plenty of people I love and care about and experience all sorts of wonderful moments across the entire month. It's been incredibly special, a month filled with laughter, joy, tremendous fun and  repeated cup filling. I'm one lucky midlifer.

Not to mention the massive travel experience coming up - Italy for my friends wedding, #festivalof50 present & #fuckcancer blowout - a serendipitous piece of timing if there ever was one! There is more travel with friends booked for smaller events later in the year and early next year too.  All in the name of 50! #gograblife my darlings, this one crazy beautiful life.  

Embrace the Theme

Every good festival has a theme, so why not embrace the "50 is the new Fabulous" vibe? Rock sparkly outfits, indulge in some pampering spa treatments, and don't forget to document the whole thing so you can turn it into a fabulous photo book one day, or if you're like me, spread the joy on social with the hashtag #festivalof50.


Keep the Party Going

Just because the festival is officially over doesn't mean the fun has to stop. Keep the celebration going by continuing to try new things, explore new places, and make the most of this next chapter in your life. After all, age is just a number, right?

So, there you have it - the #festivalof50, a month-long celebration of you and all the amazing things that make you, well, you! So go ahead, embrace the festivities, dance like nobody's watching, and make turning 50 the best thing that ever happened to you. Cheers to 50 years and many more to come!

I hope you'll join me and celebrate you!

EJ x




1 comment


Turning 50 in July and truly love your carefree outlook and style. If possible, I’d love the details of the leopard print shirt your friends coordinated for your birthday, something I’d like to replicate for my besties 50th in September.

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