Spark is a bespoke retreat. This means that it will cater specifically to the needs of those attending. It is a carefully crafted five-day event designed for those interested in sparking their creative potential (whether as an artist, speaker, author, scriptwriter, director, musician, leaderetc). This is not the type of holiday where you get to briefly escape your everyday life, but one that offers the tools and inspiration to help you make positive changes inyour everyday life.
Everything, down to the last detail, will be curated to offer an unforgettable experience that will help you develop your work, find inspiration and move forward in your field.
There will be three main elements to each day: workshops, tours and entertainment. At any time you can duck out of something to chat with me, or one of the other expert facilitators, or work in the communal creative space.
You'll be staying in the AA award-winning Crawfordsburn Inn for four incredible nights. The Inn itself dates back to the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and has been patronized by literary figures such as Swift, Trollope, and Dickens.
As well being a regular of contemporary artists like Van Morrison, it has also housed Dick Turpin, Peter the Great, and former president George Bush. The Inn was also a favorite spot of C.S. Lewis, who was a regular resident. In fact, he celebrated his honeymoon there with the love of his life, Joy Davidman.
The Inn is nestled in a stunning landscape, resting on the edge of a magical forest park that reputedly inspired C.S. Lewis' vision of Narnia. The forest itself melts into the breathtaking Crawfordsburn beach, making this one of the most picturesque places in the world. It is located just 20 minutes from the newly booming city of Belfast (winning World’s Best Region for Tourism in 2017 by Lonely Planet).
The retreat includes all meals, which will be served in the award-winning Lewis restaurant. You'll enjoy a full Irish breakfast each morning, a fantastic lunch every afternoon and leisurely three-course meals in the evening. There will also be wine receptions as well as plenty of tea, coffee and other refreshments to help keep the mind active.
I'll be curating a schedule full of seminars, workshops, tours, music, magic and more, all of which are optional. For instance, one day you might want to explore the North Coast, visit the Titanic Museum, or take a tour of the famous city street art. The next day you might get a drink and listen to directors, screenwriters, poets, and authors talk about the creative process. Alternatively, jump into a workshop aimed at helping you start a podcast, use platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon, grow an audience, or find a book deal. Or perhaps you might opt out of everything for a while, sitting instead by the outdoor fire, taking in the breathtaking view, getting stuck into the book you've wanted to write, or the script you've had burning in the back of your mind, all the while surrounded by an incredible group of likeminded people. Everything is designed to be relaxing, enjoyable, and, most importantly, inspiring.
Contributors include poet, author and singer-songwriter Pádraig Ó Tuama, NYT bestselling author Patti Henry, documentary photographer Courtney Perry, author, editor and conference organizer Tony Jones, author and director Phil Harrison, photographer Katherine Sleadd, comedian and musician Ursula Burns, festival organizer and freelance specialist Adam Turkington.
What should I expect?
Think of it as a luxurious holiday, carefully crafted to help inspire you, challenge you, and get your creativity flowing. I’ll be curating the content, so I'll be there speaking, facilitating discussions and answering questions. I'll also be bringing in various freelance artists and experts who will be dedicated to helping you move forward in your creative or leadership work. There will be optional tours of some breathtaking places in N.Ireland, as well as plenty of time for forest walks, conversations and lounging around open fires with a drink in hand, all while sharing ideas and learning how to thrive in the difficult world of the arts.
What does it cost?
The cost per person ranges from $1600 - $2000 (based on two people sharing) - less if three people share and more for single occupancy. There are a number of different rooms to choose from: Bijou, Deluxe, Super Deluxe, Superior Suite, and the Lewis Cottage. I have also included some $1000 tickets that exclude room and breakfast.
Can three or more people share a room?
Yes. There's one Deluxe Family Room that can accommodate up to 4 people (one double bed and two single beds) while both the Superior rooms and Lewis Cottage can be fitted with an extra single bed.
Can I come early or stay later?
We'd positively recommend it. I'll happily help you work out where to go, or you can extend your stay with the Old Inn. We have negotiated a special rate for everyone who is coming, all you need to do is contact the Inn directly and let them know you're attending my event. But be quick, as spaces might be limited. I'm also happy to recommend other places to stay.
Can I give a deposit?
Absolutely. If you'd like to secure a place we're happy to take a non-refundable deposit of $600. The deposit will secure your place for 30 days.
What happens if I pay but can't go?
Because we have to book the hotel, speakers and tours in advance, refunds can't be given. However we can offer you credit toward future events. You are also welcome to sell your ticket on to someone else. So think carefully before you buy!
What are my transportation options?
The closest airport is the George Best City (BHD). It’s a 15-minute taxi ride to the hotel and there is a taxi rank at the airport (Uber also operates in Belfast). The other local airport is Belfast International (BFS). There is a bus at the airport that takes you directly into the city. From there, the best option is to grab a taxi from the station. Dublin airport (DUB) is also a great option as flights there are often cheaper. It’s just under 2 hours from Belfast and there’s a bus outside the exit that will take you up (some of the buses don't take credit cards, so buy your ticket in advance or use either Euro or Sterling).
I want to go!
Great! Just click the link below. Depending on the room type, you might also have various different bed options. If you're interested in sharing a room with someone you don't know, contact me directly.