About SUMMER HOUSE RETREATS
Wondering if this is for you? Read on.
What is the summer house weekend?
The Summer House Weekend is a country house retreat exploring intimacy, connection and creativity. We have been running since 2012 and in addition to The Summer House we also have these other upcoming events: La Casita (May, Spain) and The Winter House (February, Kent).
Our mission is to create safer spaces where all guests have equal rights to exploration, self-expression, and discovery.
We aim to be inclusive, which is a constant journey. There are people of all sorts who attend: people of all (adult) ages, genders, and body types.
Previous Summer Houses have been hosted in Surrey, Suffolk, Sussex and Devon; from 2019 onwards we are moving to an incredible country estate near Carlisle, 3.25 hours by high speed train from London.
Whatever the location we always base the Weekend around a splendid countryside mansion - the kind of place that would be perfect for a grand wedding or fancy family reunion. When the sun shines you can explore the grounds, enjoy the sauna and hot tub and play outdoor games. But whatever the weather, everything takes place undercover, including in huge rooms in the House.
Some people sleep in the house but most people camp. You can cook your own food, buy meals on the hoof from a range of food trucks or book long table dining where you eat with proper cutlery & crockery alongside other guests.
The Summer House Weekend offers all the best bits of a festival (a countryside setting and lots of activities) but with free hot showers, free wood-fired hot tubs & sauna.... and decent toilets.
There are enough guests to meet new people, but it's still intimate, like a big house party. The Weekend is organised and run by a small and dedicated team, and our team members are visible and accessible should you need any assistance. By the end of the Weekend, you'll know most of our team members by sight and by name.
Every guest agrees to our code of conduct and the PAL system, which fosters an environment of both consent and accountability. We're proud that our guests are upstanding and treat the community like an extended friends-of-friends family, but should any boundary or conduct violations happen, our Wellbeing Team will fully support you with an ethos of transformative justice.
the Summer House difference
What you can expect to find
At the heart of the Summer House there are numerous opportunities to meet other people, challenge yourself, learn new things and put it all into practice.
- Workshops: (which we aim to be as inclusive as possible) such as the Summer House choir for ANY voice that just likes to sing, yoga, meditation & communication skills.
- Talks on everything from bias to intersectional feminism to race and science.
- Circles: discussion groups for guests to share space with folk of a similar identity (e.g. people of colour, fat people, trans people, women, etc). This gives guests an opportunity to bond with others who may be in a similar position.
- Party: the parties on Friday and Saturday are among the high points of the weekend and includes discos, a main stage cabaret, a late night acoustic open mic, a gender-neutral ceilidh dance, and a photo booth.
- The craft den is open almost all the time for costume making and there's an internal post office so you can send messages to people you know (or would like to know!).
- People hang out by the pool, in hot tubs or in the sauna at their own pace.
- There’s a separate chill out space for when people need a break. Plus as it's countryside, lots of trees to sit under and quiet places to chat.
- Every morning the entire group gets together to hear what lies ahead from the facilitators, and at the end of the weekend there's a closing ceremony where everyone can say goodbye.
How do we explore intimacy?
The Weekend is all about adventuring with yourself, and connecting with others.
Some people are in monogamous relationships, or are attending to connect on an intellectual or platonic level; others are taking journeys into non-monogamy or are part of the polyamorous community.
The key is that everything is entirely optional. Workshops and playrooms are as interactive as you want them to be. You're not compelled to do anything and lots of people sit everything out.
Much as it can be exciting, the Summer House Weekend can at times be overwhelming and intense. We have a Wellbeing Team there to listen to anything that comes up. They're based in a dedicated space for getting away from the experience, in what is meant to be a safer space accessible to everyone. See our Wellbeing Team page for more details.
We also really care about holding our guests & facilitators to the highest possible standards of behaviour, which is a constant learning process. Read conduct, consent & care for more.
Conduct, consent, and care
Interested? Book tickets
La Casita is our first event outside the UK and is hosted near Reus in Spain, about an hour from Barcelona. Nestled in a hillside forest with almost guaranteed fine weather, La Casita is most similar to our Winter House event, with all guests able to sleep in the house and eat together, but with the added bonus of almost guaranteed fine weather and an outdoor swimming pool.
The Winter House Weekend has the same ethos as the Summer House Weekend, but is more about feasting indoors and snuggling by a log fire. It's relaxing and cosy, and a perfect way for newcomers to get a taste of our community. It's about intimacy, making new friends, discovering more about yourself and others... and it's also a lot of fun, culminating in our Saturday night party with cabaret, singsongs and playroom.