Festival organiser: Beach Break

We talk to Beach Break founder Celia Norowzian, who started the festival with her partner Ian five years ago...

Beach break crowd

How did you first come up with the idea for Beach Break?

While I was at Birmingham Uni I set up a charity festival and loved it. My partner Ian also ran trips to Cornwall for around 400 students at the end of the year, which we all really enjoyed. In the end, we decided to fuse the two.

What does Beach Break have to offer that's different from other festivals? 

Beach Break combines a festival with a trip to the beach with 20,000 other students who love music and to have fun! For that reason - and because it truly is set in one of the most beautiful festival sites on earth - it has one of the best atmospheres of any festival in the UK.

The festival's not just about music either (although there are 12 stages!) Other events include the Extreme Games, the Celtic Games (designed to test your wit, stamina and stupidity) and loads of other craic. A large part of it is about getting involved. And of course – it’s on a beach! So people can feel super rough from the night before and then go and swim in the sea and chill on the beach to refresh!

How did you pick the location for Beach Break?

Google maps! It took a lot of searching to find the perfect site.

Beach Break had a last minute change of location from Cornwall to Kent in 2009. How stressful was that?

Umm.. super stressful. It was definitely the biggest challenge of all our lives but also the best experience in the end. We only had 500 students ask for a refund and 9,500 travel the 330 miles to the other site. It was a bit of a revolutionary vibe against Cornwall council really. I remember one of our headliners opened their set with ‘We have to fight for our right to party!’. That was a good moment.

You initially appeared on

Dragon's Dento try and secure funding for the project. What was that like?

Ian had taken beater blockers so he was pretty chilled (maybe too chilled!) I was nervous but I actually seem to come into my own in those situations. It was fun!

Can you tell us a bit about your time at Birmingham University? 

I would say it took me about a year to really settle in. I was so lucky to end up in a house with four amazing girls – two of whom are still my best friends now. By the summer I was loving it – Brum is beautiful at that time of year. We used to break into the golf course at night and camp out by the lake, swimming and having BBQs. It was amazing.

There were some really great venues in Brum like The Medicine Bar which basically became a second home for us. It's also where I met Ian – that first summer - and that kind of made uni for me. Him and his friends were a lot of fun and got into a lot of mischief. There were some totally hilarious moments.

Academically I was lucky to really love my course. I studied Cultural Studies and met some great people through it.

What can students expect from Beach Break 2011? Will there be any new elements?

Well there's the Student Extreme Games, which is basically a massive inter-uni sports contest. We're bringing together the best representatives from each uni to compete in skiing. snowboarding, wakeboarding and kitesurfing. It's going to be so exciting!

There's also going to be more beach sports and a new improved layout for the festival. It's the fifth anniversary of Beach Break so we're really blowing the budget on our line-up...announcements will be made in early March!

What do you think has been the best performance at Beach Break so far?

Oooh thats a hard one... I'm going to have to pick two! Dizzee Rascal literally rocked it. He was amazing. And also Chase & Status last year. I was standing on the viewing platform and hadn’t actually ever seen anything like it  - I still get goose bumps thinking about it. Oh – and Mad Dog McRee! My favourite festival band from the South-West who headlined our first event.

Celia that's three! OK so who would be your dream festival headlinersl?

I’m really into my female artists at the moment - I love love love Laura Marling, and Florence Welch has one of the most crazily beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. Also – if he was alive – Jeff Buckley. He literally rips my heart out.

In terms of genre, I really love proper American-style country and western. I would love to go to a festival with some of the greats.

Where do you hope Beach Break will be in 10 years time? 

Championing great new music and still with the same great community, all set in the stunning Pembrey Country Park!