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Valley Conference

23rd–25th June 2023

Colour on a Budget

Claire Pemberton

Claire Pemberton

#ExperienceTheRoom is one of those phrases that needs no explanation for someone who has actually experienced for the room. There’s nothing else like standing in a stadium of 11,000 people, packed to the rafters, every last woman with her arms raised in worship, singing at the top of their voices.

My absolute favourite thing to do in these moments is to watch the venue staff who are manning the main exits just turn slowly on the spot with their mouths open – imagine taking in that sight if you’ve never even been to church before!

For 2019, we’re on a mission to get as many women to actually experience the room as possible. We just got back from the 2018 conference and it was life changing. No exaggeration. This year, tickets sold out six weeks before the event, currently hosted by the SSE Arena, Wembley. Something in me thinks they may have a change of venue on their hands soon.

If you’re reading this with completely no idea what Colour Conference is, it’s a Christian women’s conference run by Hillsong Church, who started life way out in Australia in the early 1980s, but has since successfully added a college program, a television channel, a global music presence, and campuses in something like seventeen different countries across the planet. They’re doing okay.

Please don’t run screaming for the hills at the words Christian women’s conference! It’s so not what you’re probably imaging if you’ve never experienced this before. It’s not girly or religious or boring. It’s all about getting women of God to realise their potential to be catalysts for change in their everyday environments. It’s empowerment meets faith, and it’s brilliant. It’s also super fun to go with a group, so if you’d like a group to go with, get in touch with us or use the code CC19VALPRE.

So, down to the practicalities. How can you afford to get there?

There are so many options when it comes to travel and accommodation and food in London; I’m going to cover the cheapest, because this is titled ‘Colour on a Budget’ for a reason. Next year’s dates are 2nd-4th May and tickets start at £90 on the early bird rate – if you head over to the Colour website you can view your invitation and follow a link to register. This rate ends at midnight on 1st May 2018, when I think the price jumps up to £120.

After the ticket, you need to figure out where you’re staying. Most of the girls who attend have been before and are already busily booking out rooms for large groups at nearby hotels. This might mean that if you look for a hotel in Wembley around now, they’ll show up as fully booked. However, we found that more availability started to show within the same month as the event this year (obviously, you can’t always guarantee that will happen). My awesome ‘roomie’ booked our hotel two weeks before the event at the Best Western Wembley for £270 for two nights. So I paid £135 for my accommodation while I was there.

My other favourite trick with hotel rooms is to book a room with a great last minute cancellation policy early on, and then switch it out if a better deal comes along later. People doing this is perhaps why availability sometimes reappears late in the day!

Airbnb are another great option, especially if you’re looking at booking early with a group of friends. My first experience with them will actually be next weekend in rural Yorkshire, so I can’t comment further at the moment, but I’ve heard good things!

It’s also worth mentioning that it felt like such a luxury to be within walking distance of the arena. I packed one rucksack and was set for the whole trip. Last year, we caught Uber rides to and from and although it worked fine, it just added an extra cost and layer of complexity.

The best thing about the SSE Arena is their policy on food and drink. They have absolutely no problem with you taking your own in. This means that if you’re looking to save money, you can stash your bag full of snacks, bottled water, and non-perishable lunches (I went for those foil packaged tuna pasta lunches this year) and it saves you tonnes. It also saves you from standing in mile long queues at shops and restaurants during break times, when an entire arena full of hangry women is let loose in Wembley! I forked out for a couple coffees and one proper meal at TGI Friday’s the entire time – I probably spent about £15 on my snack shop before leaving and another £30 whilst in London.

Finally, there are only really two options when it comes to transport – car or train. If you have friends who are going down, it’s fun to carpool! We all designate a driver and chuck £30 in for petrol. The train is a slightly more reliable and less cramped option, but you have to keep your eye out for cheap tickets (which usually come to around £50 both ways).

So all in, you can do Colour on a budget of around £300 spread nicely across the year. For someone who needs to think carefully about a budget when planning their year, £300 can seem daunting, but in reality you’re rarely paying the whole thing in one go, so it’s less noticeable. To be honest, the experience is invaluable. If you’ve never done it before, why not make this the year you step out and see what happens? You’ll be so glad you did!

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