We were lucky enough to attend Wychwood Festival, on Cheltenham racecourse, at the end of May this year.
What was our verdict? We loved it! It very much earned its family friendly credentials: There was something to spark all of our attention, from the fantastic live music, workshops, plentiful food stuffs to the singing authors (really!). However, as festival newbies we picked up a few tips that we would like to share with you readers to make festival going an all round wonderful experience.
Blankets and camping chairs
I love live music, and in my youth (little silent weep for my long gone youth), I went to a lot of festivals. Things are different now with the nippers in tow. Standing in a field on a relatively chilly spring night, wasn’t so invigorating for my kids as it was for me. Thankfully, I had thought ahead. We have two little camping chairs, which we use on our annual camping trip. These were perfect for the kids when they got tired and a little cold. I also took a blanket. I didn’t mind if it got dirty, and it was perfect to throw over the kids later into the night. My daughter sat quite happily wrapped up on the chair watching Boney M and The Undertones!
Following on from my last point, layers are where it’s at for festivals! Friday evening got quite chilly, so thankfully a T shirt, hoodie and a coat all came in handy. The Saturday proved to be quite sunny and warm, so off all the layers came and it was jeans and T shirt weather. Additionally, the festival had many crafty workshops – clay in the yurt, arts and crafts in one of the tents, so actually the kids were grateful to whip off a layer once inside. As for the dirtiness of clothes, you just have to let it slide …
The food stalls were abundant at the festival. The kids got to sample Lebanese food for the first time, I drank Pimms, we ate churros whilst listening to the acts on the main stage and we had tea and cake on double decker route master bus! However, this all came at a cost: I could have spent hundreds on food and drink. I had taken things for breakfast, but I wish we had had a bit more picnic food that we could have packed up and eaten as we wandered around the festival – it would have been a slightly heavier bag, but lighter on the wallet. That said, our stone baked pizzas on the Saturday were delicious …
This is the best £8 I have ever spent. In the lulls of not darting from one activity to the next, or a need to distract them whilst I listened to some good music, this wand was an absolute god-send. Not only did it magically enthral my children, but also those around us. Bingo! My kids were entertained, they met new friends and it all impacted positively on our festival experience! Hoorah! I listened to the fab Thrill Collins in the Egocity Big top whilst the kids went bubble mad …
There were showers on site (the other side of the campsite to us) and I actually found the loos pretty clean and hygienic in terms of festival standards. That said, there were times when there was no loo paper, so the handy baby wipe came to our rescue. Also, my children fully revelled in the crusty element of being at a festival, and the chances of getting them anywhere near the showers: Minimal. Again the ubiquitous baby wipe became my best friend.
A wristband with your mobile number on it
Wychwood feels really safe. It is a small site, and easy for myself and the kids to navigate. There are lots of really friendly site staff (who always seemed to be happy and extremely helpful), therefore I was happy when we are near the main stage or in the kids area for the children to roam of their own accord. Although busy, the site never got rammed, the crowd was very family friendly and I felt very safe and secure letting my kids enjoy the freedom. That said, as you walk though the entry gates, they give your children a wristband on which to write your mobile – this helped me relax even more, even if they got lost, a friendly staff member was sure to call me.
The campsite was equally safe and friendly. There was a specific part for families, and also one area with a curfew, so you knew that those revelling all night (no, not jealous, not one bit) wouldn’t wake you and your kids. Again, I had a particulatly relaxing morning drinking tea in the sunshine, whilst the kids bombed around the campsite playing and waving those bubble wands around with their new festival mates.
Programme – but don’t be a slave to it
Of course, it is handy to have one of these. The wealth of what was on at Wychwood was astonishing: Other than music (on three stages, no less), there was a literature festival, dance and music workshops, comedy, a real ale festival and a whole load more. You can spend every minute of your time there just running from one thing to the next, you’d also get a real sense of Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). Therefore, early on, I only gave our programme a cursory look and decided to wander the festival and stumble upon things to do. With this tactic, we saw and did things that we probably wouldn’t have programmed in otherwise. We saw a great reggae band on the stage (which my 7 year old LOVED), and we chanced upon a fantastic author called John Dougherty. He told yarns, did a Q&A and sang us a song from his AMAZING books Stinkbomb and Ketchup Face. He then ended his set with a song ‘about a feeling’, which had the kids crying with laughter, and OK, maybe me too.
Try new things
Akin to my last point, not timetabling the festival meant we fell upon some great stuff to do. The kids really enjoyed learning circus skills – they spin a mean plate these days. They also loved trying out high rope walking run by a rather innovative team of guys called Ru Slack.
Don’t leave home without! It was a godsend to carry the discarded layers, nibbles, baby wipes and bubble wand!
Take some friends
It was so great – I would recommend to my friends to go. Additionally, more playmates for the children and also, just maybe I could get to go to the other tents after the main stages had closed to see what all that laughter / loud excitable noise was about …!
Thank you Wychwood – you were fantastic!
Watch our vlog to see what we got up to at Wychwood:
Disclaimer: We were given a press pass to enjoy Wychwood Festival but all opinions are my own.
Keep your eye out for Wychwood Tickets in 2016 by looking here!