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Fantastic Family Friendly Festivals

Fantastic Family Friendly  Festivals
For the Mason family the summer of 2013 has been the summer of festivals.

My seasoned festival-goer of a husband has long been a big fan of a great British festival, whether it’s a local food festival or his beloved annual escape to Glastonbury.

While I don’t feel ‘ready’ to take the kids to Glastonbury yet (much to hubby’s disappointment) I have spent these past couple of months visiting a mix of family friendly festivals and fiestas in a bid to find the one that fits us best.

Two recent festivals of note have included Lollibop! and The Big Feastival.

Back in early August my husband, two children and I headed down to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London courtesy of Chiltern Railways on a day trip to what is pitted as the UK’s largest children’s festival. Never mind the children I was quite excited myself as I hadn’t managed to get tickets to the Olympics and was interested to see some of the infamous Stratford sights that had made history.

There is no parking so public transport it is and making our way by tube from the train station we walked the lengthy 20 minutes or so to the park to embark on what promised to be a jam packed day for the kids.

First thing I noticed was how spread out the festival was, close enough so little legs didn’t get tired but the vast green area, and riverside chill out zone were spread out enough not to make anyone
Family Friednly Festivals
feel too claustrophobic and let little ones walk around freely without parents worrying about them disappearing within two seconds.

Split into zones we spent a lot of time in the Little Lollies and Baby Bops area as my children fit into the ‘3ft and under’ category. Within this area there was a good range of activities aimed at babies and toddlers such as soft play, baby massage, storytelling, mini discos, holistic baby therapies, baby yoga, role play toys and cake decorating. However my favourite was the Baby Sensory sessions. I do Baby Sensory with my son every week which I love but my husband hadn’t ever been available to attend so after some slight persuasion he joined the class at Lollibop! and really enjoyed it. Watching from the sidelines it lived up to the enjoyment of my weekly classes, and after filling the set sessions they added more classes during the day so everyone could enjoy it.

Tearing my daughter away from the Little Tikes Town we also explored some of the tents and main stages where popular CBeebies and Nick Jr characters were singing and dancing. The nice thing was that the acts tended to rotate between different stages and walk around while not performing so as long as you have your guide to hand there’s no need to miss your children’s favourite act. We saw Rastamouse (twice!) Justin Fletcher and Dick and Dom but the impressive line-up on stage included many more favourites. The Meet and Greet area also had regularly visitors including my daughter’s favourite Peppa Pig.

In between we enjoyed some arts and crafts at the Creation Stations and visiting some of the tents that had organised activities such as cupcake decorating and designing your own t-shirts.

All in all it was a fantastic day out, both kids were fast asleep before we even got back to the tube station and my husband and I felt it was an excellent day for the whole family.

Our second festival was Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival held on Alex
Family Friendly Festivals
James’ farm in rural Oxfordshire. I hadn’t actually heard of this one before but found out it’s still a baby in festival terms and that this was only the second year it had ran.

Pitted as a family friendly festival I was excited as we went on the Saturday where headliners included music acts Leanne La Havas, Rizzle Kicks and Basement Jaxx, yet it was all set to be very much food focused! Again this festival was very spread out and split into two halves, the Little Dudes Den and the main hub of the festival.

The Little Dude’s Den was excellent – hay stacks, fair rides, farmyard animals and food sampling set the scene while the Tescos tent was great for getting kids involved with food with activities such as growing their own seeds and learning about healthy foods. There was also a Tilda Kitchen inviting children to get involved with cookery classes periodically throughout the day which was excellent fun.

On the other side of the festival the well-heeled festival goers were much more focused on the food and drink tents. I think it’s fair to say I was a little disappointed by the variation of foods on offer, it was perhaps a little too fussy for me. For example nowhere could you get a plain beef burger, it was an ostrich, kangaroo or bison burger, which was absolutely fine just not what I had expected as being in the heart of Oxfordshire I thought there would be more local offerings. In saying that there were some local bakeries with some absolutely delicious delights and if I don’t make mention of the Ginger Bakers’ Chocolate Orange Brownie I would be doing it injustice!

More aimed at middle class couples and groups, the area around the stage was a great place to indulge in some of the wine and cheese on offer and laze about on the posh cushions and socialise however with two kids in tow not so great, so instead we grabbed our blanket and sat down on a grassy spot and amused ourselves between the music acts. Keen foodies will definitely appreciate the food demonstrations, celebrity chef book signings and cookery sessions.

Although festival season has come to an end for 2013, we have definitely set our sights on 2014’s line up and definitely hope to revisit Lollibop! and the Big Feastival, and while Glastonbury as a family isn’t quite on that list, I think we shall definitely be looking to progress to overnighters!

For more info on Lollibop! and the Big Feastival check out www.lollibopfestival.co.uk and www.jamieoliver.com/thebigfeastival

Mum to 2 Under 2 and currently on maternity leave, Laura is a journalist and Mum. She enjoys reviewing products with her children, exploring new trends and more importantly, life as a mummy. Continuously trying to get a ‘grip’ of motherhood and back to a size 10!
September 2013

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