Recently my sister Annabel took her family to Wychwood Festival. This is how they got on.
A few weeks ago we donned our wellies, slung our bindles over our shoulders and headed off for a family adventure to Wychwood festival. From the moment we drove straight to the family camping area (those who arrived before us did tell of hours stuck in queues but us being our usual disorganised selves managed to arrive slightly later on the Friday and cruised straight in) and unloaded we felt the jollity and friendliness of this festival. It is the loveliest, cosiest, most relaxing festival I have ever been to.
Now, admittedly those are not necessarily the qualities your average festival goer looks for – more the availability of alcohol, quality music and medic tent for emergency contraceptives – but when you have small children those hedonistic festival days are but a distant memory and for a family, Wychwood is absolutely spot-on.
The beauty of Wychwood though is that it does not compromise on the festival experience just because it is family friendly – some great acts played the stages from The Stranglers and the Boomtown Rats to The Levellers and Craig Charles; there is something to cover most musical tastes. You can still drink to your heart’s content and mingle with grown-ups, it is just well tailored to children as well.
We were struck first by just how small and cosy it is. You don’t have to spend hours traipsing through muddy fields to reach anything and a good portion of the festival is taken up with the children’s area which kept my three year old and five year old wholly entertained. They were particularly happy with the free Little Tikes village – packed full of toy houses, castles, kitchens and those awesome red and yellow cars that I always wanted as a child.
There was so much for children that it was impossible to do it all; there were bug hunts, bubbleologists, clay modellers, drum workshops and everything else you might expect. Another highlight was the Waterstone’s children’s literature tent that put on talks from illustrators, authors and all sorts of other activities and then there were the most talented face painters I have ever witnessed.
In the interests of a full review my son took it upon himself to try every stall available to him so he go-karted, he slid down a giant inflatable slide, he is now the proud owner of the biggest bubble wand known to man and the bounciest balloon and his personal favourite – a helium balloon dinosaur that has legs and walks on the ground.
Grown-ups were not left out though, we sampled the odd tipple from the variety of bar and beer tents, you could also unwind in the healing field with a variety of treatments on offer, the music was good (Baraka were a particular favourite of ours as well KSH and the Going Goods) and being such an intimate festival you could really get up close to the acts and see them from all over the festival.
I would love to say that performances from beloved bands such as The Stranglers or The Levellers were the main stage draw but no…Justin Fletcher (Cbeebies’ Mr. Tumble to any pre-school parents out there) seemed to have the biggest crowd of the weekend on the Saturday morning. I have to admit, I was not looking forward to it having always been mildly disturbed by his voice but it was a cracking performance.
It is hard to find fault with Wychwood, the facilities were good (always a clean toilet nearby – without queues), the staff and stewards were friendly and helpful without being overbearing, the campsite was flat and spacious (advantage of being held on Cheltenham Racecourse) and it was just a really beautiful atmosphere. We enjoyed it enough to book tickets for next year and can’t wait to go back.
Disclosure – Annabel was given tickets to the festival for the purposes of this review.