Disclosure – family ticket provided for purpose of review, opinions, as always, remain our own.
Over to my brother Adrian for a run down of his first festival with his wife Sophie, and kids, who are 3 and 7.
So we survived our first camping trip and festival with the kids. And enjoyed it. Our oldest didn’t want to come home, he thought the party was carrying on without him when we left on Monday morning. As far as he was concerned Elderflower fields could go on all year. Now that would be some festival to organise!
The reason he loved it was clear. It’s a festival designed especially for families with children, so there’s plenty of other children to play with. All the time. Playmates on tap. He made new friends within a few minutes of us setting camp and was playing tigers in the grass while we put the tent up.
The adventure of camping was a huge part of the fun. From pitching the tent to rolling around in sleeping bags at night, it was all new and exciting for them, and reminded me of why I loved camping so much when I was their age. The highs and the lows.
Even Spiderman has his off days. Or hours. The Spiderman in this case being my youngest at 3. Dressed in his finest Spiderman outfit, he lost enthusiasm for the trolley his poor parents were dragging him along in. Although walking wouldn’t be an option either. Fortunately this was the walk from the campsite to the festival, and all the fun of Elderflower fields was soon to be revealed to him.
There’s a huge array of activities for the children to get involved in. We pre-booked the Monkey Do climbing and Art Camp. The activities have the added bonus of relieving you from childcare for a couple of hours, so we spend a few hours relaxing in the sunshine with a drink or two.
Monkey Do looked like tremendous fun. I wanted to have a go. Some of the older kids were hurling themselves from great heights in the trees into the nets below. There was a less adrenaline filled version for the younger ones, where they could come back to earth using a big slide.
The art camp was well organised. We left our children there and picked them up a few hours later. We adults were ushered away, as we were getting in the way of the door, and stifling creative vibes within the tent. Whatever magic they performed in the tent, it worked. My oldest came out beaming with a spider he’d made. Someone else to share the tent with.
Exploring the festival
There was much fun to be had wandering around the festival, when little legs had the enthusiasm to do so. Otherwise it would be ‘carry me’ or ‘my want trolley’. A festival without a trolley for little ones would be painful.
Moaning 3 year old aside, we did lots of exploring. From the art trail down to the river, where the kayaking lessons were in full swing, then back up through the woodlands where the guided walks took place. Bat detecting and foraging were the order of the day.
We went to an insect museum. Our youngest loved exploring it. Almost as much as he did tearing around Dragonfly Hill, especially when some music was on.
Waffles, jerk chicken, thai green curry, tagine. And that was just my breakfast. We had some fantastic food and some less so. It was clear which food stalls would be a hit with children. Pizza, crepes, pasta, ice cream. The stalls with enormous queues.
Some of the breakfast options were less than child friendly. Kids want normal baked beans, not a vegan 3 bean reconstruction with quinoa toast. More breakfast and child friendly food options would’ve kept younger tummies full for longer. I’ll eat anything, my children less so.
The So Sussex family picnic was delicious and it was great to taste some local produce. We recognised some of the contents from near where we live. Sussex Charmer, I’m looking at you. Mmmmmmm. The chocolate cake was an instant hit with all, with some devouring it ‘pudding first, starters later’. The picnic was a pleasant start to the Sunday of the festival, with the sun shining and groups of family and friends gathered together.
Making your own fun
One of the main highlights for the boys was making their own fun. Whether this was skateboarding down dirt tracks in the woodlands or having an impromptu hay fight with a bunch of kids while watching a band on the Dragonfly stage. There was always fun to be had. Considering the demands we hear at home for entertainment, this new found source of fun was a revelation!
As we packed up the car with our beyond feral children on the Monday, it was clear a good time was had by all. It was time to go home and have a bath.
Things we’ve learned
- Take breakfast – everyone else seemed to have that one sorted!
- Kids love festivals, they won’t want to leave
- There’s no such thing as a lie in
- No tv, screentime of any sort which is amazing for all
- Fun time family party – all weekend long
If in doubt – let loose with a cheeky cider and your youngest at a middle aged rave. Not that I class myself as middle aged of course. I’ve got plenty of festival left in me yet…
Elderflower Fields is now booking for 2019 in Sussex and Leicestershire!
Elderflower Fields, the original festival takes place late May bank holiday weekend (22nd – 25th May 2019) at it’s beautiful home in Pippingford Park, East Sussex.
Excitingly for Northeners and Midlanders, a second festival will take place the following weekend (29th – 31st May 2019) in the stunning grounds of Stanford Hall in Leicestershire. For more information about Elderflower Fields Midlands, visit the website here.