I absolutely love festivals. I never went to any before I had children and the first one I did go to was a free one near my house, so you can definitely say I tiptoed into the realm of festival life.
Since then though I’ve tried to go to as many family friendly festivals as possible. From stepping tentatively into St. Mary’s Park with my husband and four-year-old for Festwich in 2012, to winging it on my own with two nine year old boys in my charge this weekend just gone. I think I’ve come pretty far!
The most recent was bluedot festival at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire. bluedot is an event that brings together science, education, music, food and culture and wraps it up in a big festival shaped bow. It’s a three day gig so there’s camping on site for tents and live-in vehicles. You can hire a pre-erected tent, go glamping in a tepee or bring your own – it depends what level of comfort you’re going for really! I opted to bring our 4-man pop up tent for ease. There were only the three of us so it was (just) big enough. I couldn’t get it perfectly pegged by myself but it did the job!
Once we were pitched up we set off to the main arena to have a mosey round and get our bearings. Our programme was invaluable – do make sure you buy a programme at festivals because it makes your life so much easier and you won’t miss the best bits.
It was almost 5pm on Saturday when we were ready to actually start enjoying bluedot – we were at my sister’s wedding the day before so we were late to the bluedot party. That didn’t matter except we couldn’t fit everything in that we would like to have done. There really is so much going on that you need to be there all weekend.
I couldn’t possibly cover everything that was on offer at bluedot this weekend within this post, so here are our top five highlights.
Jon Spooner and his UNSA Space Shed
As we wandered into the festival for the first time, an astronaut in an orange space suit passed us as said hi to the boys. Intrigued, we followed him a short distance to his ‘space shed’ and found that he was about to do some kind of show or talk. The boys sat down in front of the stage and I loitered nearby, sure they would be bored after not very many minutes because they never sit still.
I was so wrong – both boys (and I) sat listening intently to Jon talking to guest speaker Monique Henson about galaxy clusters (completely fascinating!) for around half an hour. Badger’s friend enjoyed the conversation so much he chose it as his highlight of the weekend! We made sure we returned to the Space Shed later that day to hear Jon’s story of how he hacked his way into space. Very amusing and very informative.
Jon, from Unlimited Theatre, is doing the rounds with festivals this year. See their dates on the Unlimited website.
Miracoco Luminarium is a sculpture people enter to be immersed in radiant light and colour. It’s the most mesmerising, relaxing and calming ‘attraction’ I’ve ever seen and without so many other people inside it I imagine it would be a perfect meditation setting. This was the only thing we queued for all weekend and though it was hot and the children were becoming restless by the time we got to the front, I would still recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who has the chance to experience it.
Visitors walk through the sculpture which is made from what feels like thin ‘bouncy castle’ material. It’s a labyrinth of tunnels and pods where people sit and relax, soaking up their environment. In the main domes the light effects are magnificent and you could really just sit and relax there for hours.
Wow. Orbital were AMAZING. They were on the main stage on Saturday evening and the crowd was absolutely bouncing! I did a quick facebook live from the field but honestly, the atmosphere was like no other. People from aged 2 to 82 were just letting go and enjoying every last beat. Completely brilliant – and that’s coming from this rock chick!
Kids busted some interesting moves too…
The Outer Space
The pyrotechnic show in The Outer Space was absolutely incredible. I’m actually pretty terrified of fire so I stood quite far back from the ‘Cosmic Circle of Fire’ but the boys were mesmerised. Brought to bluedot by Walk The Plank, the show of light and sound was something that was really difficult not to be amazed by – even if you’re someone who’s a bit afraid!
The boys were so thrilled with this! Two replica cars from the Back to the Future films were set up inside the Mission Control area and for anyone who was willing to donate £10 to charity there was the opportunity to sit inside and have a play around with the controls. The kids were in there for ages until someone else came along, waiting for their turn. This was the last thing we did before we left bluedot on Sunday and it really rounded off an excellent experience. Brilliant.
Are you planning any festivals this year? I’d love to hear your recommendations!