If you’re a regular reader of this blog you will know that we are big fans of family festivals. We try to get to as many as we can over the summer and our second one of 2018 was Timber Festival in The National Forest.
Timber is organised by family festival experts Wild Rumpus and we have previously been to some of their events such as Just So and A Day at the Lake. If Wild Rumpus is organising something you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll be a lot of fun.
Due to some unavoidable delays at home, our visit to Timber Festival turned out to be shorter than we’d hoped but we tried our very best to fit in as much as possible in the 24 hours or so we were there. Here are some of the highlights and some of the things we missed but think you really ought to hear about!
We love to hear stories by Ian Douglas, storyteller. We’ve listened to him at several festivals over the last few years and he is just brilliant. Ian’s ability to draw you into his amusing and entertaining tales is a very special skill indeed, so whether you’re 4 or 104 you’re bound to enjoy what you hear.
This weekend my son was invited to take part in one of Ian’s stories, which was a tale about a boy called Jack. My son thoroughly enjoyed his involvement and I’m pretty sure it was the highlight of his weekend actually.
The Museum of the Moon
An absolutely spectacular installation within The Canopy area of Timber Festival, The Museum of the Moon must have taken some serious planning and assembly. Lit up after dark and with accompanying soundtrack, this really was an impressive sight.
Measuring seven metres in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface. Luke Jerram’s magnificent Museum of the Moon is now touring and you can find tour dates here.
The Lost Words: Seek, Find, Speak
The Lost Words: Seek Find Speak is a spoken word adaptation of The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, an illustrated book of acrostic poems or “spells” of twenty nature words at risk of disappearance from modern childhood in an increasingly urban world which is led by technology.
We stumbled upon this performance as we wandered past and it turned out to be one of the most magical experiences of the festival for us. Following the performers through a woodland trail, the children listened to acrostic poems delivered through dance, spoken word and music. The boys were very excited indeed to discover that the youngest star of Seek, Find, Seek was in fact a boy they know from home. We can’t wait to see what he does next!
Unusually for me I didn’t take many photos of the food we ate at Timber Festival. The one meal I did capture though was my steak flatbread from The Allotment. It was absolutely delicious and filled me up which is not something you always get at festivals! The boys enjoyed freshly made pizza and the toddler had halloumi bites and fries, though I’m not sure he’s going to be a huge halloumi fan!
Prices were average for festival food but food and drink were allowed to be brought on site (no glass) so it’s really up to you how much you spend whilst you’re there.
Hammer & Chisel
The boys loved adding their own touches to the collective efforts of the children (and their adults) at Timber Festival. Sawing, hammering, designing and doing lots of real woodwork was something they thoroughly enjoyed. Eventually I had to coax them away but it was pretty difficult to get them to leave!
I have tried several times to engage the boys in some woodwork activities at home but they’ve never been all that interested. Hopefully the session at Timber Festival will have inspired them!
When you’ve been awake since 4.30 am because the tent is unbearably hot, what’s the best thing to do? Well obviously the answer is to head to a Bhangra Tots class for 9am! This was the only energetic thing we could manage on the Sunday morning because the weather was obscenely hot, but the kids really enjoyed it! I think I would’ve too if the toddler had let me put him down for a minute…
Bhangra Tots was brought to Timber Festival by Solihul’s Aashiyana Arts and was great for adults and children alike. If they’re at a festival near you this summer it’s worth checking them out.
Tentsile Tree Tents
You may remember reading our review of the Tentsile Stingray Tree Tent earlier in the year. We love our tree tent and so my eldest son was thrilled to see them at Timber Festival. He enjoyed his tranquil little break as I had a chat with a man who was looking to buy one… I think I convinced him to buy the Stingray – and if he didn’t, he definitely should!
Tentsile are a super lovely company who do good things and make awesome tree tents. What a fabulous way to spend a few nights out in the woods.
I’m writing this review after watching England get knocked out of the World Cup so I’m feeling a bit sad about that just now, but on Saturday the atmosphere was palpable as we gathered in (or near) the marqee in which the England vs Sweden match was being shown. The older boys secured themselves a seat near the front while I hung around outside where there was slightly more air. The win made our afternoon even better and I am very grateful to Timber Festival for rejigging their timetable to be able to show the football.
Campfire House Band
When campfire stories came to an end, campfire songs began. I could’ve sat in The Canopy for the entire festival if there wasn’t so much other brilliant stuff going on, and we did actually spend most of our time there as it was. The ceilidh led by the Campfire House Band was uplifting and made even the smallest of our group get up and dance!
Traditional, live, feel-good music by a campfire in the forest. A little snippet of heaven.
There were lots of workshops going on throughout the weekend. We didn’t have time to partake in any but we saw basket weaving, spoon whittling, walking stick making and a lot more besides! Each workshop was chargeable on top of the festival entry fee but whatever you made was yours to take away.
I think next time we see this kind of thing we’ll try to make more time to take part. It would give the boys a great sense of achievement to have completed a project like this in one session.
Asmodee Games Tent
Just before we left Timber Festival the boys wanted to visit the games tent. To be honest I was a bit confused by this – they have endless games at home and there were a hundred things they could have chosen to do, but they chose the board games.
I’m glad they did. We discovered a new game – Cobra Claw – which is quick to play, fast paced and great for cognitive development. I think it’ll be on at least one of my children’s birthday lists this year.
I loved these little (okay fairly large) guys. Borne from the imaginations of children who attend schools within the National Forest, and brought to life by the Timber Festival team. How cool would it actually be to see your design there in the woods, as large as life? What a great feeling that must have been for the children behind the designs. I love that Wild Rumpus involved the children within the local community like that.
Timber Festival is a great one for families but I would say most suitable for children over five or six, who can deal with hilly and uneven terrain. This festival is held within a forest and the terrain reflects that. I did find it quite difficult to manage the festival trolley and opted for the stroller instead. My stroller has all-terrain rear wheels but it was still a bit of a struggle sometimes, so I would suggest baby wearing if your little one is still small enough.
The only other thing that had a negative impact on our weekend was the weather. It was outrageously hot and we left early because my youngest son was really struggling with the heat. I don’t think that’ll be a problem here in the UK very often though!
So that’s it.
The things we did and the things we saw at Timber Festival 2018, and what we thought of them. I can’t begin to tell you what else there was because the programme was absolutely jam packed with a plethora of things to do. To keep in the loop about 2019 dates and programming sign up to the Timber Festival newsletter at www.timber.org.uk. If you go next year, I would strongly advise (as I would for any festival) that you arrive as early as you can and leave as late as possible too so you can make the most of everything on offer. You really can’t fit everything in so check the programme, plan your weekend and enjoy it all!
If your little ones are on the younger side, I would highly recommend Wild Rumpus favourite Just So. It’s the perfect festival for children up to around 10 years old, full of magic and wonderment.
As I said at the beginning, I was only at Timber Festival for around one full day in total so I didn’t get to see everything that was on offer. To get a better idea of other areas of the festival, check out the Timber Festival Reviews from Hodge Podge Days, The Brick Castle and We’re Going on an Adventure.