More fun than a house party!
The big question was finally answered this year – can Blissfields survive bad weather? Every other year it had been blessed with hot sunny days, but in 2016 we were dealt heavy showers and storms. This could have dampened our spirits but it didn’t, as the answer was a definite YES!
I spoke to Sam who runs Angel Gardens who told me that they had stopped any vehicles driving over the kids field, meaning the beautiful grass was maintained throughout the festival.
Those of you who have been to a really rainy festival will understand how important these thoughtful measures are for families – because as much as we can cope with a bit of mud, to trudge around endlessly around a few inches deep is simply exhausting.
So – it rained heavily on Saturday morning so we decided to stay in our tent until lunchtime, but that was the only negative thing about the rain, that we missed some outdoor events. The festival coped admirably with the weather.
What was noticeable was that the bad weather forecast had kept many people away, as the site was much less crowded than normal. But that was a great thing for the rest of us who were there – I had quite a few conversations with people who found that this year was even more friendly and more memorable because of the rain!
House Party Theme
The festival had a big theme this year, the House Party, so there were themed art installations across the site. These were incredible, imaginative and inventive, and my children were delighted with them. The entrance was dominated by a huge child’s drawing of a house, and inside there was a full sized dolls house with different rooms to explore. You could even climb into a secret room inside the washing machine.
This was so popular with my children we spent a great deal of time there, and best of all you could see the main stage while sitting in the ‘living room’! So we could sit and chat and watch the stage, while the girls bounced on mattresses in the ‘bedroom’. We were even interviewed by some wandering performers at one point, I’m not sure quite what their characters were but it was very funny. The wandering performers at Blissfields are always top quality.
The children also loved ‘The Garden Shed’ – made out to look like a shed and full of board games and records you could choose to put on (a real working record player which my children found fascinating and made me feel quite old!). It was another lovely place to escape the main festival especially when it was hot – my children were quite happy chilling out playing chess and kerplunk while we watched the music outside.
There was another additional area – a beach right near the main stage! Again it was fantastic to be able to go somewhere with the children that was also close to the main festival. There were overturned boats and sand for the children to play in, and a cocktail bar and street food for the adults.
It was a lovely place to go in the evenings, with lots of other families, talking about how this was the closest you could get to a Mediterranean holiday without the bother of leaving the country…
There had been several changes this year to the layout of the festival, and they were all good. The stages were spaced further apart so you could hear them all clearly, and they had added a few more stages and included more styles of music.
The music is always such good quality too so there is always something to see. The only part I didn’t take the children into was Area 51. Late at night in the woods it was a bit dark and scary, with loud monotonous music that quite obviously was not meant for me.
It did have some quite frightening artwork in there too, so I would say to parents to go and have a look before you take your children in! Some small children (like mine who are still scared of some Disney films) would be scared in there.
There were plenty of other great parts of the festival that we didn’t feel that we needed to go in at all, so we left it to the teenagers!
I loved the new venue ‘The Dome of the Unknown’ – a fun venue with a cafe attached – it was a great addition to the festival. It appeared to run a completely random selection of things, from talks about science and sustainability, to stand up comedy to a UV disco. Every time I went in there, there was something fun going on.
They hosted musical bingo which I have been to before and really love, so I went along to watch a bit of that – it’s like regular bingo except they play music instead of numbers and you cross off the songs. Then when you get a line they make you participate in a silly game for a prize. Outside the Dome there was another area with silly outdoor games and dance workshops which got everyone laughing.
The children’s area was particularly lovely this year. They have settled into a better location at the back of the field, away from the noise but still not too far from the rest of the festival. This had the added benefit of keeping their kids only toilets clean and adult-free.
It had also expanded slightly to include a couple of paying activities, and Pizza and Puppets, a lovely pizza stand which does puppet shows and pizza making with the children. It was great to have a pizza place so close to the kids’ field! The pizza making was free so although we did spend money there it was really good value.
We spent the majority of time in the kids field but because the festival is so small and safe we were able to leave them happily occupied for a little while and do such crazy things as watch a bit of a band or even have lunch together!
This year Angel Gardens had a pantomime theme, which included a pantomime performance of Snow White running in pieces throughout the weekend and across the whole site.
The children were inducted into dwarf school at the beginning of the day and then every time an Angel called out “Hi ho!” all the little ‘dwarfs’ had to line up in size order. The children all loved it, and the Angels were so fun and engaging, that we could just relax and watch them racing up and down the field in search of the princess of some treasure or something.
At one point Charlotte ended up on stage and was treated like a princess which made her the happiest I think I’ve ever seen her. As it was easy to watch the children this also allowed us to take turns to go off and wander around the site and see some music – especially easy when the main stage is only a few minutes away.
There were more food choices this year, and more healthy ones too. As well as two pizza stalls (very helpful for my fussy children) there were also some more welcome additions.
The Pakora Pod, serving curry and vegan indian snacks such as spinach pakora was my favourite food place! Pie and Vinyl serves pie and sells vinyl, but didn’t serve pie on records as I first thought!
We also loved the Churros van. Beautiful fresh warm churros (Mexican doughnuts) with a chocolate dip – absolute heaven!
My favourite venue throughout the festival was The Den – handily located near the children’s field and always playing something interesting.
I like asking for music recommendations and someone I met in the dollhouse told me The Church are good – I went to see them and they were hilarious – a kind of parody doing pop songs in the gospel-soul style, complete with an over the top preacher/lead singer.
I also loved Molotov Jukebox, a very funky band impossible not to dance to.
The main stage is just beautiful, fringed by trees and with a slope up to one side so the families can sit out and watch while the teenagers jump about at the front. I made sure to go to see Beans on Toast (we are so happy that he is on the main stage instead of squashed into a tiny tent!) and he did his set mostly from the top of the front speakers, except when he climbed out into the crowd and did a couple of numbers right in front of me! It was like having my own private gig – thanks so much Beans for some more Blissfields festival magic.
We managed to get the children to agree to one late night at the main stage so they ran around and then snuggled down with blankets while we caught most of Dizzee Rascal’s set.
It was great fun and the girls even enjoyed some of the music. I’ll never forget them singing and dancing along to Bonkers, that’s a memory you will take with you forever!
The magic of the Blissfields main stage is the large space up a slight hill so you can still see and hear the bands, and take in the atmosphere of the crowd, without having to drag your children through them.
Because it’s so small, we were able to easily take it in turns to go out to see specific things in the evenings, which worked out well.
I wanted to see Norman Jay, and my husband went to see Roni Size the following night – there were a lot of places to go and wander and dance for such a small festival.
I even made it to the silent disco at 2am one night, and had a great dance in a really fun and friendly atmosphere – I ended up dancing with lots of new friends by the end of the night!
It was such a fun and relaxing festival, with so much for both adults and children. For such a small venue to fit in such quality music and entertainment while retaining a relaxed and friendly vibe – well it’s a difficult thing to do but Blissfields manages it year after year. This year was truly magical and we all enjoyed it immensely.
Here’s to Blissfields 2017!