Standon Calling started out ten years ago as a private party on the Standon Lordship estate. It’s now a full blown festival but it still retains that chilled out friendly vibe. This years theme: “A Town of Two Faces” was very appropriate, by day Standon Calling was relaxed with plenty of space to just sit on the grass and take it all. You could even go for a swim in the heated outdoor pool. But by night the party really ramped up, with music until 5am (there was no chance of me making it that late so I was glad of my earplugs)!
The theme is a big part of Standon Calling and the whole festival centered around a Wild West set. The crowd really made an effort with lots of people in costumes and there was a really nice mix of people. Standon Calling is very family friendly event but the kids are neither the center of attention or tucked away in one corner. Instead there were children’s areas spread around the site so everyone mixed in together. A great example of this came on Saturday Afternoon when there was an impromptu dance off between a team of kids and a hen party (the kids won!).
For me the highlight was Sunday night when we found ourselves a spot next to the trapeze to watch Basement Jaxx. The band put on a fabulous show of big costumes, lights and of course tunes that got everyone dancing while the trapeze artists watched from the top of their rig occasionally flying and somersaulting through the air just for the joy of it. Evelyn was spellbound by the whole thing.
Across the site there were eight other stages with a variety of music and comedy acts. It was great to see The Magic Numbers playing an intimate gig in the Last Dance Saloon tent, where we also discovered Landshapes.
Kids entertainment was run mostly by Angel Gardens who had two main areas. One of these was positioned just close enough to the main stage for parents to listen to some bands while the kids got on with Wild West themed craft activities. There were a few paid for activities but enough free stuff that this wasn’t a problem and there was also a small cafe with child friendly meals like sausages and beans for just £2. The other Angel Gardens area offered a range of shows and activities, the hands on science workshop was a huge hit.
For babies and toddlers there was a tent with toys and sensory activities and for older children the teen area provided a relaxed hang out during the day before gearing up to a party at night. I noticed careful bag checks going on in the evening to ensure this area stayed drink free and it was nice that the whole thing felt safe enough for even young teens to leave their parents and enjoy a bit of freedom.
The kids entertainment was great for me and my husband too, while our girls were having a great time at a dance class or disco, we had the very rare treat of stretching out on the grass together, listening to a band in the neighboring tent, with a cold pint of cider.
Camping and Facilities
After a very wet weekend at a previous festival I was delighted to find a green sunny field to camp in at Standon Calling. The Family camping was at the top of a hill overlooking the main festival site but sloped only very gently and was surrounded by farmland and further hills. It was separated from the general camping and felt very safe with security guards and stewards always present and they swiftly dealt with the one drunken incident I witnessed.
Within the family camping there was also a coffee stand which sat next to a large shelter that hosted garden toys and chilled out tunes in the morning. Perfect for wide awake kids and slightly less wide awake parents! I was also pleased to find toilets with proper sinks. They were slightly shabby but I never had to queue and they were generally pretty clean with plenty of loo roll, soap, paper towels and even hot running water. A real festival luxury. The only complaint I heard was that, although the carpark was very close to the family camping field, people had to go a long way round over uneven ground to avoid the crew campsite.
I also managed to get a peak at the glamping area which had a few very large Urts and Tipees as well as a big section of Hotel Bell tent. This sat close to the main area as did the accessible camping which was a small fenced off section of the main camping site with it’s own disabled loos (there were others in the main site).
The food stalls were all arranged in a wide ark at the entrance to the main site which made it easy to set out a blanket in the middle and take your pick. Martha refused to eat anything but the sausage rolls from the pie stall (£3), Evelyn was a bit more adventurous but kept coming back to the Mac and Cheese van (£6) I attempted to be virtuous with a vege curry (£7) cooked in an american school bus although I did succumb to burgers and crepes too. There was also Tartiflete, soft shell crab burgers, pizza, Japaneese food and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options too. The beer and cider came in at about £5 a pint. The entire site was cash free so you had to load money onto your wrist band. It was nice not to have to carry lots of cash around or pay the whopping fee for a festival cash point but we stuggled to keep track of how much we each had left by Sunday night and it was a bit of a pain queuing up for the single refund window before we left
But with that birthday to prepare for, we reluctantly had to leave Standon Calling on Sunday night. The girls heads were filled with the sights and sounds of the festival; music, fire shows, and a dozen other new experiences. They were asleep before we even got out of the carpark. The grown ups in the car had to stay awake, but were just as happy.