I had been excitedly looking forward to Victorious for some time as the line up was astounding! I was also curious about how a festival with bands as big as The Prodigy could also manage to be a family friendly festival.
Victorious have this absolutely spot on. Both my children and I loved it. There was so much to do! We didn’t manage to get round it all but we gave it a good go (as much as the weather would permit) and found this to be a sensational and safe festival with more than enough for all of us.
There is no camping at the festival site. However the allocated campsite for the festival was at Farlington Playing Fields, about seven miles away. There is a shuttle bus that runs from the campsite to the festival and back again as often as needed. We used this for when we were going over to the festival in the day time. In the evenings, I chose to drive over as I knew I wouldn’t be drinking and I had found that parking with a blue badge was easy and very close to the arena. I didn’t fancy waiting for the bus with the huge crowds at 11 o’clock. I think the campsite was quiet by about 12.30-1am each night though, so the wait for the shuttle can’t have been outrageous.
There were bag checks on entering the campsite, which made me feel very safe. The security were very quick and efficient, and also friendly, so this did not cause much of a hold up.
The campsite was split into separate areas for general camping, family, accessible and staff.
Farlington Fields, where the campsite was, is access through Farlington Services. This was great as it meant there was a very handy garage for supplies. The nearest supermarket was also only a fifteen minute walk.
At the campsite there was a pizza vendor, also serving bacon sandwiches and hot drinks. Phone charging was available and there was a big first aid and welfare tent. The staff camping area also had a burger and chips van.
There were plenty of hot showers, that never had too long a queue, and lots of toilets that were reasonably well stocked and maintained.
There were sinks for washing up. About twenty picnic tables made a nice sitting area by the pizzeria. I didn’t see anybody barbecuing, but there was a dedicated barbecue area.
Across the whole campsite there were a large number of bins. The campsite remained virtually litter free for the entire weekend.
There was about a ten minute (with camping gear) flat walk from the car park to the campsite entrance.
We arrived as soon as the campsite opened. I was a bit shocked that the disabled car park was the same ten minute walk from the accessible campsite, with no option to drop of gear at the pitch before parking.
However, a very kind off duty steward called Jack (I hope I got that right), was so helpful and did several trips back and forth with me getting everything from the car to the pitch. The site managers listened and were very sympathetic. They then sourced a buggy to carry equipment for the families that arrived after us. They have also promised to ensure that there is a much more convenient set up next year.
There was an accessible toilet within the accessible campsite. We also had use of an accessible shower with a ramp that was located with the other showers. The key needed to be collected from the welfare tent, ensuring that only those with need for it would use it.
A medicine fridge and electrical hook-up was also available.
Children’s Activities at Victorious
There was a massive kids field with so much to do included that included a circus, a stage, and countless activities. There was a small funfair, just next to all the free activities, and food stalls for every taste.
I was probably inappropriately excited to see Andy and the Odd Socks. Both my children stopped watching CBeebies years ago, but I used to love it when Andy and Sid were one.
Andy Day had a predictably fabulous connection with the audience. Everybody joined in when they were told to clap to the robot rap, and loved the Groovy Hoover. They also had an important message in their “If You Feel Like a Freak” song, that everybody is different and it is better to be confident in who you are and to accept others for who they are. I’m glad we got to see them as they were a great act for a kids’ stage. They did two performances on the Saturday.
The stage also hosted theatre, dance and magic acts from local and not so local groups.
Mary Rose Museum
The Tudor museum brought lots of medieval games and displays from their home at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. There was a chance to dress up and sit in a throne, or do some hobby horse jousting.
I was pleasantly surprised to beat my son at a giant game of Nine Man Morris which was a bit like noughts and crosses but better! He then enjoyed having a go at archery with their expert tuition.
They also had giant Jenga and Connect 4. All of this was free! Their website is great and the museum looks well worth a visit.
There were two different shows that were on the bill several times over the weekend and we went to both of them. I’d say their “A” show deserved it’s title but we were mesmerised by both.
The balancing acts and the aerial artists were truly awesome. One lady balanced a sword on her chin, while she herself was balanced on a bicycle that was balanced on a stand about twelve feet high!
My favourite, I think, was Pippa the Bubble Ballerina on a Low Wire. I always love a bubble show, and this was performed whilst on a tight rope – wonderful! The Mr Slinky dancer was also brilliant.
Also in the Kids Field
We caught a little bit of a performance from the Ready to Rock School. Here, children were taught music and invited to join a band, performing in the Kids’ field. This looked like a wonderful opportunity. Again this was all free. I hope it also features in future years when my son is more confident on the guitar. The children that we saw were great!
Want A Nerf Party were also in the Victorious kids’ field. We had a go with the target shooting but we weren’t very good, so we left the Nerf war games to people with more ability!
Portsmouth College hair stylists had a stall by the kids’ field offering festival hair (braids with extensions) for a £5 or glitter lips for £1.50.
Portsmouth mobile library had free Wi-Fi, and books to borrow for Portsmouth residents. We were delighted to receive a free copy of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. This was part of a campaign to get everyone in Portsmouth to read this book and comment on it. What a fantastic idea to encourage reading as part of a community. Next to this was the vibrantly colourful Literacy Live Stage
Little Kickers were teaching football skills for free to children up to seven years old.
One of the many things I loved about the Victorious site, was that because of its location it incorporated a good number of permanent attractions. Alongside the fountains, and the Castle Champagne Bar, was the Southsea Skate Park. They put on magnificent displays and also hosted junior roller discos. Wonderful!
There was also free tennis coaching; a free climbing wall; loads of colouring; crafts and slime making; rocket building; a chance to meet Paddington; and so much more! We somehow managed to miss the Kids’ disco and kiddi-oki – we were just so busy!
Very young families were also thought of as Victorious provided a dedicated baby change and feeding facility, well stocked with nappies and wipes.
Music at Victorious
I don’t really understand how Victorious manage to keep their prices so low when they have such massive bands playing. Over the weekend acts included The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Shed Seven, Paul Weller, Brian Wilson, Paloma Faith, Everything Everything, Billy Bragg, Years and Years and The Prodigy – and that list doesn’t even cover half the acts on the two main stages. There were also several smaller stages.
We were obviously mostly there for all the children’s activities, but as my children are getting older they also love the music, especially at more mainstream festivals like Victorious. I was a bit worried about the timetable clash between the Years and Years, who my children were desperate to see, and the Prodigy.
Victorious was such an incredibly safe and friendly festival that I was more than happy for my fourteen year old daughter and her friend to look after my ten year old at one stage, while I rediscovered my lost youth at another.
While it is always good to see firm favourites, and book tickets for festivals based on line-ups, one of the best things about music festivals is discovering new bands.
On the Saturday lunchtime, my son and I were having a look around as we headed slowly to the kids’ field. We had studied the timetable and we weren’t in any particular rush to get anywhere. As we went past one the back of one of the stages we thought we heard the Levellers. We knew they weren’t scheduled to play but rushed around just in case they were doing a secret gig. They were not but we did find Iolar doing a beautiful cover of “Fifteen Years” on the Mayfield Real Ale stage. If you like excellent folk music then try and catch one of their gigs on the South Coast.
On the Saturday night I was pretty exhausted from all the days activities in the kids’ field. We had gone back to the campsite to chill out for a bit and I would have quite happily have had an early night. My son insisted on going back out (as he’s a lot more fun than I am) to see Paloma Faith.
I thought I only knew one of her songs but it turned out I knew nearly all of them, with my son telling me the titles. She was brilliant! She had a lovely anecdote about how she had wanted to enjoy the festival incognito. Apparently in the day one of the stall holders recognised her so she simply pretended to be a massive Paloma Faith fan, and talked with the gentleman about how they were both looking forward to the show that night. I do hope that he had been there to hear her confession.
I think the last time I saw the Prodigy was Glastonbury ’95. For some time the band themselves described that as their best ever gig. Keith had rolled onto the stage in a giant sphere; I don’t actually remember much of that but did enjoy the music and the flashing lights from somewhere at the back of the field.
Their appearance at Victorious came the same week as they announced a UK tour for the end of the year. The whole set was just electric and they certainly left us wanting more.
The children were off at the Castle Stage watching Years and Years, so I managed to get about fifty or so rows from the front. A secondary mosh pit started just near me, which eventually joined up with the main one, but I wasn’t up for that so went a few rows further back.
I had felt a little self conscious that I was possibly one of only a handful of people there that was old enough to have bought Experience when it came out on tape, but nobody made me feel at all unwelcome.
It was amazing seeing all the way through right from the minute that they opened with Breathe. Everyone joined in with Omen, and carried on with the next song, Wild Frontier. I couldn’t stop smiling for the whole hour and a half that that they were on for. Of course, I’ve bought tickets for their tour!
I also loved listening to Brian Wilson preform old Beach Boys songs. We caught some of Example and DJ Wire. My daughter was very impressed with how well I knew the songs. I didn’t like to break it to her that I actually just knew the originals!
I didn’t make it into the comedy tent, as I figured that the music on the stages would be more appropriate for young ears.
For a £50 bolt on, tickets could be upgraded to VIP. This had a separate entrance, so less queuing. It had its own bar and covered seating area.
VIPers also had exclusive access to food stalls selling paella, churros, steak boxes, and tea & coffee. The cocktail bar had premixed cocktails on a pump – so very quick service. The covered hammocks were very popular with children and adults alike.
The main bonus was the VIP covered seating area. Given the amount of rain on the Friday, and then again (and worse) on the Sunday, I think everybody thought that it was well worth the extra money.
Food and Drink
There was every choice for food and drink, and we never had to walk far to get fed. My daughter isn’t very adventurous, so we very pleased to spot a Dominos van there. There were a few familiar names. I found that most vendors were happy to offer child portions when asked and adjusted their prices accordingly.
Coca Cola were giving out free mini cans of flavoured coke. They also had a game where people could win prizes whenever they recycled their cans.
There were bars by each stage and around the arena.
The Southsea Castle Champagne Bar runs from May to September. As the Victorious festival had been built up around it, it was incorporated as a popular feature of the festival. Located near the Castle Stage, with fountains on the approach.
There were loads of toilets. We never had to walk far or queue for long.
There were permanent flushing toilets just near the Real Ale Stage. These are often a luxury at festivals, but one of the bonuses of the location of Victorious as it is a popular tourist spot even when the festival isn’t on.
Accessibility at the Arena
Each of the two main stages had its own accessible viewing platform. The stewards were refreshingly strict, only allowing access to those who had applied for and been given the necessary wristbands. They also kept a close eye on numbers, ensuring that the platforms did not become unsafe.
If you go to Victorious and have need of a viewing platform, do make sure you procure the necessary wristbands and arrive in good time if there is a band that you want to see.
I was pleased to see that the platforms had BSL interpreters. The one that we saw for Paloma Faith seemed to be a big fan, and made the whole experience even more fun.
The existing path network around the lovely flat site meant that it was relatively simple for those using wheelchairs and other mobility aids to get around the festival. The main route up to the Castle Stage was actually a road (with no cars of course except the odd festival vehicle); an unusual luxury at a festival.
Victorious also offer free personal assistant tickets upon proof of eligibility.
There was disruption to the stage times early on the Sunday due to the rain and the high winds. These were quickly rectified however, with the exception of the Seaside Stage which was forced to close early.
The festival were fantastic at keeping us updated on their social media pages.
We had an absolutely amazing time at our fist Victorious. There was so much to love and very little not to – with the exception of the weather!
I don’t know how they do it, but the organisers have created a family festival with massive mainstream headliners and kept their prices low. My other favourite festivals tend to have remote locations. Although that obviously adds to the feeling of getting away from the pressures of everyday life, I really enjoyed getting to see so much of Portsmouth. We loved watching the hovercrafts as we walked from the shuttle bus stop to the festival. Once through the barriers we felt completely submerged in the festival, so we didn’t feel we’d lost any sense of escapism. It felt very safe but still exciting, with so much to see and do.
This is just a brief overview of what Victorious has to offer, and I thoroughly recommend attending this fantastic event. I certainly hope to take my family along many more times in the future.
Take a look at our fact sheet if you are interested in going to Victorious.