Gorillaz, craziness and more at 2018’s Boomtown Fair
I have been wanting to go to Boomtown for so long and we are finally going for the first time this year.
I admit I have what could amount to an obsession with interactive and immersive theatre. It was a love I discovered at Glastonbury Festival more than 20 years ago. I was a shy child and it took me a long time to come out of my shell. To pretend to be another character, to go along with a story and to pretend I’m in it, is a genuine thrill for me. Now that I have my own children I have involved them in this passion and noticed them finding confidence through joining in too.
Boomtown is the king of interactive experiences. The whole thing is one massive jaunt into an imaginary world, full of imaginary cities, and all the people within are characters. It’s going to be heaven for someone like me.
The only thing that worries me is that we won’t have time to do everything!
I have been looking through all the pages of information on the Boomtown website, and our own reviews, and have put together this guide for any other families who are going.
If you have any advice to add to this – please comment on the bottom of the page. And please do say hello if you see us!
Check out our parent reviews of previous Boomtowns – 2017, 2016 and 2014!
It’s worth having a look at the map before you go, because it’s HUGE!
The size could put some families off, but the family camping, kids’ area and forest schools are very close together, leaving the loud crazy areas on the other side of the map. This means you can choose your time to venture into the main areas.
Family camping and family campervan areas are at the bottom of the map by the South Gate. Make sure you follow the colour on your car parking pass when you enter. There’s a free shuttle bus from the car park to camping. We have our caravan now, so will be heading to family campervans on the Orange Route.
The main areas will be relatively quiet in the day, especially the morning, and you will want to explore through all the different cities. We will probably try to explore one or two of the main areas during the day then take the children back in the evening to chill. Whistler’s Green is the spot for sunset so the plan is to head up there with a few circus toys in the evening.
We are planning at least one later night with the whole family, so I’m going to scout out the whole place first. This might sound a little non spontaneous, but especially with three children I find it’s best if I know where I’m going. Then I can concentrate on being with them and making sure they don’t get lost! I also look out for donut and pancake stalls for some late night sugar. There are free shuttle buses from Oldtown back to family camping so I intend to watch out for those too.
Boomtown restricts access to the crazy Downtown Area after 7pm for under 16s as they are not appropriate for children due to adult content and crowds. I think this is a good measure for the organisers to take.
I intend to venture out myself at night without the children for some adventures of my own…
Family Friendly Areas
I have a feeling we are going to spend a lot of time in the kids’ area, which is called Kidztown, and the Forest School.
Kidztown has its own Sandcastle Stage for family friendly music, such as Junior Jungle and Dizney Rascal (yes I’m curious!).
It’s a big relief that everything in Kidztown is free – I won’t have to say no to 5 times on the swingboats! With science workshops, loads of activities plus child friendly interactive theatre, it fits in with the Boomtown feeling.
My children always love Forest School and climbing around in the woods so that will be a great place for us too. I’ve noticed that Woodland Tribe will also be there and so we may have trouble dragging the kids away from building stuff with bits of wood.
Whistler’s Green has been recommended to me as somewhere more chilled, with jazz, funk and soul and world music, and a more ‘hippy’ vibe. Plus, it has great sunsets with a top view over the site.
We are definitely packing the ear defenders! I am in no doubt that Boomtown will be busy and loud. Our way of dealing with it is a) always carry ear defenders b) try to aim for one main band per day that we want to see and get agreement with children in advance (using bribes where necessary) c) if it gets too much, divide and pick a couple of bands you really want to see while the other one of you takes the kids somewhere quieter.
At least this festival our family finally can agree on a band – we all LOVE Gorillaz. This is their one and only UK festival date this year. They are playing on the Lion’s Den stage, and we will be getting there early!
The line up is absolutely MASSIVE and I’m sure there must be something for everyone. I’d like to see Soul II Soul again as they are great live. Also Ben Harper, Jimmy Cliff, Morcheeba and Dub Pistols. However as the line up is so long I’m hoping to stumble on new bands. I’ve included the full line-up at the bottom of the page.
The Boomtown story has grown through the decade since the festival started. It’s good to catch up online before you go.
Interaction is a big thing at Boomtown and it’s wonderful for children’s imaginations. Children seem to be far happier to go along with immersive adventures than most adults anyway, and Boomtowm is a place for those adults that want to be part of these too. Many Boomtowners create their own characters and stay in them all weekend, and even continue every Boomtown. I am hoping to get the children involved in all the fun and join in with the craziness of it all. Can’t wait!
See our factsheet for full information on taking your family to Boomtown
Go to Boomtown website for tickets