With The Big Feastival, you’re guaranteed every possible set-up for families, with kids of all ages. All the kid’s brands are there, giving away goody bags, offering activities, and selling all kinds of bits and pieces that we’re so familiar with if you have children. The vibe is relaxed, trendy and slightly upmarket.
The festival is set on Alex James’ farm in the Cotswolds. A beautiful part of the country with plenty of gorgeous little pubs dotted around for before or after the festival if you fancy stopping off. Some do overnight accommodation too, so if camping’s not your thing, there’s always that option. If you really want to treat yourself, The Plough in Kingham offer a Big Feastival package, and although it’s beautiful, it’s certainly not cheap.
We arrived early on the Saturday, parked up and wandered over to the site. The walk really isn’t that far and fairly push chair friendly.
Once through the entrance, you’re bombarded from all angles with stuff going on. It’s hard to know what to do first. We grabbed a coffee and got our boys and ice cream and wandered round the site.
We headed straight for the mini farm, where children can interact with the animals. You can hold chicks and stroke goats and pigs (for free). This really is fantastic, but extremely crowded. It’s not only busy with children, but all the parents are there too, trying to get their child a turn. We spent what seemed like an age there. Once our boys got a chick each, they sat down on a hay bale and didn’t want to leave. It was great, but I was pleased when it was time to get out of there.
Our boys decorated cupcakes on the @bkd_london stand – £3.50 each. Rather a lot for a cupcake, but you were free to add as much as you wanted. My two piled it on, but I’m still not sure whether they got their moneys worth.
We got a free goody bag from the Red Tractor stand and had a go at the fun interactive computer game that taught you the difference between a red tractor labelled product and a product without one. We also milked their wonderful life sized cow model.
The bag included a pencil, badge, magnetic notepad and balloon. We also enjoyed some free tasters from the lovely people at Bear, which was some cereal and dried fruit giveaways.
This year, the car partner was Renault, and they had a fun family zone to explore. Our kids had a go at the obstacle course, and loved the free sunglasses for doing it. We had a laugh doing the dress up photo booth too. Again, all activities were free.
There was a super arts and crafts tent with activities going all around the outside of it. We made friendship bracelets and a dream catcher (both free). We then found another tent where you could print your own tea towels with stamps and paints. This was a particular hit and at only £3, I thought was really good value for money.
Next to this was a DJ stand where you could try your hand at mixing it up on the decks. It was so popular, you had to get your name on a list and pick a time slot. It was continuous through the day, playing fab dance music.
Joules had a stand with some amazing bargains and next to their stall was a wang your welly stand. The prizes were Joules wellies, Joules branded sunglasses and Joules key rings. The chance of winning was high, so there were lots of smiley faces. My two won a pair of sunglasses and a key ring and were over the moon.
Along from Joules, were the usual helter-skelter and Ferris wheel – always guaranteed to keep little ones happy for a while. We didn’t go on either this year, but plenty of people were!
Food and drink
The food marquee was out of this world, with copious independent small businesses all selling their products. Plenty of tasters and variety. Prices were quite steep, but then again, that generally is the case with whole foods. Think local farm shop and you’re on the right track. Good quality, not mass produced, just beautiful yummy wholesome food. One of the stands had swede cake as their taster and I’ve had to try and make the same cake at home because my two loved it so much. Who knew?
We enjoyed watching the many celebrity chefs on stage, but one of my personal highlights was watching Jamie himself do a cooking demo. It was extremely popular, understandably so, with people bagging their seats a good 45 minutes before he was due to come on. We managed to find a tiny space behind the main filming camera, so we were quite close to the front, but I’m sure more seating could have been provided, or maybe a different layout? Everyone was so keen to see Jamie, there were quite a lot of disgruntled huffs and puffs as everyone annoyed each other to get the best view.
Jamie of course was brilliant and held my kid’s (age 8 and 10) attention for ages. They even now quote bits from the show. The latest being, “a handful of nuts a day could increase your life by four years!” Love it.
As for choosing what to have for lunch and dinner, there was an abundance of choice. From DJ BBQ cooking up a mean burger, to mac and cheese, pizza, posh hot dogs, posh fish and chips, paella, noodles, honestly, the list is endless. As you would expect from a foodie’s festival. ☺
The only downside unfortunately was the price. There was a premium to pay because everything was so good. A hot dog was £5 for example. And even though it was presented nicely, filled with good proper meat, it was still a hot dog at the end of the day.
You’re not allowed to take in your own alcohol, so if you fancy having a few bevvies, then you have no choice but to buy on the site. As with the food, plenty of choice – from locally brewed cider, beers and cocktail stands, to up market drinks from the likes of Fever Tree (with a whopping gin menu) and Laurent Perrier. I sampled a cocktail or two at £5 each and a couple of G&Ts at £4 each (with a 50p refund if you returned the plastic cup for recycling – fab idea).
If it’s kids drinks you’re after, then there are various places to grab bottles of water, smoothies and juices. We happened to come across an area where they were measuring the energy efficiency in your home and they had a free water cooler machine, so we filled up the boys’ water bottles from them. Result!
One thing’s for certain, you won’t get bored here, and there’s certainly something for everyone. The main arena had several A-list status celebs adorning the stage, such as Paloma Faith, Ella Eyre, Dizzy Rascal, Sophie Ellis Baxter (to name a few), and a number of sets from CBeebies’ Mr Tumble to keep the little ones happy.
Lots of people tend to take their own camping chairs and picnic rugs and set up a little base by the stage. This is a fab idea, as you can then come and go as you please. Chill out listening to music, or wander around the site shopping, playing, watching, eating etc.
Here, you can take your pick where you’d like to sleep. Take your tent and pitch up (there are designated family areas), or if you’re after a bit of luxury, you can head over to the glamping village. Choose from a family bell tent or a luxury yurt and get first rate amenities including a reception area and 24 concierge service, a bar and chill out area serving snacks, pamper parlour, top class showers and loos…and even dedicated glamper’s parking within the same field.
The facilities were the best I’ve ever seen at a festival, and although everything started to look a bit ‘used’ by the end of the weekend, there were plenty of staff making sure that areas such as toilets and the first aid tent were tended to. I even had liquid soap, running water and toilet roll in all the portable toilets I went in!
Overall, a fantastic festival, more than ideal for families and great for children’s first experience of a festival.