7-11th August 2014
One CRAZY pop-up city!
Review by Sarah, Jeff, Ash (aged 15) and Poppy (aged 8)
We drove from Brighton on Thursday the 7th excited and looking forward to our very first Boomtown Fair experience with our two children Ash (15) and Poppy (8). The sun shone, radio played and we set off. Winchester here we come. The festival is set in the beautiful surroundings of the Matterley Bowl.
We got to the festival site and were directed by smiling, friendly stewards who answered our questions and gave directions to get our wrist bands.
There were stewards mingling amongst the festival goers with hand held machines to allocate you your wristband. Waited no more than 20 mins, which was excellent.
Our family were lucky to have been allocated ‘Crew’ passes which meant that our waiting time was cut to the minimum, however, some guest we spoke to waited 4 hour to get wrist bands. If you are taking kids head for the ‘family entrance’ to save the little ones legs.
As the weather was fine on arrival families were able to drive right in and dump camping gear then go and park up just outside the family camping area. A very nice touch when you have all the kit that taking children entails! Leaving the festival was different as the rain had set in so it was take your gear back out to the car to pack up.
We drove into the beautiful scenic family camping field with flags, flowers and lines of night lights hanging across the entire area….the sounds of the festival permeating the air in waves on the wind.
Family camping was good, spacious and clean (unlike some of the rest of the festival). Campervans and disabled also shared this field. Glamping looked amazing with a field full of tipis over the other side of the festival. Water supply was close by as were toilets but these would have been better for exclusive use of families as they got pretty grotty fast. The field was ideally situated so it was quiet enough at night and there was an option to be further up the field if you want it even quieter. There were lots of friendly faces and children of all ages playing and running around. It made the start to our Boomtown experience very special.
We set off and explored this weird and wonderful place. The pop-up city was amazing, streets and streets of entertainment from the bizarre to the unbelievable.
We came across this field with about 8 four poster beds in it. Wow! So we sat on this bed overlooking ‘Downtown’ as the sun set….it was awesome, what a magical first night, under the stars, watching the city come to life, and come to life it did.
Boomtown is 38,000 revellers…most are 18-30 and everyone is there to REALLY PARTY. For the size of the festival there are very few families. Although Boomtown is very busy and crowded we felt safe taking our youngest to explore the whole festival and she loved it.
Food was usual festival fare with a huge variety on offer (ostrich burgers anyone??) with prices ranging from £6-8. A pint was £3.80 served in disposable plastic cups so you can imagine the state of the ground as not many made it to the bin!….The snow-cones were a firm favourite for Ash, and Poppy loved the liquorice stall!
‘KIDSTOWN’ was 5 mins from our tent. It was a colourful menagerie of tents, stages, creativity areas, drumming, slides and circus events….the list went on. Our youngest was straight in, whooping and laughing at the sights and sounds. There was plenty of smiling friendly organizers getting the kids to participate to the max…it was wonderful to watch and take part.
Workshops included a circus tent where you could learn how to ride a uni-cycle, walk the tight rope or juggle, which was a lot of fun and kept the youngest engrossed for several hours. There was a stage with crazy acts like ‘Grannyoke’ where people dressed as old ladies, sitting on their shopping trolley’s entertaining with comical antics.
Other workshops we participated in were the ‘drumming workshop’; creativity tents, where the kids could sit and make things from reusable materials and learn more about the environment, which was good.
Food outlets offered kid friendly menu’s just outside the entrance. There was a baby changing chamber in a bell tent which provided a calm space for breast feeding and milk warming. This area closed at 5pm.
Across the festival there was plenty to entertain and explore – 9 different districts each with 3- 5 different stages offering the likes of The Skatalites in The Town Centre and The Wailers at The Lion’s Den. With so much music, there was something to suit all music tastes and lots of new music to discover.
The very popular Arcadia entertained into the night and was amazing. Ash really enjoyed his night out ‘Downtown’ watching the Arcadia set, a very futuristic fire breathing spider. Kids under 12 are not allowed into ‘Downtown’ after 7pm due to the crowds and safety issues this would cause younger revellers. We took turns in going out at night with our oldest so he could enjoy the loud music and watch bands/groups he liked whilst the youngest stayed ‘Uptown’ with either mum or dad.
There were plenty of workshops offering crafts, dancing, yoga etc. The woodland areas were filled with hammocks, lanterns, with winding paths taking you on a journey passing by magical spaces like ‘Tribe of frog’ and the ‘Rave Yard’, however, we seemed to be the only family taking our kids into these areas.
Although there was plenty of entertainment, this was mainly adult orientated. Our 15 year old loved the festivals different themed sectors and the music, however, our 8 year old found the music too loud at times. Boomtown is mainly music/Dj’s/adult themed cabaret orientated and this is reflected in the various marquees and arena’s situated around the massive festival. There was not much in the way of child friendly activities unless you based yourself in ‘Kidstown’, which was amazing on the first day and second day, however, it did not keep our 8 year old entertained for long. Families with small children and toddlers may struggle with entertaining them the whole weekend just in Kidstown so if your little ones don’t get on with loud music and crowd this is probably not the festival for you.
The setting is in a bowl with lots of hills and slopes to take you up and down which is fine on 2 legs but a buggy or wagon may be a struggle especially if muddy, (and it did rain heavy at times causing plenty of muddy pathways) so you could be restricted to the top part of the festival.
Boomtown festival is known for crazy characters and people partying hard and fast for 4 days long. This was apparent and wide spread, however, not once were our kids subjected to any untoward situations or frightened by revellers. The guests were just very colourful, loud and happy. It will not be everybody’s cup of tea and families need to be aware of this before even considering taking children.
In all, ‘Boomtown’ was a very exciting adventure. We found it amazing and our kids enjoyed themselves (as they are used to festivals); however, it did prove to have its challenges when looking to entertain our 8 year old, especially at night. They are working on making ‘Boomtown’ more family friendly and I suppose as the festival ages so will the crowd… watch this space…. exciting times are ahead.
We’d love to hear from you below if you visited Boomtown this year with kids.