We all enjoyed Elderflower Fields 2015. The Sussex location was idyllic, far-reaching views, mature trees, beautiful woods with ponds and bluebells; we couldn’t spot any elderflower though, maybe it was a bit early?
Our daughters are 10 and 7 and we have been to other festivals with them, but none so child friendly. It felt very safe, and therefore very relaxing. It was so small that it would have been hard to lose the girls for long. And so gentle and respectable that we wouldn’t have worried if we had.
The site is spacious with plenty of gorgeous woodlands and hidden areas to discover. It was often easy to forget you were actually at a festival.
Elderflower Fields is very much about outdoor activities and adventures in the woods. Although there is some great music on 3 different stages, this is almost secondary to the food and stuff happening in the woods.
We all particularly enjoyed our times in the Urban Woods. On the slack lines and rope swings, the disco in the glade, and the huge ant hill in the Wild Woods. Our ten year old met up with a friend and they went off on their own. They loved the freedom. Not something we might feel happy doing at a bigger festival.
You can book some kids sports and arts activities online in advance but the onsite booking system was not as ideal. It was a bit of a scramble, signing up for things the evening before.
Perhaps there could be a wristband or token system so that kids are only allowed, say, two activities per day. We found some families booked loads of sessions and then didn’t use them all, which wasn’t fair.
Although the range of activities on offer is good for the size of the event with things like kayaking and raft building, ideally we’d like to see more free flow things happening that you can just turn up at like the mud hut building and less of the stuff you have to book.
As well as sports there were bookable Arts camp sessions inside a tent. It offered supervised time so parents could have a couple of hours down time. A good idea for parents with little ones. Be really organised and you can fit in a massage or a trip to the hot tub bus.
Our ten year old loved the tree top climb assault course and our younger daughter made it to the top of the climbing wall. They could have done with having at least two climbing walls as she queued for ages.
Both our kids did the Sports Camp but the queues were a drag. When they did get a go the staff on this activity weren’t that encouraging. No praise given for trying really hard at pretty challenging archery.
I watched a lot of kids’ turn away looking a little demoralised when they missed. Perhaps we were just unlucky but it’s not hard to say “Good try, well done!” rather than “Oh, bad luck”.
Overall, the activities at Elderflower Fields are good. I don’t know many festivals where you will stumble upon children knee deep in mud and enjoying Mud Hut building in the middle of the woods.
There’s nature hunts, animal tracking, woodland storytelling, hammocks and rope swings all to be found. If your kids love exploring the outdoors, it’s perfect.
We saw some good music, particularly at the woodland stage and cocktail bar stage. The cocktail bar stage is a lovely little venue. It turned in to a silent disco at 12 (when the main tent finished) and went on till 2am. Great if you want to stay out with sleeping little ones in pushchairs.
We loved the late night cocktail bar setting in the woods. Cocktails were £5 and there was a food stall opposite selling really good food till late.
Food & Drink
The food and drink at Elderflower Fields is a real experience. Not cheap rubbish but good quality and the free posh nosh picnic was delicious!
Being in a campervan we had provisions with us. But all the stalls we tried were good. Produce is locally sourced by small businesses rather than the frozen rubbish you get at some festivals.
Kids portions are on offer, such as a kids sized burger for £3. A vintage ice cream van sold homemade ice cream for £2.50.
We really enjoyed getting together with others on Sunday and joining in with the communal picnic. If you are a smaller group the organisers team you up with others.
The picnic bag contains lovely local produce. As well as some great cheeses, we loved the wild garlic and nettle pesto with a huge chunk of fresh bread.
The kids tucked in to the Ouse Valley raspberry jam. Not forgetting an amazing big chocolate cake to share. YUM!
Loo experiences were mixed. We did find some with seats covered in wee, maybe all the little boys? Our girls weren’t impressed! More loos, preferably separated, are needed. Urinals for boys especially, with so many of the kids going to the toilet on their own.
Recycling is important to us and needs to be addressed. Some festivals are great, but I think there is more Elderflower Fields could do such as reusable cups at the bar.
A nice touch at this festival is the little land train that circles the site all weekend. We watched this all weekend taking families up and down the hill with all their camping gear. The terrain is rough in places, and hilly, so this was a great idea for tired legs.
We loved the lack of shopping, literally no stalls selling trash! Brilliant. Just an ice cream van and a sweet stall, with lots of vegetarian sweets too.
We had a great time camping here with our friends, and would love to go again. We highly recommend Elderflower Fields to any family looking for a fun, relaxing, small festival experience.
By Cicely Lloyd and family.