Camping in half term is a family favourite event for us and this year we were even more excited than usual as we were off to Elderflower Fields; a family focused festival full of activities for the kids in beautiful Sussex countryside.
The festival is currently in its 5th year and has a capacity of 3000 which means it’s small and feels totally safe and friendly rather than some of the bigger festivals I have been to in my younger days. Based at Pippingford Park, an idyllic Sussex country estate less than an hour from home for us. Bonus!
The site and camping options
The site is big and all the camping areas were well spaced out with gorgeous views without being too far from the main events. We were situated on a hill in the campervan field. Although we don’t have a camper van we wanted to camp with other friends who did and found this was allowed with no probs provided you fitted in your huge prebookable pitch (such a bonus for families and groups as you don’t have to fight to save space). We found all the staff INCREDIBLY helpful, relaxed, laid back and in the background all weekend; although they always stepped up when needed (for example when we lost another one of our kids).
The main camping area is a little further into the site but during the whole festival the organisers run a really helpful little train service with carts on the back which you can load your camping gear on and grab a lift from the car park to the camping fields. Such a good idea as the idea of lugging kit and tired kids back after a full festival weekend can almost ruin the whole thing!
Friends who don’t really ‘do’ camping always cite the lack of decent toilets as a reason not to enjoy festivals but the toilets here were brilliant. There were a few scattered about but the majority of the toilets were the ‘posh’ portable cabin style. These were lovely as toilets go!
We never had to queue, were clean and not stinky and even the fussy little one was happy to go on his own without us worrying what he would find. We even sampled the showers one morning and they were equally fab. Clean and unbelievably warm with good pressure throughout, better than I had ever had at any other festival so well worth a visit!
The main event
There was so much to see and do for kids and adults at Elderflower Fields that the music is almost an added bonus. Activities range from supervised art and sports camps for kids (giving you an hour or two to yourself) to joint family activities like kayaking and orienteering plus plenty of drop in things like pond dipping and fairy wand making. There were also a few adult only activities in the Green People Wellbeing area including massage and yoga.
My kids (5, 9 and 10) really loved the sports camp and also the slack lining in the trees. It was lovely for them all to be able to do the sports camp together. It held their attention for nearly 2 hours and was very well organised. I watched from the side line relaxing in the Sunday sun with friends while they remained captivated trying taster sessions of archery and fencing amongst others things.
I’d visited Elderflower Fields several years ago and felt the music was just something going on in the background but this year it really had become more of a main event. The main stage had an eclectic mix of music with our favourite being Mr B and also The Resonators on the Dragonfly stage. There are also two stages hidden in the woods, one near a very splendid cocktail bar which went on into the night. Although I didn’t actually get to sample the late night music as I was a single parent this year, my friends without little ones said it was brill.
The woodland stage is entered through an enchanted wood and over a magical bridge that the kids just loved. This stage was beautiful and hosted some fantastic and intimate folk amongst other stuff. One of the reasons why Elderflower Fields is so special is the impeccable attention to detail. As parents, it’s so rare to get to lounge in the sun and listen to top music with friends without worrying about your kids however at Elderflower I had that chance.
By the woodland stage while I lounged on hay bales the children played happily on the many swing balls sets posted fantastically at the top of the hill by the stage or in the idyllic little stream running through the site. Equally, at the main stage, the children were kept busy for hours by fantastic circus skills equipment, quite art in the woods spot, or entertainers making massive bubbles.
Food and drink
A big part of Elderflower Fields. For such a small event there is a fanatic range of food with the highlight being the big FREE communal picnic on the Sunday. This has been an annual event since the birth of Elderflower Fields. The crowds gather on the main field in groups of 12 and get to share a delicious range of samples from local suppliers.
The quality is honestly great, with my favourite being the smoked mackerel pate from Veasy and Sons and the cheese from High Weald Dairy. It feels really good to be supporting local small Sussex suppliers. Well done Elderflower Fields!
Aside from the picnic we ate a variety of home cooked grub at the tent and sampled a few of the other food vendors. Our favourite was our old friends from Big Eats Co. who used to run the kitchen at our local pub in Brighton – The Druids. My kids think their chicken wings are to die for!
Second favourite was the fantastic fish and chips from Ollies Fish Shack and naughty chocolate breakfast crepes from Crepier Lui. Friends also said the wood fired pizza were great. There was a great range of food options across the site and prices pretty reasonable for a festival with every venue I came across offering kid size portions at around £3-4.
Even the ice cream from Sugar Mice came in kid size portions which was great as I really resent spending a tenner on ice cream cones that often end up on the floor or all over the kids!! Adult prices for food were reasonable and most venues open from early for breakfast right through for evening snacks with option from £4-£8 for a decent size portion.
Drinks wise there were 3 main bars offering all the usual suspects, with most of the other food venues selling soft drinks. There were also plenty of water taps around to fill up your water bottles if needed. The bars were actually really reasonable with a pint of lager costing £4.50. Cheaper than I would usually pay on Brighton seafront!
The cocktails were £7 and although sometimes had to wait a bit, they were made from fresh and worth the wait! At peak times there was a wait at all of the food and drink venues but this is to be expected and never really a problem as long as you pre-empt hungry kids.
We had a totally fantastic time. Elderflower Fields put a massive effort into the special touches and it really pays off; the site looked amazing and was beautiful decorated everywhere we turned. A magical secret fairy school hidden in the woods; hundreds of origami birds swaying peacefully in the trees, a painting wall for kids early one morning, a bus ride up the hill at night to name but a few.
After visiting Elderflower Fields a few years previously, this year you could really see how much the festival had matured. The atmosphere was brilliant throughout with hundreds of happy kids everywhere, and although a family focused festival, there is plenty of grown up fun to be had too!
And to be quite honest, if the kid are happy, so am I!
Oh, and I forgot to mention… we realised half way through Saturday that there were no stalls selling tat or even fun fair rides to drain the bank of mum and dad dry. This was such a relief and definitely made a much more relaxing holiday and a chance for kids to enjoy the simple pleasures of being in nature, without constant temptation to buy stuff!
Thank you Elderflower Fields and all that have worked so hard to make it this totally unique and special family experience. Hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did. We will definitely be back.
Kate, Alex, Georgie and Dylan xxxx
For more information, read our Elderflower Fields Factsheet