In It Together is a brand new festival for 2022 set in the heart of the Welsh valleys situated next to Mariam Park at Old Park Farm, Neath, Port Talbot.
I love the idea and concept behind this festival. As their website states “To us, it is the very sentiment of all we have witnessed during the pandemic and the sense of community it has brought.” “It is a community, a festival, a reunion and a celebration.” And this is exactly how it felt on arrival, a huge party and celebration with all the staff happy to help and genuinely looking like they were all enjoying themselves.
We arrived Friday morning in our camper van to sunshine, smiles and so many different groups of friends, families, teens and the classic old timers. Getting parked up on-site was straight forward and it was such a treat to have electric hook up (this came with all camper van/ caravan tickets) and festoon lighting lining the main walkways.
There were numerous camping options from family friendly and VIP to party animals and even a dedicated camping area for 16-17 year olds. The toilet and shower facilities in our camping field were clean and we never had to queue. The bin area could do with a bit more thought next year as you just left your rubbish in a pile on the ground so no commercial bins or recycle options available. So definitely room for improvement here.
The kids’ area was set in a large field and there were many free activities to keep all ages entertained. Junior Jungle and Jitterbug Circus had everything covered with giant connect 4, circus skills, dodgeball tournament, arts & crafts, puppet theatre, talent show, superhero academy and a microrave held at their fire engine which I found hugely entertaining.
There was an outdoor cinema showing films throughout the day/early evening and The Wonky Lizard tent hosted a variety of shows, activities and live bands. For an extra charge there were a few fairground rides and the biggest, boldest, bouncy castle I have ever seen.
In the corner of the family field, tucked away was a small retreat area offering yoga, meditation, mindfulness talks and relaxation. We didn’t experience any of these sessions as our children were more interested in the dance tents.
There are 5 stages at the festival including The Wonky Lizard allocated on the family field. Parc stage was in a field on its own and hosted the bigger names such as Two Door Cinema, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Clean Bandit and also showed the live football game between Wales and Ukraine on Sunday.
The Paddock was more relaxed with straw bales and tyre seating. Both Panchaia Fields and Escape records were located in large tents and hosted numerous DJ’s and was where my 2 girls were happy to dance away to full on Drum and Base. There were mini pop up DJ stands and stages from vehicles around the site which attracted small groups of people bopping away to the beats.
Overall I would say the festival attracted a lot of younger people and those who enjoy dance music as the Panchaia tent was always bouncing. There were alternative live bands and music but the feel and the theme of the festival may not appeal to all families.
Unfortunately due to high winds on Friday evening a hole was ripped in the main stage causing it was closed most of Saturday. I completely understand this was a situation beyond everyone’s control but there was very little communication on what was happening and where bands were being relocated.
Social media updates were posted by the organisers but as often is the case in large events no one was able to use data and access the information. A couple of announcements from the stages would have been really helpful but it was a freak weather accident and I thought they dealt with it incredibly well.
Although I missed a few bands I wanted to see for me a festival is all about the sights, smells and overall experience and I really enjoyed listening to some different bands I probably wouldn’t have usually stopped to watch.
Food and drink
No food or drink was allowed to be taken into the main festival fields. There was a wide range of food vendors available serving fish & chips, Mexican, noodles, pancakes, churros and really tasty halloumi chips.
As expected the prices were quite high: £6 for a can of cider, £12 for chicken noodles and £5 for ice-cream. I do understand and accept to pay over the odds but I think it would be nice to have the option of bringing some snacks and food in especially for families with smaller children.
There was a corner shop stall selling snacks and drinks and by the camping area was a large stall (the super market) selling a variety things you may have forgot or just felt you needed for camping. There were lots of gadgets, food, pillows, sleeping bags and toiletries – a great shop for essential supplies.
As a whole In It Together festival delivered their idea. They brought people together who partied, danced, laughed and had fun.
We as a family enjoyed meeting up with friends, making new ones and seeing our children free and relaxed. Considering this festival is in its first year I take my hat off to everyone involved. Organising an event of this scale with only a few hiccups is a pretty awesome achievement. The organisers rose to the challenge and I’m sure next year the minor issues will be tweaked and the festival will be bigger and better.