Lala Fest 2024 Review

If there was an award for the most hands-on festival organiser, it should go to juggler, comedian and LaLa fest chief, Dan the Hat. Over the weekend I found him tending bar, performing, and even cleaning the toilets.

This is only LaLa’s second year and Dan’s aim is to keep it small and affordable. Tickets were available for a suggested donation of £60 for adults and £25 for kids over 10. Younger children were free. The sell-out crowd numbered only around 300.

Lala kids


There was only one camping field, so tents and camper vans could all pitch up together and friends were never more than a 30-second walk away. Cars could park next to tents, making it easy to set up camp and any vehicles that moved during the weekend were slow and careful. So there was no risk to the kids.

Kid’s activities

The whole event felt very safe for younger festival goers. The site was made up of two open fields so it was easy to keep an eye on our youngest while also letting her have a bit of free-range freedom. There was plenty of open space and some of the boys set up a rolling football match that seemed to last the whole weekend.

Performances and workshops ran from 9am to midnight.  The teens in our group spent a lot of time at the circus workshop. Our tween headed for the stem workshops, which were followed by a very energetic game of laser tag around the site. Our youngest loved the storytelling tent. She even got to have a turn as the storyteller. 

There was face-painting on offer all weekend and, amazingly for a festival, it was free. In fact the only time the kids asked me for money all weekend was when an ice-cream van arrived on Saturday afternoon. So I was easily convinced.


There was so much to like about the performances at LaLa fest that I might struggle to keep this review to a reasonable length. To sum it up: it was perfectly pitched and wonderfully silly.

Many of those on and off the stage were circus performers and comedians. Even the musicians had a quirky, get-the-kids-up-on-stage, flavour. 

I honestly cannot remember the last time I laughed so much or so hard. Even the impossible-to-impress teen had a ball. With such a small crowd there was plenty of chance for every willing kid (and some slightly less willing parents) to get up and “help”. 

We didn’t make it through to the last bands of the night as the kids were all worn out by then. But it certainly sounded like fun.

Some of the acts were loud, weird and hysterical. But I want to give a little mention to two of the quieter ones. Matt Pang’s act took its turn at just the right moment. Watching him wordlessly construct contraptions that flung water, balls or action figures was the perfect gentle comedy to accompany my late afternoon slump. On Sunday this was followed up by storyteller Mark Fraser who had already entertained the kids for hours. He was joined by juggler Corey Pickett and between them they kept the crowd spellbound with just the power of a good story, some simple props and a high flying diablo.

The sudden downpours of Saturday were not a problem. With the possible exception of the fire shows, all the acts and all the guests could be moved into the main marquee with enough room for everyone. 

Food and drink

The bar sold beer and cider for £5 a pint. Cans of fizzy drinks were £1. Very reasonable prices for a festival. 

We opted for a pre-bookable meal deal. This cost £20 per day for adults and £10 for kids and promised cooked meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve often paid more than £14 for one meal at a festival so this seemed like excellent value. You could also pay as you go, a full adult meal was £10. With vegetarian and vegan options. 

Things didn’t go quite to plan with the food, there was a long queue for breakfast on the first morning and some of the equipment had issues. But the caterer tweaked the system and reduced the number of options to make things easier. This did mean some of the kids ate burger and chips multiple times. Not ideal, but ultimately everyone had enough to eat and I didn’t have to cook once. 

It would be good to see some more hot drink and snack options next year. We came prepared to make our own, but I suspect a coffee van would have gone down a treat with the parents on Sunday morning.

These though are small niggles, and I know Dan is already thinking about how to improve it for next year.

Looking to the future

Dan was on hand all weekend, checking how everyone was doing, and asking what could be improved. I’m sure this year’s experience will be something to build on for the future.

Hopefully that future will be long and happy for LaLa Fest. In many ways, it felt like something from an older time. Children sent out to play until tea time, family entertainment, and not a commercial sponsor in sight. But in dreary and anxious 2024, perhaps that is just what we need. With news of so many festivals struggling or folding this year, it was lovely to be at the start of something new.

By the end of the weekend the kids had made new friends, all the families we had invited along were talking about next year, and as we drove out there was Dan, taking down the marquee.

See our Lala Fest factsheet