Open East Festival 2013 Review

Review and pictures by Naomi Jones – with her girls Eloise (6), Charlotte (3) and Amelie (3)

Open East

It’s not often you get the opportunity to bounce on a life-sized replica of Stonehenge. Open East Festival this weekend sees the return of Sacrilege, created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller. A fun and interactive piece of art as you could ever hope for!

P1060607 (3)The festival marked the anniversary of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games 2012. Packed full of music, food, stalls, events, cabaret, circus acts and family activities. So much to do and see it was impossible to get through it all.

More than enough for a three day festival and so we had to choose our favourites. We first swung by the real food festival, an amazing array of wonderful food and market stalls to rival Borough market.

The children had a dance to a brass band while we settled on some deck chairs for a rest. Wandering past the other areas – arts and crafts stalls, a cabaret tent hosting Ida Barr, an athletics area where children could try out 100m sprinting – then crossing the bridge where there was more music and more stages.

Journalistic Adventure

We looked forward to the House of Fairytales area. I’d heard so much about their child friendly shows and installations.

Open East festival 2013

On arrival the children became young journalists. Given a map, newspaper and notebook, they were encouraged to investigate. Activities based on history, nature and science, sparked their imagination. At the end they were asked to write a news story about all they had seen.

This was so different from anything I’d seen before. At each place they visited they received a stamp on their paper which appealed to the younger children too.

The large wall of clay was their favourite part, where they dug, draw and designed their own fossils. We spent quite some time there, before heading back through the festival; past drummers, dancers, and a replica Iron Man made of scrap.

On the way out we saw the War Horse. A life sized puppet horse visiting from the West End play. The children were so excited, if a little nervous, to pet and stroke it.

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Into the evening

Unfortunately the big finale by subversive artists Bompas and Parr was at 9.30pm. Far too late for us to stay with our small children. We hard later they turned the river luminous green, which would have been an amazing sight.

The only negatives of our day were the size of the event and the crowds. The main festival was extremely busy making queues for food very long. And the distances were tiring for small children. We thought it would be great to have a miniature train circling the site. Developers, if you are reading this, take note!

It is great to see the park being developed. The beautifully landscaped adventure playground, which my children are looking forward to coming back to try out, is amazing. I can see what a lovely addition to London the Olympic park will be once it’s finished.

For more photos of our day please visit our Facebook page.

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