Penn Festival 2011 Review

2011 Penn Festival Weather: Sunny then Wet Saturday, then very Sunny and Hot Sunday

As mentioned in The Independent – 15 July 2011

Review by: Claire (with 2 kids, aged 3 and 8)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

The signs to the festival were quite useful.  No queues.  The car park was right next to the camping area so only a couple of trips and we had everything transported.  There was plenty of room to pitch our tent.

However our biggest worry of the whole weekend was the lack of security at night, there was none basically.  On the Friday there was a huge group of rowdy teenagers near us that had been able to wander unimpeded into the campsite, they managed to keep our kids awake for several hours.  Saturday was just terrifying, firstly our flag pole was stolen, the noise and general pandemonium continued throughout the evening and into the early hours of Sunday morning culminating in a highly vocal pitched battle lasting atlest 45 minutes between an irate mum and a group of revellers, the air was blue with many colorful words and this at 3.30 in the morning, no security to be seen anywhere.  Needless to say we didn’t get much sleep that night and packed up on the Sunday morning and left.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Considering it was £160 to get in with camping for a family, the line up was a little poor.  We really went to see Danny and the champions of the world but missed them due to the circumstances mentioned previously.

Not sure the two stage idea really worked because on quite a number of occasions you could count on one hand the number of people watching the second stage.

The “childrens  activities” were limited to making a kite and that’s it.

There were some hay bales to sit on.

However a definite plus were the couple of entertainers that wandered into the site, CAPTAIN ID OF SPLOTT was brilliant and the kids loved him.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

I would improve the security, there just weren’t enough of them and the ones that were there in the day were nowhere to be seen through the night.

It states on the festival website, and I quote, “There will be a zero tolerance policy on any illegal substances or unruly behaviour and the camping area will have plenty of Stewards/Marshals throughout the whole event.”

I’m sorry but this was clearly not the case.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

It’s a real shame that the campsite wasn’t better organized, maybe a seperate family camping area and more security at night would help, some perimeter lighting (although mentioned on the website there was none).
That said I did feel that this festival was a really good effort for a first and it  does feel like it could be something rather special in a few years.

Charge less for the tickets (it’s overpriced compared to a lot of small festivals), try and attract a better line up and have more to do in the arena, more stalls (there were almost none) ask local interest groups maybe? (the Roald Dahl trust were there) and that reminds me where was the cinema?

Site and Facilities:

The toilets were great but were not cleaned on a regular basis.

It was easy to get around the site.

Mobile phone coverage seemed ok.

The showers were a great idea but unfortunately only half of them were working at several points during the event and we had to wait until 9.30 in the morning until the generator was turned on before we could use them.

Did you feel safe?

During the day we felt completely safe, but at night it was like the wild west in that campsite.

Would you go again?

Possibly in a few years and only if ticket prices came down.

3/10

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Review by: Jane (with 3 kids: 7, 11 and 15)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

We camped on the Friday and Saturday night and there were no queues.  Stewards were helpful when leaving and entering the campsite during the weekend.  The other campers were friendly although we camped with friends which was great as they helped with putting up our tent!

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Our kids loved the festival.  Having been to several festivals over the last few years (including Lamer Tree, Cornbury) Penn Festival had the same vibe albeit smaller. My younger kids painted tin cans, created strange shapes from dough, made kites and were entertained in the Roald Dahl tent!  There was also  plenty of free entertainment and strange aliens on stilts chasing our kids!

Loved the smaller bands (Danny and the Champions lifted our spirits), and the Farm, Dodgy and Doctor and the Medics (not forgetting Snap) were absolutely amazing – come back next year!

My best part of the festival was the free open air morning yoga – a lovely way to start the day.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

More stall holders selling jewellery and other stuff to browse and buy!  I’ve seen circus skills at other festivals and this would keep the kids busy – I expect that this will come in time.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

The campsite was very close to the festival site and was secure. Cars were close enough to the site.

Site and Facilities:

Clean toilets and hot showers were fab (they were power showers!).    The festival site was easy to get around and safe for the kids.

We didn’t bring our prepared foods to the festival so tried the food bars (well done to the Noodle place for kids portions) – all food choices were great.

Did you feel safe?

Felt very safe at the festival, lovely crowd who were very chilled. There were lots of families at the weekend.

Would you go again?

Yes!

9/10

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Review by: Clairem (with 21 mth old)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Easy to get into, free parking, campsite looked clean and cosy (we went as day trippers as we live nearby) and not far to lug stuff and you can see your car from your tent

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Kids activities – missed most of them as couldn’t see much going on.  Snap and Dr and the Medics were brilliant. There was a good dancing vibe going on and everyone was clearly having fun!

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

No signage so missed a lot of what was going on and no stage times so missed all of Sunday as we turned up at 7pm expecting it to go on to 10 pm but it finished at 8! Not enough to do so each day we left and came back later. Not enough stalls or food choices – very little there at all. Needs more of a festival vibe i.e. more stalls and food choices, signage, stage timings, more visual stuff to complement the music – teepees, flags, sand pit for kids, funky stuff. Maybe a chillout area with bean bags. More free stuff for kids to do i.e. making stuff from recycling or silly games.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Maybe introduce a few comedians into the mix. Lots of people had young children so maybe some softplay activities or organised silly games. Dr and the Medics giant balloon in the crowd went down a storm so maybe a few more things like that.

Site and Facilities:

Large site so could be smaller for the number of people there. Toilets good for the number of people there and relatively clean. Phone coverage good. Not enough vendors or food choices.

Did you feel safe?

Yes

Would you go again?

Probably not

2/10

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3 thoughts on “Penn Festival 2011 Review

  1. Thanks very much for taking the time to review the festival Claire, Jane and Clairem.
    We really do value your comments. It was our first festival and clearly, we have things to put right to make it a better experience for all. We have had a lot of feedback and some fabulous suggestions and we will strive to make next years festival better. Thank you for giving us a try and hope you will come back again.

  2. A lot of negative comments there Clairem on a festival in its first year. I travelled there with my 3 and 5 year olds who were delighted with all the entertainment on offer – there was tons to do!

    Food was excellent – a choice of two quality Indian restaurants, Noodle Nation, 5 A Day Healthy Lunchboxes and a great Barbecue. What more could anyone want??

    Both stages sounded great, wicked lighting and fab sets from great acts – Snap! were fantastic. Well done to the organisers for a GREAT first year. Gaz.

    We will definitely be going back!!

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