It’s been a long three years without Shindig Festival and the whole family was incredibly happy to see it finally back. After a day at the festival, one of my twelve year olds exclaimed “This is the friendliest place I’ve been to in a long time! I love it here” and the whole family agreed.
We were lucky with the weather. We had lovely sunshine most of the weekend without it being too hot. Perfect for a weekend of dancing and fun with the kids. This year was the first year my 15 year old was interested in the music and we were even able to have a night out dancing together, something we’re unable to do in town because of age restrictions on most venues. This made it a particularly brilliant festival for us, and I especially recommend Shindig for families with teens who may get bored at other festivals.
Facilities and new site
This was Shindig’s first year at the Dillington Park Estate and we all appreciated how much flatter the new site was! Everything was within easy walking distance. There was a small hill up to the kids’ field and The Church of Love venue, but nothing too strenuous.
There was a large spacious area for family camping, and it had its own little café which was great for families. It was a bit of a walk from parking to family camping, but once set up families were near the festival entrance which made things easier while there.
We were in the live-in vehicle field which was a longer to walk from the festival entrance than family camping, but nothing like the walk we had up the hill on the old site. Thank you! There was no family live-in vehicle field so we were in with all the regular punters and it did get quite noisy at night, especially after the stages closed at 3am. You definitely need to take earplugs for night time.
Toilets were excellent – nearly always clean and with soap and paper. We all prefer these spacious semi-open long drop ones (much cleaner and less smelly than the blue plastic cubicles), and there were lots of them on site. Most of the day there was no queue.
The Flying Seagulls quite rightly took centre stage in the kids’ field, and the lovely thing about being on a hill was that you could watch them while participating in the other activities. The always wonderful Junkfish were running workshops, and the kids made fairy wings while watching the show.
Although my children are older now I had a look at the large toddler tent and reminisced with other parents about how there was a time we would have spent most of the festival there. It had some good play equipment and the always popular sand pit.
There was a teenager tent offering graffiti, rap and DJ workshops. A tent with sewing machines and scrap materials gave children free range to make whatever they wanted, which is something we love to see at festivals.
Something I hadn’t seen before was a tent full of old soft toys that children were cutting apart and stitching together like the creepy part of Toy Story. Somewhat unsettling as an activity (and maybe not one for the younger kids!) but original and lots of fun.
The inflatables were put out at intervals and were always a huge hit with the kids. No climbing wall this year which was a shame but we were happy the aerial workshops were running again. I think my children are close to running away to the circus after this!
Crazy golf and skateboards
Crazy golf and skateboarding were new additions for this year and it’s good to see new activities. These were both charging – the skateboarding was £10 an hour with a proper half pipe. Sadly my children were a bit too nervous to try it! We loved the quirky crazy golf though (£2.50-£3 per person).
Food and drink
Food was tasty and varied, although my younger fussy children would only eat either pizza or bacon rolls in the main arena. Fortunately for families with fussy kids, the café in family camping had some other more simple choices such as toasties and breakfasts.
We adults and the teenager (whose palate has matured) were happy to explore all the lovely food on offer – we tried the salmon sushi wraps, butternut squash paella, and burritos. It was good to see plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Meals were all around £8-10 and decent portions.
Bars were plentiful around the site, with specialist places selling cocktails and craft beer, and you could bring a small amount of your own alcohol in. Just don’t let the kids see the slushy machines on a hot day – they were all alcoholic! Luckily one café was selling frozen juice cartons.
Wellbeing and craft areas
There was a gorgeous well being area, back away from the stages, which offered things like yoga and ecstatic dance (with headphones). I didn’t make it to one of those workshops, as we were having too much fun in the rest of the festival, but there was a decent number of activities to choose from.
The craft area was a big draw for my now older children (12 and 15) so we spent some time looking at the workshops on offer and talking to the people running stalls there. My children eventually opted for the henna making workshop, which at £5 each was good value for money as you could take home the henna you made. They loved it and want to go back and do it again!
Shindig specialises in music you can dance to and dance we did! There was a large variety on offer, from folk to house, and a large amount of drum n bass. We saw lots of amazing acts including De La Soul, Stanton Warriors, Goldie, Rob Da Bank, Fizzy Gillespie and Seize the Day. Other great acts that we missed included Crazy P, Altern-8, Nightmares on Wax, Dutty Moonshine and Kosheen – the line up was packed so full of talent it was difficult to see it all.
Favourite venues this time were Shimmy Discotheque where my teen discovered the joys of disco and Naughtylicilous which had varied music and entertainment, including a circus cabaret. Most of the music was DJs, although there were a few live bands.
Father Funk’s Church of Love stage was always a lot of fun, with a large spinning cross and dancing nuns. The crowd was always friendly and up on their feet early in the afternoon.
The benefits of a small site was that you could always walk to another venue to find something you liked. It did mean that you could often hear more than one stage at once. But then Shindig is not a place to go if you want quiet.
There’s a great variety of music until 1am when the majority of the stages shut down. Then 2 stages stayed open until 3am. This was easily late enough for me! I’d much rather dance all afternoon/evening and then be able to get some sleep.
The massive bonus of a festival such as this was that my teenager was able to have a night out with me – we danced like crazy from 9pm until midnight, at which point they asked me if they could go to bed. After walking them back to camp I was able to go back to the dancefloor for a couple more hours.
As well as enough music to dance the whole family’s little socks off, there was comedy, cabaret, wandering performers, and some massive art to climb on.
Our favourite was the samba drumming workshop. The family got really into this and soon we were all drumming like professionals.
Saturday ended with a tightrope walk and aerial acrobatics to the beautiful backdrop of the sun setting over the Estate. Sunday had a parade with the samba band and all of us following behind. Although as dress up day was Saturday many festival goers were not dressed up on Sunday – it would have been better if they had been on the same day. But my kids were happy, as with less people dressed up they got more attention!
Would we go again?
YES! Our whole family loves Shindig. It is hard to find a festival with a decent offering for children which is highly appealing to teenagers and (dance-loving) adults too.
It was small and safe enough for the older children to go off on their own, yet still had a proper non-corporate festival atmosphere. The lack of fairground rides was particularly appreciated by this reviewer.
The only problem we had was the timing in the school year. As it was in the school term we had to drive there after school on Friday. We wish we could have been there longer.
Thank you Shindig for another lovely family friendly party weekend!