For those with kids, Stowaway Festival is hard to beat as a super easy, stress-free family getaway. Heaps of fun activities are included with your ticket so you can really relax and escape everyday life while enjoying a top-class line-up of entertainment.
It was our family’s first visit to Stowaway but we haven’t stopped recommending it to friends. It’s perfect for festival first-timers who want big-stage entertainment but don’t want the hassle or commercialism of some large festivals and just want to relax with their kids.
Camping and Facilities
Stowaway is set in the stunning English countryside on the Stowe estate in Buckinghamshire. It was really easy to reach from the motorway, around an hour and a half from London. We arrived early on Friday to make the most of 3 nights camping in Buckinghamshire’s ancient woodland. The website promised lakes, swimming, canoeing, wellness & relaxation sessions and it did not dissapoint.
As the site is a brewery all year around it is well kept with a manicured lawn hosting the main stage and a full-size cricket pitch offering ample space for the kids to run around or just relax with a picnic in the sunshine. We parked up in the campervan field and instantly relaxed with a view of the festival just minutes away.
Toilets and free showers across the site were kept spotless and I even managed to get the teenagers to shower due to the facilities being such high standards and easily accessible. It was great to see compost toilets being used rather than chemicals. They aren’t for everyone but they really do offer the most sustainable option. The picture below was taken in the first hour of opening but the whole festival was kept this spotless all weekend by a great team of volunteers and very respectful visitors.
Access and attention to detail
We’d had some rain and the site at Stowaway is flat so some areas through the woods and by the water did get ever so slightly boggy. With just a few thousand guests this was easily managed and just gave some of the younger kids something else to play in!
Several performance venues are well spread out at Stowaway so never felt crowded. I’ve left out pictures of some of the incredible sets so you can go and discover it all for yourself. We were so impressed with the creativity and efforts at each of the venues. Our favourites were the late-night hidden woodland venues and The Jetty which you can just about see in the picture above. The woods light up in the evening and really do come alive. Although it was muddy in areas through the woodland we found everywhere easily accessible and saw buggies and trollies out and about in the evenings.
What’s included for kids?
Everything! I can honestly say I don’t think we have been to a festival where all the activities are included and we haven’t been asked for money in a long time. I think we rode the big wheel at least 4 times and I lost count of the number of goes we had on the chair swings over the weekend. So refreshing not to have to say no, and provided your kids have the energy to keep climbing the helter-skelter, they can slide down it from dawn to dusk. The pirate ship sandpit was pretty cool too.
We also tried canoeing, paddle-boarding, roller-skating, circus skills, tree-climbing, disco yoga, treasure hunting and a giant Sunday conga at the funniest cricket match you’ve ever witnessed. Shout out to the Proverbers Parlour crew for the tireless commentary and to Tatinger for fueling them with champagne! I can honestly say I’ve never had any interest in watching cricket but our whole family were hooked on this hilarious game. The perfect Sunday in the sunshine.
The only thing that could possibly improve Stowaway for our older kids would be the addition of the odd craft workshop. As well as dancing, they love to create and we spent a good few hours in Tinker Town building our very own Stowaway pirate ship with the fab City Of Play. Who knew you could have so much fun with old pallets and nails! It was great that they allowed all ages to get stuck into free play in this adventure playground. A real highlight of the weekend for us.
We are self-confessed old-time ravers so the line-up was ideal. Stowaway is billed for ‘true ravers, new ravers and little ravers‘ so dance music does feature heavily but there’s still a good variety for all on the main stage. Other venues mostly host some pretty splendid DJs plus comedy and theatre in the woods. Main stage highlights for our family were Dr Meaker, Crazy P Soundsystem, David Rodigan, and Goldie who stepped in last minute to replace Roy Ayres. DJ highlights for these ‘true ravers’ and our younger ‘new ravers’ were Nicky Blackmarket, Tom Ravenscroft and the outstanding Jamz Supernova – a hit with the teens.
Hidden deep in the woods was The Sanctuary, a blissful spa with hot tubs, sauna and treatments. A session in the spa was £35 or weekend access was £80. I didn’t manage to escape to try it on this occasion as it’s over 16’s only and we were having too much fun with the kids. Next time!
Other than food and the bar, The Festival Boutique tent was to only place likely to spend extra. It was home to some wonderful independent traders and an opportunity for a little pamper with face painting and hair options. There were some of our favourite festival brands showing their wares like Raising Ravers.
We discovered a good range of food and drink stalls offering the usual festival prices and our family enjoyed burritos, burgers (yum to Yardbirds) and plenty of local cider. It’s clear the organisers love good food. What stood out at Stowaway were the fine dining options. A 5-Course Tasting Menu cooked in the gorgeous decorated indoor setting by the incredible James Cochran. Bottomless brunches offered the perfect way to start a festival day with cocktails and Asian-inspired small plates at either Saturday Disco Brunch or Sunday Soulful Brunch. Yum!
There were several other hidden secrets to be found at Stowaway that our next generation ‘new ravers’ loved, but we aren’t going to spoil those – go check it out yourself.
We’d 100% recommend Stowaway as a great family festival. Small, safe and easy with lots to keep the kids happy so perfect for first timers too. See you in 2024!