Valley Fest 2023 Review

It is a running joke in our family that food is what my kids most remember about festivals. So there was much excitement when I said we were returning to Valley Fest this year. On a stunning site overlooking a huge lake, not far from Bristol, Valley Fest bills itself as “ The Best-tasting music festival in the south west”. And they definitely deliver on that.

Within hours of arriving, we were in a gyoza folding masterclass. Which resulted in a tray full of lovely dumplings. Which were only slightly wonky.

The other main highlights of the weekend, as far as the girls were concerned, were a chilli eating competition and the seemingly endless supply of free yogurt and icecream. Yes – a festival with free ice cream! A van near the entrance to the arena was handing out pots of Yeo Valley ice cream and yogurt all weekend. The kids were delighted and it probably saved us a small fortune in snacks.

The Alchemist’s Playground

Our 6 year old did have a non-food favourite though. Arcadia’s afterburner stage. And in particular the lasers. As a child who craves sensory stimulation the amazing afterburner is everything she could want. Lights, DJ’s, massive flames. It sits in the “Alchemist’s playground” area of the festival. A collaboration between Arcadia and festival favourites The Woodland Tribe.

Kids’ activities

We had several happy hours in the Woodland Tribe area where kids can build a giant wooden playground. There was a £2 charge to rent a hammer, but this was well worth it. The Woodland Tribe team were on hand to check the safety of the structure. And quietly add reinforcements where needed.

Elsewhere in the field, there was a kids’ activity tent, and workshops including welding and DJing. Plus a double-decker swing and a zip wire launched from a reclaimed helicopter.

For a relatively small festival Valley Fest packs a lot in. There were sections we barely saw anything of. You could sign up for feasts prepared by top local chefs. Listen to talks on regenerative farming or take a tour of the farm itself.


Then of course there was the music. When the rain cleared on Saturday evening (more on that in a minute) we really enjoyed Scouting For Girls. I may possibly have shown my age by knowing most of the words when Bananarama came out on Sunday. But I hopefully regained a little bit of credibility when we headed to the Alchemists’ playground for a dance. The Chemical Prodigies had all of us on the stage.


But, yeah, the weather. I really feel for festival organisers this year. Saturday morning brought torrential rain and high winds (although the latter was thankfully not as bad as forecast). Unsurprisingly this turned all the main walkways to mud. But we were prepared with boots and waterproofs. So after accepting that we were just going to get muddy, we didn’t let it spoil the day. The main arena is on top of a hill, so the water drained off well and the area around the main stage remained pretty good. An additional route from the campervan field to the main arena helped us to get about. And hay was put down in some of the worst areas. By Sunday we had mostly moved from wet mud to sticky mud. A great time was had by many small children.


The whole site used composting loos. Personally, I prefer these to the plastic box type. We never had to queue and they were usually reasonably clean. After the rain it did get very muddy in the area around them. All the toilets had water taps nearby so it was possible to wash hands properly. Always good with kids.

Food and drink

When I first started reviewing festivals I made a point of looking to see if there were ANY vegetarian options. Happily, we seem to have moved on. Most of the stalls at Valley Fest offered meat and vege options, with the veg often getting equal billing. I had some lovely mushroom bao (£14 for 3 with a side of fries) and a great Tibetan tali (I opted for the mixed meat and vege option). It was nutritious, filling and pretty good value at £11. The kids pretty much split their time between Hippy chippy (big cone of really good chips £5) and the Mac Shack (kids Mac n cheese from £5).

With the site being a manageable size, going back to the campsite wasn’t a problem. So we brought some food with us and had a few meals back at the van to save money and give the kids some down time.

The bar was well stocked and this being the west country cider took a staring roll starting at £6 a pint. You could get a free cup of tea from the Clipper van, so long as you brought your own cup.


For the kids, it was all about the food. For me, once again, it was the friendly, chilled-out vibe. Valley Fest is a real gem for kids of all ages. And a safe space to explore and grow. Our three girls range from 6 to 14 and we were joined by my 4 year old niece on the Sunday. I was quite happy for my 10 year old to head off exploring on her own. My littlest ended up on stage dancing with a bunch of friendly teenagers she had just met. Despite the weather, everyone seemed to be having a really good time.

Sadly, the best weather was on Monday morning as we packed up and said a sad farewell to Valley Fest. But great food, great entertainment, friendly people, and your parents letting you slide in mud? What more could you ask for from the British summer?

Find out more about Valley Fest by reading our factsheet.