We returned to Southsea for our second Victorious and had another wonderful time. Its beautiful seaside location in Portsmouth makes it easy to get to. The line up is always amazing, with some really big names. Because of this, my children (15 and 11) absolutely love it. The kids’ field has an astonishing amount for children of all ages. Brilliant weather, music, food and activities created a perfect bank holiday weekend by the sea.
Unlike most weekend festivals, there is no camping on site at Victorious. They do have a campsite about a twenty minute drive away at Farlington Services. My train-mad son thinks it is the best campsite ever as it is right next to a busy railway line. I found it surprisingly easy to get used to the sporadic rumble of the trains going past, and didn’t mind them a bit.
We arrived as the campsite opened and I was relieved to only see a small queue. However, it took us 45 minutes to move the last hundred yards. The traffic quickly built up behind us, and backed onto and along the motorway. I’m not sure what the issue was, but when it was resolved we were all in very quickly.
The team running the campsite were more than happy to respond to feedback and deal with issues. (The accessible campsite was in fact initially the least accessible part of the whole site. Tash and her team did everything they could to rectify the situation as much as possible, and promised to review the set up for next year.)
There was a bag check going into the camp site. Facilities included a stall selling hot drinks and a good range of food, plenty of showers (although they weren’t always working), a huge welfare tent and lots of chemical toilets. Several shuttle buses ran throughout the whole day back and forth to the festival, and there was never a long wait.
Children at Victorious
The kids area at Victorious is open until 6pm on Saturday and Sunday and best of all, all activities are free! Victorious is very close to town, so we decided to spend the Friday afternoon at the Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. Portsmouth is a very picturesque city, so it was great to have the opportunity to explore.
There were some very recognisable characters indeed on this stage. The Octonauts, Princesses, and Peppa and George Pig were just a few of the highlights. (The characters even took time to meet and greet children, along with Bumblee from the Transformers.)
Ross Presto wowed the young crowd with his magic show. My son loved the most recent Aladdin film so we were delighted to catch some of the songs being performed by the very talented children from local theatre school, Bessie Cursons Academy.
The circus tent held several performances over the weekend. We didn’t find time to attend a whole show, but I popped in for a few minutes while my son was busy nearby. The clown I saw was very creative with his balloon modelling. A little girl had stated that her favourite animal was a red panda but unfortunately red pandas are tricky to make with balloons. Thinking on his feet, the clown quickly modelled a red panda disguised as a yellow dog! Of course everybody knows that red pandas are great at disguises!
Lidl was a new official partner for Victorious in 2019. Their tent at the festival was simply splendid. Children could “conquer the summit of Mini Mount Everest” by scaling a quarter pipe. All the children loved the challenge of the maze of bungee ropes (although my daughter and her friend found an easy route by sliding along the bottom!) My son loved running and jumping into the soft bricks. Finally he completely wore himself out on a juice bike, and then added his handprints to the sign. They even had a seating area with baskets of free fruit. We spent a long time there, and then completed a survey to get a bag with a free pack of popcorn and some fruit juice. It was a fantastic area and very popular all weekend.
Southsea Skate Park
One of the finer aspects of going to a festival in town, is that it encompasses permanent attractions such as this. We also found a gorgeous paddling pool. The skate park hosted free roller discos in the morning and afternoon, which sandwiched magnificent displays from their team.
There were multiple opportunities to keep active around the kids area. Portsmouth FC hosted football skills and mini games. In addition they offered a chance to have a photo taken with their silverware. Portsmouth college had set up an activity course which included football, hockey, basketball and others. There was a tent full of games inside and out, including mini air hockey, mini table football and swingball and much more.
Musical Activities For Children at Victorious
Looking back through my texts to my daughter, I found one that said, “Just getting a toastie by the Piano Tree. I think Deian is in the red book bus xxx” I chuckled, as it is such a cliché of a festival text.
Yes, there was indeed a piano tree at Victorious, provided by Portsmouth Music Academy. There were about five or six pianos circling a big tree in the kids’ area. Everyone was welcome to go and have a play but there were also scheduled performances from choirs and bands under the tree. This certainly was an amazing idea for a festival.
There was a rock school, for children to go and have a jam and then perform. Other tents were hosting singing as well as mini disco sessions. We even found a floor piano like the one on Big. Unfortunately my legs weren’t quite long enough to play Chopsticks like Tom Hanks.
New parents and babies had a haven in a quiet and spacious feeding and changing tent. The feeding end had comfy chairs and support staff on hand. There were at least three changing tables at the other end, fully stocked with nappies of various sizes, wipes, bags and a selection of lotions and potions to sooth sore skin and protect from the sun.
The main pull for most older children would be the music line up which was excellent and included many big names from today’s charts.
I was very impressed with an encounter that my daughter and her friend reported with a welfare support team from Safer Portsmouth. Two ladies wearing white T-shirts that said STOP CHILD EXPLOITATION approached them and just checked that they were ok.
They asked the girls if they could speak with them, made sure that their phones were charged and that they knew where I was. In addition, they enquired about whether or not they were camping, how they were getting back and that they had enough money on them. The girls were fine so didn’t require further assistance. I wish I’d found the ladies to find out more about the service but it sounds like they were really looking out for anyone who may have been vulnerable.
Of course alongside all the singing, dancing and sports, there were also craft opportunities and theatre workshops. As Victorious is the festival by the sea, there was even a mini beach inside the kids field!
Finally, I love a bit of walkabout theatre so I was delighted to see the National Museum of the Royal Navy wheel out a cannon. They then proceeded to give a lesson on how to clean, care for and fire a cannon, to a crowd that quickly gathered. We learnt that pirates were “simple folk”, and that their favourite tool was a long stick. It was great fun as well as being educational!
World Music Village
Maybe as a result of rushing around in last year’s rain, I somehow managed to miss this amazing area before. The World Music Village, run by Arms Around The Child, is basically a mini festival in its own right. It was possibly my favourite area of the festival. The stage not only played host to bands such as Zion Train, but also showcased acts such as the always fabulous Circus Raj. It even included Latin Dance workshops. I saw some of the Salsa lesson, and it looked like so much fun.
The food was probably the best in this area. Also, my daughter bought some beautiful Indian jewellery at one of the lovely market stalls. On top of this it was a fantastic place for families, with drumming workshops and more in the People’s Lounge and a massive skiffle cube which my son had lots of fun with.
Ellie from Arms Around The Child informed me that they expanded a little bit this year with The Creative Circle offering workshops, yoga, life drawing, Tile Making and headdresses along with pebble painting and a recycling workshop all great fun for the family.
We loved the Wishing Tree and Grateful Hearts tipi trellis where people could fill out cards to hang I thought they were a wonderful contrast to each other, whilst both being very positive features. Of course it is important to have wishes, and just as important to realise what we have to be thankful for.
Music at Victorious
Victorious always boasts a very impressive line up and 2019 was no different. It really suits us a family as my children love the big names that are in the current charts, whereas I will prefer the bands that were more in their prime when I was younger. This year they loved Lewis Capaldi. I think they had sorted out the stage rotas some time ago, rather than since he rocketed to being one of the biggest stars ever. He played on the Castle Stage (the second stage) and there was barely room to move. I stayed with my son so the girls could try and get a better spot, and it was a great set. Lewis Capaldi’s language was a little more colourful than when we’d seen him at a festival with a much younger audience. He was very funny though.
Best of the Rest
Other highlights for my children were Clean Bandit, Tom Grennan and Rudimental. I found myself at a bit of a loose end when they were watching one of the bands. If we had been camping on site then I would have been in pyjamas at the tent, struggling to stay awake while I awaited their return.
However the tent was literally miles away and I couldn’t leave them behind, so I wandered around and found Space playing on the Acoustic Stage. Space were absolutely wonderful and were probably my favourite band of the whole weekend. Tommy seemed genuinely over the moon to be playing to a larger crowd than he had anticipated. The songs were beautiful and his chats to the crowd in-between showed him to be an extremely likeable gentleman.
I also loved The Silver Beatles, and Miles and Erika from The Wonder Stuff. Huey from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals was on top form and their whole set was amazing.
It was great to see The Specials, although it is a shame that they are just as relevant now as they were when they started. I’m sure they hoped that the world would be a better place by now. I felt very privileged to be part of the crowd when they introduced Saffiyah Khan to the stage.
I actually lost count of the number of stages that there were at this festival. There were smaller stages featuring smaller and unsigned acts, which is such a great platform for new music. There was music everywhere but it there were very rarely sound clashes.
Guests were not permitted to bring in their own food or drink, which meant that the food stalls were able to charge slightly elevated prices. However there were a good number of food outlets with plenty of options for all diets and tastes.
There were plenty of toilets all over the festival site that were kept reasonably clean and well stocked throughout the weekend. The drinking water points were located by most toilet blocks, and were clearly marked with flags.
The festival arena was wonderfully accessible. The two largest stages had viewing platforms that were well marshalled, with guests only permitted entry if they were wearing either a blue wristband (given to guests with an accessibility requirement) or a carer’s lanyard.
There were BSL interpreters at both viewing platforms. Getting around the site was fine as there were established roads and paths between all the different areas. This was yet another bonus of siting a festival in part of a town.
In an attempt to reduce waste, each bar had a returns point. Here guests were given 5p for each cup or can that was returned.
We had a wonderful weekend of music, food and fun by the sea. It felt safe enough for my older child and her friend to take themselves off, sometimes with my younger child. (This was a great bonus as we have very different musical tastes!)
Victorious has so many benefits from its urban location, but the backdrop of the English Channel means that it is still idyllic. It was a brilliant weekend and I can’t wait for next year!