It was our family’s return to festivals after 2 years, and we headed to the seaside to experience everything Victorious Festival had to offer.
Festival Kidz reviewer Catherine has visited Victorious in 2018 and 2019, but this year a change of plans meant that Myself (Adam), my wife 2 boys age 7 + 10 could attend for the first time and experience the festival for ourselves.
Location and camping
Victorious Festival takes place on the large flat common area at the seafront of Southsea common. This gives the festival a unique vibe with the sea is only a literal stone’s throw away.
The campsite is around 25 minutes away on the other side of the city on the large, flat, Farlington Playing fields. Your wristband allows you free travel between the festival site and campsite via frequent double-decker shuttle busses.
The campsite had expanded a little this year and the carpark had moved further away; however, we felt the distance wasn’t any issue compared to other large festivals and the walk was flat.
We arrived around midday (the campsite opened at 10am) and queued for about 40 minutes to get in, once we had located the family area we got our pitch for the weekend.
The Campsite consisted of Standard Camping, Family Camping, Motorhomes and Accessible areas.
There was a coffee stall, a bakery and ice-cream van. Considering the large number of people camping it definitely could have done with a couple more vendors here to accommodate everyone.
There were a good number of showers with short queues, however the number of toilets seemed to be lacking for the volume of campers and mornings meant long queues for the facilities and food vendors.
The very roomy Accessible campsite had its own carpark with only yards to walk and setup camp plus a good number of stewards on hand to help. This was nice to see as feedback had obviously been taken onboard and implemented for this area from previous years. The shuttle buses were double decker regular buses so if you have restricted mobility it may be worth checking this before you book.
The festival site and premium area
Excitement had peaked before we even entered the festival gates as we managed to bag the front seats at the top of the double decker shuttle, then as we alighted there was a hovercraft taking off to cross the Solent over to the Isle of Wight.
The festival site has two large main stage areas and a number of small ‘arenas’ scattered between them catering for various musical needs. The site also incorporates many of the existing infrastructures on the common nicely – the skatepark, D-Day Museum, Southsea Castle and splash park.
This is a large capacity festival and with a 65,000 capacity it got very crowded at times in certain areas. However with such a large footprint there was always loads of space when you needed it, especially away from the two main stages.
The festival offered the option to upgrade your ticket to use the Premium area which included a dedicated entrance, flushing toilets with hand washing, covered seating areas, a bar, food vendors and a dedicated viewing platform for the main stage. We were very thankful for these little extras, specifically for the significantly shorter queues to get in and to use the facilities and somewhere quieter to sit with the boys later in the evening when it got busy. This upgrade made things much easier for us over the weekend due to the following issues with facilities.
Problems with facilities
At Victorious Festival you cannot take in your own food and drink and must rely on the provisions inside. The festival food vendors were varied with lots of different styles on offer to cater for most tastes.
Our kids, like many, are not overly adventurous with their food, so it would have been nice to see some food vendors selling basic food, drink, snacks and fruit/vegetables. We found it difficult to have 3 meals a day that weren’t fried or spicy.
Over the weekend we noticed that the main arena areas were lacking in toilet numbers and food vendors, the queues quickly became very excessive in many areas. It caused concern for many attendees as the queues were taking up to an hour for food vendors and toilets. Couple this with a lack of obvious water points and many people became upset at being unable to eat, drink or use the toilet easily.
Saturday in particular was excessively busy – myself and my son queued for 2 hours for a pizza and were thankful for the premium area toilets with shorter queues. There were some kids’ compost loos but they were only located in the kids’ area, a few more dotted around the festival would have helped the children.
This is something the festival have since acknowledged and pledged to carry out a full review of the facilities and make any changes necessary for next year.
Kids at Victorious
The Kids area at Victorious is tucked away in the corner of the site next to other lovely areas – the Skatepark, World Music Stage and Fringe Fields. Because of this it’s a safe place to explore for kids and generally doesn’t attract the party ‘revellers’ from the main stage areas.
There was enough in these areas to keep the kids entertained for 2 days. The kids’ area opened on Saturday and Sunday only and closes at 6pm.
There is a more extensive description of the kids’ area from 2019 so have a read of that review HERE and I’ll add the bits that our family enjoyed over the weekend:
The biggest hit over the weekend was the ‘Cavebus’, part of the Portsmouth Scouts area, a bus that was setup for potholing. Inside was a series of interconnecting tunnels and slides that the kids had to crawl through with torches and helmets on. Both boys had multiple goes over the weekend.
The Game Over retro arcade was another favourite and as much as it was nice to get the boys away from videogames for a few days as these were all arcade cabinets and games from my youth I had fun educating and competing with the boys on the games.
The Splash park, although not technically the festivals infrastructure it was a lovely spot inside the festival to chill out while the kids cooled down and played together in the water.
Lidl Mudder were back again as a main sponsor and this was another favourite spot for the kids, with ninja warrior style obstacle courses and competitive bicycle powered smoothie making races. The free fruit and carrot stick pots were a nice free snack too. Lidl also had a very large baby changing area setup with lots of space for changing nappies and chilling out.
The skatepark was a lovely little gem of an area too with free hire sessions and roller discos on Saturday and Sunday. The daily show that the professionals put on was a big hit with scooters, BMXs, skateboarders and rollerbladers all pulling off huge gravity defying ticks that my youngest couldn’t believe he was seeing.
Other fun things on offer were a great shows at Happys Circus, Badge making, Rock band practice, football skills, learning the piano under the piano tree, a board game tent, a big sandpit and a full-size funfair that you pay for the rides. It was nice that all these things were free and we didn’t need to reach into our pockets every time the kids wanted to go on something.
The mainstage in the kid’s area had a variety of acts on over the weekend that catered in the most part to the younger children, with familiar characters from TV shows, Hey Duggee, Gruffalo, Paw Patrol, Disney Princesses etc with some singing and dancing in between. Even though our kids have outgrown all of this we still managed to get in the audience for long time favourites Andy & The Odd Socks.
One point I need to mention here is that Victorious have a policy of no camping chairs to be brought into the festival which we found a little tricky personally as our kids often like to curl up in a chair to recharge on the long days, we aren’t fans of kids trolleys and they have outgrown pushchairs. This did mean that the kids went back to the tent early as they were very tired from all the walking and standing.
Outside the kids’ area we explored the various stages, my wife spent an hour enjoying the comedy tent and I particularly enjoyed the World Music stage that hosted a great selection of alternative world music bands. One of my weekend highlights was Balkan Brass/ska/swing band called Gypsy Hill who livened up Sunday afternoon.
The Beats and Swing stage played host to the weekends electronic musical offerings and always had great tunes playing as we walked by from a range of DJs, Beat Boxers, Swing Bands, and a sprinkling of Drum and Bass.
The Seaside stage was our go-to place for sunset and a chill out towards the day’s end, its easily one of the nicest stage areas of any festival we’ve been to with gentle sloping hills down to the stage and views out over the Solent as ships and yachts drifted by in the setting sun.
The 2 main stages, Castle stage and Common stage, are the clear focal point for the bulk of the festival attendees here drawing crowds of thousands as they hosted some big chart-topping names. Madness, The Streets, Royal Blood, Rag n Bone Man, Annie Mac, Mel C, Nile Rodgers + Chic just to name a few.
I chose to stay away from the main stages for the Sunday finale and opted to watch Beans on Toast on the acoustic stage instead. This turned out to be one of the best acts of the festival and the intimate crowd in attendance all sang along with huge smiles for each other, it was a truly beautiful moment.
Sustainability at Victorious
Festivals these days are increasingly having to play a part in becoming more sustainable and encouraging the customers to be more eco conscious. As a very eco aware family this is something I look for particular at festivals we attend.
Victorious had installed composting toilets throughout the campsite and arena, which is much better than chemical toilets. Bars were serving drinks in cardboard cups and cardboard carrying trays, food vendors in general were using paper and wooden serving trays.
We do like to be beside the seaside
I’ve mentioned it a few times but for us the major plus point for this festival is its location and existing infrastructure. The long flat seafront is such a beautiful spot, and on Sunday we decided to step outside the festival to enjoy it. Right next to one of the festival exits is Southsea Rock Garden and it’s a beautiful spot to go and wander amongst the ornamental trees and plants to clear your head.
As the South Parade Pier is a short walk from there we took the opportunity to go and have a picnic lunch on the beach and watch the waves.
Although Victorious had some issues this year it was a difficult year for festivals generally and hopefully these issues will be ironed out for 2022.
The stunning sunset and sea backdrop to the main stage was a beautiful way to end each day.
Overall the variety of activities and entertainment were excellent, and the location in Southsea made Victorious a fantastic place for a family holiday.