In the year without festivals, a few festival-like events did actually happen. Certainly they were quieter than usual. But for those of us who enjoy smaller community events and who were desperately missing festivals in 2020, they were an incredible bolt of joy at such a difficult time.
We felt fortunate to be part of the lucky few who went to We Are Not a Festival in 2020. The venue was beautiful, and due to social distancing rules there was loads of space for the kids to run around in nature, and no queues for anything. Less choice meant less stress, and we had a weekend to relax together as a family, but still be around lots of other people. Even at a distance it was good to be around festival goers again.
The venue was beautiful – spaced out across a field with the stage and activities nearby in the woods. A path led through the woods to a walk along a river. It was truly idyllic. The weather was perfect – hot and sunny with warm evenings.
Walking across our socially distanced campsite it took a few minutes to reach the main area, which consisted of a small stage, a bar and a couple of food options. The lakeside tent where yoga and other classes were held was another 10 minutes walk through the woods.
The toilets were kept the cleanest I have seen festival toilets, and the showers were hot and queue free.
Food and Drink
We ordered all the dinners in advance and had brought stuff to make sandwiches for lunch, so we managed to avoid cooking for the weekend. The food was excellent and they had separate child friendly options so they were kept happy. The seating was spaced quite far apart and everyone kept to their households.
It was all very well organised, you picked up your food from one stand and there was a separate bar and cafe for drinks. There were a few other food offerings across the weekend for snacks.
I booked into most of the morning exercise classes as there weren’t that many other activities. And they were offering yoga by the lake. As I had been doing my pilates by Zoom for months, just being in a live class was incredible but the setting was also beautiful. The children did an aerobics class, which had to be moved into the woods as it was so hot. The classes all needed to be booked and paid for additionally in advance.
The children particularly loved the lantern making followed by a lantern display in the woods. We missed out on the aerial workshops but they looked amazing and were popular.
There were a few free activities such as plasticine modelling. An ace story teller enthralled the children with his wild pirate tales.
The days were spent lazing, walks in the woods and whatever craft or activity they had laid on. There was a nature walk through the woods where you could look for painted wooden butterflies hanging in the trees, which the younger ones loved. The daytime was hot, so one day we drove to the beach and the children had a swim in the sea.
Having fewer entertainment options for me was refreshing – it meant that the children were happy to watch the entertainment in the evenings as there was nothing else to do. We had packed the diabolos so they could practice and even ended up doing a mini show for the other festival goers.
The family was happy to be watching live music again. Beans on Toast lit up the camp on Saturday night. The whole family are fans so we all enjoyed it immensely and sang along to “Human Contact” – which is our lock down song.
All of the live music was good quality. There was even a DJ afterwards, and a few of the adults got up for a dance. It was the only time I have danced with people outside my direct family since the pandemic started, and I count myself fortunate to have managed that.
Live comedy was another thing I had been missing, and an entire evening of stand-up with the family was a treat. We particularly loved Prince Abdi, who had all of us howling with laughter.
To be allowed this much in 2020… I would like to pass on my gratitude to the organisers. It can’t have been an easy task. The campsite was spaced out, the activities were all outside, there was a one way system at the bar and even the toilets were colour coded so you used them in a smaller bubble.
To sum up
Was this a festival? It quite clearly was not trying to claim to be one. But I would argue that yes, it was. It had the spirit of the festival, the community feeling and friendliness that makes it different from a camping holiday, and enough activities and music to keep the whole family happy. It gave us many happy memories and reminded us that there is still a chance for life and community.
Even if the larger events are able to go ahead in 2021, I know that many people will be grateful for a smaller, quieter, safer space such as this one. A place to be together as a family that feels a long way from lockdown.
Tickets for We Are Not A Festival 2021 are on sale now.