Wood Festival is an absolute gem in the UK festival scene.
Imagine a festival where everyone seems relaxed, where there are no children being scolded by frazzled parents, where people feel equally free to dance or to snooze, where you never feel over-crowded or uncomfortable, where Red Kites circle overhead and the sound of laughter fills your ears.
Imagine a place where you can feel the proximity of nature and allow your children the time and freedom to immerse themselves in the pure pleasure of being outdoors, and where you can discover new skills and interests.
Imagine all this alongside a backdrop of great live music, clear blue skies and fantastic freshly cooked local food and you have pretty much imagined WOOD 2014.
As small festivals go, WOOD is one of the best.
Review by Romany (Festival Kidz) and friends, with 7 kids between them ranging from 5 to 11
Workshops and Kid’s Tent:
The workshops and activities on offer at Wood Festival are superb. There are so many options that there is always something to interest everyone. There are hands-on crafts, holistic therapies, dance, yoga, Tai Chi, informative workshops, fun stuff, kid’s shows and storytime. In fact there’s so much going on at any one time that it’s really hard to fit everything in.
Our kids made record players from a 7″ vinyl, a piece of card, a pin and a 2p coin – they were fascinated! We also watched carrots being turned into flutes, made whimsical woodland creatures from clay, danced the 5 rhythms, made upcycled squids and learned about auras. The highlight was perhaps the wonderful felt flowers, as they make such a beautiful memento of our time at WOOD.
The Kid’s Tent is a large marquee containing spaces for drop-in crafts and messy activities, rugs and mats for quieter play, and there are loads of books and baby toys available. It is a really nice space to hang out with littler ones and chat with other young families. The various kid’s shows had hordes of kids enraptured or convulsed in fits of giggles. It was a joy to watch.
The WOOD stage is at the bottom of a gently sloping grassy bank which makes it easy to get a great view. Families can sit close enough to watch every finger movement on the instruments, yet the noise levels are not prohibitively loud. Many of the musicians at WOOD stay for the whole festival and will frequently be spotted jamming with friends in the campsite. My children were inspired to see that even when you are a professional musician, music is still played for the love of it rather than just being limited the big performances.
Most of the live music is mellow and folky, but there are a few livelier acts, especially later on the bill. You certainly won’t find all-night raves and crazy parties at Wood, but there was a small disco after the bands on Saturday night for those that wanted to get a few hours dancing in.
Our ‘trendy tweenagers’ came back to camp raving about the fantastic Dreaming Spires, fronted by festival organisers Robin and Joe Bennett. I’d been listening from the campsite while the younger kids slept, and it did sound awesome even from afar. They should have headlined – but I guess that would be slightly uncool at your own festival!
As well as a range of thought-provoking talks during the day, the Kindling Tent hosted popular open mic sessions from The Acoustic Ballroom and the Catweazel Club, and the disco ‘sett’ from DJ Badger.
I was particularly gutted to have missed Brian Briggs from Stornoway doing his talk and music session – apparently it was brilliant, but I was too busy having an Indian Head Massage to get there in time!
Site and Facilities:
Size: There are no long distances to navigate at Wood. The carpark is in the field next door and whilst there is a small slightly uphill trek to get to the camping area, there are wheelbarrows available to help if needed.
Wristbands: The wristband exchange desk is well-staffed by cheerful and efficient volunteers, with numbered children’s wristbands being issued and linked to parent’s mobile numbers.
Security is friendly and not at all heavy-handed or aggressive – it’s just not that kind of place.
Campsite: The flat part of the campsite fills up quickly, but there is always plenty of space in the rest of the field if you don’t mind a small slope. And once the music stops, the campsite is pretty quiet at night other that the occasional hooting of the resident owls.
Showers: There are open-air hot showers available (2 private ‘cubicles’ and one larger communal shower for the more adventurous!). Water is heated using a fantastic wood-fired system of chaotic pipes and storage tanks and comes though deliciously hot. I highly recommend trying them.
Toilets: All the toilets are Compost Loos. This year there seemed to be more people on site, probably due to the amazing weather, and I felt that the maintenance schedule should have been stepped up a bit. There was frequently no loo paper, and a few too many unwiped splashes for my liking! The toilets were regularly checked, just not quite often enough. They did get a bit whiffy in the heat, but were still MUCH nicer than the horrible stench of chemical toilets.
TIP: Take a torch with you at night in case the pretty tea light lanterns have burnt out (there’s no electric lighting). And just be a bit careful with stray sawdust around the seat – it don’t half itch when it gets down your leggings!!!
Handwashing: There is running water for handwashing (most festivals just offer anti-bac gel). Every toilet block has a foot-pedal operated Heath-Robinson-style tap and basin outside and plenty of liquid or bar soap was provided. There are various dish-washing sinks available in the campsite (cold water only).
Rubbish: There is hardly any litter on site. The recycling bins are plentiful and clearly marked and everyone seems to take great pride in using them properly.
Accessibility: Disabled parking and camping is available very close to the main areas of the festival. There are two accessible toilets, one with a steeper incline than the other. The whole festival is in one field and there are no hardstanding paths, but presuming grass is manageable then there are no areas of the festival that would be inaccessible.
2014 Price (advance): Adults – £75, Teens (13+) – £55, Under-12’s – FREE. Early Birds and Gate prices vary.
Have a look at our Wood 2014 Photo Album on Facebook.
A note on security:
Sadly this year for the first time a handful of tent thefts occurred at Wood Festival on Friday night. Only 5-6 tents were robbed but still very upsetting nonetheless – so incongruous with the overriding safe feel that the festival has. It served as a harsh reminder to take basic precautions to protect your valuable possessions.
These thefts are not from fellow campers, but from outside organised gangs, and as festival security gets tighter at the major events, smaller ones may be targeted instead, and even something as diddy as Wood is no longer immune. Be sensible about where you keep your stuff and don’t make it easy for them!