Ever since they started showing the trailers on television N said he wanted to go to the CBBC Summer Social event. I didn’t really fancy the track up to Liverpool, but when we were offered tickets for review I couldn’t really refuse.
This year was the first summer social, a weekend festival to celebrate everything CBBC and CBeebies. N is a fan of CBBC I’m looking forward to seeing several of the people he likes to watch on TV.
The joys of the M6 and 50mph speed limits meant it took around two and a half hours to get there. But N was on fine form when we arrived and despite the heat we managed to get around most of the site.
With three stages, additional activities and tours plus rides face painting and workshops, there was plenty to see and do. Some of the workshops and activities were pre-bookable for example the Worst Witch potions workshop, football with Everton and vlogging so these were pretty much full by the time we arrived. But N didn’t want to do any of these so we didn’t have any moans about not being able to do what he wanted.
There were also meet and greets throughout the day with most of the acts who were on the stage performing. These weren’t bookable you could just queue for the person you wanted to see and you get the chance to take photos and chat to them. The people who were there on Sunday when people that N wanted to see so we didn’t do any meet and greets. He was quite looking forward to seeing Dr Chris and Dr Xand but I don’t think he would actually said anything to them if he’d done a meet and greet.. They weren’t on any of the schedules for the 3 days that we saw, although N told me they were meant to be there.
When we arrived we got her bearings and started off with some of the activities before it got too busy. N had spotted the water zorbing. He’d always wanted to have a go on these and generally been too small, but the version at CBBC Summer Social was for over 3 year olds, so was perfect for him to have a go. There was a queue but it went down quickly as they were rotating people on and off really fast. N absolutely loved it and it was his highlight of the day even overseeing the performers on stage.
We wandered around for a bit and had a look at what else there was, heading round to the largest stage, the summer stage. This one was being hosted by CBBC presenters Sam and Mark, and hadn’t quite started the lineup when we were initially there. So we checked out the food stands so we’d chosen what we’d be having for lunch, before going on the big wheel. Ferris wheels seem to be N’s new favourite thing and it’s great to be able to get a view over the whole site.
Before lunch there was plenty of field space and it look like it was going to be fairly quiet. But it certainly got busier as everyone headed to the summer stage to see Mr Tumble. By this time we decided we would go into Croxteth Hall and see the Horrible Histories tour. Someone commented that it was like getting children into a National Trust property under false pretences, but it was great to have something that the adults catch you enjoy as well as the children. Having the Horrible Histories screens makes a tour much more approachable for children and educational at the same time.
With a quick detour to the swing boats ( again one of N’s favourite rides), we headed back to the main field to get some lunch. I was pleased to see a good variety of food stands with pretty much every taste catered for. N wanted sausage and chips so we ordered his, then let it cool while I went to the next stand and ordered old El Paso mexican food. I was also given one of their promotional stuff and stand packs which I’ll be trying out soon. The price for food wasn’t too bad but then we’d been at Countryfile live the day before down south where everything was so much more expensive.
We ate our lunch having a picnic in front of the summer stage. There was plenty of room to spread out a picnic blanket and enable everyone sitting further back to see the stage with the big screens working well. Over the day we watched Andy and the Odd Socks, KidzBop and the stars from Got What It Takes. Across the weekend there was some huge stars taking part from YouTube sensations to dancers, singers and the stars from CBBC shows. We could have easily sat and watched the stage most of the afternoon but there was more to see before we had to go home.
We had a look at the bookstore which had books from some of the authors who were doing signings and talks, but decided against any of these as they were either too young or too old for N. It did inspire him to ask to go to the library or buy some books, so I’m always pleased to encourage him to read more, or read at all.
We wandered around some of the stalls including the merchandise tent so N could get his first ‘gig’ t-shirt. We had an ice cream while we tried to find the arts and crafts area. The map wasn’t that clear and we couldn’t find any signage for it so we were disappointed that we couldn’t find it to sit and have a crafting break.
We didn’t head too far into the CBeebies Village but there was another stage there for the tots and plenty of other activities and chill out areas.
We did stop to have a quick look at the Social Stage as well. This was more about having a go whether it was dancing or enjoying a bit of culture from a ballet company and Opera North. I think there were workshops for these as well. Naomi Wilkinson was also on the stage doing wildlife talks although N was quite scathing when a puppet giraffe turned up rather than the real thing. Nothing like over expectations for a children’s event.
For a bit of a breather I managed to persuade N to look at the Clangers Walled Garden. The flowers were looking beautiful althoguh he dragged me out as quickly as he could get away with. We did get time to sit and chill out on a bench as we watched people wander past.
Wherever we looked we saw people enjoying themselves I’m trying out everything. While they were a lot of extras that cost money like the rides food and some of the workshops and activities. There were also opportunities to try things for free and the prices were reasonable with rides only costing around £2 compared to the £3.50 we’ve been paying recently at events near us. Plus of course the choice of three stages to watch with plenty of variety, meant that you could just spend all day sitting down or dancing to what was on stage.
There were plenty of toilets which were well signposted and the water fill up points were in the same area, similarly well signposted as well as being on the map. With hot weather again, it was really good to see that you could easily get hold of water when you needed it.
If you wanted to get away from the hubbub of the event, Croxteth Park also has a children’s playground. Alongside is a small farm which they were handing out leaflets with a discount as we walked into the event. So you could really make a day of it if children needed a bit of time away from the event.
Having done everything we wanted and wanting to get out of the sun, we decided to head off around 2:30. The parking was nice and close by, and easy to find our car again. It was a quick exit before we were on our way home. I’m sure if we lived locally we would have stayed for much longer, but two days on the trot in one weekend out at festivals or events was more tiring than we expected.
We both really enjoyed our day at the CBBC Summer Social and N is already talking about whether they’ll be another one held next year. Maybe if there is, he’d be willing to do the meet and greets.
If your children want to get up close and personal with some of the presenters and stars from children’s television, then the CBBC Summer Social is a perfect opportunity to do so. Yes the tickets seemed pricy to me for children’s festival, but if you take a picnic and your children don’t expect to go on every ride and always have extra money spent on them when they’re out and about then you can do the event for just the ticket price. Someone mentioned they also seem discounted tickets just ahead of the event so you can always keep a watch out for any of those.
Children can also sign up to be on a tv shows – we saw kids being filmed so I don’t know whether they were doing screen tests there and then. Workshops were generally free but you had to sign up in advance, so if you’re buying tickets and the kids want to do workshops, make sure you sign up to those as soon as the booking opens, because they do fill up ahead of the event.
Were you at the CBBC summer social or is it an event that you think your children would like?
Disclosure: We were sent press passes for the purpose of review. All opinions and words are my own.
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