One of the things I love about festivals is how bright and cheerful they all are. And Big Feastival doesn’t disappoint. We went this year for the first time just for the Saturday. We arrived at around midday in the hope that N would last well into the evening but we didn’t stay as long as I would have liked – the weather was just too hot for us (in the festival bubble it always seems hotter than when you step outside again.
My big learning is never take a child on their own – take a friend and they’ll go for so much longer without moaning as much.
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Big Feastival is only about 20 minutes drive away for us so it’s really handy going just for the day. I was impressed at how quick it was to get in. There were no queues, and we were straight through the ticket check with no stopping (we’d bought our parking pass in advance. It was easy to park and and it was very quick to go through the security check and entrance. The day visitors car park is is really close to the main stage which is great for getting tired children out afterwards.
What makes Big Feastival different to other festivals is a big focus on food as well as music. N wasn’t too excited when I told him this was the case so we didn’t do too much on the food side. I’m sure if it hadn’t been so hot, we’d have done a lot more.
Every area of the festival has usual food stalls and there’s a big food focus in the village green section. Here there were lots of large tents covering different types of food where you could buy to take home and also try out the different products on offer. We also spent a long time watching the apple pressing, with N wondering how often the man had been stung by the wasps buzzing around.
There were also theatres to watch talks from different chefs, from famous celebrity chefs, to critics and less well known chefs. There were plenty of people I’d have likes to have seen speak and demo if N had been more willing.
For lunch we decided on burgers because N was so hungry when he arrived. Unless you’ve been walking around the festival for a long time there’s just too much choice. There were plenty of places to sit and eat and I liked that they were lots of places with tent shades, so we managed to find space and one of those to get out of the sun and eat.
We ate overlooking the main stage in the hope that we would see some music. Unfortunately they were just getting ready for Peppa Pig and George to come on stage as the first act on the main stage. N’s past them now but we caught a glimpse of it as we were walking off somewhere else. It was certainly very popular with the families, and the area in front of the stage was rammed full of seating, blankets and further up tents and shades.
I was surprised – we did find it hard finding somewhere to put out our blanket so we could see behind all the seating. As a day visitor I didn’t want to be walking around with my camping chair all day, but maybe that’s the way to do a festival. Just set up and leave it there all day – although I’d be worried about not finding where we’d left it though, or it being taken by someone else.
The festival areas
Big Feastival is split into different areas. From the main stage to the Udder stage, the playground and the village green area. It’s quite a compact festival so you can move around easily around the various areas. But we certainly did our steps for the day easily. It’s quite hilly in places so not easy pulling festival wagons or pushchairs around.
Each area has a different flavour to it – the Udder one has the BBC Introducing singers, talks and more off the wall music or displays.
The Village Green has a relaxed family vibe – lots of green space, lots of fun village fete type games and competitions. You could also meet Adam’s farm animals and the children’s cooking area was here – along with a huge queue. There were also funky creative musical instruments you could bash out sounds on – these were fun but very busy so we didn’t get to play on many. There was also lots of ‘meet the producer’ opportunities in the food tents there.
We spent quite a bit of time in the playground really enjoying this area. First it was circus skills. We both had a go at a couple of things like plate spinning, ridng weird mini bikes and trying out stilts. This was a popular area but there were plenty or things to have a go on without getting in the way of others.
There were a few rides and you can pay for these with tokens or some take contactless. Annoyingly the bungee trampoline wasn’t taking contactless payments, which meant you had to pay via token. This meant we had to pay 60p more for N’s go, just because it wasn’t contactless. Bit of a cheek when the feastival have said they’ve done contactless. He had a great time bouncing on there and didn’t have to queue for too long.
At Big Feastival there were also activities and stalls to have a go on that I’ve never seen before, like axe throwing and having a go on the circus skills silks and hoops.
Afterwards we had a look at the screen printing t-shirts where you could choose your t-shirt and design and get them screen printed as you waited. A great idea but expensive at £25 each. It was certainly popular as we saw a lot of children wearing screen printed t-shirts.
The Kids Den
Like most festivals there was a whole area dedicated to children. From changing and feeding tents, to other activities for all ages, there was plenty for children to see and do. From relaxing to trying out workshops. It’s a really colourful area with merry-go-rounds, deck chairs and big top style tents.
We’d said we’d pop into see a blogging friend in the Ravensburger tent – they had Gravitrax built up to see and build yourself, as well as Brio railways for younger children in the other side of their tent. Unsurprisingly it was popular with children of all ages, and parents wanting to sit down and relax. N spend almost 1 1/2 hours playing with the Gravitrax. He’s decided that after buying his Xbox he wanted, he’d be saving up for a Gravitrax starter set.
Big Feastival has been running for a few years on Alex James’ farm now, so it’s pretty efficient in how it’s set out. Toilets were easy to find and we didn’t have to queue either time we used them. The ladies ones were fine with plenty of toilet paper, and N said the mens were ok – evidently the urinals are just about at the right height for an 8 year old.
We’ve struggled at other places to find water points, but we knew here they were by the toilets. Both for hand washing which you often don’t get offered, and drinking water. The queues for drinking water at some places were long, but you could fill up from the hand washing taps as well. They just weren’t signed as drinking water.
The bins were full by mid afternoon though. We only saw a couple of recycling places near the main stage, but elsewhere it just seemed to be normal waste bins which wasn’t great. They needed emptying as well.
Parents of young children were able to change and feed babies in quiet, and also get to some resting places if they needed to get out of the heat and noise.
We didn’t have the best time listening to music at Big Feastival. Usually N will happily listen to music for a while but I don’t think he was that excited about the line up I’d mentioned. He refused to listen ahead of time to some tracks to get used to them and know who the bands were. He knew Jess Glynn, but there was no way we could stay until the time she was on stage as it was due to be about 9:45pm (this was where I needed a friend to entertain him – or a tent to go back to for a lie down before heading back out). I was surprised it was so late, as I’m sure at Cornbury the main headliner was never on that late the times we’ve been.
We had a mooch around each area so we can find out what was on, but every time we moved around, we seemed to miss the music in each place.. When we passed the Udder stage it was a talent show, and the main stage was Peppa and George. We did catch Dodgy on Main Stage and sat down to watch them – they were great live and even N thought they were ok. We also listened to some music on the bandstand, really enjoying Katie Kittermaster voice.
What was a shame was that that you couldn’t really move away very far from the stages and still hear the music, because the stands were blaring out so much loud music it was conflicting with the music on the stages. A couple of steps away from the stage and you couldn’t hear that music anymore you could just hear music from the stalls. Getting the stands to turn down the music a bit more or not having it at all in certain areas if they’re near a stage, would have been preferable so that what people could hear the main music. After all the stage music is what they come for.
Big Feastival does have some big names performing, and if as a day goer you have children who can stick it out, it’s worth going. If you’re a foody, you’ll be in heaven as there’s so much to discover, and the chance to book (get in early) to cook your own food, that it should be on your list of places to go over the summer.
I did find it hard to decide on the day to go, to get the bands both I, and N would like. It’s unfortunate how late the headliners on Saturday go on stage, if they’re even on time. That’s when camping makes sense because you can take time away to relax in your tent before heading back out to the stage later on in the day.
There’s plenty of space to get away from the crowds at Big Feastival if needed, but do be prepared to walk a fair way around the site. Book in early if you want to do the bookable events, and either buy a lanyard for what’s on in the day or take photos of the schedule in the information tent.
I think we’ll be back in a few years time, when N can stay up later, but still be free to go in. And we’ll try and take friends as well as making a base at the main stage to head back to.
How do you do festivals as a day visitor? What tips do you have to keep the kids entertained?