Summer is festival season, and this year Waddesdon Manor’s Feast has become Summer Fest. We didn’t make it there last year, but I booked for this time – a bit disappointing that as National Trust members the ‘discounted price’ was the same as the advanced ticket price for everyone else too. N also refused to come with me, so I had a day of sunny weather and festival fun at my own pace without an 8 year old moaning.
Arriving just before 10, I was parked only a couple of rows down, and it wasn’t long to wait for the bus journey up from the car park. I was pleased that the weather was a bit cloudy at first, because I can’t take too much heat. It meant I could walk around and see things before I got too hot and bothered. By lunchtime the sun was out and the clouds were disappearing – the ‘shade’ tents were well used and it was a good idea to have those.
As usual it’s a beautiful view looking up the north avenue. Floral and bunting displays, tables set up down the length. And lovely to have some time to enjoy it before the crowds descended later.
The family craft tent wasn’t busy, and although I didn’t have N with me I was still able to decorate my own fish and plankton – for part of the Christmas art installation. I did give them N’s name, so when we go back at Christmas he’ll be able to find his name. Find out how to make your own shapes with nail polish.
I decided to head straight to the actual reality arcade by the aviary, thinking I’d try my hand at some retro video games before it got busy. Unfortunately most needed a second person to play with – Pac Man, Tetris etc – so I only got to try Asteroids. Basically you take part in the game – it was so funny watching a family introducing Pac Man to their children. It was a shame Marble Run had had its ‘marbles’ taken.
I decided to head to the rose garden. I’ve never been in there before and it’s a beautiful relaxing spot. Some of the roses were just past their best, but there was still plenty of perfect flowers to enjoy. And benches to sit and wile some quiet time away.
The shows were set as usual around the front of the house and on the grass along the avenue. With the stalls selling foods to takeaway and eat there around the outside, there was plenty to see, do and eat while you watches the shows.
I’d checked the leaflet and map to make sure I didn’t miss those I wanted to see. Most shows were on 2-3 times a day, with timings from 15 minutes through to 90 minutes for the ‘Whose Hair Dares’ where they took 2 people from the audience to do wacky hair and make up.
I had a few I wanted to see before getting some lunch. Anyone For Tennis would have been perfect for N (I always tell him he’s missed out, and he immediately said he would have wanted to take part). They commentated and performed a ‘live Wimbledon’ match, complete with ball boys, ‘Andy Murray’ and Duchess to present the trophy from the crowd. Highly amusing, and great timing given Wimbledon was on for real over at that point of the year.
A quick walk down to The Stables because I wanted to see the Eliot Hodgkin exhibition. He’s a still life artist, I’ve never seen so many fruit and vegetable photos.
With everyone else up at the house and summer fest, the playground was empty and only a handful of people sitting in the courtyard. It was nice to be somewhere a bit cooler and quieter before heading back up.
In front of Waddesdon Manor, Mr Wilson’s Second Liner were performing their New Orleans style club music. They’re great performers and had the crowd dancing along to their music.
During the weekend event a few rooms of the house were open without needing tickets. Last year the conservatory area had beautiful hydrangeas, but this time it was a different flower display. Not as many photos taken this time.
I was out just in time to get a spot to watch the high wire show Eisoropia by the Bullzini Family. They put on a real show complete with music, a bit of comedy, and drama.
Everywhere I looked there was something else to see. Giant chicken, a pair of flamingos, and Bicycle Bistro, a show with a pair of wacky waiters. They were dragging people up from the audience – I’m always relieved when they walk straight past me to someone else.
For lunch, there was so much choice for food, but I decided on nachos. They were offering tacos – both meat and vegetarian options, but I decided on chicken. It was nice to see quite a few stalls taking card payment too. The food was delicious and I managed to find a half shaded place to sit, able to watch another show from a distance.
I quite fancied a cocktail or gin, but I’d driven so had to drink to soft drinks. I do love checking out the food stalls. So many delicious treat – I was taken with some elderflower and citrus balsamic vinegar, and I’ve never seen such colourful fudge as was on sale on one stall.
I was getting a bit hot by this time, so after a quick look at a few other displays, and a quick chat with a school mum I bumped into, it was time for an ice cream. The queue was quite long, but it was worth the wait – all made with raw milk, my mint choc chip ice cream was tasty and cooling.
Summer Fest was a great event. Plenty to see and do for the money, whether you want to walk and see the grounds as well as enjoying the event, or if you want to picnic and just sit in one place watching everything around you.
Have you been to any similar events recently?
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