“It’s like Glastonbury for kids”…or is it?
Last Sunday, I bundled my children into the car and drove them to Marsh Farm in Essex for its first ever Kids Fest event (one of the top family-friendly summer festivals I mentioned in a previous blog post). We were all excited with the idea of going – Sophia getting herself dressed and ready more than two-and-a-half hours before the event began – and even a little sprinkle of rain on our way there failed to dampen our spirits.
What is Kids Fest?
I wrote about it in my family-friendly summer festivals post so head on over there to take a read if you haven’t already. If you can’t be bothered (I’m not judging), Kids Fest, which was held over the weekend (Saturday 10th until Sunday 11th August), was the first event of its kind organised by Marsh Farm. It’s a new two-day festival aimed at children and their families with an impressive line-up including Mister Maker, Fireman Sam, Bob the Builder, the Zingzillas, and Fifi and the Flowertots spread over the two days.
What was there to do?
The short answer is, ‘a lot’. I was actually surprised by the amount on offer. There were playgrounds and a funfair (including a big wheel that Sophia made us all ride and on which she laughed manically while I held on for dear life!). It also boasted a Wild West Show, circus, inflatable village (lots of different bouncy castles), outdoor bouncy pillows, face painting, a Mister Maker craft zone, a tractor ride (with the tractor dressed up as Thomas the Tank Engine) and a stunt show. I’m pretty sure I’ve still managed to forget something! Sophia loved the funfair and inflatable village areas in particular and wanted to have a go on everything.
Of course, all these activities were just sideshows to the main part of the event – the stage shows. There was one stage where they all happened so you could pitch up, claim a space and watch for as long as you wanted. Mister Maker was the big draw, doing three shows each day. We also got to see Bob the Builder strutting his stuff with Wendy and Spud, and the ZingZillas performing some of their songs. Dexter was even lucky enough to meet Drum and was totally starstruck. It really made his day and I loved seeing him so elated.
The good and the bad…
The best bits:
- Great acts and activities. Despite Kids Fest being in its infancy, I was impressed that Marsh Farm had arranged for Cbeebies favourite, Mister Maker to headline the event. It was obvious some real effort had gone into organising this to make it as attractive as possible for families. There was also lots of other things to keep children entertained. Sophia wasn’t a fan of sitting in front of the stage all afternoon so it was great that there were other options.
- Wristbands. Everyone at Kids Fest had to wear a wristband on which you could write your mobile number in case you became separated from your family. Sophia and Dexter objected heavily to wearing theirs but I thought it was a good idea.
- Parking. Marsh Farm had obviously put some thought into how many cars were likely to come to the event and made sure they had tons of space available. There was a small queue of cars waiting to park when we arrived but the parking attendants dealt with it quickly, splitting the queue into two and directing vehicles to different areas to park up. We actually managed to park very quickly and close to the entrance too, which was ideal.
- Food availability. You have the option of either taking a picnic or buying food on-site. I thought about taking our own food but didn’t because I thought it’d be too much to carry around, especially considering I was taking my children on my own (my husband had to work). There were only three food points and they got incredibly busy as you’d expect. Unfortunately, I couldn’t persuade my children to have an early lunch which meant that, by the time they wanted food, it was very busy. Then, after one hour of waiting at one of the food points, Sophia decided she wanted a sandwich, which that particular food station didn’t provide! Thankfully, we marched straight to the Tea Room and picked up a sandwich box for Sophia and a cooked children’s meal for Dexter with minimum waiting. Next year, I am definitely taking a picnic!
- The number of funfair rides. The funfair was ace but consisted of three main rides: a Big Wheel, Carousel and a Helter-Skelter. It could be a really good area and I think it would benefit from having a few more rides next year.
- Tickets. Despite the line-up of Kids Fest being slightly different on Saturday and Sunday (Fireman Sam and Fifi and the Flowertots were on stage on Saturday while on Sunday, it was the ZingZillas and Bob the Builder), you could only buy tickets for individual days. I can understand this; the vast majority of acts and activities stayed the same throughout the two days. However, it might be worth the organisers considering the option of a weekend ticket.
All in all though, we had a whale of a time. Sophia and Dexter both loved the day out. So much so that they didn’t want to leave and a few tears were shed as we left. Will we be going back next year? Yes, absolutely.
What next for Kids Fest?
I thought Kids Fest had some real potential and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the organisers build this up. Kids Fest 2014 is already planned and there is lots of space at Marsh Farm for this to get even bigger and better. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marsh Farm look into the possibility of setting aside space for camping and look to turn this into a bigger, more national event.
Please note: I was given a family ticket for Kids Fest for free in return for this review. All opinions are mine and are, as always, 100% honest,