Last weekend, Tots Digital Marketing Executive Olivia and her family visited The Big Family Festival in Sutton Coldfield, to find out whether the festival really was family friendly. Check out her review…
Arriving at the Big Family Festival, we were greeted with a riot of colour, music and laughing little ones. I had chosen to bring my parents and my brother along with me (having attended a number a family festivals together when my brother and I were little, they made the perfect review team) and we were looking forward to finding out what the festival had to offer…
Entering the festival site, there was an almost overwhelming range of fun family activities available. Inflatable play areas, bouncy slides, face painting, workshops, performances and much more were scattered across the field, all packed with happy little children and amused parents. We decided to explore, meandering past the plethora of delicious food outlets and laughing families to reach the comedy tent.
The comedy tent itself was also packed with excitable little ones and chuckling parents; from creative science demonstrations (“She’s making ICE CREAM!!” screams the little girl next to me, charging into the fray of enraptured toddlers) to a ‘Jedi training academy’ (“Awesome!” my 20 year old adult brother hisses into my ear) , there was lots to keep little ones amused.
The parents were certainly kept amused too- watching said Jedi battle take place amongst the children in front of us, complete with lunges, jumps and some exceptionally entertaining ‘I’m DYING!!’ performances from the kids, was absolutely hilarious. Kylo Ren also made an appearance, showing his softer side in a meet and greet with the little ones.
A lightsaber battle rages between the young Jedi
The kids get stuck in to some interactive science displays
Kylo Ren shows his softer side
Sipping on Passion fruit cider purchased from one of the many well equipped bars (no queues!) the sun came out to greet us as we lounged by the outdoor cinema, awaiting the next round of family entertainment. Much to our amusement, a line dancing session began- what started as an on-stage performance soon spread into the crowd and it wasn’t long till we were surrounded by young and old alike, busting out their best line dancing moves with no inhibitions. Even my Dad joined in; whether a miracle spawned from the upbeat atmosphere of the festival or simply the result of a little too much of the delicious local cider, is yet to be determined.
The line dancing performance got the crowd up on their feet!
After having a good chuckle at the line dancing, we sauntered over to the Arts and Craft tent to see what was going on. Inside, the ‘Gruffalo’ was making an appearance, much to the delight of the little festival guests. Scattered around the tent there were colouring books, crafts and photo boards to entertain. Once again, my father just couldn’t resist!
The arts and crafts tent had plenty to entertain guests of all ages
We then headed over to the main stage. A picture of family contentment, parents were sprawled across the grass, enjoying refreshing glasses of wine whilst their kids ran about playing with balloon animals or enthusiastically dancing at the front of the stage. It was nice to simply kick back and relax whilst we waited for the next act, feeling nostalgic as we watched the tiny tots laughing and giggling with their families. Then the entertainment began!
With hilarious presenters that had the parents in stitches, the main stage included a variety of acts that were perfect for kids, ranging from TV stars Cook and Line and Rastamouse, to tribute acts, dancers, jugglers and more. There were special guest appearances too- Spongebob and Obi Wan Kenobi were very well received by the crowd! For a couple of hours we stayed at this stage, simply watching the children have a wonderful time participating in all of the entertainment. I admit it- I’ve had Cook and Line’s ‘pirate rap’ stuck in my head ever since.
Families enjoyed relaxing on the grass in front of the main stage
Obi Wan Kenobi tested the knowledge of the young Jedis
‘Right Said Bruv’ as seen on Britains Got Talent perform to the crowd
We then popped over to the Vintage clothes bus, where I had a good rummage (dresses are absolutely my weakness) and then headed over to the stunning Vintage Tea Room next door. After some spectacular Angel cake, scones and tea at the beautifully decorated tables, it wasn’t long until the contents of the café were up and dancing to the Glenn Miller track that had come on over the café radio. “I love it here, you can just do what you like!!” calls my mother, shimmying around the table with a new found vivacity.
Looking around, I spy my Dad chuckling on the grass, enjoying another cider whilst watching the spontaneous conga line that has broken out in front of him. My brother, meanwhile, is very busy messing around in the virtual reality headset tent, bonding with a bunch of Dads and their sons, who are similarly enthused by the technology.
It’s then that I realise that this family festival is much more than just a gathering for kids- it’s a chance for all of us to become big kids again and take some time out to spend together as a family. Looking around the festival, it’s indeed clear that the parents and grandparents are enjoying themselves as much as the kids are- to the right, a couple of parents are cracking up whilst being taught ‘the crab dance’ by their daughter (dressed as a pink unicorn, naturally), to the left are some grandparents giggling like school kids as they slow dance to the next 50s tune tinkling from the café. The whole atmosphere of the festival is completely relaxed and bursting with fun…
The Vintage Tea Room and clothing bus
During the festival I also got to meet Angela, one half of the incredible couple who have set up the festival. She is everything I had pictured; generous and friendly, she somehow manages to look effortlessly chic in her festival hat and she runs about the event, making sure families are happy and having fun.
We had a wonderful day at The Big Family Festival- from the moment we arrived, it was clear that families were having a fabulous time and it wasn’t long till we were too! The festival is definitely best suited to those with young children, with so many activities for them to enjoy, but there are also things for the older crowd to do. The whole place also felt very safe and secure so it’s certainly an ideal place for parents to unwind whilst their children have a whale of a time.
The only suggestions we had for improvements would be to have a few more bins and benches as these were pretty packed, also the BBQ had run out of veggie burgers by about half 12- however there were plenty of other food providers to cater for all tastes and as it was a dry weekend we could sit on the grass anyway! There were a few other small teething problems, to be expected in the first year of a festival, but certainly everyone we spoke to was having a ball and overall we’d certainly call it a success!
All in all, we would definitely recommend going to the Big Family Festival next year- we had a great time and it was clear that all the other families attending were certainly having a great time too!
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