13-15 June 2014
Reviewed by Kirsty Moorhouse
When the opportunity to attend Eden Festival came up we were excited at the prospect of a festival that advertised itself as a ‘family festival’, having children aged 1, 7 and 10 year old, as when we have taken the children to other festivals, to be honest it has been a little stressful.
Eden did not disappoint.
The camping space was plentiful and close enough to car parking that taking the tent and equipment for a full family for a weekend was a relatively easy task. There was separate family camping to main camping, a whole section for camper vans and additional over flow camping areas which by the Sunday more tents had appeared on. The only issue we had with the ‘Family Camping’ section was that the signs were not particularly clear meaning our tent was surrounded by some rather excitable childless groups, arriving back loudly in the early hours. I did mention this to one of the staff members and she said she would pass on the message to the organisers to look to improve signs for next year as a few people had mentioned it.
All the staff I encountered (some paid, some volunteers) were friendly, helpful and went out of their way to help.
Walking from camping to festival gates was a five minute walk (ten with our curious toddler), and the path on the way was lined with an ambulance, first aid tent and 3 police vehicles, ensuring everyone knew where help was if it was needed. The few people we saw who had over indulged (and compared to most festivals the number was negligible) were helped quickly and efficiently, and escorted to the first aid tents to recover. Our youngest cut his finger but with some ‘magic’ herbal cream, a plaster and a friendly face had him smiling again in no time.
The police presence was noticeable but not intimidating and meant if any trouble did occur we felt confident approaching them. As it was we personally didn’t see the police have to deal with any incidents all weekend which was refreshing.
The actual layout of the festival for us was wonderful. Stages surrounded open areas where children could run free and still be observed whilst parents watched bands. There were craft, circus, woodwork and storytelling workshops for the little ones (and the young at heart) which proved extremely popular with all our children. The circus tent and equipment, which was out for most of the day every day, was a huge hit with our 7 year old who hula hooped and bowstaffed his way through the weekend, breaking off briefly to make a tent peg and spatula in woodwork workshops. There was a younger children’s tent in which our littlest spent time making crafts and listening to stories, before burning off some pent up energy running around in the mock Stonehenge field, chasing other smalls up mounds and rolling back down.
Carnival was the theme for the weekend and many feathered headdresses and glittery makeup were seen around, as well as some Samba dancers who performed a few times on a smaller stage, ending up on the main stage as backing dancers. In line with the carnival theme the children (and adults) had crafted masks, banners and headdresses for an end of festival parade on the Sunday.
The cycle powered reggae stage was definitely a favourite for our eldest who spent literally hours cycling and trying to get the display to full power, whilst people danced barefoot in the mud.
Speaking of mud, the rain on Friday ensured it was plentiful yet it did nothing to dampen anyone’s spirits and was still just about manageable with baby in a pushchair. The array of tents, both playing music and serving refreshment, were large enough to be able to take an influx of people when the rain hit.
The music we managed to fit in over the weekend ranged from rock to reggae, ‘Dance offs’ to a Scottish piper band and pretty much everything in between. There really was something for everyone’s tastes. The music was clear and loud without being overpowering, and the bands seemed genuinely pleased to be there. There were no programmes with the details of bands, times or stages as their printing firm had let them down last minute. They did have time listings in the information tent as you arrived in through the gate, however a couple of large boards around the festival would have made it easier to navigate the music if you had particular bands you wanted to fit in.
My children all enjoyed the Horse Stunt Show which was on once a day. The horses and riders adorned with Celtic warpaint and flaming whips keeping them thoroughly entertained.
For those who needed de-stressing, ‘me time’, or just wanted to learn more about alternative therapies, there was a ‘Healing Area’ which had free samples/workshops across the weekend as well as longer sessions you could book into. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to properly investigate this section but the people leaving certainly looked on good form.
There were a surprisingly large amount of stalls, both food and clothing/accessories. Also surprisingly the food was excellent, well portioned and reasonably priced. With beer coming in at £3.50 a pint it wasn’t too expensive either.
I could go on for an age about the range of music and activities, how my children had one of their favourite weekends ever, how I’ve never attended a festival with such an overall feel of happiness… but instead I’ll just recommend that if you get the chance to attend Eden Festival, with or without children you take it. And we will probably see you there!
For more information visit www.edenfestival.co.uk.