Now that they are a lot older (aged 5, 7 and 9), more responsible and quite frankly a lot easier to handle and keep check on when we are out in public, I decided 2016 would be the year of the festival for us. We were invited along to the Corbridge Festival at the beginning of July. Tickets are a bargain I think at just £30 per adults and under 10's going free (concessions are £18). Camping was around £12 extra and parking was included.
Camping at Corbridge Festival
The main Corbridge Festival happens on Saturday from 12noon - 10:30pm. You can choose a day ticket only, or to camp on both Friday and Saturday night or Saturday only. We opted for Saturday night only and arrived at around 10am on Saturday morning. The staff were very helpful, guided us into a parking space and informed us of the best places to set up our tent.
The camping field is next door to the car park so you don't have a huge trek with your camping equipment so it's an ideal first-time family festival (in comparison it feels like you have to walk MILES carrying your camping gear from the car park to the camping fields at Glastonbury).
We were one of the last families to pitch our tent and as you can see there was plenty of space for us which was refreshing. We pitched our tent in no time (read about our tent/buy here - affiliate link)
The camping field was next door to the festival field - everything was really close which was perfect. There were plenty of portaloos in the camping field which were always clean when I paid them a visit however the smell did make my stomach turn - top tip:- smear vapour rub under your nose before visiting the loo! There were proper toilets at the festival (less than a 5 min walk away) if you really couldn't face the portaloo.
We handed our tickets into the festival entrance and received our wristbands. Our bags were searched and we were told we weren't allowed to bring our picnic food into the festival. I told security that there was NOWHERE on the festival website that stated this. The website clearly states that no glass or alcohol is allowed however nowhere does it mention food. We were planning a picnic lunch and then visiting the food stands later in the day. If I had known food wasn't allowed I wouldn't have spent the best part of £30 on picnic food. Anyway, security said they could let people take food in at their discretion and let us take it in anyway.......along with half the festival it seems as most people seemed to have some sort of picnic lunch with them.
In terms of sleep, it's good to remember that festivals don't have a 'lights out' policy at 11pm or midnight like regular campsites do and people can and will make noise. This didn't bother the kids as they'll sleep through anything but it's fair to say that Steve and I didn't get the best night's sleep ever. People are drunk, people will shout and people will continue the party, well until 4am or later. There is a 'quiet' area but in my opinion this didn't really work out as most places were noisy.
Food at Corbridge Festival
Food at festivals has really taken off in the last few years and gone are the days of a greasy burger van. Corbridge Festival was no exception and we were spoilt for choice.
|There were long queues for Zapatista all day with food around the £5 mark|
|Papa Ganoush and Fat Hippo|
|Heidi watching her Mexican Dog being cooked|
|'Proper' Fish and chips - £7.50|
|Fat Hippo burger - £5|
|http://www.chipstix.net/Chipstix - £2.50 each|
I found the food to be extremely well priced. Most meals were around the £5 mark. Steve also ordered the most delicious Punjabi chicken and lamb in a Naan bread wrap which was INSANE. No pic though as this was our food for our walk home in the dark!
Kids Entertainment at Corbridge Festival
The Corbridge Festival isn't neccessarily a 'kids festival' but it is family friendly. I would say around 60% of people (if not more) were there with their kids and ages ranged from babies and toddlers up to teens.
You could spend a fortune on your kids in the festival stalls where flowered headbands, face painting and glitter tattoos will have them constantly asking you to open your purse. We try to be quite strict when it comes to things like this and gave the kids £10 between them which they spent on a £2.50 ride in the funfair each and a can of silly string between them.
Many festivals provide funfairs included in your ticket however you 'pay as you go' on the fairground rides at Corbridge. This is fair enough I think, especially as kids get into the festival for free anyway. It helps to keep the queues down if anything :D
There was also a circus with 3-4 free shows throughout the day. We arrived 5 minutes early for the first show but all of the seats had already been taken and there was a queue out of the door. The kids managed to catch a couple of shows though and they said they loved it.
I'm a bit of a free range parent and I'm keen to give Harry some extra independence this summer. He is going into Year 5 in September and when I remember how much I did at his age it was a lot more than he does now. The festival wasn't too busy through the daytime so Steve and I found a spot next to a noticeable landmark and let H&H have some freedom to explore with the instructions to check in regularly. The festival is in one field and has a big fence around it, plus they had our phone number on their wristband so I was confident they wouldn't get lost. They loved this and spent time exploring and watching shows that they wanted to whilst Steve, Jack and I enjoyed the music on the main stage. This was fine for the first few hours when it was quiet but once it got busier/more alcohol was consumed by fetival go-ers, they stayed with us.
We bumped into a couple of characters from Be Your Guest Ltd and they were happy to pose for a few pics. It was a bit surreal seeing Darth Vador in amongst it all and dancing away later on! LOL
There was an indoor marquee where you could join in with craft and jewellery making workshops (£1), African drumming classes or catch a children's entertainer including Professor Pumpernickel who was a favourite of Harry and Heidi's.
Most of the kids at the festival seemed to be obsessed with silly string and we couldn't escape.........£3 a bottle but the kids loved it so it was worth it.
Finally, nothing beats the festival atmosphere for having fun and being silly with your kids. Harry was too cool for school but Heidi and Jack loved getting up and dancing with Steve and I and we taught them lots of classic dance moves during Grandmaster Flash's retro set. Dancing at a festival is completely different to dancing anywhere else - you can 100% be yourself, just go with the flow and act silly. No one is watching and no one cares. It's liberating!
Music at Corbridge Festival
The music at Corbridge was varied but we loved it all as did the rest of the crowd. First up were The Cherry Pickers who are a folk band we've actually watched before. We enjoyed them and they got us in the mood for the rest of the festival.
|Eating our picnic and watching The Cherry Pickers|
Cortney's music was kind of a mix between Paloma Faith and Kate Bush. We really enjoyed her performance and will definitely be looking out for Cortney at future gigs.
Another highlight were Bessie & The Zinc Buckets who seem to have a real cult following judging by the amount of people in the crowd wearing their tshirts. They played a real ecclectic set ranging from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Jump, Jive and Wail. Lots of people were up dancing and having a really good time by this point.
Having seen Frankie and the Heartstrings play a few times before, I was really looking forward to their set. They had a crowd of 12-14 year olds all wearing their t-shirts and screaming their name and I am thinking this must have put me off as I didn't enjoy them as much as usual. Perhaps I have just grown up a little?
The crowd really started to enjoy themselves when the Neville Staple Band took to the stage. You might recognise the lead singer as that from The Specials and indeed they treated us to a few classics including 'A Message to you Rudy' and 'Ghost Town' amongst others. The crowd young and old couldn't help but sing and dance along.
Finally, the main man we'd been waiting for Grandmaster Flash appeared on stage for his set. Rather than a performance, his set was a bit like a shortened version of a school disco but in a good way. He played lots of classic favourites including 'Red Red Wine', 'Billy Jean', 'Jump Around' and his own hit song 'The Message'. There was no sign of White Lines though. It's fair to say, the crowd went NUTS and everyone was on their feet (well everyone apart from Harry who still refused to dance). Heidi especially loved dancing along to Grandmaster Flash. We were just to the side of the stage at the front and there was plenty of space to throw our best shapes with absolutely no fear of being crushed or lost in the crowd (although this would have happened at this point if you were right in front of the stage).
Grandmaster finished at around 9:15pm and after a quick loo break and stop for more food and drinks, we decided to head back to the tent and miss the headline act. I've heard The Coral were fantastic but the kids were really sleepy and Steve and I weren't fussed about missing out - we'd already had a fab time.
Drinking/Drugs at Corbridge Festival
Although bags were searched on entry, most people seemed to have their own alcohol. In fact the group next to us had about 5 x 2 litre bottles of cider plus a 1 litre bottle of whiskey. How they managed to sneak that in I will never know!
Steve was happy with the Wylam Brewery Ale's on offer (£4) and then switched the Rekorderlig Cider. Ale was priced at £4 a pint and Cider £4.50. This was pretty pricey so I decided not to drink too much and just had a couple. Soft drinks were priced between 50p-£1 which was a bargain in comparison. Steve made full use of the bar though and is now a cider convert I think!
I unfortunately witnessed a few teenagers who were clearly underage openly drinking alcohol. I don't know whether people bought them alcohol or they were served themselves. Although the festival was on all day, I didn't witness any overly drunken behaviour. Everyone was just nice and merry which was nice.
I am fairly naive when it comes to drugs but I do know that sort of thing goes on at festivals......I'm not sure how I feel about hearing the tent next door to us openly and obviously take cocaine through the night though. It's something I really wasn't expecting at a family festival at all! Luckily the kids were asleep by this point and didn't hear any of it.
Toilets, Showers, Rubbish and Water at Corbridge Festival
The Corbridge Festival was extremely well organised. There were 'Premier Loos' which we didn't need to queue long for and were spotlessly clean. There were lots and lots of bins about and volunteers helping to collect any litter which was good. There was also a water point for free drinking water and there were shower facilities in the club house if you needed them.
Would I Go Again?
Absolutely! Despite a couple of very minor niggles, our experience on the whole was a good one. The whole family had fun, it was nice to support local talent (in terms of food, drink and music) plus see some world class performers on stage. We had the chance as a family to let our hair down and have some really good fun. The ticket prices are an absolute steal for what's included and I will definitely be looking at attending again next year.