Review - The magic of Big Feastival festival
After a long hard year its so brilliant to see some of the familiar summer festivals going ahead this year after lockdown restrictions lift on 19th July. The line-up looks impressive with Nile Rogers and Chic heading on the Saturday (saw them at Wilderness in 2018 and they were amazing!) and Sigala who we also saw at Pennfest in 2018. Rag n'Bone man is headlining on the Sunday too.
Twin Mum was lucky enough to be invited to The Big Feastival in 2018 to review the festival and so if you are thinking of going this year and wondering if festivals and kids ever really mix, then here is our review.
Big Feastival is one of the most talked about festivals for families. Originally set up seven years ago by ex-Blur bassist Alex James (now a well known cheese maker) and Jamie Oliver, the family festival has an increasingly impressive line-up each year of live music acts, chefs and culinary influencers, and plenty of children’s entertainers.
The location couldn’t be more perfect, being situated in Alex James’ own 200 acre farm in the beautiful scenic Cotswolds just a few miles from Soho Farmhouse, where you can start – or recover – from your festival weekend in style.
Festivals and children – can they ever really go together? Our experience of festivals is being able to truly let go and relax and lose yourself to the music, find your free spirit and get lost in a world of glitter, dance tents, cocktails and feathery craziness. Can a festival with children in tow really match up? And not just doing it with your own children, but being surrounded by thousands of other people’s children? Well last year we found out that yes, it can!
The Big Feastival campsite was smaller than we were expecting, but its friendliness and family focus hit us instantly. Families clad in Hunter wellies and every colour of animal shaped poncho spilled out of their 4 x 4s with big smiles and even bigger suitcases. Our first question when we got into the site? “Where is the family camping?” only to be told “It’s all family camping here”. So no separate campsites for adults who want to party all night then? Glorious.
Bassist turned cheesemaker Alex James hosts The Big Feastival on his Cotswolds farm
We camped in the yellow campsite and it was clear that most people had taken the day off on the Friday to arrive early and secure their spots. We struggled to get a pitch space big enough for our 6 man tent so a big tip is to arrive early on the Friday and make sure you bring a trolley.
Big Feastival stole our hearts the moment the sun came out on Friday night and we headed into the site. It’s really well laid out with one main entrance like a bottle neck so much harder for kids to escape or leave the festival.
For kids, its absolute paradise. Everything is geared for children – the music, the food, the stalls and the rides. There are lots of fun rides like bumper cars and helter skelters – although they aren’t cheap at around £8 per ride. If you want to equip yourself with all the festival fabulousness, there are stalls with bubbles filled with smoke, a stall selling animal tails that turned our two girls into foxes and badgers and stalls filled with glitter and beautiful festival clothes. There is also a whole separate area for younger children and and toddlers.
For the little ones, Big Festival offers up some of the biggest names in the business. Peppa Pig, The Gruffalo, Paddington and Justin Fletcher aka Mr Tumble. Just the mention of these four megastars had our children jumping with joy. Justin Fletcher kicks off the main stage on the Saturday every year and was the highlight for our children and even my husband got involved in the disco. There is a full itinerary of other activities and we participated in Yellow Flamingo Yoga workshops and Calypso Kids jam sessions. The Ninja Tots’ provided an imaginative and animated take on martial arts and from Baby Bhangra to Baby Broadway, there was a musical offering to satisfy every taste.
If you love live music then this is the festival for you. Catering for every taste, Big Feastival offers a huge range of live music. Last year talent included Craig David, Clean Bandit and Tom Odell, and recent X Factor winners Rak Su took the main stage on Saturday fresh from their UK tour with Little Mix.
Our absolute favourite DJ – BBC Radio Two’s Jo Whiley – hosted the main stage on the Saturday and Basement Jaxx performed a fantastic DJ set.
For foodies like us, the festival is top notch. The quality was a cut above most festivals and street markets. There was a splattering of seriously top chefs as well in the NEFF Big Kitchen teaching festival-goers the tricks of the trade including Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc, Glynn Purnell, Ashley Palmer-Watts and Tommy Banks. We also saw chef, restaurateur and TV personality Gizzi Erskine in the festival kitchen, Jasmine Hemsley from Hemsley & Hemsley and master bakers Tom and Henry Herbet who make the most delicious bread in the history of the world.
If you love your drinks then there are some delicious cocktails and drinks on offer, and a really fun Veuve Clicquot VIP Lounge tent which is only included in the VIP package but is worth upgrading to just for the outstanding DJs and having a place to retreat to right beside the main stage. The drinks are quite expensive but there is no limit to how much alcohol you can take onto the site which is great if you want to take in a homemade cocktail or two.
In terms of the camping and the facilities, apart from being a full site, the campsite managed to not be too crowded and had security and supervision 24/7. Toilets were always clean and showers were available. It could have done with more smaller toilet blocks scattered throughout the site rather than fewer but larger blocks.
Big Festival goers are friendly. It’s a great mix of families and parents who clearly love festivals and want their own children to experience the same carefree experience in a safe environment. The festival managed to feel as if we were visiting a friend’s house for a summer party rather than the atmosphere of a big corporate festival. Even though it’s an impressive scale, Big Feastival feels intimate and is well attended by the celebrity and influencer crowd.
If your happy place is at a festival and you want to experience a magical one with your children, or even a festival that shines above the rest in terms of food and friendly atmosphere, then Big Feastival is for you.
Tickets are on sale now at http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/thebigfeastival
Big Feastival runs from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th August 2021 at Alex James’ Farm, Kingham, The Cotswolds.Direct trains from London Paddington to Kingham Train Station.