Lakefest: More Than Just Music

Whatever your age, style or musical preference, it is fair to say there’s a festival for you this Summer. From the rock and roll weekender of Isle of Wight to the annual mud-bath tradition of Glastonbury, right through a plethora of foodie festivals, metal moshpits and laidback jazz gatherings, there are so many festivals in the UK now that it’s hard to hear of a weekend between May and September without one.

But what if you’ve had your fill of late nights and hazy Sundays, and you now own some little people that get in the way of weekends away with nothing but a tent and a toothbrush? What about festivals for kids? Well while I’ve seen small people totally loving it at Glasto and Reading, the idea of taking mine to such a ‘grown-up’ event leaves me cold. Not only would I miss out on the music I liked while I was trapped changing nappies in a postage stamp-sized portaloo, I don’t think they’d be too impressed either with the language, drunkenness and sheer bloody volume of the crowd. A big festival can be intimidating to an adult, let alone a two-year-old. Which is why I’m returning to the best family-friendly festival going this year, which has the perfect combination of entertainment for small people, and music that I love.

Lakefest is set in the heart of the Herefordshire countryside

Lakefest 2017 takes places from 10th-14th August this year and headliners including The Charlatans, Feeder, and the even the mighty Aswad (yes really)! You can see the full line up here. This is no second class summer fete, it’s rock and roll (with a massive dose of indie and a drop of 90s reggae) all the way. For someone of my generation the idea of kicking back on the grass while my kids dance around to Can’t Get Out of Bed is a dream come true. When it comes to music it’s all about getting them while they’re young, educating them with their ears, bringing the Indie Disco to nursery rhyme time. And how better to do that than in the middle of a field while sipping a nice cold cider?

Lakefest started off its life as a local cider festival near the Gloucestershire town of Tewkesbury but over the past six years (for it is barely older than a toddler itself) it has become an established event for the festival-going crowd. It has now moved sites to the impressive Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire and prides itself of providing fun for the whole family, making it about much more than just music. This year there’s a Hawaiian theme to the weekend, so don your grass skirt, plant a few palm trees and grown them in time to bring along with you! For the smaller members of the family there’s a designated Kid’s Area which last year offered an astounding array of entertainment for children of all ages, from jewellery making and circus workshops to drawing tables, treasure hunts and even full size fairground. For the full list of activities click here.

I took my husband and two kids to Lakefest last summer, and this year we can’t wait to go back. We’ve done camp Bestival, which is bigger and brill, but much more pricey, and for the ‘we’re not old really‘ nostalgia trip we’ve booked tickets to the Penn Festival in Buckinghamshire. But family time is at the core of Lakefest, so a return trip after last year’s success was non-negotiable. The organisers say: “We pride ourselves on putting family first and since we all have families, we know how essential it is that there is something for everyone (big and little kids). Following an incredible 2016, we have even more activities planned for all of the family. Eastnor Castle is a magical setting that will provide the perfect backdrop to a family holiday, with our festival as the icing on the cake.”

lakefest kids2It’s no wonder the fledgling festival was voted Best Small Festival for Families by FestivalKidz . And if you fancy a few hour without the offspring, there’s even a creche!

If you’re keen to earn a few extra pennies to pay for the weekend, a new Ambassador programme has been introduced, whereby guests can sell tickets to their friends and family and receive free tickets, rewards and exclusive benefits for doing so. Find out more here.

Having enjoyed last year’s festival so much, and seen all that’s on offer this year, we booked our tickets last week. There are various camping and glamping options available, from general camping to tipis and podpads, and there are also designated family or group fields, so you don’t have to worry about a drunken stag do staggering past at 3am (and they will be grateful that your early risers are a whole field away!). Live-in vehicles (with and without electric) are offered on a pitch basis – so guests choose the row and are then either allocated a specific pitch or can choose their own pitch once the booking has been made.  This year also witnesses the arrival of Reserved Camping; a field where guests can camp next to their vehicle (car, caravan, motorhome…) and is, again, on an allocated pitch basis. The only downside last year was the small number of showers and not enough toilets, but we were told that was down to unprecedented ticket sales at the last minute, so hopefully last year’s success will guarantee more preparation on that side.

All-in-all, we can’t wait! Now where’s my grass skirt…

Emily Cleary

Emily Cleary

After almost a decade chasing ambulances, and celebrities, for Fleet Street’s finest, Emily has taken it down a gear and settled for a (slightly!) slower pace of life in the suburbs. With a love of cheese and fine wine, Emily is more likely to be found chasing her toddlers round Kew Gardens than sipping champagne at a showbiz launch nowadays, or grabbing an hour out of her hectic freelancer’s life to chill out in a spa while hubby holds the babies. If only!


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