Not your usual summer music festival: Krankenhaus – A Cumbrian micro music festival.
At the end of August, we attended the Krankenhaus music festival in Ravenglass as a family of 5 – 2 adults, 2 children and a baby. This was not your usual music festival at all!
Krankenhaus is a festival held in the grounds of scenic Muncaster Castle in Ravenglass, Cumbria. It is organised by the band Sea Power (formerly British Sea Power) and featured a diverse and eclectic range of artists, including both musicians and authors/poets.
The festival was truly a small event in comparison to your “more usual” music festivals, with numbers generally in the 700 – 1000 range. There was one main stage, a bar, a few festival type food and drink outlets, with it all basically being centred around a farmyard.
Ticket prices are comparable with the larger, better known festivals, however, with your festival tickets, you receive access over 4 days to all the attractions at Muncaster Castle and reduced fares for the nearby Ravenglass and Eskdale railway.
It is better to think of this event holistically with local attractions and the attractions of the castle running alongside a music/spoken word festival rather than as two separate entities in isolation– this is how the event has been designed. Performances took place from each afternoon onwards until after midnight, allowing attendees to use mornings to make the most of the local attractions, be that visiting the castle, travelling the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway, walking the local fells, cycling or perhaps playing by the sea.
As a family we made full use of the local attractions and had a lovely morning travelling the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway up to its end at Dalegarth. We also made full use of the access to Muncaster castle and its attractions, seeing an owl display, walking around the extensive grounds, touring the inside of the castle, seeing a bird of prey display and playing on the adventure play areas.
The railway is probably best described as “quaint”, with its small steam train pulled carriages and slightly chaotic, volunteer led service. Although really enjoyed by the children, the carriages were small, very warm (in the excellent weather we were lucky to have) and inconvenient for transporting a child’s pushchair. It’s a 40 minute ride each way with a play and picnic area at Dalegarth.
The attractions and displays back at Muncaster Castle were superb. The castle’s grounds are extensive, with plenty of interesting woodland walks punctuated by all manner of features for curious children, from fairy forts, swings, aerial climbing features and sculptures. We thoroughly enjoyed spending a lot of time wandering the castle’s grounds and because we had festival tickets, we were able to access them after normal hours when the majority of “day visitors” had left. The owl and bird of prey displays were a treat and certainly had everyone ducking as the birds flew low over the audience’s heads. Our boys thoroughly enjoyed the displays and spent a good while afterwards “flying” about the grounds! The castle also had a small café, ice cream parlour, gift shop and picnic benches next to a children’s play area. We made use of all these.
The actual festival was a very small and friendly affair. The farmyard at the centre of the festival site was liberally adorned with hay bale seating, picnic benches, a few fire “pits” and a table tennis table for children! There were many excellent points about the festival but also a few considerations if you are wanting to attend with children.
Festival Good Points
- Due to the small size, the festival felt very safe and friendly, with little chance of losing the children.
- It’s so low key and relaxed that the artists would be wandering and sitting among the people attending, enjoying the atmosphere as much as those in the audience. You could end up having a pint chatting to the Poet Laureate or a musician who’s just finished performing!
- The people attending the festival were almost all serious music fans (*see point below) rather than your frequent “just going to a festival to get smashed and perhaps catch a band” type. This meant that there was virtually no evidence of people being drunk or otherwise intoxicated.
- The stage (in a cow barn!) was small and with the small audience, there was a very intimate feel to watching performances as you could get very close to “the action” rather than being a couple of hundred metres away behind a sea of people as you’d find at your more usual music festival.
- There were a diverse range of excellent artists performing, although many probably wouldn’t be considered hugely “mainstream” which is a big attraction if you’re a “serious” music fan.
- Although we were not camping, the camping area looked good, clean, uncrowded and was no more than 5 minutes’ walk from the main festival site.
- A lovely relaxed and very friendly atmosphere with none of the usual queueing and excessive security on entry that you’d associated with summer music festivals.
- Plenty of toilets for the amount of people attending.
Festival Bad Points
- There was little for children to do at the actual festival site other than play with the table tennis and straw bales. Despite this our children seemed to entertain themselves whilst we were there.
- The proximity of the camping to the festival site, although convenient, could mean that it may have been noisy at night. We were not camping so cannot comment definitively on this.
- Quite limited food outlets – pizza van, vegan burger stand, one coffee van and an ice cream van. The pizza van sold out by 8:30pm which was disappointing.
As for accommodation, there are plenty of live in vehicle parking, camping close to the main festival area, self-catered options on site or hotels and B&Bs in the nearby village of Ravenglass. We stayed in the 3 star Pennington Hotel in Ravenglass which was excellent and we can highly recommend if you don’t fancy camping.
Overall, we had an excellent time at this “micro festival”. If visiting as a family with younger children, there are lots of things to do beyond the festival site and the festival certainly felt both friendly and safe. We felt that the best arrangement for families attending would probably involve making the most of the “other” attractions whilst adults take it in turns to see the evening performances due to the shortage of child entertainment at the festival site and the proximity to the camping area.
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.