Well holy moly Maui Waui, what a weekend! We were invited to review Maui Waui Festival for Mini Travellers and, having toyed with the idea of a family festival for the last year or more we were keen to try out our hand-me-down tent and see whether kids improve or impede the festival experience- a question which we’ve been pondering for quite some time!
First thing to note I would say is, it whether kids improve a festival depends entirely on the festival itself. The size and feel of Maui Waui was perfect for us. The vibe is described in the programme as a place of love, freedom and kindness and that is certainly the experience we had.
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Having been to V festival, Glastonbury and Reading amongst others pre-children I think I would find an event of that size quite intimidating with kids as a first experience. At a guess I’d say Maui’s capacity is under 10,000 and you could easily walk from the carpark to the furthest point of the site in under 30 minutes- when you compare that to a capacity of 30,000 for Camp Bestival as an example Maui Waui is a great place to cut your family festival teeth as it is a really manageable size.
The key elements of a festival for me are music and fringe activity so how did that stack up? Music; I absolutely love listening to live music and one of my favourite family experiences was watching the sun set at Carfest north whilst listening to an incredible DJ set – absolute heaven. At Maui, I hadn’t heard of any of the acts in advance so there was no danger of disappointment if a wee stop or an urgent need to try the swing boats (again) meant we missed someone superb and I am sure we did. We LOVED the Stiff Joints who played the main stage on the Friday night. My pelvic floor was well and truly challenged thanks to their infectious sense of fun, big brass and party-ska, it was impossible not to bounce- I have never heard Smells like Teen Spirit sound better 🤩
The Flavour Parlour was another favourite with a waltzer seats to sit in and a lovely relaxed vibe-ideal for escaping the sun for a bit and catching our breath with some real lemonade. We enjoyed The Phantom Cowboys and The Dressing Gown Mob- its worth getting a programme just to read the names of all the acts! We spent a good deal of time in Maui Kids which had a craft tent- the girls made dream catchers, bandanas and we all took part in the parade on Saturday evening.
The Foolhardy circus tent was made for kids with lots of variety acts including ‘Dangerous Dave’ the puppet show, jugglers and various jaw dropping acrobatics. A personal high point for me was the free ashtanga yoga session on Sunday morning though a shower afterwards would have been welcome! I would have liked to have had chance to spend more time in ‘Crime Scene’ which was mainly drum and bass and dance focused but that was kicking off when the girls were in need of their beds and to be honest I think that would have been a place best experienced by adults only.
From a logistics point of view, a huge luxury for me was the fact that when we arrived we were able to drive right up to our camping spot, unload and then take the car to the parking area which was less than a 10 minute walk away. Unheard of in so many places now. It is also really easy to get off site which we did on Saturday morning for parkrun at Sizewell beach and a paddle in the sea and again when we needed some Calpol- total parenting fail but easily fixed as the beautiful village of Saxmundham is less than 10 minutes drive away and has a pharmacy plus supermarkets.
Camping wise though facilities are limited, think water pipe and portaloos. If you need a shower to set you up for the day this isn’t going to work for you but brilliantly there is a camp site directly opposite the festival site which offers electric hook ups, toilets and a shower. It will also be quieter at night so definitely worth considering in my view. The size of the event means that quiet camping isn’t really an option.
From living art to can-can dances, drum and bass to Irish jigs as well as the facepaints and fireworks there is plenty to open your eyes, open your mind and make your jaw hit the floor at Maui Waui and for me it was just what the doctor ordered.
Top takeaways from Mr L who is absolutely the more pragmatic of our partnership;
- Try and get to the festival as early as you can- you’ll get your pick of camping spots – My friend Sam advises facing onto a fire lane from a space point of view and putting up a flagpole for visibility
- There was a good selection of local beers and ciders all reasonably priced plus, the cups were reusable so there was minimal litter on the site and, good for the plastic pollution problem
- Bring an open mind and enjoy the different types of music, activity and people you encounter
We felt that Maui Waui was very much like how festivals used to be before they became so big and commercial and ‘managed’. It feels much more alternative, organic and warm. We got talking to people of all ages over the course of the weekend- often over some food and a picnic bench and everyone was raving about the festival. Now in its 7th year lots of people have been coming since its inception.
As with all things, Maui Waui won’t suit everyone, to put it in context, the name is slang for a strain of weed which, according to Wikipedia, enhances creativity and leaves users feeling happy and relaxed. Bag searches were rare and we definitely ran into some super spaced out people but I never felt intimidated or worried in anyway over the whole weekend, in fact I felt more able to switch off, tune out and truly immerse myself some quality time with my crew than I have for a long time. I think the weather helped in part- warm and sunny is an understatement, taking down the tent was sweaty and energy sapping but that was the only point tempers even got close to being frayed and that is no mean feat- particularly in such heat but the volunteers and acts were patient, professional and gave everyone a really warm welcome.
Thanks so much for the invite Maui Waui, we had a truly wonderful weekend and are 100% family festival converts.