What is a Family Friendly Festival?
‘Deer Shed’ have the answer….. It’s when there is something for the whole family and everybody in the family is catered for and get to enjoy themselves in a safe FRIENDLY environment. It’s the attention to detail that Deer Shed do so well and their clear understanding that a family is a collection of different ages, needs, interests and tastes. The title of the festival has a collection of themes and states ‘THE FAMILY FRIENDLY MUSIC, ARTS AND SCIENCE FESTIVAL’ which it delivers with bags of enthusiasm.
Putting the festival to the test!
The festival clearly states one of their key policies is to ‘encourage family participation’ so we were ready to throw ourselves into every part of the festival and put this to the test.
My family, comprising two adults in our late 30’s, who hadn’t been to a festival in many years, and two boys aged 7 and 9 who had never been to a festival or even a music gig. Concerns before going ranged from; ‘Will I get any sleep?’ to ‘Which child will we loose first?’
The moment we arrived we could quickly see that this festival was very organised and every detail had been thought through. Camping with a family is not a lightweight affair: a giant family tent fully equipped with the comfort of airbeds and of course don’t forget the pillows and portable kitchen. Ta da! …why not hire a trolley or for that matter why not hire one for the whole weekend as this trolley can be a seat, bed for small children, carrier for tired legs or pack horse for all the things a family needs for the day.
Advice: book a trolley on line in advance as the booking for a trolley closes one week before the festival and on the day trolleys can be hired for unloading the car but it is first come first served (£5 per hour, but deposit of £50)
‘Billy Bragg’, ‘The Wedding Present’ and John Grant all delivered, however we loved ‘Seafret’ and ‘Cattle & Cane’. The slick change overs and great technical set up made a very smooth running music programme. The Beat Boxer was excellent and we all learnt some sounds in his demonstration section.
We loved the Science part of the festival. Having very enthusiastic university students demonstrate was a stroke of genius. We visited the cloud making section several times and the children were still as enthralled as the first time. The boys got to make explosions, play on a green screen and take apart computers and solder circuit boards… fun for every one.
What did the kids think of the festival?
All the activities and the opportunity to just run around and visit the bubble shop about 10 times a day were the highlights, but you also can’t beat a card board box to play in….
What was the parents best bits?
Dad was impressed with how safe the festival felt, Mummy was impressed with the hand gels and the welfare tent but we were OVER THE MOON to see how excited our children were.
Wrist bands had dual purpose at this festival. If you are 11+ then you get a yellow band and can go any where but if you’re little then you get a purple band and can not go out of the festival area without an adult. They even give you another wrist band to write your mobile number on.
A lot of the parents with young children had purchased ear protectors at the ticket office however they were priced at £20 each so you may want to get some on line before you go.
Adults were well behaved and children could go wild. All the parents were on the same page as we wanted our children to have a good time and for parents to relax. Yes there was a lovely selection of wine and beers in the festival area and you could bring your own alcohol for the campsite (no glass) but every one was very civilised and behaved well. A safe environment yet again delivered.
Value for money?
If you look at the cost individually it looks expensive but if you look at the total cost for the family then it’s accessible. Book early and get the savings then your looking at £250 for two adults and two children with two nights camping (£89 per adult /£35 for 6-15 years and £5 for 3 to 5 years + booking fee) .
They don’t do day tickets any more and we can understand why as the atmosphere is very chilled. It only starts getting expensive depending on how much you drink and eat but if you take sandwiches and breakfast you can balance out the budget and the fun.
What did we eat?
We had breakfast and made sandwiches but we just could not resist evening meals and snacks and the delightful food vendors. No tacky food stalls here but fine Dales burgers, wood stove oven pizza, Indian curry and of course plenty of good coffee and fruit smoothies. Good tasting food was a priority for this festival.
Our favorite place was the Gingerbread Tea Tent as we drank tea out of china cups and our children decorated gingerbread men.
Where did we sleep and did we get any sleep?
We brought our VW campervan and many people we spoke to had hired one for the weekend or the week so they could add some local sights. We loved this option as you have no preparation or tent to take down to deal with (It was £35 extra to use the VW)
We slept so well. Quiet at 11pm in the campsite was adhered too and there was only a few pockets of adults just chatting, no music. The odd baby in the morning may have stirred but all parents know the value of sleep for a happy family and we had some of the best nights sleep ever at a campsite. Those who wanted to chill in the late night festival tent and continue to listen to excellent music and have a drink were in the zone next to the adults only camping area.
The festival even offers Glamping where you can stay in a tee-pee or mini yurt for the weekend?
Where was the festival
Just outside of Ripon near the A1 is the best description which of course is the North East of England above Leeds and below Scotch Corner.
The surrounding area is lovely in this part of the country with the North York Moors to the east and the Yorkshire Dales to the west. York is just a short drive (35 min) south. Ripon (10 min away) is well worth a visit and so is the fantastic Fountains Abbey for all those National Trust members.
Worth going to the festival again?
Yes of course and we have told all our friends. We met quite a few groups who had all met up at the festival for a get together and we are already planning our next festival.
by Katherine Banner.
NB: Katherine and her family were provided with tickets to attend Deer Shed but all views and opinions are their own. They loved it!