Thank you Standon Calling! After a few years of missing out on our annual family festival, Standon Calling delivered in 2022 with an outstanding host of activities, music , events and talks to meet all our families needs. Add to that the views , location and sunshine this year and our summer holidays we were off to a great start .
As a family of four – two adults and two children (10 and 14 ) this festival provided something for everyone. Within a few hours of arriving, and getting our bearings, we felt completely at home on site. Everyone we came across over the course of the weekend , from the box office to security checks were incredibly friendly and helpful. The vibe from the 17,000 strong crowd was happy and relaxed ( helped a lot by the glorious weather) and the children were happy to wander around on their own from day one.
There was a huge range of entertainment over the full four days meaning it was easy to have a fully loaded schedule of entertainment during the day – from morning yoga sessions, hot tub hire, TED type talks, comedians and family games . I downloaded the line up app before we arrived which helped to keep a track of who was on where and when although we did still rely on the boards around the site as well.
What we loved about Standon Calling
I think it’s fair to say we all got something different from the festival – The eldest really enjoyed the music, Example in particular blew us away , and who doesn’t love a bit of Bjorn Again on a Sunday afternoon. Unlike my daughter I didn’t recognise some of the line up but I was impressed by Standon’s pledge to become one of the first festivals where over 50% of their line up comprised female and non binary artists.
The youngest really enjoyed the shops and extra activities they had on offer including the fair ground rides. I genuinely thought she would be too old for the dedicated kids area, but we spent a good few hours in there doing the usual kids festival activities of juggling, wire walking and hula hooping. We also joined in with the games that were run on the playing fields and loved seeing the fancy dress costumes. I should mention that we also took two dogs with us , with the intention of entering the dog show on the Sunday. The 30 degree heat however put an end to that idea.
My absolute favourite place was a morning cup of coffee at the Magic Tea Pot yurt which served hot drinks in a real mug, from a prime position on top of the hill overlooking the whole site. We spent a few hours here, playing games, listening to the live music and taking in the view and ambience. It was a pretty blissful and chilled out way to start the morning. I also really loved the talks that were held on the lawn throughout the day, and particularly enjoyed listening to the founder recall how it all started with a birthday party whilst his parents were on holiday 21 years ago.
The only time I saw the lovely crowd get slightly angsty was waiting for the swimming pool to open on the Saturday afternoon in the blistering heat. Hot children, queuing for a swimming pool with a less than perfect ticket system meant there were a few tears and frustrated parents. Myself included.
Overall we had the best time- the kids had the biggest smiles on their face all weekend and I really appreciated the friendliness of the crowd and the staff who managed to provide a very safe environment without being overbearing.
The Practicalities at Standon Calling
Camping at Standon Calling
Standon Calling is located in Hertfordshire and is a four day festival , which in 2022 ran from Thursday 21st -24th July. We were gifted a family weekend camping pass in return for this review. We paid for the weekend car parking package ( which is a must ) and all our other activities and food whilst there. As the girls were still at school we arrived on the Friday afternoon after schools closed for summer ( I was gutted to miss Madness on Thursday evening- which by all accounts was amazing). The family camping is the closest to the car park and its location at the top of the hill is a god send when unloading a fully packed car with children in tow. It took us 2-3 hours to set ourselves up, with bags being checked on every entry.
If you are travelling with a family it is well worth securing a place in the family campsite when you book. The festival is located in a large bowl. General camping is at the bottom of the hill and my heart went out to those trying to unload and repack cars who had to navigate that climb every journey. For those that opted for the lavish or luxury camping, the little golf buggies to ferry you up and down with your luggage are a must.
The family camping, at the top of hill is also the furthest away from the music and noise, although as expected with a festival, the music is loud and could still be heard until 3-4 am from our location on the campsite.
The family camping was busy and as we were late arrivals, pitches were limited. The campsite is very well lit along the pathways and our pitch, under the lights, meant we were bathed in light all night – my advise would be to find a pitch towards the middle or back , closer to the campervan locations.
The campsite provided basic compost toilets , smaller toilets for the children , showers and water troughs and water taps. Normal port-a- loos with running water and wash sinks could be found in the back stage area ( and in the luxury camping areas) . For this reason alone the back stage pass is worth the additional money.
Dogs at Standon Calling
The festival is billed as dog friendly and it really is. There was a dedicated dog area for them to run around and dog showers / water bowls all around the festival. I lost count of the number of people who came over to talk to us and pat the dogs – we met some great people this way and the dogs enjoyed the fuss.
Food at Standon Calling
As with all festivals food is expensive. Due to the temperature and dry grass, bbq and camp stoves were banned on the campsite which meant we were a captive audience to the street food vendors. We took our own pack up breakfast for the weekend and ate at the stalls on Friday afternoon, Saturday lunch and tea and Sunday. Most meals were at least £10 plus per person and costs soon racked up. We spent at least £250 on food over the two/three days. Add to that the drinks were £8.50 for your first pint – including the re-useable glass and £6.50 thereafter , £2.50 for a small can of water (due to the heat the water taps were running tepid ) .
The choice of food was good though, and festival food has really come on leaps and bounds , it was nice to see some colour and healthy options alongside the usual hot dogs ( £10 for a hot dog in a bun!) and burger vans. The Budhas bowl was delicious and was my absolute favourite and one of the cheapest at £9 for a large bowl.
Cash Payments at Standon Calling
The whole site runs on a cashless catering system. I’m not keen on this system at all, it created some long queues to “top” up in the evening. I also don’t like having leftover money at the end of the weekend on a smart wrist band, which I lose unless I go to the hassle of applying for a refund, and pay a fee to get back my own unspent money back. From speaking to the street food vendors, they don’t like it either and I was told there were lots of complaints about this system. The fairground rides were also very expensive (£10 per person for the swings is frankly extortionate).
OVERALL OPINION of Standon Calling
We loved Standon Calling -it’s a small family friendly festival and full of fun. Looking at our fellow festival goers Standon Calling definitely seemed to appeal to families with older children (10 plus) rather than very little ones .
Festival going is not a cheap activity- weekend camping tickets for the family are in the region of £500. Add on to that the cost of car parking , food , drink , rides , backstage passes etc and you could easily be looking at close to £1000 for the long weekend for a family of 4.
To buy tickets and check out the line up for next year click here.
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.