Victorious Festival, Portsmouth – Is it a Family Friendly Fesitival?
What is there for families at Victorious?
We are lucky enough to have done a few family-friendly festivals and have always really enjoyed taking the children so they can experience the sights , sounds, atmosphere and diversity of a festival before they go crazy on their own! We have also found that more and more festivals are catering towards the family market, offering kid zones and family camping areas.
With Elbow, Rita Ora, Stereophonics, Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, and Disney Princesses, the lineup at Victorious looked particularly impressive and was enough to tempt us into the car for a 5-hour journey to Southsea over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
We normally always camp at a family festival, as the kids love this element of the weekend. Unfortunately, there is no on-site camping at Victorious and whilst there are various options suggested on the Victorious website we opted for the off-site family camping at Farlington Playing fields as it included free shuttle buses to the festival ( camping for the weekend Friday- Monday circa £120). Other options included accommodation within Portsmouth university, holiday lets and nearby campsites.
It is a shame that there is no camping at the festival as it does add to the experience and we did miss the convenience of just being able to wander back to the tent for jumpers/ sunscreen as the British weather determines and just for a little “time out” from it all.
We arrived at the campsite late afternoon on Friday, the information on the website and directions got us there with no issues and after the usual numerous trips to the car to unload we were all set up by teatime.
The campsite had a couple of stalls offering food (all day breakfast, a coffee station and healthy eating van with soups, baked potatoes and shakes). We had however brought our own cooking equipment and whilst there was a designated bbq and cooking area with nearby seating, we as the majority of campers did cook by the tent. The staff on site were helpful and friendly and the facilities basic as expected on any campsite.
We didn’t go into the festival on Friday as last entry was 8pm and the shuttle bus takes about 15-20 mins so we just didn’t have time once we had set up camp and eaten. (We only found about the last entry time by word of mouth ) Again this was a bit of a shame, if the camping had been on site, we would have definitely had a stroll into the festival and watched Madness! It did, however, allow us to have a relatively early night ready for the Saturday morning.
Saturday morning we packed day bags and set off early for the bus, which was a couple of minutes walk from the campsite. The busses came regularly and we never had to wait more than 5mins the entire weekend. 5 mins at the other end and we were in a premium enclosure by 10am just as the site was starting to come alive.
For those interested in going to Victorious, I would really really recommend you upgrade your tickets to include the premium area. Without the convenience of on-site camping, this area provided a welcome area of relaxation and chill out from the crowds, noise and bustle which comes with such a massive festival. This was our sanctum, offering a lovely shaded seating area, hammocks and first class toilet facilities. Seriously I would pay the extra just to use these toilets. We always headed to this area first. The kids loved it and were happy to spend time waiting for face painting, making beautiful real flower garlands, watching the entertainers who were happy to come over and do tricks and make balloon models for the kids. All free. There was always a queue for the face painting, with every child, woman and man ( yes the men embraced the face painting) in the queue but it was well worth the wait. Their creations were just amazing, truly beautiful, they were free and we were always complimented on them once we left the premium area. Outside the premium area face painting stalls were there in abundance ( and would cost somewhere between £5-£10), but I didn’t see any as fabulous as the free ones in premium.
Once the kids had had their face painted, made garlands, played ping pong and table football and clutching onto their balloon animals, we headed out of this sanctum into the festival. This site is massive. Just massive. We spent hours wandering around, enjoying the atmosphere, listening to different bands as we came across them, going into the various stalls, visiting the kid’s areas and I don’t think we touched half of it!
I can’t really describe it as having a festival vibe, yes there was lots of hair braids, shorts and face glitter, but there wasn’t the alternative sights and smells you would normally see at a music festival. It was to me a massive county carnival with the benefit of good live music. Don’t get me wrong it is a brilliant experience but the crowd was totally family from babies to grandmas, as opposed to the well-travelled hippie or seasoned festival hipster.
We spent, as expected a lot of time in the kid’s area, where there were performances from Disney princesses, appearances by Paw Patrol characters, creative tents, free bouncy castles, funfair rides and so much more. Although we spent hours here, looking back at their website and what was on offer there was so much more we could have done. There is always the temptation to think we should have done this or that, but in reality, the kids dictated where we went and what they wanted to do and they had the most wonderful time in this area.
I am not sure how big this site is or how many people came over the weekend ( I heard someone say 120,000 people just to put the size into perspective) but it is full on fun! As with anything like this, you can haemorrhage money as soon as you walk onto the site ( unless you have the take advantage of some of the premium freebies). There is face painting, hair braiding, garlands, food stalls galore, ice creams, slushies (£7 for a large pineapple cup!!) …. In fact, all the food costs about £7/8 so times that by 4 and you are spending £30 for lunch, stay for tea and it gets v expensive over a weekend. For this reason, despite being off-site, we still decided to take a break around tea time, make our own food back at the campsite and then head back in to watch the evening entertainment. It gave the kids that little break to re-charge and saved us a lot of money!
The crowds in the evening were just incredible, the atmosphere was friendly and electric! We loved being part of such a big crowd, with kids on shoulders bopping around to Olly Murs and other big names!
Starting at 10am though it is a full on day, even with the couple of hours break back at camp, we never managed to make it to the end of the day ( the little one falling asleep both nights before 10pm and being carried back to the shuttle bus) .. after we had used the “nice” toilets in the premium area to clean up for the evening!
As we were generally on the shuttle bus by around 10pm we experienced no problems getting back to the campsite, I hear it was a very different story though for those that stayed to the end. The logistics of all those people leaving site at the same time was always going to a nightmare, and although there was a sufficient supply of shuttle buses to take people back to the park and ride and campsite, the buses couldn’t move in the traffic and what was normally a 30minute return journey for the buses was apparently taking 1 hr 30. It’s such a shame that there isn’t any onsite camping! The benefit of course of off-site camping is that the campsite was very quiet(!) and even when the crowds returned we heard nothing!
Monday morning came and we packed up two very dirty and tired children, who had thoroughly enjoyed an amazing weekend at Victorious.
I myself have very conflicting views, it was amazing, the size utterly overwhelming, it was probably one of the best family weekends I have ever had and I am in awe at how well organised and safe it all felt ,but did I feel like I was at a festival – no, and did I miss the vibes and on-site camping- yes. Was it an overall Victory though?- Definite YES!! Loved it!
*Liz and her family were invited to review but all views and opinions are their own*