We were invited to visit The Lanterns at Chester Zoo and were given complimentary tickets.
Last year we visited The Lanterns at Chester Zoo and we were utterly enchanted. We returned again over the weekend in the hopes that an evening surrounded by lights and magic would get us all ready to start celebrating the festive season, and that it did. It’s a really different way to see the zoo, with all the animals tucked up for the night, you get to explore a luminous magic world created for you by Wild Rumpus.
When we arrived it was raining a little; but we’d wrapped up warm against the cold and being from Manchester, a little bit of rain wasn’t going to dampen our spirits. Visitors are let through every 15 minutes, but we’d timed it perfectly, so we just walked through as a slot opened up.
We grabbed steaming cups of hot chocolate from the cafe and began exploring. We were met by a troop of illuminated zebras, who high fived us and posed for selfies, this set the tone for the evening very nicely.
The Lanterns follows a set route through Chester Zoo. It’s all lit up, so it’s impossible to get lost; and early on you get given a lantern to carry around. The smallish boy got a small metal bucket with an LED tealight in it and we got a large pyramid lantern on a stick.
There are a number of different themed areas; from the Basecamp you move to the Moonlit Meadow, to Underwater, Cloud Cuckoo Land to Tropical Dreams. Then on through the Enchanted Woodland and Northern Lights; then to the Night Sky Adventure and to Shangri La and then home in time for tea.
We made our way the the Moonlit Meadow; a wonderful snow covered spot filled with illuminated animals, from giant giraffes, graceful cheetahs, to a family of funny little penguins. All of the Chester Zoo favourites were represented there. We moved past the meadow and quickly encountered my favourite creature of all, a sea of brightly coloured jellyfish, wafting about in the breeze. We stood and watched them for a little while before moving off.
The boy loved the Tropical Dreams area best, with its brightly coloured frogs and waterfall, that was until he found the snow machine! He stayed and played under the snow machine for a good long time. He danced under the swirling foamy snowflakes, scooped up the foamy snow into balls and threw them at us, he was transfixed and it was wonderful to see.
There were a number of Christmas market style sheds in one area, all selling very temping smelling food and drink. We’d worked up an appetite, walking around the zoo, for hog roast and mulled wine were the order of the day; and very delicious they all were too.
We loved exploring The Lanterns, around every corner there was a new delight. We each had our favourites and the car journey home (and the next day or so) were filled with chatter about all the things we’d seen. The Lanterns is fast becoming a family tradition. It’s a great way for us to get in the mood for Christmas.
The Lanterns are running until December 23rd at Chester Zoo. Tickets start from £5.50 per child and £10.50 per adult.
AD/ Press Trip. We have been going to Just So since 2014 and we are huge fans of this wonderfully magical family festival. Each year is different from the last, sure there are some of the same things going on, but each year is delightfully different. Just So Festival 2019 was their 10th festival and memorable for a million reasons.
This summer has been a bit damp, we’ve had fairly extreme rain and some sunshine. I was hoping for a sunshiney weekend, but as we packed up the car on Friday morning, the heavens opened and over the next 12 hours dumped about a months worth of rain on the North West. We arrived at Rode Hall during a huge deluge and despite the best efforts of the organisers, we had to wait for about 45 minutes to get on site, which was fine.
We were camping in the Accessible Camping area and despite the rain we managed to pitch the tent and go and get our wristbands. By the time we were unpacked and settled, it was 8pm and the boy was asking to go to bed. It was still raining so decided to turn in early in the hopes that the morning would bring some sunshine.
Saturday did bring sunshine, so we put our wellies on and headed onto the site to explore. I’m not going to lie, it was very muddy, pretty slippy and quite treacherous in parts. I have limited feeling in my feet, so this made things harder for me to get about. My husband lent a steady arm and we explored as best we could. A lot of families were recreating the “squelch squerch” pages from We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, which tickled us quite a lot, maybe they need a Bear Tribe for next year?
Saturday at Just So Festival 2019 saw us enjoy a whole load of fun things; the Silent Disco, the Woodland Library, Sirin, Toast, Campfire Stories and Campfire Songs, the Woodland Playground, The Retrosettes and a wander down to the lake to watch people go for a row. We met up with some wonderful friends and had a gossip, a catch up and a play. We sat down a lot because I was finding walking on the mud a bit hard going, but it didn’t dampen our spirits too much. Squelch squerch.
Sunday arrived and the site had dried up a treat. It was still muddy, but not as slippy as it had been and I found I could get around an awful lot easier. We launched ourselves into our last day and walked around looking for all the small things which bring us Just So joy, like the Dream Antelopes, the rollerskating flamingos and Boudicca on her chariot.
We ventured down to Footlights again for lunch and a listen to Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers. Wandering through the woods past the queue to meet the Fairy Queen, up to the Spellbound Forest and around the campfire with the very incredible Professor Pumpernickel (not pumpy knickers, as he corrected us). The blue haired professor is always a highlight. His collections of whizz-banging experiments are not to be missed and the boy was rapt. He even went up to him afterwards and had a chat with him, which demonstrated a huge leap in his confidence.
He loved the Giant Marble Run and Hammer and Chisel. We didn’t make Clay Faces this time, but we can do that at home too, so it’s no hardship. We listened to Hurrah for the Pirate King and danced to the ukulele orchestra. Together, we did all kinds of brilliant things and we filled our hearts up with a enough magic and wonder to last us a while yet.
I always find it takes a day to unwind, shake off our real world stresses and properly get into the rhythm of Just So. Our evenings by the campfire, listening to stories and singing our hearts out are a highlight. We love the live music, we love dancing down the Flamingo Lounge. We love the bits of magic around every corner.
It’s such a shame that the heavens opened and cast a cloud over the festival. There were a few grumbles and I did retire early on health and safety grounds on the Saturday night, but all the staff were really helpful and did their very best to make sure the show did go on.
It would have been nice if the sun had shone a little more, but we made a whole lot of muddy memories and my son had such a brilliant time. One of the most important things about our Just So weekends are that they really make us disconnect from our busy lives and reconnect with each other. It’s not just about the magic and the wonder, it’s about slowing down, dressing up as an owl (or a fox, or a stag, or a fish) for a few days and just experience life through the eyes of my child.
I hope next year it’s drier and a lot less muddy, but no less magical. I take my hat off to everyone who worked at Just So Festival 2019 and everyone who managed to bring joy to the weekend in spite of the weather.
AD/Press Trip. One of our favourite places to visit is The Lowry and Salford Quays. There’s so much to do there, from the Imperial War Museum North, The Lowry Outlet, Blue Peter Garden and of course The Lowry itself. There’s always something fun on and it’s worth a visit just for a look around the galleries upstairs, but during the school holidays there’s even more fun on offer.
This week we were invited to visit The Lowry, have lunch at Pier Eight and watch their summer blockbuster – We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, followed by an actual bear hunt. With summer holiday boredom seriously kicking in at home, we relished the chance to have an afternoon of bear hunting at The Lowry.
We began by having lunch at Pier Eight. I’ve eaten there before in the evening and the food has always been excellent. We ordered from the new bar menu, the boy chose pasta from the kids menu, and I chose four of the small plates. There is currently a lunchtime offer where you can get four small plates and two drinks for £18, which is really good value.
I chose the soup of the day, which was celeriac, one of my favourites. I also ordered the dirty fries, topped with cheese, crispy onions and spicy mayo. There was a dish of falafel and hummus and some delicious broad bean bruschetta. It would have been a very fine lunch for two, but definitely a delicious but too big lunch for one!
After lunch we made our way to The Quays theatre for the 2pm performance of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. The boy is 8 now and I did wonder if he might be a little too old for it, but I needn’t have worried. It was an hour of brilliant fun, we were both laughing our socks off, joining in in all the right places and singing and dancing in our seats. It really is a fabulous show, packed full of memorable songs and funny moments. It’s a treat and a half, and a great way to spend an afternoon.
We’d had such a lot of fun, we decided to do The Lowry Bear Hunt, or as much of it as we could. Around The Lowry and The Lowry Outlet there are lots of big bear benches dotted about, all have a page of bear facts to read. It’s great fun and we loved trying to find them all.
Upstairs at The Lowry is The Lookout where throughout the summer you can find lots of different and free family activities. On the day we visited there were lots of colouring and craft activities on offer, so we just enjoyed hanging out and doing a bit of colouring together.
We had a brilliant afternoon at The Lowry, there was lots for the boy to do. We both absolutely loved the play and the actual bear hunt was inspired and lots of fun. If you’re stuck in the summer holiday doldrums, an afternoon down Salford Quays is a great way to perk everyone up!
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt runs at The Lowry until 1st September, for more information or to buy tickets, visit the website.
We were invited guests of The Lowry and received complimentary tickets and a meal in exchange for our review.
AD/Press Trip. In the weekend after the nail-biting Cricket World Cup, and still full of cricket fever, we took my son and his cousin to Emirates Old Trafford for the afternoon. We had been invited along to watch Lancashire Lightning’s Vitality T20 Blast match against Durham. The boys were incredibly excited about going to their first live cricket match, and I was too.
The doors opened at 1pm, but the match started at 2.30pm. There were lots of things going on outside the ground for families, they’d closed the road off outside and you could take part in all kinds of sporting challenges. The boys were keen as mustard to get inside, so we did that.
This match was billed as one of the most family orientated fixtures of the summer, with lots of activities going on around the ground for children to enjoy. It certainly was that. We’d brought a picnic with us, so we took our seats and got stuck into our sandwiches. There are plenty of places to grab a snack or a meal around the ground, but you can save a bit of money by bringing your own if you prefer. Likewise, drinks of both the hard and soft kind are readily available. It’s all very civilised, and there wasn’t a sniff of rowdiness.
We watched the teams warm up, and before long the match began. T20 is fast-paced, exciting cricket which is ideal for cricket fans who might be a bit overwhelmed by longer versions of the game. It was three hours of action, with lots of singing and dancing. The celebrations reminded me a lot of the ice hockey games we sometimes go to, but this was much, much warmer!
Very quickly the boys and I started to pick up on the rules and we really got into the swing of things. The crowd was full of families, all absolutely loving it. Going to see live sport can be an expensive business, but we were very pleasantly surprised. Tickets for children start at just £1 and adult tickets for the stand we were in were around £13. Having taken the family out to other sporting events and not got much change out of £100, this was a bit of a revelation.
The Vitality T20 Blast is three fast-paced hours of cricket fun. It’s a brilliant family day out, with loads going on too. If you’re lucky like we were, the players sometimes come out at the end to meet the fans, sign autographs and take selfies. This was the icing on the cake for the boys, and they were thrilled to meet their new heroes.
The boys and I had a brilliant afternoon; we arrived at Old Trafford complete newbies and left really wanting to come again another day, and then another day after that!
AD/Press Trip. Last year we went to the first ever Timber Festival and it really wowed us. We were keen to return again and return we did. Timber Festival is held in the National Forest at Feanedock in the Midlands, it’s a beautiful place and a great spot for a festival.
The National Forest has been growing since the early 1990s, over the last 25 years or so millions of new trees have been planted. It makes sense then, with climate change and climate emergency being high on the global agenda, that Timber is a family festival with a distinct environmental bent.
For me it was a chance to have three days of chilling out, having fun and getting back to nature. For my outdoorsy son, he was looking forward to running around with his friends, building dens and learning more about nature. As ever, before we arrived I went through the programme and circled all the things I wanted to see and do, but as usual I missed quite a lot of those things, went with the flow and still ended up having the best time ever.
If you’ve ever been to the Just So Festival, Timber is a bit like that, but with a lot more things for adults and older children to do. The layout of the festival is a little different to last year, something which I approve of. It’s a large site, which is great because you don’t feel like you’re with hoards of other people, there’s a real feeling of space.
We arrived late on Friday afternoon and pitched our tent in the accessible camping section between our two friends, Jenny at The Brick Castle and Rachel from Marvellous Mrs P. Each of us has our own physical challenges, so the accessible camping area was great for us all; and our kids get on very well together so spent much of the weekend playing beautifully, which was really nice.
After a quick meal we ambled off to wristband exchange and had our first look at the site. There’s a beautiful viewing spot at the top of a slope (which all the kids loved rolling down) and we arrived just in time for the start of a glorious sunset. We had a look around, got our bearings and a drink, had a little dance to the Woodland DJ on The Eyre Stage, and watched the sun go down. We had a plan for the next day, and nothing was going to stop us.
Except when we woke up, the glorious sunshine had turned to rain. It was pretty heavy rain too. We sat in the tent, drank coffee and surveyed our options. We waited until the rain abated, then scuttled down to Field Notes because I really wanted to see Phill Jupitus. I managed to find a spot inside the tent, so I was at least dry while the rain hammered down outside. Phill was fantastic, interviewed by Radio 4 stalwart, Geoff Bird, Phill talked us through his six favourite Wilderness Tracks and regaled us with some great stories about his life and career. An hour very well spent.
By the time Phill had left the stage, the rain had more or less dried up. I found the boys in Cardboardia and we headed over to the Shivelight area, where I had high hopes of finding some chill. Shivelight is where I found my people. It’s a quiet area, tucked away from the hubbub where you can indulge in some yoga, forest bathing, tai chi or all manner of chilled out things.
The tai chi tent was heaving, which was a bit of a shame. Instead I headed to the guided meditation tent with Rachel, and made myself extremely comfortable. I put the headphones on and while a mediation played, I drifted off to a faraway chilled out place in my head. Rachel, being the wonder that she is had booked us both in for a relaxing hand massage afterwards in the Weleda shed. It was a perfect hour and a great way to go into the afternoon.
Saturday afternoon involved lots of exploring. My son REALLY WANTED to make something in Cardboardia, it was busy and we had to book in, but that was a huge highlight for him. Cardboadia is a new area and was a huge tent where you could go and make cool things out of cardboard for the Cardboardia Parade on the Sunday, more of which later.
After a late lunch, we headed to As The Crow Flies to listen to some Forest Folk Stories from Tom the Tale Teller. While we were under the forest canopy, we explored the area a bit. It’s a great spot for kids especially, what with the Giant Marble Run, Hammer & Chisel and the Shadow Lanterns. There was also a great programme of performers including the inimitable storyteller, Ian Douglas and Professor Pumpernickel, as well as the Ukulele Chorus and a great selection of Campfire Bands and Storytellers.
As the day turned to evening we all settled around the campfire. At some point throughout the day I’d managed to eat something which disagreed with me, so I retired back to my tent for the evening and the rest of the gang partied into the night. I’m not really sure about what happened while I wasn’t there, I just know that my son came back full of happy and pretty filthy. Thank goodness for the excellent festival shower block nearby.
Sunday morning arrived and I realised the clock was ticking on our festival experience (seriously, these things always need an extra day or something), so we breakfasted and then scampered down to the festival site. We headed to the Elemental area and we were wowed by the Shimmer tree, a sound and light installation where cymbals are turned into speakers and as the wind blows through them, the tree makes a beautiful and haunting noise. I could have sat under there for hours, it was magical.
From there we explored the small but lovely Timber Maze. Ben enjoyed it so much that he wanted to do it again and again, so I left them to chase each other through the maze and found the Seams tent. The tent paid tribute to the coal seams which run underneath the Timber site. Inside you experience a multi-sensory journey inspired by the evocative names and diagrams of the geological seams beneath your feet. Through sound, light and smell you get a feel for underground life and emerge viewing the area in a new light.
From there we went over to Halcyon Days, an area tailor-made for families. There were circus skills to be tried and enjoyed as well as Maypole dancing, archery; and a whole host of other things. The area we enjoyed the most was Beginners Luck, which was a selection of huge games, like Scrabble, Guess Who, Ludo and Tiddlywinks. It was great fun and we played in there for a good hour or so.
I can’t not mention the food at the festival. Though we were on a budget and catered for ourselves quite a lot, we allowed ourselves a couple of meals and some lovely ice cream from Ginger’s Comfort. They really do make the best ice cream in the world. My lunch on Sunday was a really very excellent vegetarian momo from the Tibetan Kitchen, something I would be very happy to eat over and over again.
The range of food available was excellent, with really good vegan and vegetarian options. You could eat a different thing for every meal and never get bored. Plus Sunday was roasting and the beer tent on The Common was well stocked with ice cold cans of soft drinks which really hit the spot!
After lunch we wandered back over to the campfire for some more quality time with Ian Douglas and his stories, the boys descended on the nearby Hammer & Chisel and spent a happy hour hammering and sawing. We sat for a while, absolutely transfixed by If The trees Could Talk, a collection of fairy tales written by the LGBT+ community in South Derbyshire. It was incredibly moving and there were very few dry eyes around the campfire at the end. Beautiful stuff.
After our early afternoon chill out in the woods, we set off for the Cardboardia Parade. We didn’t really know what to expect from the parade, but the crowd was split into two rival factions, Miners and Trees. Everyone brought a cardboard weapon they’d made, and other cardboard things were handed out (it was much cooler than it sounds). Led by the brilliant Baghdaddies the parade marched through the site and up the hill where they was a bit of a mock skirmish. It was brilliant, my 8 year old loved it and was really sad when it was over. I think it was one of his highlights.
It was very very hot on the Sunday afternoon; so after the parade we retired to the shade for an ice cream and a little rest. We looked back on all the things we’d seen and done over the weekend; there was so much going on I feel like we missed most of it, but still packed in so much of the good stuff. The boy loved the As the Crow Flies area, Cardboardia and Halcyon Days. I was thrilled to see Phill Jupitus. I loved the music, the meditation, the whole chilled out vibe of the festival. Timber is just three beautiful, chilled out, educational, environmental days in the woods; and I can’t wait for next year!
Sign up to the eNews at www.timberfestival.org.uk to be the first to hear about dates and early bird release tickets for 2020.
We were invited guests of Timber Festival 2019. We were given tickets in exchange for a review, but we paid for everything else while we were there. All images and opinions are our own.
Living in Manchester and having been a semi regular visitor to Blackpool since I was in a pram, so I like to think I know the town reasonably well. We recently visited the area for a weekend of glamping, so I’ve compiled a list of some good stuff to do in the area.
The Blackpool Tower – the tower is such an iconic place to visit. I always like to race up to the top to see how far I can see. The tower is packed with attractions and things to do, you can happily spend a whole day here.
The Sandcastle Waterpark – don’t forget your trunks! The Sandcastle is a brilliant place to spend the day with the family, riding the slides and splashing about.
Blackpool Zoo – one of the best zoos in the UK, Blackpool Zoo has everything from a children’s farm, to elephants and sealions.
Blackpool Rail Trail and Walk – For keen walkers and explorers, the Rail Trail sounds excellent. The Rail Trail begins at Blackpool North station and takes you along the streets lined with local shops, down onto the Promenade and beyond. It’s a great way to explore the area and see things you might usually miss.
Blackpool Comedy Carpet – the comedy carpet is probably my favourite place to visit in Blackpool. It’s 2,200 metres square of comedy quotes from 1000 of our favourite comedians. Every time I visit I seem to find something I’d not seen before. It’s a real treat and is located in front of the Tower on the Promenade.
Blackpool Lifeboat Station – The Lifeboat Station is on the Central Promenade. It’s one of only two RNLI stations to house three inshore lifeboats – an Atlantic 85 and two D class lifeboats. There’s a visitors centre and shop and a visit to the lifeboat station is a great place to learn more about this lifesaving charity.
Blackpool Illuminations – Were you even brought up in the north if you didn’t go and see the illuminations. Bigger, brighter and better each year, the illuminations are a solid tradition.
Heritage Tram Tours – take a ride along the world famous tramway aboard a piece of moving history! It’s a fun way to see the sights aboard one of their vintage trams.
Marton Mere Nature Reserve – a short drive from the town, but a must for nature lovers, Marton Mere Nature Reserve. There’s an otter enclosure, pond dipping zone, an inspirational eco-garden and the opportunity to enjoy close-up encounters with around 100 species of international water-birds as they swim, feed and wander in wetlands custom-designed to mimic their natural homes.
Blackpool is so much more than these 15 attractions and things to do I’ve picked out. Have I missed any must see things? Please comment below to add to the list!
Over half term we went glamping for a couple of days in North Yorkshire. It was a blissful few days and we were blown away by the natural beauty of the area. We were keen to take in as much of nature’s beauty as we could, so we hopped in the car and drove to Aysgarth Falls.
Aysgarth Falls are in Leyburn, North Yorkshire and are a set of three magnificent waterfalls on the River Ure. The falls cascade over the series of broad limestone steps which are divided into three stages; Upper Force, Middle Force and Lower Force. We didn’t really know what to expect as we’d just seen them listed as a nice walk in the glamping site welcome booklet; so we laced up our walking boots, set the sat nav and drove there.
We were unsure where to park; so we drove through the village and up to a cafe and car park over the top of the falls. There is a car park which overlooks St Andrew’s Church, a Grade II listed parish church which is known for its unusually large churchyard. The church has a number of fittings that were rescued from Jervaulx Abbey at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. When we arrived there was a public event on at the church, but we were keen to see the falls so we didn’t go in.
We walked down the road to the top of the falls; the pavement really narrows off here, so if you have small children it’s worth keeping them close. Crossing the bridge over the River Ure, you can find a footpath which is you turn left takes you to the Upper Force; turn right and you find the official car park, a visitors centre and tea room, and the path to the middle and lower falls.
We took the path to the Upper Force, a couple of minutes walk and the path opens up to a beautiful sight. When it’s been raining the falls thunder with cascading water; but it had been fairly dry recently, so it lacked the promised power. It was however still very lovely. These are the only falls you can paddle in; and families were walking across the shallows in wellies or bare feet.
The Upper Force are a fine spot for a picnic too. I’d popped to a bakery in Bedale on the way, so we had a selection of sandwiches and baked goods to tuck into. Disappointingly not everyone tidies up after themselves, so there was a bit of litter about, which was a shame considering the amount of natural beauty we were surrounded by.
After our picnic, we walked up river a little. It was very peaceful and away from the paddling families there were birds and insects and peace. Plus a chance to skim stones on the glassy river and so much beauty.
We decided that we would walk down and see the middle and lower falls. We weren’t sure how long it would take, but we were in no rush. Following the footpath, we passed the visitors centre, crossed a road and entered the woodland through a gate. The walk through the woods is well signposted, with a nice path which is suitable for buggies. Wheelchair users will find accessing some areas a bit tricky though as there are some steps.
We walked down to the lower falls first, figuring we would catch the middle falls on the way back. This turned out to be a great idea. We followed the footpath down towards the bottom; there was a viewing platform where you can get great views of the lower force. Further along you can get closer to the falls, but the stone is uneven and I didn’t want to risk a fall. The boys scampered around with confidence though. To return to the path, you can either go back the way you came or climb a flight of steps. It’s quicker to climb the steps if you are able.
Returning to the path, you head back the way you came; after a few minutes walk you will find the middle force, which again is down a set of steps to the viewing platform. If you don’t want to tackle the steps, you can still get a fine view from the footpath.
There are benches and places to rest along the footpath. Once you’ve done the walk, you have earned the right to tea and cake at the tea shop at the Visitors Centre. The Visitors Centre itself is well worth a visit. There are displays and information about the geology of the falls and surrounding area; as well as information about the wildlife of the area.
The walk is a fairly easy one. My 8 year old didn’t complain and enjoyed the woodland walk and seeing Aysgarth Falls. It was fine for me too, though I was cautious walking over the stone near the falls. We all loved visiting one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the UK.
AD/ Summer is coming and festival season will very soon be upon us. We love nothing more than packing up for the weekend and heading off to a festival somewhere. Immersing ourselves in music, theatre, arts and culture of all kinds is just a brilliant way to spend a family weekend. I’ve picked out five family festivals for summer 2019.
Timber Festival – 5th, 6th and 7th July, National Forest at Feanedock
The 2018 Timber Festival was really special. There was a huge moon in the woods, amazing music, storytelling around the campfire. The boy went on adventures, climbed trees, built a den, explored and grew in so many ways. It was an experience we are very keen to repeat, so we’re going again this year.
The festival programme has just been released and it looks fantastic. There’s something for everyone, I’m especially looking forward to slipping into a hot tub in the woods, then checking out the willow maze, the woodland cinema, some of the great music and woodland crafts going on. My son will love stories by the campfire, foraging for food and just generally kicking back and enjoying some time off grid in the woods. You can read our full preview here.
Bluedot Festival – 18th – 21st July, Jodrell Bank, Cheshire
Bluedot is an awesome four-day spectacular combining music, science, cosmic culture and more beneath the Lovell Telescope. The headliners include Kraftwerk 3-D, New Order and Hot Chip, ground-breaking sets from the Grammy-nominated likes of Jon Hopkins and Tokimonsta, science and culture talks from Liz Bonnin, Helen Pankhurst, Jim Al-Khalili and Tom Shakespeare, and much more. As well as top-notch music, there are all kinds of brilliant family things to do. You can find the full line up here.
Deer Shed Festival, 26th, 27th & 28th July, North Yorkshire
I know several people who go to Deer Shed every year and absolutely rave about it. Deer Shed is three days of family friendly music, comedy, sports, arts and science in North Yorkshire. It’s almost sold out for this year, but you can find more information here, and maybe bag the last remaining tickets!
Just So Festival – 16th, 17th & 18th August, Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire
We’ve been Just So enthusiasts for as long as we can remember and this year sees the Wild Rumpus team celebrate their 10th Just So Festival. Just So is an incredibly special place, it’s a really laid back, brilliant family festival, with so much going on for all ages.
There’s always too much going on to cram into three days, but there are a few completely unmissable things, such as; Hope and Social, Bushcraft in the Spellbound Forest, The Moth Hotel, Circus Skills, Family Yoga, the Rowing Boats, Bollywood Dancing, David Gibb, Ghost Caribou, Bubble Hour, Midnight Feast, Ministry of Games and the biggest ever game of Pass the Parcel! You can read our full preview here.
Lakes Alive – 6th – 8th September, Kendal
Lakes Alive is a free annual festival centered around Kendal in the Lake District. We went along for the day last year and we were astounded at the amount of free events available during the festival. This year’s Lakes Alive promises to be a weekend of amazing installations, vibrant illuminations, intimate performances and digital delights. If you’re in the area, do make a point of going along. You can read our review of last year’s festival here.
What family festivals will you be going to this summer? I’d love to hear where you’re off to, please do comment below!
Disclosure: I have included some festivals we will be going to where we have been given complimentary tickets in exchange for a review.
Despite the name, The Castle isn’t actually a castle, but a fine building located close to the beach in Bude, Cornwall. It’s more of a heritage centre than anything else; but one worth visiting if you’re interested in the history of the area.
The Castle was built by and was the home of noted Cornishman, Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, who was a pioneering engineer and inventor; surgeon, chemist, lecturer, consultant, architect and builder in the Victorian era. In 1830 he set about building a new house in the sand hills of Summerleaze Beach. The house was built on an innovative concrete raft foundation; making it the first building of its kind in the UK. The house still stands today, though it has been extended and converted into the art gallery and heritage centre.
The Castle is free to enter and contains displays and information about Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, shipwrecks and the history of lifesaving in the area. Battles and the English Civil War, the Bude Canal and Railway and the geology of the area. There is a really interesting display bout the second world war too. I really like that the building is packed full of history, right up to the present day. There’s a lot packed in and it’s a fine way to spend an hour or two.
Downstairs there is a large room dedicated to the history of Bude. I especially liked the display which showed how long it takes for litter and plastics to biodegrade. There are also examples of the geology of North Cornwall and my favourite bit, a selection of artefacts from boats which were wrecked in Bude. There’s also a fascinating display about the life of Archie Jewell who was a local boy who worked as a look-out on the Titanic.
Upstairs is the Cafe Limelight; a lovely cafe with panoramic views from its conservatory towards Bude Canal, the harbour and Summerleaze beach. There’s also a good gift shop and two galleries which host an ever-changing exhibition programme showcasing the talents of local artists and craftspeople.
It’s a fine place to stop off for a while if you’re visiting Bude. I like to pop in each time I’m in the area for a look around and a cup of coffee in the cafe. It’s obviously a popular hub for local people and the galleries are always worth visiting.
It’s not a castle, so don’t visit with expectations of medieval stonework and tales of kings and queens. What you will find is a good heritage centre full of interesting pieces of local history; a great cafe and a real hub for local artists.
The Castle, Bude is open daily between 10am – 5pm and it’s free to visit. It’s located at The Wharf, Bude, EX23 8LG. For more information, visit their website.
AD/ Last year the first ever Timber Festival was held in the beautiful and unique surroundings of the National Forest at Feanedock. It was three days of music, arts, creativity and philosophy in the woods. Timber Festival 2019 is returning this year on 5th, 6th and 7th July, and we are excited to be going along for the ride!
Timber is located at Feanedock, a 70 acre woodland site in the Midlands. The woodland has been transformed from a former coalfield to be part of the first forest to be created in England for over 1,000 years. It’s a truly unique site and it’s growing by the day.
The 2018 Timber Festival was really special; there was a huge moon in the woods, amazing music, storytelling around the campfire; the boy went on adventures, climbed trees, built a den, explored and grew in so many ways. It was an experience we are very keen to repeat, so we’re going again this year.
The festival is divided into eight distinct areas; The Eyrie Stage, Field Notes, As the Crow Flies, Elemental, Halcyon Days, Shivelight, The Canopy and The Common. Each area has its own thing going on, so for example, the Eyrie Stage is dedicated to the best in spoken word and live music and in Halcyon Days you’ll find all kinds of circus skills and woodland games.
If you’re planning on going to Timber as a family with children, then your plan for the weekend will probably be very different to an adult group. Last year there were a number of really memorable things which we all loved; I’m pleased to see a lot of them back again this year.
Unmissable things to do at Timber Festival 2019!
Bushcraft Survival – Discover your inner Bear Grylls in these handy workshops!
Visit the Perfectly Edible Binner Table for ‘Binner’. They will be cooking up a vibrant 2-Course Dinner made entirely out of food that would otherwise have been sent to landfill.
Foraging for Modern Humans will show you how to do it safely and ethically and explores why she believes that foraging is still important for 21st century living.
Visit Shivelight and relax with some Laughter Yoga;Tai Chi; Reiki or Forest Bathing; or just chill out with a book in the Woodland Library.
Shimmer in the Elemental area is an immersive diffusion system includes a 12-channel sound experience that uses copper-alloy cymbals as speakers to control the intensity of light to manipulate pattern and shapes.
Families would enjoy the Willow Maze and the Woodland Cinema, both in the Elemental area.
Inside the As the Crow Flies area, you’ll find storytelling legend, Ian Douglas perched around the campfire telling his tall tales. For a bit of mad science, Dieter Wadeson is hilarious and dangerous in equal measure. If you are around the campfire as the night draws in, get your toes tapping to the Campfire Bands.
Visit the Moth Hotel have a go one the Giant Marble Run. There are also Slacklines to balance on, trees to climb and the ever popular Hammer & Chisel area, where kids can get building.
The Eyrie Stage was a bit of a hidden gem last year. Tucked away in the woodland, this stage was really popular with an eclectic mix of music and artists. This year you can enjoy BBC Radio 3’s Elizabeth Alker curating the Saturday programme; The Coal Tits; The Screeching Bluejays; Woodland DJs;MUHA and The Roots Community Choir.
In Field Notes, you’ll find the best of nature writing, storytelling and cutting edge ideas; from Stuart Maconie talking about writing his book, The Long Road from Jarrow; Gwenno who is Single-handedly raising the profile of the Cornish language and music from Another Sky, Otto & The Mutapa Calling and Cut A Shine.
There are a million more things to see and do at Timber Festival; and new acts are being added all the time. To see the full line up and for more information about Timber Festival, visit the website.
Timber Festival 2019 will take place on 5/6/7 July 2019; at Feanedock, near Ashby de la Zouch, in the National Forest.
Disclosure: We been offered tickets to the Timber Festival 2019 in exchange for a preview and an honest review.