Big Family Festival 2016

Big Family Festival Review

Two days of family fun in the Midlands took place on Saturday 30th – Sunday 31st July 2016.

BBC’s The Voice Finalist Lyrickal, CBeebies Rastamouse and Cook and Line performed at the first Big Family Festival in the UK.

A married couple and their two children have finally decided to tackle the problem of not having much to do in the summer holidays, fed up of trawling the internet for ideas for six weeks only to be left disappointed. They decided to create an event themselves, with the help of their two daughters of course.

Angela and George from Sutton Coldfield have been running significant dance events for the last 15 years and realised there was a genuine gap in the market for an event that was indeed suitable for all the family.

We wanted to create something that encompasses all aspects of children’s entertainment in a festival setting. A festival that has its main focus as children and entertaining them. Something that people didn’t have to endure a 3-5hr motorway journey southbound to find, something that hopefully may tempt those further south to travel up a motorway themselves” Angela Hopton

Child-focused, content-led family festival has been born here in the West Midlands. The Big Family Festival proudly sponsored by Johnsons Volkswagen took place at Dunton Hall, Curdworth, just off junction 9 of the M42 on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July 2016. With camping and day tickets available and entertainment from 11am-11pm both days, it was suitable for all ages, and there was something for everyone.

“We really wanted the event to give the whole family a festival experience. The true ethos of the festival is locally supplied business including farmers markets and award winning food vendors local talent  also regional  breweries and keeping an eye on our carbon footprint as we go. We want everyone to benefit from this event being hosted here. We are overwhelmed by the response so far and have managed to secure Johnsons Volkswagen as our mainline sponsor”  George Kafetzis

With magicians, clowns,  drama and singing workshops held by BBCs Dragons den’s Razzamataz , Dance workshops by Britain’s got talent finalist Tin Man, book readings , circus skills, Dragons den’s sublime science shows, an outdoor cinema showing Disney classics, a solar-powered arena housing family-friendly live comedy acts, a main stage with local bands and tribute acts, a farmers market, craft workshops, a beer festival, traditional fairground attractions, bars and the most excellent street food vendors and traders hand picked tried and tested, all aspects of the festival have been chosen with the family in mind.

So Copse magazine sent off one of our most excellent reporters to check out the festival and report back. Enter Fiona and family:

First things first. I don’t do festivals. I do music and dancing and drinking (occasionally, ahem….) but I don’t do skanky portaloos and camping, and I certainly don’t do it with my 4 and 1-year-olds in tow. Or, do I?

As we piled into the car, Big Family Festival bound, alcohol gel and wipes at the ready, and half of M&S in a cool bag, I was open-minded, even mildly excited about the two days ahead! Not that we were going to be camping. We chickened out of that for our first experience; there’s always next year!

On arrival, there was a rather massive queue to convert iPhone tickets to wristbands which involved Grandad keeping the little monsters (who’d already spied the ice cream van and bouncy castle) entertained. Thank goodness for Grandads!

Wristbands intact we entered the BFF world of inflatables and big screens and STAGES! My 4-year-old daughter was so excited that she was straight up there on stage with the compère belting out Let It Go with gusto (I don’t know where she gets it from. At least I’m reasonably sure there’s no video evidence of my karaoke attempts.)

The Big Family Festival was small enough that it didn’t overwhelm the kids but big enough to provide choice. A few operational teething problems around litter bins and queues were rectified and forgotten quickly. The portaloos were plentiful and were cleaned and replenished regularly (a must at a family festival), and the car park was close enough that you could dump unnecessary stuff in the car but still have easy access to it. This proximity stood the campers with small kids in good stead.

While most families appeared to have brought their picnics, there was an excellent choice of food options, and we didn’t have to wait to be served at the bar for long at all. The festival organisers had decided to go cashless, so after exchanging cash for tokens, we decided it was an optimum time to test out the exchange rate: Bottle of Prosecco, five tokens – yes, please! I do hope they don’t charge for lanyards on top of the ticket price again next year though as that had folks up in arms and rightly so I think.

Highlights included Rastamouse and Cook and Line (obvs). Twist and Pulse (from Britain’s Got Talent) and Lyrical (The Voice) were also more entertaining than I initially gave them credit for and my daughter and I were in the mosh pit (average age 6) for the Jessie J and Katy Perry tribute.

We had an enjoyable couple of days and the kids loved it. Even the comedy tent where said daughter was full on belly laughing at the stand-up comedian (who knew). Is the Big Family Festival North-of-the-Watford-Gap’s answer to Bestival? Not yet, but if the organisers learn from the hiccups this year and it gets even greater local support, I think it will be headed in the right direction and should be a huge success and an important date on the family calendar. And who knows, we might even have a stab at camping next year (they do supply plugs for your straighteners, right?!)

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James Cole

James Cole is the Group Editor for Sailfin Magazines and oversees our titles and content creation. He's literally the person who dots our 'i's and crosses our 't's across our Home and Garden Magazine section, our Family and Parenting Magazine, our Life & Wellbeing Magazine, Our Travel and Tourism Magazine, and our Business and Work sections.