The question I was asking myself on repeat last week was; Can I take my three kids to a festival by myself and enjoy it? For context, I have three children; 13, 10 and four. Two girls and a boy, all very different with different needs and one of them has ADHD. It is a challenge and a half at the best of times keeping them all entertained, so would I be able to give them a good time?
Yorkshire Balloon Fiesta is happening as I type (day 2) at its brand new home Castle Howard in North Yorkshire. The four-day festival describes itself as the ultimate of music, family entertainment and hot air balloons and as a parent of a teen and a pre-schooler (with another one in the middle) this sounded perfect. So off we went!
We arrived at midday and there was plenty of parking, close to the entrance. This was really handy later on in the day when we needed to go back to the car to warm up, sit down for a bit and grab some warm clothes.
We made our way around fair rides – which I am not a fan of because they are expensive (most rides were £4 per person and the big wheel was £24 for a family) and designed to pull kids in – which totally happened for us. I kept reminding my children that we weren’t there for a fun-fair, we were there to see music and balloons, or “hot balloons” as my son calls them. But the rides were decent and a good mix for all ages. I went on two horrific ones with my eldest and shouted “sh*t sh*t oh my godddd sh*t” the entire ride, both times. I came off one of them and was dizzy for ages – I am sure I am getting dizzier the older I get – just me?!
Worth noting that all the fair vendors took card payments which was magic because I machine washed my bank card the week before and can’t use it because it is now shaped like a half-pipe!
After the fair rides, we tried out Raver Tots. A huge tent blue and yellow tent full of cool decorations. Smoke bubbles, confetti and huge balloons were launched into the crowd and at one point a parachute was passed across for the adults to hold so the kids could dance beneath it. I loved everything about this tent, and so did my offspring. As someone who loves dancing, it fills my heart with love and joy to see my brood having so much fun. Parents and children dancing together is really quite beautiful and Raver Tots have created that magic brilliantly.
As with most festivals, the food vendors were pricey and the quality was a bit, you know. I paid £4 for a flat white coffee and it was bad. Think tasteless swimming pool vending machine coffee. We bought chips (£5 a small tray) and some “candy fluff” (£3.50 a bag) and the rest of the food we ate was stuff I had bought on the way from a supermarket. We went to the festival after 3-days in Scarborough and so a proper packed lunch and good thoughtful supplies hadn’t been part of my prep. Next time I will take a ton of proper food (not just twiglets and cake), my own coffee and I think we’ll skip the food and drink stalls entirely.
On the main stage we watched some of the Blue set, a little bit of Beth McCarthy and Toploader and ALL OF THE ELLA HENDERSON SET which my eldest daughter loved. My girls were on the second row taking it all in (standing in mud) and I looked on proudly from the side holding a very tired boy, which isn’t easy when you’re feeling cold in a sequin mini skirt and mud-covered sandals. Ella was great and after an hour of tracks she ended on her biggy; Ghost. The sound was very good, we could all see the stage and there was plenty of space. It was a bit muddy due to a huge downpour in the middle of the day which we weren’t really prepared for, but we all got on with it and no-one moaned – which was surprising.
The “hot balloon” launch was the most impressive bit. At around 7pm the balloons took to the sky one at a time and they returned for the end of the Ella gig, glowing up and bobbing around next to the crowds. It was very cool. I don’t think I will forget the look on my children’s faces when they first started going up.
At the start of this blog I shared that I had been asking myself whether I could take my kids to a festival and enjoy and it won’t be a surprise to you that the answer is YES. I did enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, we had some moments where I shouted because I did’t want to hear any more moaning and a couple of times I drifted off into a daydream where I was sipping something refreshing in the sun,kid-free – but we did it! I took 3-kids to a festival on my own and we had fun and tried out pretty much all of it. We didn’t do the roller rink, the stunt shows or the Parent Folk area, but we mooched around, danced and hung out together all day.
Would I recommend the fiesta? YES! Go! There is still Sunday 27th August and Monday 28th August to go and adult day tickets are £35, teens £30 and child £20. Book tickets.
My top tips for enjoying a day festival with kids:
- Pack for all weathers (have plenty of extra warm clothes in the car + rain coats + wellies)
- Take drinks and decent food in a cool bag and wine gums! (these were good incentives for my kids)
- Take a proper picnic mat (waterproof base)
- Eat a proper breakfast/lunch before you go (wish we had done this)
- Upgrade to VIP if you can afford it (£30 per person at Yorkshire Balloon Fiesta) for great loos and covered area to shelter from the rain
- Do the rides / big wheel at night-time
- Take loads of glow sticks
- Take antibac hand wipes, hand gel and baby wipes
- Take a football
- Dance/rave in front of your kids and tell them you love them!
One final pic – look what we saw from the car when we were having our recharge hour:
I am hoping to go back to the Yorkshire Balloon Fiesta on Summer bank holiday; 28th August. If I do, will I see you there?
Lucy aka Geriatric Mum
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My tickets were a PR gift (thaaaank youuuuuu Lauren at Intandem) and this post is my personal review of the day. Not an ad.