This weekend was a bit of a first for us. I’ve been to plenty of concerts in the past but never made it to a festival. Going to one has been on my To Do list for a long time but it was only when a friend suggested we go to Beautiful Days with them that I got beyond just thinking about it. Unsurprisingly it was also Abi’s first festival, although definitely not her first experience of camping and mud!
Beautiful Days festival takes place each year at Escot Park, near Ottery St Mary in Devon. If you haven’t heard of it before it may be because this festival doesn’t DO sponsorship, branding or advertising. It does though pride itself on being family friendly, and was one of the Best Family Festivals 2013 according to the Guardian. Looking at their website when we were planning on booking there were a huge number of acts on 6 stages, plus kids entertainment. While it’s as good as on out doorstep they only offer weekend tickets including camping so it turned into a little holiday for us.
We rolled up, car stuffed to the gunwales, on Thursday afternoon not long after the gates had opened. Once we had pitched the tent we took a wander around the site and found lots of quirky stalls selling all manner of items, and a wide range of food on offer at what were surprisingly reasonable prices. My top spend of the weekend was £10 on beautiful grey embellished sari, a gorgeous piece of embroidered fabric, a scarf and 3 little tops (perfect for Abi and my nieces for dressing up) After spending ages trying to tear madam away from a spinner on a telescopic pole we gave in and bought her one, which looked great against the perfect blue sky (and a bit sad when the rain set in)
The music started at lunchtime on Friday, running through until Sunday night, culminating in a fireworks display at the end of the final set by The Levellers (they start and finish it, as it is “their” festival.) Having spent a lot of time at airshows, with her hearing loss in mind, we already knew Abi wasn’t fazed by loud noise, but we were impressed by how much she loved the whole experience. It was sensory stimulation city! She was thrilled by the lights and wanted to be right at the front by the stage when she could. She was dancing away, waving her arms around and clapping at the right times. There was a strong feeling of it being a family event and there were plenty of little ones being pulled around in wagons which doubled up as beds when they nodded off during the evening, a great environment really. Sunday has a theme, this year was Animals, and plenty of people, adults and kids grabbed the excuse to dress up. I think we’ll probably go again next year, and if we do I’ll make an effort to join in the dressing up fun next time.
There was plenty to entertain kids, from circus skills to drumming to arts and crafts. We spent a lot of time watching, and joining in with, the drumming, and came away with a peg dolly, a dream catcher and a decorated memory book we had created. There were also kids entertainers and Punch and Judy shows which were well attended every time we walked past the tent. The smattering of fairground rides also went down well, as we had a go on the helter-skelter and big wheel, and Abi went on a lovely hand operated carousel. A lot of the entertainment was good old fashioned fun, although the betweenagers tent was a bit more modern, what with the lure of free phone charging.
I think madam’s favourite performance was Treacherous Orchestra, and in all fairness they were amazing. They play high energy Scottish folk music, and project a very modern (maybe futuristic is better word) and slightly dark image. I used to absolutely love Dodgy, so it was fantastic to see them live. They have been in the business for years, then on the other end of the spectrum I was delighted to see relative newbies Hudson Taylor (we saw them in Hyde Park last month) on the main stage. Hubby was downloading their songs as soon as we got in – while I was attending to the mountain of washing. Him indoors was particularly impressed by Sinead O’Connor. There were so many brilliant acts it would be impossible to mention them all, but it’s safe to say they covered a wide range of genres, including pop, ska and folk.
It wouldn’t be right to go to an event in the UK during the summer and not get some mud, so the rain on Saturday morning was enough to supply a bit of swamp effect without dampening spirits. Otherwise the weather was really good, and once again I have developed a really unattractive wellie tan on my legs (white with a band of brown just above and below the knees then white again above that)
Beautiful Days is a fab event and we’re already discussing when tickets go on sale for next year, so that probably tells you something. I don’t think we could have asked for much better, and now we’ve realised Abi will fall asleep in her buggy mid-performance and sleep happily we’ll be a bit more free to stay out and enjoy the evenings in full next year. Roll on 2014!