At risk of sounding like a massive cliché, its amazing what can change in a year. Returning to the wonderland that is Beautiful Days at Escot was a huge personal reminder of that. In 2015 I went to Beautiful Days as a single mum with my son Brody. This year I returned 8 months pregnant with my partner Simon, four year old Brody and Simon’ s twelve year old son Dave, I work fast huh! With my new family situation in mind I knew for me this years festival would be a very different experience compared to last years and I couldn’t wait to see what magic the festival had in store for us, or to share the enjoyment of Simon and Dave’s first festival with them.
The festival is a wonderfully non commercial affair. They don’t advertise or bother with sponsors, yet manage to sell out their 15000 daily capacity each year which is no mean feat when you compare them to their heavily promoted counterparts and only serves as testament to their reputation as a fantastic festival experience for all and helps keep the laid back non corporate festival vibe, which many other festivals lost long ago.
The site opens on the Thursday and is easily found due to clear signposting. Work commitments meant we were unable to arrive until Friday but we still easily found a nice camping spot despite the festival site being very busy. As someone who has for many years wimped out on festival camping and instead opted for the luxuries offered by nearby hotels, I was both excited and nervous at the prospect of sleeping in a tent, especially at 8 months pregnant. Thanks to a fair bit of planning and some kind friends we were well equipped with a two bedroom tent, another tent for storing items in, airbeds and other camping accessories which helped make for a more comfortable stay. The only thing we were missing was instructions for the tent but after a couple of hours, a handful of muttered swear words and the help of a kind neighbouring camper, the boys had set up camp Nice Mums and I think it looked rather smart!
Once set up we ventured to the festival ground. Being pregnant I was pleased to see that again this year the site had a plentiful supply of toilets resulting in short queues (or sometimes no queue at all). Toilets are always well maintained and at no point on my numerous visits did I encounter one without toilet roll or which seemed especially dirty. Its amazing how pregnancy makes you grateful for these luxuries!
The food at festivals is always a highlight for me, and being vegan I found myself spoilt for choice by the numerous catering vans and indulged in foods such as tofu burgers, fry ups, flapjacks and thai curries. The choice of foods is vast and vans and sit down cafes can be found in all areas of the site so you’ll never go hungry.
The festival line up featured some big names such as Leftfield, James, The Levellers, Reef, Terrorvision, The Proclaimers, The Coral and Maraichi El Bronx to name a few but as we were there with the kids we knew we’d miss the bigger names due to them being on too late at night, but instead we enjoyed watching bands that were new to us during the days with Ezra Furman and UK Feds proving to be favourites of the weekend.
The great thing about Beautiful Days is the perfect balance they achieve of adult and family fun. You could have just as good a time here on a boozy grown up hen do as you could a family weekend like ours, there is no shortage of entertainment for all. The childrens area is a wonderful source of happiness and entertainment for all ages, with a selection of fair rides and games including a big wheel which our children took a particular liking to, riding on it a total of 4 times, and helter skelter. Walk around entertainment is ongoing throughout the day and Brody took great pleasure in meeting a selection of aliens, talking trees, stilt walking pirates that were chasing a stilt walking mermaid who has stolen their treasure- Brody delighted in helping them catch her and being told he was part of their crew, and a camel offering free rides which Brody loved.
We spent a number of hours over the weekend sat in our camping chairs (a must for pregnant campers!) in the childrens area just watching the comings and goings and watching the kids enjoy everything that was laid on for them. A happy child always results in a happy parent and relaxing in my camping chair with a soya latte I was most definitely that. Its lovely to see so many families relaxing and enjoying themselves in such a lovely setting. Beautiful Days seems to attract a certain kind of festival goer, relaxed and happy just like the festival atmosphere, mums came up and congratulated me on my well formed bump, and a dad rushed to Brodys aid when he got a little stuck on the helter skelter. Despite being strangers there’s a feeling of togetherness that so many festivals have lost, and that makes you feel that you and your kids are safe. Security personnel are minimal, unimposing and friendly which again reinforces that feeling of safety. Childrens wristbands have a space to write your contact number and the lost children tent is easily found so should your little one do a disappearing act in the excitement of the festival, its likely they wouldn’t be gone for long. And the police, well they seemed to be just there to join in the fun!
The weekend provided a wonderful family experience and was a perfect introduction to festivals for Simon and Dave, although maybe the bar has been set too high now that any other festival will disappoint them, but that can only be a good thing on Beautiful Days part. With comfortable camping and entertainment for all, Beautiful Days remains a favourite family friendly festival and we recommend all ages should try it, you will love it.
Thank s for having us Beautiful Days, we look forward to seeing you again next year!
Tickets for next years Beautiful Days are expected to go on sale next year with the festival being on 18-20th August 2017.