After a mispent youth of attending a lot of festivals as a ‘plus one’, Victorious was my very first festival as a Mum. Going into it I was a bit nervous because toddlers are basically like tiny drunk people with a death wish… and that’s just at home in a safe environment, far far away from all the potential dangers of being in a big field with lots and lots of actual drunk people. My daughter is almost two and has the energy levels of a Duracell battery and the logic/reason of a Trump supporter. I knew from the start she would be a handful and started to doubt whether it would be wise going to something this big without my partner to also keep watch… so to try and compensate I packed two pairs of reigns. Unfortunately I forgot to pack enough spare clothes or nappies, so when my little girl wet herself in the car on the way down I was already starting to panic.
We travelled to Victorious with my 8-months-pregnant friend Steffi and her 4-year-old son, who had both been to a local festival the week before. That to me made them seasoned veterans. As I stepped foot on my first festival as a normal, I suddenly realised that I had no idea how to actually DO a festival. Like, at all. My previous (pre-children) plan of getting as wasted as possible on smuggled booze wasn’t exactly child friendly, and I couldn’t remember doing much apart from that back in the day so I was totally stumped. Where do you go?! Where do you start?! Thankfully Victorius had us covered as there was absolutely loads to do, plus it was all flat and pushchair friendly. Victorious is a day festival (no camping) based within a park just on the Portsmouth coast so it was very easy to get around.
In an age when rogue quantities like EasyJet try to be trendy and claim they are family-friendly (from experience - they’re not) Victorious festival actually was very family-friendly. As soon as we arrived our children were issued with wrist bands with our phone numbers on in case they got lost and there were lost/found tents throughout the site. The children’s area was massive! Easily a third of the size of the entire festival and there were plenty of activities for children to partake in from fairgrounds to painting, crafting, magic shows and Gruffalo mascots. My daughter was a bit too young for a lot of the activities (not that it stopped her attempting the giant soft play areas), but it was nice for us to be somewhere with so many families and children and during the day there was a really nice atmosphere. I probably spent the majority of the festival just chasing my daughter around as she ran everywhere. With the kids getting tired around 6pm we didn’t catch any of the bands, I think the Levellers started just as we were leaving, but to be honest that wasn’t really why we were there. With our days of band chasing long gone, it was all about the kids facilities for us!
The best best best thing about the festival (for me) was the baby change tent with free nappies and wipes as it was a total lifesaver. I’d stupidly only packed four nappies for the whole day, and my daughter went through three just on the journey there, so having a change station like that was a brilliant idea and saved me a lot of hassle.
The worst thing was probably the journey as on the way there we got caught in traffic for nearly 5 hours and didn’t arrive at the festival until about 1pm. I think if we were to do it again we would stay somewhere the night before so we could experience the festival more fully, as Portsmouth is further away from Torquay than we thought! Going there and back in one day was quite hard on the children, even though they did really enjoy themselves.
So it turns out, to sucessfully festival as a parent you need to do A LOT of planning. Here are my 5 tips to make festivals that little bit easier:
1. Pack about 5 changes of clothes per day, it sounds ridiculous but they are going to need them as you don’t know when your little darlings might shit themselves (or worse)
2. Sunscreen is a must, even if it’s cloudy. Child’s Farm do a really good one.
3. If you are driving far like we did, pack pyjamas for the journey home so you can pop them straight into bed when you get back (please note: I did not do this but if I had been more prepared it would have been the best idea ever)
4. Sticker books and wipe clean drawing boards will help keep the kids entertained on the journey.
5. Take as many responsible adults with you as you possibly can to spread the child-chasing load.