I consider myself a bit a festival addict. Any opportunity to loiter in a field, usually whilst being rained on, to listen to music and drink cider has always had an odd appeal. It was with some melancholy that I hung up my festival hat as, despite festivals becoming more and more family friendly, since having children I just didn’t have the energy to attempt it with kids in tow. So I’m sure you can imagine my rapture at receiving an invite to Lollibop, a festival designed to introduce your little ones to the festival experience, where the cider becomes apple juice and rock stars are the cast of Cbeebies.
Cited as 'the UK’s biggest ever festival for kids. It’s designed to delight mini festival goers, providing the best summers day out for under 10s and their families. LolliBop is the perfect place to introduce your little ones to all the thrills of a festival vibe but without the hassle of long car journeys and camping’ according to the website. On previous years at has taken place at London’s Hyde Park and the Olympic Park, however this year the venue was Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.
We attended Lollibop on Friday 15th August and arrived early to ensure we didn't miss Swashbuckle’s Cook and Line, on at the Lollapalladium (where most of the Cbeebies acts were playing) at 10.10am. Unfortunately we showed a member of staff directing traffic into the car park, our ‘guest parking’ pass who insisted that we had taken a wrong turn and couldn’t go back and therefore we had to drive out of the site and come back in again and go in the staff car park. Slightly bemused we headed out via the exit which had the sad misfortune of being controlled by traffic lights as it led out onto some roadworks and after a round trip of an hour due to considerably more traffic and huge queues we arrived back at the entrance. I later found out that actually we could have parked in the VIP area which we drove past on our way out and not in the roughly mown corn field that we ended up in, which was impossible to negotiate with our buggy. So after an exhausting expedition carrying children, buggy and buggy board we finally arrived. We headed straight to join the queue into the Lollapalladium where after standing there for 15 minutes desperately trying to entertain my 2 and 3 year old sons, I was told the show was full. So we wandered to the Lollibop live stage where we saw CBBC’s Sam and Mark. My children aren’t quite at the CBBC age yet so it didn’t hold their attention long so we defected once again to try and queue for Postman Pat however, once again were told the show was full.
This was not a great start. However, I decided to look on the bright side as there was an array of rather fantastic looking food stalls and by this point is was nearly lunch time. The choice of food available was rather polarised, the choice either being gourmet or chips with no real middle ground, which I found quite surprising but they did all seem to do mini sizes for the kids. We then walked around the site which was vast. Bizarrely the seating area with chunky plastic picnic benches was miles from the food stalls.
We then decided to make use of our press pass and visited the VIP area where predictably things vastly improved. Mr Bloom was doing a meet and greet and the boys had a great time in the play area that had a sandpit, a giant Jenga and Connect 4. However, possibly the best moment was visiting the meet and greet tent, where my youngest son, on seeing Andy Day, immediately ran up to him for a hug.
We decided if we had any hope of seeing any of the Cbeebies shows we had to make sure we were organised and so commenced queuing for Chris and Pui's mini roadshow. Queuing time was 35 minutes, however we were not disappointed. The show was fantastic! The highlight for me was when Chris pointed out to the audience that they could talk to him because that day he wasn't a video.
So over all did I feel the experience was 'the perfect place to introduce your little ones to all the thrills of a festival vibe but without the hassle of long car journeys and camping'? Quite honestly whilst the quality of the shows was excellent, due to the early misdirection by the festival car park staff most of our day was spent in the car and then queuing for the shows. I also nearly fainted when using a festival cash point where the withdrawal charge was a whopping £2.75. However, with my new found car park knowledge I certainly would go again as undoubtedly there was a buzzing festival atmosphere and the boys loved the things they did see, not to mention seeing my children’s first ever experience of being starstruck.
Please note Mumsnet Hackney received a family ticket free of charge courtesy of Lollibop.