Over the weekend of the 25th-27th August we attended the Big Feastival at Alex James’ farm in the Cotswolds – for lots of food and fun with our friends, and our first time at a festival.
We were there for the weekend, camping with friends, and it was our first time at a weekend festival for our family, and we were so excited!
We arrived late afternoon and after traipsing around an entire field trying to spot enough space for two tents, with some of our camping stuff, and a just-woken-up five year old, we decided that next year we will try and arrive a lot earlier in the day like everyone else! We ended up getting a spot right in the far left corner of the field, which was good as it was a bit quieter and more out of the way, but bad because it was quite a trek to the loo!
The next couple of hours were spent fighting with tents (we were putting our friends’ tent up because they were arriving the next morning and we obviously wanted to be together) and then getting the rest of our stuff from the car and getting organised. It got pretty darn chilly after that and we still hadn’t eaten so the boy popped into the festival to bring us back some of the amazing food (Pad Thai, pizza, and really fresh fish and chips!) before we had an early night ready our first full day at the festival!
I’ve (re)discovered recently that I love sleeping in a tent – it’s so cosy and fun and I love being out in the wilderness with the family – but I need the facilities close by otherwise it’s bloody annoying and I spend most of the night needing a wee but not having any desire to venture across a field in the dark, alone. Anyway, that first night I slept badly, and woke up knackered (read: grumpy) but really excited about our day.
I hit the showers and luckily didn’t have to queue for very long, and they were pretty decent showers to be honest. They did get red hot in the little cubicles and I nearly died, and came out sweatier than I had gone in, but they were a lot better than I thought they would be for a festival, and there were a decent amount of cubicles. On the second day I had to queue for a lot longer in the hot sunshine but it wasn’t awful, and it probably served me right for wanting to be clean at a festival.
You could get some breakfast foods and a cup of a tea from a couple of trucks just outside the campsite, but there were very big queues every morning, and waiting for half an hour seemed pretty normal. The trouble was you then had to queue up again at a different place if you wanted a hot drink too! It would have been good to at least be able to get everything in one place, and perhaps have more vans available so that the queues weren’t quite so big.
The actual festival was right next to the campsite which was great, with a very cool entrance through the trees, with colourful decorations and a big archway welcoming you to Big Feastival. The whole place looked amazing, and we were spoilt for choice where to begin.
There is SO much to do at the Big Feastival, especially for kids, which is brilliant. We were very lucky and had a wonderful weekend of hot, sunny weather, which was unexpected. There are fairground rides, farm animals from Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm, and Ava loved joining in with the circus area where she showed off her hula hooping skills (she’s SO good and I didn’t teach her), raced against her Dad, and took part in a tug of war (her team won, obvs).
There are also little cookery classes on, courtesy of the NEFF kitchen, which looked really good, but they were very, VERY in demand and required queueing for a long time every day to try and get a place (one family I spoke to on the Sunday had queued every day for a total of two and a half hours and only just managed to get tickets on the last day), so we decided not to bother. There was so much other stuff to do anyway, and Ava didn’t seem too fussed at the time.
There’s a ton to keep the adults occupied too of course – with presentations, masterclasses and talks from lots of different foodie celebs. This year there was Gizzi Erskine, Gennaro Contaldo, Candice Brown, Jamie Oliver and loads more. If we hadn’t been there with Ava I would have loved to have done the ‘Friday Night Supper Club’ – a specially designed four-course menu created by Gizzi Erskine, and cooked by some of her talented chef friends. I think it would have been amazing.
One really simple thing that they had there, that provided so much entertainment for the kids, were stacks of hay bales that they could climb on. They look really cool and added to the theming of the event, but they were also brilliant for the kids to play on. There were kids (and the odd adult) clambering all over them constantly, and Ava enjoyed climbing up and down them for ages, and challenging herself to be able to get up there herself!
Right, onto the food – the star of the show! A couple of days before the festival, they released a menu so you could plan your way around the feastival and it all sounded amazing. There was so much on it though, so I thought we had no chance of even tackling half of it. But actually between the five of us we did pretty well! Every single thing we tried, we enjoyed and we were totally spoilt for choice every meal and snack time. Everything was so fresh and tasty and I couldn’t get enough. I spent a lot of my time there thinking about what I would eat next, as I think we all did.
Obviously the food wasn’t cheap, but that was expected, and we did agree that a lot of it was very good value for money. As it was all so good, I failed a bit as a blogger and barely took any pictures of the food I’m afraid – I was too busy stuffing my face. I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite meal that I had. The salt and Szechuan pepper squid from ‘Ink Squid’ was bloody amazing – the freshest tasting squid I’ve ever had (so good I had it twice), the buttermilk chicken and bacon flatbread at ‘The Piadina Project’ was incredible. The Pad Thai at Bangwok was wonderful and very filling, and the thai meatballs at ‘The Bowler Meat & Vegballs’ were a firm favourite with us all and were purchased more than once. But then there were also the Halloumi fries, the pork belly tacos (bloody gorgeous), the creme brulee, the brownies, and the fruit and gin sorbet!
Honestly, it was all so good, and I’m insanely hungry now thinking about it. There was so much variety and I loved the freshness and tastes that we experienced.
The drink selection was really good too, with a Sipsmiths gin tent (we had some really nice Sloe gin and tonics) as well as a Fevertree tent, and we also got to try a few of the lovely wines from Brancott Estate with a little wine tasting they gave us. Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is my absolute favourite white wine (and Marlborough Sounds (in NZ) is also one of my favourite places in the world too!), and the couple I tried from Brancott Estates were soo nice. They had a lovely little seating area where you could enjoy their wines, and they were also giving out lots of tasters to passerby – a nice chilled sauvignon blanc was perfect as we were wandering around in the red hot sunshine.
There were also plenty of places to get beer, or Prosecco, with Doombar and the main sponsor of the event, Veuve Cliquot having a couple of tents, and we treated ourselves to a glass on the last day.
For us it was all about the food and soaking up the atmosphere at Big Feastival, but they also had some really good music on too, as well as some popular kids entertainers (Justin Fletcher, Dick and Dom). Olly Murs performed, as well as Toploader, Dodgy, Embrace and Madness!
On the Sunday we spent a great couple of hours taking part in the music quiz they had on at The Udder Stage. I bloody love a quiz and we had a great time listening to music from different decades, in the sunshine, with a beer, sat together around the hay bales. Even better; we won the 90’s round! We were pretty proud of ourselves, I’m not going to lie.
As it was so red hot and sunny, particularly on the Sunday, it did actually mean that we didn’t explore every bit of the parts for kids, as we really needed to stay in the shade; Ava was just too hot in the sunshine to get too involved with it all for long. So we spent a lovely few hours sitting around in an area of shade we had nabbed, listening to the music, eating, drinking and dancing. It was perfect.
The facilities were pretty great – there were plenty of loos so it never felt like you were too far away from them, and I never had to queue at all, which was unexpected. The whole festival was pretty busy the whole time, particularly on the Saturday, but it never felt uncomfortable at all and there was plenty of space to move about. The queues for food were generally alright too, which was good. You don’t want to be spending your day out in queues for loos and for food and drinks!
We had a really, really good weekend at the Big Feastival and I would love to go back again. I would ideally ‘glamp’ next year, because I did find it quite hard camping in a tent with festival facilities and having to get ready in that way, particularly in that heat, with nowhere to cool down, but I know that wouldn’t bother a lot of people. I just hate not feeling clean!
The food and drink was amazing, and we all really enjoyed trying so many lovely and varied dishes. There was such a lovely, chilled atmosphere and it’s a perfect festival for taking children to. There’s loads of free things to keep them entertained, but it isn’t too big that they’re having to walk loads, even if you are camping.
It was a brilliant first festival experience, and we really hope we can go back to Big Feastival another year.
We were invited to The Big Feastival but all words and opinions are my own. See my full disclosure policy here.