You can’t have missed the fact that it’s festival season. And although the British weather is reserving its right to be unpredictable this year, Junior packed the waterproofs and set off to the picturesque Cotswolds last weekend to soak up the family friendly atmosphere at The Cornbury Music Festival.
Describing itself as ‘a country fair with a rock ‘n’ roll twist’, the festival prides itself on being about as civilised as festivals get. Now in its 12th year, the formula must be working, with Cornbury attracting both loyal fans and new visitors alike with a ‘something for everyone’ line up.
Two years ago, the festival moved from Cornbury Park in Charlbury, where it got its name, to the Great Tew Estate near Chipping Norton. Getting there is no hassle: Great Tew Park is about 30 minutes drive from Banbury Station (Chiltern Railways) and around 12 minutes from Charlbury Station (Great Western). There is also a shuttle bus service between the festival site and Banbury and Charlbury stations – but we took the even easier option of booking a cottage nearby through Holiday Lettings. The children thought the glamping site looked great fun though, with a choice of PodPads (little beach house style cabins), Yurts, Tipis and Gypsy Caravans. Maybe next year...
The musical line-up had the grown-ups excited, with a mix of young blood (Jack Savoretti, The Fratellis and The Felice Brothers were highlights) and classic fare from Tom Jones, Lulu, Blue, Seal and Billy Ocean. All the music had one thing in common – it was feel-good stuff, perfect for the weather which ended up smiling on the weekend, except for a couple of welcome, cooling showers.
Arriving at the festival, there were no big queues and the staff were all attentive and friendly. Kids were issued with not just an entry wristband, but also one for identity that parents could write their mobile number on. We’d already invested in something similar from Little Lifebut this was a thoughtful touch. What’s also great when you have kids is that the site is compact enough so that small people don’t get tired out. If they do, you can hire a trolley courtesy of Mr Trolley, or a wagon conversion – a trolley with cushions and a canopy. Perfect for an afternoon nap while mum and dad are watching Billy sing ‘When The Going Gets Tough’…
For the kids, there’s more than enough to do. The Children’s Zone caters for toddlers right through to teens, with crafts (make anything from a pair of ears and a tail to bunting), magic shows, kids yoga and circus skills. There’s also a complete fun fair with all the usual crowd pleasers from bouncy castles and a helter-skelter to a ghost train and hook-a-duck.
Festivals often make you think of toilets – and not in a good way. Thankfully, like the rest of Cornbury, the facilities were immaculate and only small queues formed at peak times. We found that with children, many people let us to the front anyway (as you’d expect from a festival that prides itself on being civilised).
And as for food – the choice was reminiscent of a food festival in its own right. We snacked on churros, nachos or oysters and filled up on curries, paella, pulled pork burgers or vegan fare. For a tipple, we tried unforgettable Bloody Marys, craft beers, and wine you’d normally associate with a restaurant and not a field.
If you’ve never been to a festival with the kids before, we’d highly recommend this one as your first. It’s clean, it’s fun… but it's just rock ‘n’ roll enough for mum and dad to feel they’ve still got it. And if you need any more convincing, Orlando Bloom was apparently spotted in the crowd this year.
If you fancy becoming a Cornbury regular (we’re definitely going to) you can find out more about the festival on their website at www.cornburyfestival.com. Early Bird tickets for 2016 will go on sale in the autumn, but if you can’t wait until then, there are plenty of other family-friendly festivals happening this summer – check out our Family Festival Guide 2015 to pick one to suit you.