Lunar festival, Warwickshire

We are regular festival goer’s (both with and without kids), but this was our first visit to the lovely Lunar Festival. We were invited by some of our wonderful, and until very recently baby-free friends from pre-Teddie years who organise ‘fancy dress for grown-up’s’ style parties (see Magic Door) which are usually full of glitter, costumes and mayhem. On this occasion they were hosting an area at Lunar Festival along with curating some of the immersive theatrical experiences.

Given the hedonistic track record of afore mentioned friends I was a little apprehensive about taking Teddie, but as we were just popping down for the day I thought it fairly risk free. We had also landed just a few hours before from a half-term mini-break with all 3 kids, and were in much need of some adult company (and cider), and so off we set.

How glad we were to have made the journey. Lunar is a tiny little festival with a small footprint, but massive personality and the polish of one of the festival giants. Here is a quick summary:

Size / Location:
Now in it’s third year, Lunar is a 3-day festival held on the 3rd to 6th June at the Umberslade Estate, a working farm in Tanworth in Arden. The Farm is also home to Umberslade children’s farm. (Free access is provided to this attraction to Lunar ticket holders, during the festival). This is in the heart of the country side and yet only 20 minutes from central Birmingham, with easy to access to and from the motorway.
On arrival, the car park is just a short walk through some breath-taking woodland and a small field away from the main arena. This short walk makes it so much more easy with small children! You actually have some energy left by the time you arrive at the entrance. In fact, nearly everything in the festival is within a very manageable 10 to 15 minute walk at most.

The vibe:
The welcome was extraordinary. With the festival having started 2 days prior to our arrival you might expect energy levels to have dropped by this point, but we were greeted with smiles, and were awash with positive, happy energy.
We followed the flow of people to the main arena to find a small but boisterous main stage and in front an eclectic audience of families, old and young, fancy dress, curious locals, music fans, and some just there to let loose for the weekend. The sun was shining so people were just relaxing on the grass and in the remodelled vintage caravans around the arena. There were plenty of children, but not enough to make you feel like it was a family exclusive festival. It was all very welcoming.

Food:
Around the arena (when I say arena it was comfortable a few hundred people as opposed to a few thousand), was the most delicious collection of food retailers. It was clear that the organisers had considered the food offering quite carefully. We opted for the ‘Bhangra Bus’ which offers the most tempting selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes plus and on board space to eat in. Teddie made some new friends, whilst we we devoured our dishes and caught up with friends whilst listening to the acts on the main stage. It was all very easy.

Entertainment:
Having fuelled up, we went in search of ‘Teddie-tainment’. Kids (or this kid at least)
seem to have little comprehension of the fact that they are supposed to just ‘be’ sometimes and appreciate their environment, entertainment is required.

Just a short walk past the Bimble Inn, and the late night disco venue we arrived at the Pink Moon Meadow. This field was the perfect play place for adults and kids alike. We headed straight for the sparkly hoola hoops and got stuck in. Next to us was a football tournament for kids, part of the festival wide ‘Lunar Olympics’. It was great to see so many involved and it was really well organised.

Having put a few of the under 5’s to shame with our hooping skills, we continued to mooch on down through the retail strip. I have an insatiable curiosity so never happy until I have fully explored all areas, but the beauty is here (and to the relief of may other half) is that it didn’t take very long to get full bearings as even the retail area was just a couple of gentle charities, some reasonably priced festi-clothing stands (a pleasant change) and some really lovely bars and food areas.

Music:
A little squiffy after half a pint of local Scrumpy Cider, we wondered back to the main arena to watch some of the music acts. OK, so you might not see high profile acts like The Foo Fighters or Massive Attack here anytime soon but the music is eclectic, entertaining, and there is definitely something to suit everyone’s taste.
On stage were the ‘The Mariachis’ (last seen on a Dorito’s ad) who were playing Mexican style re-workings of pop favourites. It was fun and loud with lots of dancing and whooping from the throng in front on the stage.

There were also some great acts on later that day that included the Super Furry Animals, alongside The Zombies, Matt Berry and the Maypoles, Young Pilgrims, The Mother Earth Experiment, and plenty more like that had appeared it over the weekend.

There was also an exciting programme of campfire stories, laughter yoga workshops, storytelling, immersive theatre pop-ups, dance workshops and a procession to participate in.

We watched a few acts, but with Monday morning school looming, we said our goodbyes and took the (only 5 minute1) walk to the car. Again, all just very easy – especially with a not too-keen-on-walking 5 year old in tow.

Accommodation:
You can bring your own tent or camper, or hire one of the gorgeous gypsy caravans or Bell tents. The access to all of these is universal so no ‘Exclusive’ loos or showers, just nice facilities for everyone. The camping is also just a 5 minute walk from the action of the main arena.

Verdict:
We only went for the day, but it was enough to convince us that we would return to take all of the kids to camp and enjoy a few days at the festival. It felt like an over grown, really fun campsite with great entertainment for everyone, yet also intimate enough for people to genuinely interact and secure enough to feel relaxed with the kids. We will definitely return.

The Lunar festival is having a break in 2017 but will be returning in 2018. See www.lunarfestival.co.uk for more info

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