Tuesday, 10 May 2016

What I am looking forward to at Kaya Festival, and a nice little offer for my readers!

Following on from my post the day My top 5 family festival wishlist ,  I am absolutely thrilled to say that me and the children have been invited to be guests of Kaya Festival and I am really looking to writing about our experiences at the festival, and making some fabulous memories. Kaya festival takes place between the 04th, 05th, 06th and 7th of August so hopefully the weather will be kind to us!

So why did I choose Kaya to be on my wishlist?

Kaya is a family festival of world music and culture. Kaya features a diverse range of music including African, Jamaican, European, Latin American, Asian and other World Music. I absolutely love world music, and working in the field of Equality and Diversity, I know that the more diverse the music, the better it will be! I also know that the children will love hearing new music, hearing new instruments and experiencing different cultures. I love the fact that this will broaden their horizons and help them appreciate the global world around them. 

The fact that it is set in the beautiful Margam Country Park (between Swansea and Cardiff- just off Junction 38 of the M4) means that the 850 acre surroundings will be breathtaking and its also very local to me, so no long journeys with the children moaning about whether we are nearly there yet. The country park already offers a full day out of activities for the children, which we regularly visit, so the fact that there will also be this amazing festival there will just top it all off and make it a family festival experience second to none. 

Courtesy of Phunked-Up photography

It's also amazingly affordable. Just remember that the more money you pay doesn't always translate into a good family festival experience. I have found some of the expensive festivals inferior to some of the smaller much more affordable festivals. Having big mainstream popular artists is not top of my list of priorities, and with the bigger mainstream festivals, this will be what you will be paying for rather than a intimate family friendly affair. 

Kaya tickets are now on sale for an amazing price of £99 for the whole weekend including camping and parking. Children 15 and under also go free which I think is fantastic value as most family festivals charge for children aged 5 and over. 

I have a very exciting special offer for my readers. You can get a adult full weekend ticket for £70 by clicking here and by entering the discount code 'Invite'. Day tickets are also available for £25 each and there is a 2 for 1 deal currently on

What's on for families?

Where to start! There is a huge range of workshops and activties on aimed at families. These range from Storytelling workshops, the Panic Circus, bubble shows (Rainbow Gecko),  Mad Science Workshops- which my kids will love as they have already been to one of their workshops and really enjoyed, Jitterbug Circus and drumming workshops

Image Courtesy of Kaya Festival
It looks as if there will be plenty for us to do, and we simply cannot wait. 

What's the camping set up for families?

There is both a general camp site and a dedicated family camp site. The family camping is furthest away from the main arena to reduce the amount of noise disruption at night. Camping is available from the Thursday night to the Monday morning . 

The camping is secured and monitored so that provides extra reassurance for families who may be worried about noisy neighbours. 

Parking is very near to the camp site which makes it so much easier when you have young children, and are worried about carrying heavy camping stuff over long distances.

There is a zero tolerance of drugs and anyone found with drugs will be asked to leave and prosecuted, so again extra reassurance for those with children.  

Camping stoves can be used so that will be perfect for us as I usually take our own food. 

How accessible is the festival?

Working in the field of Equality and Diversity, it is always important to me that events are accessible for all, and those who use wheelchairs, pushchairs or have restricted mobility can come and enjoy the event as much as everyone else. Some of the festivals I have visited have been very inaccessible so its great news that the main arena of Kaya is accessible with concrete level paths and roads. Carers can also attend free when attending with a disabled person. 

Who is playing there?

The line up is amazing with a great mix of well known and less well know world music acts. I love discovering new music so am really looking forward to who I discover over the weekend. 

Image Courtesy of Kaya Festival

Highlights in the line up for me are Asian Dub Foundation, Craig Charles, Judge Jules and Melbourne Ska Orchestra.  There are plenty more artists playing so we will hopefully be checking out some new music to add to my world music favourite artists.   

All in all, it looks a cracking festival and I am hoping that my friends and family will join me in this awesome experience!

My Top 10 Tips For Getting The Most Out of a Family Festival

As regular readers will know, the James family absolutely love a family festival but whilst on our festival journey, we have learnt lots along the way and usually by our mistakes so I thought I would share my top 10 tips for getting the most out of a family festival.

1, Do your research and do it early.

It really does pay to research the family festivals that are out there, and have a good look at their websites to see if what's on offer appeals to you. Different festivals will have different selling points so it's always worth having a good look before committing. Sites like Festival Kidz are a good place to start. The earlier you start looking, the better as most festivals offer early bird tickets which are sometimes half the price of the normal ticket price. These are usually limited so it pays to get in there early. 

2, Use social media

Once you have decided on what festival you would like to go to, it is always worth subscribing to their newsletter and following their social media channels. Many festivals will alert you to special offers, competitions and early bird ticket prices via their newsletters and social media channels. 

3, Be realistic

Personally, for me, the musical line up is not the most important thing for me, but years ago it was. I have learnt that realistically your children will be more interested in doing other things rather than sitting listening to music all day. You may be able to catch a few bands but the chances are, you won't catch as many as you may have wanted too. I would just focus on the main ones you want to see, and any others you see are a bonus. 

3, If possible share babysitting duties

If there is more than one adult going, I would try and share the babysitting duties so you do get to catch a few of your favourite bands, and also get to have some adult only fun. There is nothing worse than seeing drunk adults dragging toddlers around in tow in the early hours of the morning. Young kids need their sleep, especially if they are going to get the best out of their time at the festival, so its unfair and selfish to expect them to stay up all hours just to indulge their parents need to party. Sometimes it's not possible but if there is a group of you going, this has worked really well for me in the past. 

4, An easily accessible family camp site is crucial. 

There is nothing like trekking miles across fields with a mountain of stuff and 2 young children in tow, to get your family festival experience off to a bad start. The best family festivals such as Wychwood festival  and Lakefest  will let you either drive straight onto the camp site to unload your stuff or the family campsite is right next to the car parking. This just makes life so much easier because inevitably you will need to take a lot of stuff with you. We always end up taking loads and without doubt this is one of the most important factors for us. 

5, Take your own food and drink

I always seem to be on a budget so know that we can't really afford to live on takeaway food from the food vans although this can be a nice treat. Also the food on offer is not always the most healthy so we tend to take our own food with us. Drink (non alcoholic and alcoholic) also tends to be expensive  so we try and take as much as we can. Some camp sites have a ban on disposable BBQ's but I don't think this has been a problem for us. We also invested in a small gas stove which has been a godsend, as we can  heat up tinned food etc really quickly and easily.  Obviously taking your own food and drink will add to how much stuff you need to carry but it's worth it. Many festivals do prevent you taking your own alcohol but you can't really drink much in the day anyway as you will have your kids to look after. We usually have a bit of a drink once the kids are tucked up in bed back at the tent, and build a bit of a camp fire. Its good fun!

6, Be prepared!

It really pays to plan your festival experience to make sure you get the best out of it, and also so you take everything you need.  I will always check out the programme of workshops and events to highlight anything that looks really appealing, so I can make sure me and the kids check it out. Having said that, it is also really fun to go with the flow and discover new things by surprise. I would highlight a couple of things that you really want to do and then go with the flow for the rest of the time. 

I also really plan what I think we will need. Things like wet wipes, towels for the shower, toilet roll, food, camping accessories, wellies, wet weather gear are all important. We have a camping toilet and toilet tent which we have found really useful with the kids as they don't have to walk far to use the toilet. 

7, Embrace fancy dress



Most family festivals will have a fancy dress theme. If you check out the festival website and social media channels you will usually find this out. Whilst fancy dress may not be everyone's cup of tea, I really do think it adds a bit of fun to the whole experience, and the kids really enjoy it. 

8, Invest in a good tent


A few years ago we invested in a 4 meter Soulpad bell tent and this turned out to be a really good investment. The amount of space it gives you and the cool canvas means you can get a good nights sleep. Last year we upgraded to a 5m 'Boutique Camping' bell tent, and this gave us even more space. You really do feel like you are 'glamping' in comfort so I would highly recommend getting one, especially if you think you will be doing a decent amount of camping. A small 4 person tent will be ok, but it's unlikely you will be particularly comfortable.

9, Give the kids freedom


Part of the magic for children in family festivals is giving them a little bit more freedom than they usually have. This can be simply letting them run around freely around your area of the camp site with newly acquired friends, or letting them get involved in workshops with minimal supervision. Children really enjoy the sense of freedom and I think it helps them grow.

10, Try new things



I can be quite a shy person but I have got involved in trying lots of new things at festivals and I have found it has really broadened my horizons. I have got on stage and recited a poetry rap that I had just written, got involved in writing a song, made pottery and clay models,  played drums in a drumming workshop and got involved in dancing in a dancing workshop. Some of these things have definitely taken me out of my comfort zone but it feels great to do this once in a while. I would say, 'just do it!'

Sunday, 8 May 2016

My Top 5 Family Festival Wishlist

In my mind, one of my absolute favourite things to do is to take my family to a family friendly festival.

Lakefest festival with friends 2015
The extra freedom that it gives my children, the outdoor space, the weird and wonderful activities on offer, and the chance to catch some of my favourite bands makes it a blissful experience. The family festivals also tend to be a lot more affordable than some of the more large mainstream ones so it can be a really cheap way to take your children on holiday especially if you buy the tickets early. 

My children can't wait until their next festival experience and I really do think it broadens their horizons. 

We have been very lucky in recent years and have made it to a number of festivals which are family friendly. Some are better than others so I thought I would list some of favourites as well as some that I want to go to in the future. 

1, Wychwood festival

Wychwood festival 2015

We discovered this little gem in 2014, and it was so good that we went back last year.  The things I love about this festival is that there is a whole field dedicated to family friendly activities so it literally means the little ones are entertained all day. 

The fact that it is on Cheltenham racecourse means the grounds are super family friendly as there are concrete paths and everything is flat. They also let you take your car to the camp site to unload which is essential if you have little ones. I have learnt this the hard way. 

It is also nice and quiet when it gets late as all the music stops by midnight but they do have a silent disco, comedy tent and poetry tent if you want to stay up late. I would highly recommend the poetry tent- its always quiet but you see some brilliantly funny people. 

The line up is always good and Mr Tumble is a regular performer, which goes down well with the kids.  We really hope we can go back this year to make more happy memories.

2, Standon Calling

We decided to go to this festival last year as it had one of my favourite bands- The Dandy Warhol's- playing. I was a little bit hesitant as it was in Hertfordshire so a long distance from sunny Wales, and a long journey for the kids- about 4 hours with traffic delays. 

Standon Calling kids club 2015

It was definitely worth it though. The main area was really quirky and had a wild west theme. There was also a fantastic children's area with loads for the kids to do. We particularly liked the science shows and making a home made rocket was good fun. One highlight was the fact that there was a kids club every morning in the family camping field, which was brilliant.

Another highlight is that there is an outdoor swimming pool that is free to use but we didn't get to use it as there was a long wait when we tried. The fancy dress that people were wearing was also the best I had ever seen- a lot of effort went into it. 

The only downsides were that you can't take your car onto the camp site and it was a fair old trek carrying lots of stuff to the family field. The camping fields are also on very hilly ground so its difficult to push pushchairs and walk with the kids after a long day as its very steep. There is also a lot of noise at night as there seems to be dance music playing all night so take some earplugs!

Having said all that, we really enjoyed our weekend so I would definitely go back. 

3, Lakefest

We have been to Lake fest 3 times and have loved it every time. It is a small festival but is due to relocate this year as it needs a bigger site due to its success. 

The site also has a small family field with lots going on, and has a really friendly feel. The camp site is right next to the car park so setting up is not a problem. The size of  the festival has been a real bonus as it's easy to get around and it also has free hot showers.

One of the big highlights is the beautiful boating lake which means you can go out on a pedalo or watch the sunset.

The main stage is under cover so that's a bonus if it is raining but we have been really lucky with the weather every time we have been.

The only downside for me is the amount of expensive fair ground rides there. Inevitably this means the kids moaning to go on rides all weekend and my wallet being significantly lighter!

I am hoping the new bigger site won't detract from what we love about Lakefest, and it will continue to offer family friendly fun. 

4, Kaya festival

This is a festival that we have never actually been too but we would love to go. Last year it clashed with our family holiday but this year we really hope we can make it. That was the first year it was held but it is back this year so that's a good sign!

It is very local for us, as its based in the beautiful Margam Country park which is 30 minutes away. It is a world music festival which is right up my street as I love listening to diverse music and experiencing different cultural sounds. 

The festival is very affordable with super early bird weekend camping tickets priced at £55 which is an absolute steal. These have now sold out but you can still pick up an early bird ticket for £79 for the weekend. Children up to 15 go free which is fantastic as there is usually a charge for children aged 5 and over at other family festivals. 

They seem to have lots on offer for families including a circus, story telling workshops, mad science workshops and lots more. 

Kaya is definitely top of our festival wishlist this year!

5, The Green Man festival

We went to the Greenman back in 2013 and have always wanted to go back with the children. It was just me and my ex when we went and we had a great time but I remember thinking that the family field looked wonderful.

The best thing about this festival is its setting. It is set in the Brecon Beacons in breathtaking scenery, which I still remember to this day. Its also not far away which is also a bonus when taking the kids. 

 The line up is also always great with a good mix of left field artists and different stages. 

The little folk area has lots on offer for families and there is also a dedicated family camping field.

The downsides are that its very expensive compared to some of the other family festivals but children under 5 are free and those aged 5-12 are only charged £20. There is also a fair walk to the main camp sites but I think this is not the case when you go to the family camping field. 

I definitely hope that my kids get to experience it one day. 

I really would encourage anyone with children to take them to one of these festivals. I promise you will have a pleasant surprise!