Last weekend we spent three days at Wychwood festival which is a family friendly event at Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire, our home county!
You may remember me mentioning it in my 2019 travel plans blog post as we actually bought early bird tickets last year, so we had this event planned for a long time.
In this blog post I will share my honest thoughts and Wychwood festival review.
How to get cheap Wychwood festival tickets
If you are planning on going then I definitely recommend the super early bird tickets which are already out now. My mum signed up as a group organiser which meant we got five early bird tickets for the price of four.
We only needed four tickets so we managed to sell the spare one for £80 so we each only had to pay £80 each for the whole three days including camping!
The children were free with the early bird tickets as they were under 10, but closer to the festival date only under 5s were free.
The normal adult tickets were around £165 with camping and fees, so we basically got our adult tickets half price and the kids for free.
Planning in advance is worth it to save lots of money on festival tickets!
Wychwood review 2019
This isn’t the first time I’ve been to this festival, but it is the first time I’ve gone for the full three days. Although we had camping passes we didn’t camp. We only live half hour away in the next city, so I preferred to go home, sleep in my own bed, have a proper shower and go to the gym each morning before going to the festival.
That’s the luxury of living close by! Though Ben said I was boring…!
My mum and sister did camp and the kids stayed with them in their tent on the first night. They were most excited about that!
On the first day they just kept asking to go back to the tent as they were so keen to get in their sleeping bags. They are four and seven and it’s the first time they’ve slept in a tent. We’ve been camping with them a couple of times, but we have a Bongo camper which we sleep in.
Previously we have only been to the festival for one day so we were excited to go for three days, but it was pretty exhausting with the kids and I think if we go again then it will just be for the one day. Bella and Reuben are still tired and ratty today after being back at school for two days. Though I do imagine it gets a bit easier as the children get older!
The best part for Bella had to be the craft tent. There are numerous free crafts to do all day. She made a Mexican eye, giant pompom, clay model, decorated mask and much more! Bella loves to craft so she would have happily sat in this tent all day and she pretty much did!
Reuben loved the circus tent where there are loads of circus games to play with like unicycles, hula hoops, pedals, skittles to juggle and so on.
For both adults and kids there were lots of fairground rides and bouncy castles. The kids had a go on a giant bouncy castle style slide! Ben took Reuben on the dodgems and I think he enjoyed them, though he looked a bit terrified at first! There was a lot for the kids to do and we made some great memories.
We had a good look at all the food vans and menus as we are all vegan so we wanted to see what we could eat. There wasn’t as much choice for vegans as I thought there would be, but most vans had one option. I can’t wait to go to Vegan Campout as I know we can eat anything there!
We did have a delicious vegan stone baked pizza and vegan garlic bread pizza from the pizza van on the Friday night. It was really good. We shared it between the four of us, but I probably could have eaten the whole lot to myself!
Bella was desperate to try the churros so she had a portion of those with chocolate dip – all vegan friendly. She enjoyed them!
As there wasn’t so much plant-based stuff and it’s all so expensive to eat at festivals, we decided to take our own food the other days. We took a mixture of food from the supermarkets (vegetable samosas/wraps) and also made stuff at home which we left in the camper. We just popped out to the camper to eat lunch when we were hungry. The car park was right next to the festival so we could still hear the main stage from the van.
Music and entertainment
I actually have no idea who most of the bands are at Wychwood, or maybe not even who any of them are as it’s not my sort of music. We more go to this festival as it’s so local to us, so as a fun day out on the whole rather than for specific bands or the music genre.
That being said, I did catch a glimpse of a local band Thrill Collins who had the whole crowd upon their feet! There was also another band who were amazing, but I have no idea who they were! There were no listings that I could see by the stage as I assume they wanted everyone to pay £5 for their programmes…! It would have been great if there were some clear listings somewhere to know who was playing and when.
There didn’t seem to be enough room in front of the main stage. I took Bella to get her churros and we wanted to sit down and listen to the music whilst she ate them. It was so full that we could barely find a spot for us to put down our rug and sit down. They definitely need to space the festival out a little more next time. It felt quite cramped and everything was really close together this year. I don’t remember it being like that before and I’m sure it was more spaced out.
The two other main tents were quite close to each other too which was disappointing. I feel like the whole festival was too squished together. We sat on the benches a couple of times by the Hobgoblin tent and a big black sort of disco tent, and they were so close we could hear the music from both at the same time mixed in with the dodgems and fairground music. It would be much better to spread the music tents out a little so you can only hear one at a time when chilling in the sun outside the tents!
The kids loved sitting at the top of The Tea Stop bus to watch some music. This is a big red double decker style bus that’s a café with seating upstairs. It felt like watching the main stage from a VIP box and the kids loved the novelty of it!
One of the best parts was the samba band that just played on the grass when we came in to the festival on the Sunday! I think I was expecting more of this sort of entertainment that’s just in with the crowds and wandering around, but it was the only one we saw like this. I think more entertainers walking around would have made it amazing.
Will we return to Wychwood again?
I think we’d definitely consider going to Wychwood again, but whilst the children are young I’d only go back for one day as a family, but even then the tickets are so expensive I think it’s probably only worth it if there’s a band we really want to see.
We did still have a good time as a family and the kids had fun, but I think we could have done everything we wanted in one day rather than spreading it out over three.
I do appreciate that it’s very different going to a festival with kids compared to when I went kid-free. When I used to go to festivals it was all about the evenings. I’d hang around in the days browsing or chilling out and then I’d dance and party in the evening. It was mostly about seeing the headline acts in the evening back then.
Well, with kids we were leaving at around 6pm or 7pm each night as everyone was so tired! It was definitely a very different experience – less about the music and partying and more about keeping the kids entertained all day long!
It was also quite a trek to the campsite this year, which had a new layout. Although we hadn’t camped before, my mum always camps and so we had seen the layout before and it used to be really quick to nip through to camping. It was quite a walk this year so popping back for meals or if someone needed something took a lot of time.
I think I was a little underwhelmed by Wychwood this year. It seemed a lot smaller than usual and I don’t think the layout worked as well as it could this year.
It is a lovely little festival and I’m proud it’s in my home town, but I just don’t think it’s my cup-of-tea anymore or perhaps I just had too high expectations. I expect others may have had a totally different experience, but this is just my honest opinion this year.
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One thought on “Cheltenham Wychwood Festival review 2019”
That does sound quite expensive for what it is. It looks fun, though!