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Glorious weather during the August bank holiday weekend made sure the Sunshine Festival lived up to its name. Not only is this Worcestershire festival great for families with a packed agenda for children, but it’s dog friendly too. A varied lineup included everything from popular bands like Scouting for Girls to local legends like the Worcester Ukulele Club.
Sunshine festival: the music
The sunshine festival lineup tends to be bands that most of us remember dancing to a good few years ago. My favourite this year was Scouting for Girls. Other acts on the main stage included 10CC, Showaddywaddy, Boyzlife (an amalgamation of Boyzone and Westlife), S Club, Peter Andre and East 17. Whilst not all of these were exactly my cup of tea, it honestly didn’t matter.
With several tents offering different music options from tribute bands to DJs to local acts, there was always something worth listening to. Acts started at midday with some Zumba on the main stage to wake everybody up. As the day progressed, the crowd at the front was growing. The first few rows were quite well packed together. A little further back, there was space to dance. Further back again, people had set up chairs and were enjoying a drink or a meal from one of the food outlets while they listened to the music.
We spent a couple of evenings watching the main stage. We set our chairs far enough back to make sure we had plenty of space and it wasn’t too loud or crowded for the dog. Then, we took it in turns to take one of the girls towards the front on our shoulders. It was a great way for children to experience a festival. There weren’t too many people that were very drunk and there’s a zero tolerance policy on drugs. People were on the whole very respectful and we felt safe having the children there, even when it was really crowded.
The Sunshine Festival organisers go out of their way to make it an enjoyable experience for children as well as adults. In fact, my children were already asking if we could go again next year before we’d been there for 24 hours. We thought the girls would spend most of the weekend on the inflatables. As it turned out, there were so many other things for them to do that they didn’t make it to the inflatables until Sunday evening.
A free circus was the highlight for both of them on the Saturday. Tickets had to be obtained from the box office, so we grabbed tickets for the early afternoon show. Dogs weren’t allowed in there, so I took the girls in while my husband stayed with the dog. The girls loved it so much that we went straight back to the box office to get tickets for the later show so my husband could take them.
Other fun activities included Disney Princesses singing songs and giving out glitter tattoos. A little area near the circus had fun children’s outdoor games for them to play. A dedicated children’s bar sold soft drinks and slushies in reusable cups. We bought one slushie each at the start of the weekend and kept refilling the cups with water. The girls loved drinking from them so they drank plenty in the heat.
And of course, the inflatables were a huge hit. There must have been at least 15 different inflatables. Bouncy castles and slides, a laser gun style game where they were running around shooting each other. Obstacle courses and giant balls to jump on. Tokens were available to go on each inflatable, or you could buy a wrist band for two or three hours. We went for a late evening wrist band when it had cooled down a bit. This cost £12 each for three hours of coming and going as they liked to the inflatables. The only other paid activity the girls did was the climbing. Lia didn’t fancy it, but Libby loved climbing as high as she could up the wall.
Camping at the Sunshine festival
Despite the Sunshine Festival being located a short drive from home, we decided to camp in our van. There are several different campsite options, so you can choose the one that suits you. There’s no extra charge for camping in a van rather than a tent and whichever option you choose, you can pitch up in the same area. Cars can be parked right next to your tent or camper van and there are clearly marked out roadways that don’t get blocked. So if you need to get a vehicle out at any time, it’s possible to do so.
Like many people, we set up our camping area with a wind break to give us some outside space next to the van. We also took a toilet tent and put the chemical toilet from our van in that. This was definitely the right decision because festival toilets are never a joy to use. We chose the family camping area which was quite near to the festival. You could still hear the music when in the van. This didn’t cause us a problem at all because our children wouldn’t stir if a marching band went past. However if noise is a problem for you, there’s a quiet camping area that is further from the festival. This allows you to escape the noise a lot more.
Other camping options include a glamping area with beautiful looking bell tents. These are quite close to the festival itself so they won’t be quiet, but you do get a choice of tent sizes to sleep up to 13 people. Memory foam mattresses are provided, so you know you’re going to get a comfortable night’s sleep.
Things you need to know about the Sunshine Festival
- Water: Free drinking water to fill up reusable bottles is available both inside the festival and in a few places around the outskirts. There were long queues at times for filling up with water.
- Toilets: These are standard festival porter loos. They are cleaned and emptied during the festival but can still get rather grotty. If you have a camper van or motorhome with its own toilet, it’s well worth taking that.
- Cash: It is possible to get cash from the box office at the festival during certain times. However, they did run out of cash on the Sunday. Only the main bar took a card and on the Friday night, their card machine wasn’t working. I would strongly advise taking a lot of cash with you. If you can’t get cash or use a card, it’s a short walk into Upton Upon Severn where there are cash points.
- Food: There are some excellent food outlets on site. Between us we had pizzas, chips, hotdogs, giant Yorkshire puddings and vegan Chinese street food. Food outlets open at midday and serve well into the evening. Picnics and alcohol can’t be taken into the festival itself although you can have them on the campsite.
- Parking: Parking is available on site for day ticket holders.
- Getting there: Upton Upon Severn isn’t well served by public transport. The nearest train station is Great Malvern and you can get a bus to Upton, but I would really advise driving if possible.
- Showers: Showers are available on site. They’re a bit of a walk from the camping area, around the other side of the festival. We didn’t use them because we had to pop home a couple of times, but they didn’t look too busy when we went past.
- Sunshine festival 2020: Tickets are already on sale for the Sunshine Festival 2020, you can purchase your tickets here. Acts already confirmed include David Essex and Steve Harley.
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