Camping in half term is a family favourite event and this year we were even more excited than usual as we had been invited to attend Elderflower Fields; a family focused festival, full of activities for the kids in beautiful Sussex countryside.
The festival is currently in its 5th year and has a capacity of 5000 (??) which means its small and therefore feels totally safe and friendly rather than some of the bigger festivals I have been to in my younger days. The festival is based at Pippingford Park, which is an idyllic Sussex country estate near Tunbrigde Wells and for us only an hour from home. Bonus!
The site and Camping options
The site is big and all the camping areas were well spaced out, with beautiful views without being too far from the main events. We were situated on a hill in the camper van field. Although we don’t have a camper van we wanted to camp with other friends who did and found this was allowed with no probs. We found all the staff INCREDIBLY helpful, relaxed and in the back ground all weekend; although they also stepped up when needed. The main camping area is a little further into the site but during the whole festival the organisers run a really helpful little train service with carts on the back in which you can load on your camping stuff and grab a lift to where u need to go! This is perfect and such a good idea as the idea of lugging a family of 5 ‘s camping gear a long walk to car after a full on festival weekend can almost ruin the whole thing! Friends who don’t really ‘do’ camping always site the lack of decent toilets as a reason not to enjoy festivals however the toilets here were brilliant. There were a few porta Loo’s scattered about but the majority of the toilets were the ‘posh’ porta cabin style . These were lovely as Loo’s go! We never had to queue, were clean and not stinky and even the fussy little one was happy. We even sampled the showers one morning and they were equally fab. Clean and unbelievably warm with good pressure throughout, better than I had ever had at any other festival.
The main event
There is so much to see and do for kids and adults alike. Activities range from supervised art and sports camps for kids ( this means u get an hour or 2 to yourselves) to joint family events such as kayaking and orienteering ; to adult only events in the wellbeing areas such as massage and yoga. My kids said some of their favourite events were the sports camp and also the slack lining in the trees. I have a 5 yr old boy and 9 and ten yr old girls and they all did he sports camp together. It held their attention for nearly 2 hours and was very well organised. I watched from the sidelines relaxing in the Sunday sun with friends while they remained captivated trying taster sessions of archery and fencing amongst others.
I have been to elderflower fields before several years ago and found although there was music it was defiantly in the back ground however this year I found he music was more of a main event too. The main stage had an eclectic mix of music with our favourite being mr b and also the resonators on the main dragon fly stage. This year there was also 2 stages hidden in the woods…. One near a cocktail bar which went on into the night. Although I didn’t actually get to sample the late dos , my friends without little ones said it was brill. The woodland stage is entered through an enchanted wood and over a magical bridge. This stage was beautiful and we saw some fantastic and intimate folk amongst other stuff. One of the reasons why elderflower is so special is the attention to detail. As parents it’s so rare to get to lounge in the sun and listen to top music with friends, however at elderflower I had that chance. By the woodland stage while I lounged on hay bales the children played happily on the many swing balls sets posted fantastically at the top of the hill by the stage. Equally at the main stage, to the right of the stagethe children were kept entertained for hours by fantastic circus skills equipment and staff making massive bubbles.
food and drink.
elderflower fields has a fanatic range of food with the highlight being the big FREE communal picnic on the sunday. This has been an annual event since elderflower has started. The crowds gather on the main field in groups of 12 and get to share a fanatic range of samples from local suppliers. The quality is honestly great, with my favourite being the smoke mackerel pate from #veasyandsons and the cheese from #highwealddairy and it’s feels really special to be eating food from mostly local small suppliers. Well done elderflower!
Aside from the picnic we ate a variety of home cook snacks around the tent and sampled some of the other food on offer. We ate a lot of #bigeats food. They used to run he kitchen in our favourite Brighton pub @thedruidsarms and my children think their chicken wings and burgers are to die for. We also had fanatic in fish and chips from Ollie fish shack and naughty chocolate breakfast crepes from crepier Lui. Friends also said the wood fired pizza at the pizza Sagan were great. There was a great range of food options across the site and prices pretty reasonable for a festival with every venue I came across offering kid size portions and prices , around £3-4. Even the ice cream @supermice came in kid size portions which was great as I really resent spending a tenner on ice cream cones that often end up on the floor or Ll over the kids !! Adult prices for food were also reasonable and most venues open from early for breakfast to late for evening snacks with option ranging from£4-£8 for a decent size portion of food.
Drinks wise there was 3 main bars offering all the usual suspects, with most of the other food venues selling soft drinks. There was also plenty of water taps around to fill up your water bottles if needed. The bars were actually really reasonable with a pint of lager costing £4.50… Cheaper than I would usually pay on Brighton seafront! The cocktails were between £7-£8 and although sometimes had to wait a bit , they were made from fresh and worth the wait! At peak times there was a small wait at all of the food and drink venues but this is to be expected and tbh never really a problem.
We had a totally fantastic time. Elderflower really puts a massive effort into the special touches and it really pays off; the site looked amazing with beautiful decor everywhere we turned. A Secret fairy school hidden in the woods; painting wall for kids early one mornin, a bus ride up the hill at night to name but a few. I have been to elderflower a few years before and although I had a good time, this year you could really see how much the festival had matured. The atmosphere was brilliant throughout and although a family focused festival there is loads of grown up fun to be had too! I had also forgotten to mention .. We realised half way through Saturday that there was no stalls selling tat or even fun fair rides to drain the bank of mum and dad dry. This was such a relief and definitely made more a much more relaxing holiday , without the kids constantly nagging to buy stuff!
Thank you elderflower and all at that have worked so hard to make it so special. Hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did. We will definitely be back. Kate, Alex , Georgie and Dylan xxxx