Deershed festival marked the start of our holidays and now that summer’s over, it feels right to relive it a little.
Deershed festival kicked off our summer and still remains a highlight for all of us. In fact it was a pretty hard act to follow. In the last few years we’ve seen this local festival (it takes place at Baldersby Park in Topcliffe, a mere twenty minute drive from our home) just gets better and better each year. And on the years we haven’t attended, we’ve kicked ourselves when we’ve seen the line up (I can’t believe we missed The Wedding Present last year). But this year’s headline acts certainly didn’t disappoint with Richard Hawley, Everything Everything and Beth Orton taking centre stage, as well as so much other good music which you can absorb along the way. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As with other great family-friendly festivals, Deershed has so much else going on with an amazing array of activities and workshops for the kiddos plus lots of cool stuff for adults to get stuck into as well. And from the moment you arrive and are guided to a car parking spot to the time you leave and are cheerily waved off at the gate, everything runs like clockwork. The Deershed organisers have learned year on year, ironed out any glitches and are totally on their game, determined to make the experience the best it can be for everyone.
In fact, it doesn’t seem quite possible that we should have such a great festival on our doorstep; it feels like a fluke! I mean, aren’t we in the north supposed to have to travel down south to attend really great stuff like this? In just seven short years, Deershed has basically become the best festival in the north of England and I know people who have made the trip up from the south to visit (just for the music alone!).
One of the things I love about Deershed is that you could fill your time with so many different things and yet it never feels too large, crowded or overwhelming. If an activity tent was busy you could come back later, although we rarely found that the case. Volunteers and staff are lovely, helpful and friendly. The atmosphere is universally relaxed and above all safe. Security is paramount and I felt confident that if one of our 3 kids wandered off and got lost they would very soon be returned to us (unfortunately – ha, only joking!).
This year, Deershed had excelled itself offering several Aardman model making workshops (my kids are quite obsessed with becoming animators at the moment) plus 80 other crafty, creative workshops like making Minecraft heads, masks, finger puppets and sock slugs – all of which our kids enjoyed. In fact sitting in a tent on Sunday morning as I slowly sewed an owl puppet together, while listening to folk singing with Serious Sam Barret was actually quite soothing (and I had good coffee too!). As often happens, Charlie our eldest (now 10) wants to do something different to the girls (6 and 4) so we have to divide and conquer a bit. But I felt totally confident leaving Charlie in a nearby tent to enjoy a different activity once I’d spoken to a volunteer on hand, who I knew would look after him.I have to say the whole food and drink thing (and what happens naturally as a consequence) is really important to me at a festival. I like to have lots of good, varied and vaguely wholesome food options for us and the kids. And Deershed does this really well too. We managed to tempt the kids with dinner from a fab stall specialising in Mac n Cheese one night and they enjoyed healthy fish finger sandwiches another time. Not surprisingly that wood fired pizza van (above) was very popular but there’s plenty to go around. Oh and we introduced the kids to churros one night for dessert – safe to say they liked those!!
Which leads me onto the portaloo situation. I am a graduate of Glastonbury toilets and remain slightly traumatised by some of my youthful experiences. Let’s face it, they are one of the things that really put some people off festivals/camping, especially with young children. But I was mightily impressed this year as Deershed seems to have upped its game on this front too. Every loo I tried over the weekend was clean, flushable, furnished with toilet roll, a mini sink with running water, soap and hand towels, which were regularly cleaned and re-stocked. And outside each toilet block were anti-bac stations to ensure everyone really was clean as a whistle. Box ticked!I’ll not lie, my kids are always wowed by the fairground rides at a festival and of course they definitely wanted their fill of these attractions at Deershed too. But keeping it to the three main favourites; a ferris wheel, helter skelter and carousel maintains the right atmosphere I think and the kids loved them as usual. We even let them have candy floss too as a treat, because it’s just all part of the experience.
But there were plenty of other simple pleasures to be had at Deershed too. Often it’s the down-time you spend at the tent, playing with new bubble toys, painting nails and faces, dressing up in a few new costume additions (we couldn’t resist getting the girls some furry animal tails to wear and they were obviously a big hit with other kids too as everyone was wearing them) and just enjoying being outside in the open.
My kids really love camping these days and I think we’ve slowly got the hang of it too. You work out how to make things as easy and comfy as possible. And although you have to park up and carry all your gear to the camping field (as you do at other festivals), Deershed provide free trolleys to help you transport everything. We also hired one for the whole weekend so we could park up in an evening to listen to music and Bea could fall asleep wrapped up in blankets. Thanks to the Bright Company, all three of the nippers had nice, new pyjamas to wear too. I love the unisex design and colours, which were great when the kids were roaming around the campsite playing, while we made breakfast each morning.
Thanks to the organisers for allowing us free entry to Deershed 7 this year, for the purposes of this review. We’ll be back!
And if you fancy it too, Deershed 8 will take place over July 21-23 2017. Early bird tickets go on sale on 8th September at 10am.