Geronimo Festival 2017 Review – If it’s not broke
Since becoming a parent, “festivals” take on a whole different meaning, long gone are the carefree drunken singing to Oasis or Stereophonics whilst being happy to sleep in a waterlogged field to looking for something which provides entertainment for all the family, finishes late but not too late, doesn’t cost the earth and more importantly makes some great family memories. Geronimo Festival 2016 was an amazing experience last year during a single day event but could it live up to expectations this year with a new 3 day format, venue and camping?
When we were asked to become Geronimo Festival 2017 ambassadors this year we were all so excited as it instantly bought back memories of 2016… a glorious hot sunny day in May, sat in a field in Tatton Park, picnic and blanket, enjoying some of the hottest CBeebies stars whilst the kiddies went crazy with excitement. Throw into that a fun fair, loads of other events going on around the festival site as well as food and drink.
This year, the organisers at Geronimo Festival decided that rather than performing the festival over two days, they would spread it over 3 days and make it into a long weekend over the May bank holiday as well as offer the opportunity to camp too and in order to do so, decided to change the venue too. The weather had also been gloriously sunny leading up to this years event, in the mid to late 20s and with us stopping for at least 2 of the 3 days, we were set for another cracking weekend. CBeebies stars including Katie Ainsworth, Swashbuckle Line and Cook, Andy “Dinosaur” Day, Mr Bloom, Alex Winters and the man with many acts, Justin Fletcher, were all scheduled to play over the weekend as well as many shows, circuses, displays, experiences and more…
Unfortunately many of the new changes failed to improve the festival for me and when trying to put my finger on why, it was down to the change of venue…. which this year was set at Arley Hall in Cheshire.
As much as it is a beautiful estate, the spread of the festival meant it felt too big and our little children (and ourselves) felt like we had to undertake a small trek just to go from one area, such as the Main stage, through to the Arena tent. Yes, Arley hall grounds are huge, but the festival site didn’t need to attempt to resemble glastonbury in terms of size, it also meant we missed out on seeing a lot of things when looking back through other peoples photographs.
Set at the top of a hill and with a main pathway cutting through it just 10 meters from the front meant that many of those who wanted to sit and enjoy a picnic or food whilst watching their favourite CBeebies characters or shows couldn’t see for majority of the time thanks to either people walking through the pathway or eager parents standing near to the front keeping an eye on their children and due to the elevation mean that it was like sitting behind 10 ft giants…
Linked to above, a few of the more popular shows were interrupted during the middle of them to ask parents not to stand up as it was blocking the views. Although this was necessary, it did spoil the flow of the show, thus not helping to build that fun festival atmosphere. At one point a show also stopped for the expectation an ambulance needed to pass through, a completely valid reason however after a 10 minute break, which incidentally was right through the middle of star billing, Justin Fletcher’s, show, resulted in the ambulance actually going an alternative route, something which you would have expected would have been planned for beforehand.
Although I’m happy to “rough” it for a long weekend, the provisions made for campers were lacking in comparison to some I’ve previously experienced at family festivals. Parking of vehicles in a place which then involved a unnecessary hilly walk through long grasses to the camping area meant many parents and children complaining to each other between trips back and forth the car collecting their belongings. The festival did offer a £10 trailer transport service however upon us arriving on Saturday morning, we were told there was only one trailer on and therefore waits could be a while. Water facilities to wash pots and pans was coupled with a trough also used to brush teeth with. The designated “BBQ” area was also conveniently next to the VIP tents meaning a good walk for us peasants ;-).
Whilst the acts were many of the same acts as the successful previous year, I was personally disappointed some of these were still performing exactly the same show as the previous year too meaning that they really offered nothing new. Big shout out to Swashbuckle though who performed their NEW show which was both funny and engaging for the children.
Whilst I appreciate its a family festival aimed at younger children, the event offered nothing in the evening for those who were camping with one tent offering a handful of shows ending around 9pm. Previous family festivals I’ve attending have things like stories around campfires eating marshmallows, or 80s discos, pillow fights, and even silent discos. A massively missed opportunity both for the festival which would have also helped to create a better atmosphere.
ITS NOT ALL BAD THOUGH
Over the two days we stopped for (Saturday & Sunday) we still did have a really great time, enjoying a wrath of differing activities this year, which we wouldn’t possibly have experienced had it not been due to many of the main acts being repetitive to the previous year.
- Swashbuckle (Cook & Line) – These pair were a hit the previous year but again, were our favourites with brand new material with laughs and giggles for kids and parents alike. Also noted that Mr Bloom and Katie Ainsworth who’s shows were good fun too.
- Playdoh Tour Tent – The children were in their elements being able to enjoy Playdoh without worrying about making a mess or mixing colours.
- Food stalls – with everything from German waffles to fish and chips, pies, crumpets covered in nutella and marshmallows as well as “fizz bars” and over fired pizzas, there was something for everyone.
- Manchester City Zone – Despite my love for my hometown Leicester City, the team at Man City had a fab area with everything to practicing your balls skills, through to face painting, mini matches, magic mirrors and their mascot too.
- Animal Zone – With everything from donkeys to parrots, through to giant tortoises and even a change to race a ferret, the children loved the chance to interact with the various animals.
So the main question…. would we come back again?
Despite my obvious frustrations with the venue and the resulting logistical issues, the festival itself is a great must visit for any young family with lots of differing activities going on. It is worth also saying that ticket prices are a lot cheaper than some of the other festivals too so that should really be factored in.
Would I go back to a one day event? Its a tough one, I really was a massive fan of the original two day event (although you could argue all the top acts were on the one day), however I also love the idea of spreading it across a weekend providing all the issues are ironed out. With it being the first year at Ardley Hall I would expect to see a massive improvement from this year next time but I’d still come back to the event again. I know H was definitely sad to be leaving this year…
So, see you next year Geronimo, everyone deserves another chance and especially as the festival has all the ingredients to make it a success, with a bit of tweaking and a couple of improvements, its sure to be back to its best next year.
Until next time
NB: We were chosen to be ambassadors to this years Geronimo Festival 2017 and in exchange for a 3 day camping pass we were required to provide an honest review of the event. All opinions are our own.