Dear Gloworm Festival. I knew you would be awesome, but you completely smashed my expectations. You were EPIC! Lots of love, Kaz and Lily! xxx
My child can get super hyper and had never camped at a festival before, so I had no idea how she would get on through a whole weekend of Gloworm festival – I was going with her getting super excited then completely crashing through over-excitement!
Well, I was wrong. She loved every single minute, and I already can’t wait til next year. Here’s my review of what we got up to at Gloworm.
Gloworm Festival is a festival aimed at families with kids under the age of 13. Everything revolves around families, from the entertainment and activities, through to the stalls and facilities on site.
It runs for a weekend in August, with options to camp from the Friday til Monday, or just buy tickets for a day or both the Saturday and Sunday.
For those who are camping, there is entertainment on the Friday evening, with half the festival site open, however the show didn’t start til 8pm which is quite late for the smaller ones, so we enjoyed the funfair and some hot food, as well as the giant sandpit and pirate ship disco in the downpour before heading back to the tent to get some energy for the morning!
The Main Stage
Throughout the weekend there is a whole variety of entertainment on the main stage – ranging from Sylvanian Families and Hey Duggee through to Mr Maker, Peppa Pig, Take@That and Ultimate Coldplay.
We loved the variety of shows, and it was great to be able to dip in and out of the Main Stage shows throughout the day so Lily could have some fun.
Many of them were interactive, getting the children to sing or dance along, which really makes Gloworm special as keeps the kids focused on the show, rather than main festivals with just music, where smaller ones may get restless.
The funfair was a focal point for the festival, and it was great they were free all day, minus the queues. There was a helter skelter, big wheel and more, which were great fun for all ages to enjoy.
I did see some dads who had the right idea – they were place-holders in the queues, enjoying their beers in the sun, while the rest of the family went round the festival and kept coming back to check where they were in the queue!
I was solo with Lily, so it wasn’t possible for us to leave – so make sure if you’re in the same situation that you take the little ones for a wee before joining a queue as you will lose your place otherwise!
Creative Play Zone
Lily loved this area, and I also think it was her saviour for the weekend to keep her going as she was able to have some “quiet time” doing some fun activities, to recharge her energy for running around again!
This zone had some fun and free activities, such as the Facepaintoos, where you get transfer facepaints that are so easy to apply/wash off (even in a tent!) and they’re smudge-free too! Lily also loved colouring in the Fuzzikins, to take home a new little pet!
This was a great little zone where the little ones could play with Playmobil setups on child-height tables as well as meet some Playmobil characters too!
We were also all given 2 Playmobil characters in the goodie bags when we turned up, which she was so excited about.
Paw Patrol zone
My child has carried a small Skye plush toy around with her for 2.5years and is Paw Patrol obsessed, so knowing Paw Patrol were going to be there, I wasn’t sure if she could contain her excitement.
She was the very first child on the very first morning to see Skye, mainly because she went straight to the tent and sat by the barrier until she turned up (thankfully only 10 minutes later!!), but she also loved all the little sensory tray play tables in there and the Paw Patrol interactive entertainment such as the Rubble Rock!
Her new obsession is Sylvanian Families, despite never having known about them before the festival.
She collected some amazing little surprise bags and toys that they were handing out for free over the weekend, goodie bags, and was beyond excited to meet the characters.
I let her decide where she wanted to go all weekend, to be able to explore what she wanted, and she kept coming back to this tent to play with the little toys that were out, to meet the characters as well as get involved with the activities in there. The team were also really lovely, which made such a difference to being at a festival with a little one.
This was an amazing interactive area, with its own stage, and the chance to meet animals of all shapes and sizes.
It was well equipped with hand washing tables, as well as activities to help the little ones learn about the animals.
The Fabland setup was, well, fab! With a giant ball pit, three slides to slide into it of different speeds/heights, as well as an obstacle course, all with organised timings, Lily really had a great time in this area.
She wanted to stay longer, but we understood how they had to be limited on timings to keep the flow going and the play safe.
Meet & Greet
From PJ Masks and Peppa Pig through to Paw Patrol, Sylvanian Families, Playmobil, Hey Duggee and more, there was never a shortage of your little one’s heroes to meet through the weekend.
Lily was ecstatic to meet some of her absolute favourites, and I know so many other little ones were too.
This year’s festival was pirate themed, so there was plenty of pirate-related activities to do, from workshops on how to be a pirate, to meeting mermaids in the mermaid pool.
Great fun for all ages, including the older kids who may not have wanted to meet the other characters through the day.
The girls also enjoyed the huge sandpit with deckchairs – somewhere I took Lily on the Friday night too to escape the rain!
I’m going to write a separate post about camping as I’ve already had a load of questions about this (I’m definitely no expert, but don’t mind answering anything honestly when people send a message!).
We camped for the weekend. I planned to stay til the Monday morning, but being on my own with Lily, I found it was easier to leave on the Sunday late afternoon, as it meant we could enjoy the entertainment all weekend and then I could pack up everything easier with her and get out before the crowds.
Camping was an amazing adventure in itself. The campsite was about a 5/10min walk from the festival site, and Lily was excited for this whole other side to the festival too. I really found it part of the whole festival experience and the staff on site were so helpful.
Some people on the campsite still didn’t seem to get the “family-friendly” element of the festival and were pretty loud very late, but Lily slept through the lot, which was good. I was happy there was a coffee stall and a handy camping stall on the campsite too, and the car park was right next to the campsite, which made it easier with the little one.
Check our our blog post about family festival camping, but I’d definitely recommend it at Gloworm for your first festival campsite with kids – mainly because we had a great time, despite my pre-Gloworm flashbacks to Reading Festival campsites in 1999 – it wasn’t like that at all! Just really recommend a trailer… it was my absolute lifesaver!
The down sides & tips for visiting
With every event, there’s always going to be a few ups and downs, but I thought I’d mention these to help anyone heading next year to be prepared for the same again…
- The funfair rides are chargeable on the Friday night and after 5pm on Sat/Sun – and they’re pretty expensive – think £6 for one slide down the helter skelter. Yes, they’re free the rest of the weekend, but then the queues are about an hour.
- There’s a lot of queuing for many of the activities through the weekend, so get to your chosen spot early to get into where you want.
- If you’re after the cookery, then get there very first thing as all the spots go instantly and there’s no more that day.
- Portaloos with kids. Thankfully, there’s alot of them and they’re not too far, but by the 3rd day of campsite portaloos with a little one, you do look forward to a normal toilet again!
- The phone reception is pretty terrible. I’m not saying this for those who want to check in on Facebook, but more because it is best to find a meeting point and set times to meet up with friends/family as you may not be able to contact them when inside – it took us about 2hrs to contact our friends on the Saturday as we didn’t realise this til we were there!
- Our phone batteries also drained really quickly as they were constantly searching for networks, so take an external charger with you!
- Take some cash with you – the cash points were charging £2.95 per transaction, and no stalls took cards as there wasn’t reception for them to connect their contactless devices.
- Buy your tickets early – they sell out fast!
I know there were a few down sides, as mentioned above, but overall it was just amazing. Lily had the best time, and there was so much more than I mentioned above, including cookery (if you book on early), play areas (indoor and out), workshops, interactive stages, sensory areas, baby changing tents and food stalls with kids’ meals on the menu!
Even just running around to the music, chasing her friends, playing with bubbles and meeting the pirates and mermaids, she was in her element, and even after two full days and one evening there, we still didn’t cover everything.
She came back with a whole bag full of free toys and activities to take home with her, and has happily spent time doing some of them while I had a much-needed shower, sorted all the laundry and unpacked the camping things – definite win-win there!
I’d recommend it 100 times over to anyone with families, and I wouldn’t hesitate to get tickets again for the weekend next year. There’s more than enough to keep kids of all ages entertained, from the youngest to the oldest, and even those with different needs are well catered for with plenty to do to be able to enjoy a festival.
It may be a cliche to say “best time ever”, “best weekend ever” etc etc, but I don’t know how else to explain it – Gloworm totally went beyond my expectations, and know so many other families there would say the same.
Again, Gloworm, thank you, and we can’t wait to see you again next year for another huge dose of epic family fun!
For more information, please visit the Gloworm Festival website
Please note, I’ve done my best to share photos without other children in. If you want me to remove any photos, please just let me know!