Tickets for Elderflower Fields were gifted, however this is our genuine review. I’ve also blurred faces of other children in my photos, but please just ask if you’d like me to remove a photo.
We were super happy that the awesome Elderflower Fields was due to launch in the Midlands in 2020, so after this sadly had to be postponed twice, we could not have been more excited to finally get to experience this incredible festival in West Sussex in 2021.
Was it worth the wait? Definitely! Here’s why…
What is Elderflower Fields Festival?
Elderflower Fields is a festival aimed at families and children, which launched in 2012 and has spiraled into the stunning festival it is today.
Set in the beautiful Pippingford Park, Elderflower Fields can only be described as a magical treasure chest of family activities and music, set amongst woodlands and rolling countryside.
It’s a place where kids can be kids again and, after such a crazy year, a place where adults can be kids again too, while feeling all the beautiful benefits of being surrounded by nature. We had every weather condition known to man, but that didn’t stop play – it was a fantastic weekend!
What activities are there to do at Elderflower Fields?
From adrenaline-pumping activities in the trees through to woodland storytelling, muddy fun and nature crafts through to live music and art trails, there were so many incredible gems of activities sparkling in every corner, you were never short of something to do, whether you wanted fast-paced fun or a quiet corner to relax in.
The activities were a great way to enjoy the surrounding nature, learn about the world around us, and build confidence too, while having all kinds of fun!
I’d be here all day listing every Elderflower Fields gem, but here are just some of our highlights:
In a huge marquee at Leap Frog Lawns, the free Arts Camp runs for kids over the age of 5 in different age groups (drop in sessions available for kids under 5). These we could book in advance and lasted for an hour (perfect timing for me to take the tent down without Lily around!), plus you could choose what session you book the kids onto.
Lily LOVES crafts, so she was in her element making nocturnal lanterns with the team in the marquee, which is now taking pride of place in her bedroom!
The team there were so lovely and it felt super safe as kids had to be signed in/out by their guardian/parent, so I knew she would be in safe hands.
Set amongst the trees in the Urban Woods, Monkey-Do was a series of nets and swings. Lily’s face lit up the moment she spotted it, and she was excited to get straight onto the next session to enjoy this fantastic treetop activity.
What was great to see was kids all working together to help each other out on the high nets, so everyone could climb and reach new heights.
It was super safe and the Monkey-Do team were in the nets too, helping out and playing with the kids as they explored the trees, before everyone slid down the tarp slide at the end!
Monkey-Do sessions were free, it was a great set-up, a fun way to build confidence and we’ll definitely give this a go again if we had the chance!
Every child at the festival can be booked onto one of the free sports camps. Kids under 5 years have drop-in sessions, however kids over 5 can be left in the incredible hands of the sports coaches for 1 hour and 45 mins over at Tumbledown Meadows, with sessions for different age groups.
I admit to feeling super guilty when I first left her – I mean, I had a whole festival to explore, child free, how was this possible?! Yes, I did sneak back to check on her a few times, but she clearly had forgotten about me as she was there enjoying so many amazing sports.
In that time, the kids were in groups playing archery, fencing, golf, hockey and dodgeball, and the whole camp was free to enjoy. She was beaming when I collected her and had a fantastic time with the other kids.
Next year, I’ll know she will be in trusty hands, and maybe will book myself onto one of the Woodland Spa activities for adults while she is in the camp!
Campfire Cooking with Wild Classroom
We booked ourselves onto the Campfire Cooking sessions with the Wild Classroom for breakfast in the Into the Trees area. It cost £10 per child and there were kids of all ages joining in. You could book for breakfast, lunch or dinner, however we settled for breakfast at 8.30am on the Saturday morning.
The children worked together, guided by Scott and the Wild Classroom team in the woods, to set up the campfire and make the breakfast. Each child was given different jobs, and all of them had a turn to do different things, including safely putting logs onto the fire, helping slice the rhubarb, stirring the porridge in the Dutch Oven, and helping with the ingredients.
Not only was it a lovely breakfast of fresh porridge and pancakes with grated apple, and rhubarb compote, but it showed the children how to make simple meals from scratch. We had a lovely time and would like to thank Scott and his team for such a fantastic experience.
The Science Dome was a great place for kids to enjoy a whole range of experiments.
It was all free, fun, educational and very engaging – as well as a fun place to escape the sun and rain too!
There were all kinds of circus workshops on Leapfrog Lawns throughout the festival, with the chance to try out so many new activities.
Every time you looked there, something was happening, with everything from limbo to hoops, miniature bikes and bubbles from the acts.
Lily had great fun playing here, as well as trying out trapeze skills thanks to the wonderful Circus Project.
Lily was super excited to spot the Mud Kitchen in the woodlands and would have stayed all day if she hadn’t had the sports camp timeslot to make!
With all the ingredients provided as well as the utensils, kids could use their imaginations in the woodlands to create their own mud-based dishes – I even ended up with a delicious “muduccino” 🙂
Thanks to the lovely Holmes Wood Play for such a great area!
Alongside this, you had some amazing nature craft activities from Schools Without Walls as well as the natural play area of the woods around you.
One of the first activities we tried when we arrived was the skate ramp. There were big queues later in the festival, so we were glad we jumped on when it was quieter.
Lily was excited to have a go at the half pipe with the help of the skate team, then asked for her own skateboard out as soon as we got home.
There are so many other activities to mention – from the Schools Without Walls Art Trail through the woodlands and the fascinating woodland hut camera which turned the festival upside down, through to nature art, lawn games, dance sessions and even Parkour in the woods, you were never short of something to do.
Sessions were mostly free and had to be booked at each area where numbers were limited, but we still managed to get onto everything we wanted to for Lily’s age.
For older kids, you could also enjoy activities such as tree climbing, raft building and kayaking, then there were prebookable sessions such as DJ workshops, beer tasting and even a Woodland Spa for the adults!
It wouldn’t be a festival without the music, and the lineup at Elderflower Fields was a beautifully diverse mix of music for everyone to enjoy, whether you were looking for cover bands, soul, rock, reggae, country, pop, or just something to be silly to!
The stages were fantastic, from the colourful Dragonfly stage through to the dreamy glow of the Woodlands Stage in the Nightjars area – the team had really worked hard to bring the natural vibes to all of the stages and embrace the surrounding countryside and woodlands in the build.
One of the headline acts, Rum Buffalo, announced on the first night that it was amazing to be back on a stage again, and I can’t deny that sent those festival tingles down my spine – it was a place that everyone could just dance like no one was watching and feel the music in your soul again.
If you wanted some quieter time, there were plenty of opportunities for storytelling experiences, poetry, and more on the fantastic lineup.
Food and drink
There was so much choice for food to eat, Elderflower Fields is definitely a place you will not go hungry!
From jerk chicken and halloumi fries, to locally-sourced burgers, mini pancakes, crepes, hot dogs, cooked breakfast and more, there was something for everyone, whether you were looking for locally-sourced produce, vegan or dairy-free options, or just something simple!
Lily’s favourites were the jacket potatoes and the mini pancakes, plus we had our own cooked breakfast from the campfire cooking session too!
If you’d forgotten anything for your own campsite meals, there was a little shop with local farm produce and toiletry essentials, as well as ice creams and sweet treats, and plenty of beautiful coffee stands too, not to mention the bars for beers, cocktails and mocktails!
There were quite a few queues around the site and the storms affected the power for some of the stalls, but everyone was working really hard and were super friendly at every stall to make sure everything they sold was the best quality. Shout out to the ladies at The Grey Earl coffee stand for an amazing cappuccino – it was definitely worth the wait!
One of Lily’s favourite stands was the smoothie stall where you could ride a bike to power the smoothie maker – her legs weren’t quite long enough but she was desperate to give it a go (even if mummy had to finish off the spin!) but the smoothie was delicious and super refreshing!
On the Sunday, one of the Elderflower Fields specialties is even a communal family picnic, where you group together in groups of 6 wristbands to get a picnic bag with tasters from some amazing local businesses.
The views from the campsite were absolutely stunning! We camped at the top of the hill by the car parking area, but there were tents all down the hill and then several other camping areas. Lily instantly made friends with other children in the surrounding tents, who all enjoyed just being outdoors and playing safely together.
The walk up the hill back to the tent was definitely worth it for the view of the surrounding countryside and we loved being so close to the car too – particularly as I was on my own with a small child, so it made it easier with the trailer to not to have to go too far.
Our only concern was the lack of toilets – you had to go down the hill and through wristband exchange to get to the toilets as well as the water taps, which was a long way when a kid suddenly needs a wee or you need to refill the water, then there were only a few toilets for the huge number of tents, so there was quite a queue at busy times.
There were a lack of toilets across the site itself, so we were happy to have packed our own toilet roll as there was never any. There could have been a few more bins too, especially up by the car park, but aside from that, we had no complaints!
However, it was one of the friendliest and most relaxing festival campsites we’ve stayed in, and we really did feel safe – even in the crazy thunderstorms, which made me nervous at the top of the hill, but Lily slept right through them!
We were more than happy that there were Covid safety measures in place, even with restrictions eased, so the fact we had to do LFT tests or have a double jab didn’t bother me (even though they didn’t check when I offered to show the evidence at wristband exchange!)
We felt safe throughout the festival, and with everything outdoors in nature and the woodlands, you could breathe in fresh air and easily keep away from others.
Where there were indoor places or a queue of people, I always wore my mask, plus I made sure Lily always played outdoors with other kids rather than in their tents. It was lovely to be back at a festival again, and the nature of Elderflower Fields setup really made sure this was possible to safely enjoy.
We had an incredible time at Elderflower Fields and would recommend it to families with kids of all ages and with mixed ages too! Even being solo with a small child to the festival, we both had so much fun and learned so much too, while enjoying a whole range of exciting and unique activities that were included in everyone’s tickets.
We felt safe, happy and could enjoy everything nature has to offer – and, I mean, where else can you enjoy freshly-baked lemon and blueberry cake with a delicious coffee, while watching your kids learn to swing on a trapeze?!
There is even a nanny service if you wanted a child-free evening to yourselves, and quiet teepees for breastfeeding or for young children, as well as activities for both kids and adults, so no one will leave disappointed.
Elderflower Fields was just stunning, with so much to do at every minute of the day, whether you were taking part in an organised session, enjoying some free-play in the woodlands, watching some live music or enjoying the art.
Thank you so much to the team at Elderflower Fields for having us along – we can’t wait to see you bring your Elderflower Fields festival magic to the Midlands in 2022!
8 Comments Add yours
I shall not be going again due to the huge problem of setting up and taking down. The car park is set a long, steep walk from the camping area and there were no arrangements for transporting the equipment and supplies necessary for a three day camp. When I went in 2018 there had been a bus system, which, although slow, addressed the problem. This year there was nothing. The huge physical effort of getting my equipment down to the camping area was enormous and the stewards, although apologetic for the dictate they had to enforce, offered no help except sympathy. This however, was not enough to calm my fury as I was forced to trudge up and down a massive hill weighed down by my equipment. Elderflower organisers have been contemptuously content to leave this problem for individuals to struggle with. And struggle they did, pregnant women carrying heavy loads and managing chirldren, men lashed to heavy carts of equipment, everyone sweating and panting their way up and down a steep, uneven track , again and again. And, what’s more, being passed by the fortunate few who had been entitled to use a vehicle. I vowed never to return, I will not be treated like a donkey. I completely agree regarding your comments on the wonderful activities on offer and the high standard of the bands playing, but if you go, expect to end your holiday exhausted and out of sorts.
Hi Christina, thanks for sharing, and I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad experience with the camping. We camped near the entrance to the carpark and found it a shorter distance to carry our stuff to/from the car. We were at Camp Bestival this weekend and the hills were even longer and steeper – there was a taxi buggy on offer (though it was £30) with your stuff, but I didn’t see it come by often enough and just battled the hill! Hopefully the organisers may find a way to increase the buggies for next year at both festivals to help those who need the support, particularly with small children.