Please note, although we carried our 2020 day tickets over, we were very kindly gifted weekend camping passes for 2022, however every word of this review is genuine. We have also done our best to not include other kids in our photos – if you want any removed, please just let us know.
Now, for us, Gloworm Festival holds a pretty strong place in our hearts. If you follow us on social media, you’ll know that we are some of the biggest fans of this amazing festival, and there are so many reasons for this.
Gloworm Festival may have been our third festival in a row this summer, after the awesome weekends we had at Elderflower Fields and Camp Bestival, but for us, Gloworm Festival is truly something special, even more so after this past year.
If you’re looking for a festival for all the family to enjoy, look no further than Gloworm – here’s why…
Why does Gloworm Festival mean so much to us?
Following how awesome Gloworm Festival 2019 was for us, we instantly booked tickets for 2020, counting the days until we could head back again.
It was the first proper festival weekend I had taken Lily to, and seeing the magic in her eyes throughout the whole weekend was the catalyst we needed to embark on as many family festival weekends as we could.
When Lockdown 1 landed in 2020, it was the Gloworm Festival team who helped us through some of the darkest days. The Gloworm team gave us hope for brighter days, as well as activities at home and ways to keep Lily busy while on her own when we were working, while she was missing her friends, school and our family too.
It sounds cheesy, but counting down to the festival kept us going.
However, as things got more and more difficult through 2020, we knew the world’s crisis meant we had to hold on that bit longer – we were gutted for the team and everyone involved, but knew it was for the best at that time. We loved following the Gloworm Festival activities at home as well as their trails at Thoresby Park when we were able to get out again.
But, 726 sleeps later and there we were, walking back into Thoresby Park, surrounded by tents, brighly-coloured flags blowing in the wind, and the sweet sound of the stages warming up.
Gloworm Festival was back – and we were ready for it!
What is Gloworm Festival?
Gloworm Festival is a family festival set in the beautiful Thoresby Park, Nottinghamshire, bringing together a stunning mix of family-friendly music, activities, funfair, food and more over an entire weekend in August.
Designed especially for families with children under the age of 13, with names such as CBeebies, Playmobil, Organix and White Post Farm, you know it will be an amazing weekend.
2020 should have been the festival’s 5th birthday, but that meant the 5th birthday party could be even bigger in 2021 – and it was!
Our 2021 festival review
Here’s our full review of Gloworm Festival 2021 using the letters of GLOWORM FESTIVAL!
G – Gloworm atmosphere
After switching on the Out of Office on Friday afternoon, we rocked up to Thoresby Park to pitch up in the Gloworm Festival campsite in time for the gates to open for the Friday night fun.
For us, I’d told Lily this was just going to be a “quiet night” before the fun of the weekend, we’d maybe have a little dance and grab some food, but within minutes, she had been sucked into the beautiful atmosphere that is Gloworm Festival and was busting out all her favourite dance moves – and this was just the first night!
Gloworm Festival has such an amazing atmosphere, with always something going on throughout the weekend that you are just continually in awe of all the beautiful colours, music, costumes, your kid’s heroes wandering around, constant grins… and where else would you see a dinosaur just casually strolling up to an ice cream van?
The Gloworm atmosphere really is something special and not to be missed.
L – Live music
The music throughout the weekend was just incredible, from the Playmobil raves to the headline acts from the likes of Andy and the Odd Socks, N-Trance and more. The main stage was always buzzing, whether it was with headline music, tribute bands, or entertainment from names such as Dr Ranj, Maddy Moate, Hey Duggee and Mr Blobby!
Thanks to Andy and the Odd Socks, “Who’s in the Odd Socks? WE ARE!” was sung on repeat through the campsite and on the way home in our car, until the excitement of the weekend finally caught up with Lily and she was fast asleep!
You then had other stages, such as the Big Top where kids and adults of all ages could dance, sing and shout to your heart’s content. We particularly enjoyed Mama G and the Elmer Parade, where messages of positivity and kindness were spread like glitter.
Lily loved dancing along to Jo Jingles while in the Paw Patrol queue and joining in with the Tumble Tots dancing while we relaxed in front of the main stage, as well as heading up front to get involved with Maddy Moate’s quiz as well as the Playmobil raves – her only complaint was when the music stopped: “but, mummy, I just want to keep dancing!” 😂
O – Outdoors
Gloworm Festival is somewhere where you can enjoy everything there is to love about the outdoors, including the White Post Farm area where kids could meet some beautiful animals and listen to talks and shows about their favourite animals.
You could also enjoy some forest school throughout the weekend, including natural crafts, or even activities such as archery – this was definitely a big hit with Lily!
One of our favourite areas was the Dino Zone, where you could step back in time to enjoy everything to do with dinosaurs, including some amazing free shows, which were not only exciting, but we also learned so much too!
The climbing wall was also a favourite for us over the weekend – plus all these activities were included in the ticket price!
W – Workshops
Throughout the weekend, kids could get involved with so many new activities, with taster sessions and workshops running on both days.
By lunchtime on the first day, not only had the girls enjoyed live music and dino stories, but they had already been involved in a drumming workshop with Kyle Commerie, got involved in circus skills (I didn’t think I’d get Lily out of there!) and a DJ taster session too, which was even more special as the Four Four DJ Academy was one of the Gloworm at Home raves we got involved with in our tent during lockdown, so it was fantastic to actually be there in person, and the team were so supportive throughout the 121 session.
If you wanted to learn new skills, develop old skills, try something new or just have a taster of something you’d always dreamed of, Gloworm Festival can give kids of all ages that opportunity. We even had a go at graffiti art, something we’d never even thought we’d try!
O – Open play
Whatever your family enjoys doing and playing, they can do it at Gloworm Festival – it really is a place to play and enjoy.
Kids under 5 and toddlers could enjoy the Tumble Tots sessions throughout the weekend as well as sensory areas and crafts for the little ones, then you had plenty of activities, crafts and open-ended play areas for older kids. For some quiet time, there were spaces to colour, draw and paint too.
One of our favourite areas was the Actual Reality Arcades area, where you could have a go at real life arcade games, where you’re the characters! Lily particularly loved the Space Invaders, Laser Run and Donkey Kong!
As if that wasn’t enough, sponsor Playmobil had plenty of toys spread out for children to enjoy in their tent, as well as life-sized Playmobil characters to meet – thank you Playmobil for the freebies too!
If that wasn’t enough, Shipwreck Cove hosted a giant sandpit surrounded by deckchairs – definitely a place to enjoy a coffee while the kids played – and Sandicliffe even let you write on a car (don’t try this at home!)!
R – Rides
As if we couldn’t get enough highlights, the fairground is definitely another highlight from us.
The fairground is free until 5pm each day, so there can be a few queues, but heading there when you first arrive is a great tip as you can usually walk straight on.
There was even more choice of rides this year, it was just fantastic.
Lily’s favourites were the helter skelter and the swing chairs, but she also giggled away on the swing boats and smaller rides too – there really was something for everyone to enjoy.
M – Meet & greets
Gloworm Festival is a place where dreams are totally made up, and kids can meet their heroes, including Paw Patrol, Hey Duggee, Bing and all your favourite superheroes.
Give them a hug, get a high five, take your photo for the memory book, but also take home that beautiful image of seeing your kids’ faces as they meet their heroes.
Lily’s favourite has always been Skye, so she was buzzing to get a hug from Skye, but also a special shout out to the superheroes for taking the time to talk to the kids and show off their tricks and powers to them too.
F – Food & drink
You were spoiled for choice at Gloworm Festival with all the amazing food on offer, for all your dietary requirements. There was vegetarian food, vegan, dairy-free, gluten free and more, meaning noone was left hungry.
There were queues around peak time, but if you ate around peak times, you didn’t need to queue as much – we had an early lunch on Sunday around 11.45am from the stonebaked pizza trailer, with noone else in the queue, and it was just delicious!
E – Entertainment
As well as the music on the main stage, you were never short of entertainment at Gloworm Festival, with always something going on.
The Happy Circus had awe-inspiring shows on throughout the weekend, you could get involved with Superhero Training, or relax to a bedtime story in the CBeebies tent with some of your CBeebies heroes (I’m sure it was as many adults as excited to see Andy Day and Dr Ranj as the kids!).
For little ones, you had the Baby Club and Little Learners, and Organix was there to help kids learn about foods through rainbows – plus Lily loved their bean bags to relax with a book on.
The Dino Shows were something very special, running throughout the weekend, and there were medieval reenactments from the Sherwood Outlaws. As always, meeting a mermaid in the Shipwreck Cove was something not to be missed!
S – Site facilities
The Gloworm Festival site is designed for those with families, making the festival more enjoyable for those with young kids.
The toilets were portaloos, but were the cleanest portaloos I’ve seen at any festival this summer, with toilets available at many points across the site without having to go too far, and well-stocked with toilet roll too!
For those with babies, there were baby changing and quieter feeding tents too. I guess the only addition, based on social media feedback, would be toilets outside of the festival site for day ticket holders, particularly with small children when queuing after the journey to the site.
Food and drink was also readily available, with bars, hot and cold drinks, snacks and meals for many dietary requirements considered.
T – Tents
Camping is something we love to do at Gloworm Festival as it really is a great place to treat families to their first family festival. The campsite is relaxed, quiet, and close to the car park too. We’ve been to several festival campsites, and I always feel Gloworm is one of the best as it is on the level with the carpark, with not so far to take your things (though the trailer definitely helped!).
The only issues were finding the water tap, as none of the campsite team seemed to know where it was and then the signs coming down from the campsite to know where to go into the festival, leading to confusion on the first day.
Once we knew, it was fantastic and I really do recommend it for families taking their first camping festival, whether that’s in a tent, caravan or even glamping!
I – Inclusive & accessible
What makes Gloworm extra special is the inclusivity – everyone can feel welcome and is able to enjoy the festival.
There are sensory areas for those who may need a bit of time out from the excitement, activities for all ages and abilities, as well as additions to help make the festival more accessible to those who may need it, including a mobile Changing Places toilet and free carer passes.
For more on accessibility at Gloworm Festival, click here.
V – VIP
We ourselves haven’t yet experienced the Gloworm Festival VIP area, but for those who paid a little extra, you could get VIP access.
This included fast-track entry, your own VIP area with special Meet & Greet opportunities, silent disco, the cookery school, Aardman model making and more, as well as your own area to eat, drink and enjoy the main stage from too – as well as your own toilets!
A – Amazing causes
As well as entertaining children, Gloworm Festival supports some amazing causes including their charity partner Action Medical Research who support babies born too soon. Lily was born at 33 weeks and prematurity runs in our family, so it is a cause close to our hearts and we are also in awe of the 3000 mile row across the Atlantic from the team – you can support the charity here.
L – Loads of fun!
Words can’t describe how much fun there was to be had at Gloworm Festival – one minute you could be busting out your best superhero moves and the next you could be practicing those moves at the Playmobil rave, before trying your hand at some circus skills, enjoying some forest crafts and meeting an alpaca… then maybe a Duggee Hug to top it off?!
Things to build on for 2022
One thing we did struggle with this year was knowing where to go from the campsite, and even when we asked staff or security on site, they didn’t seem to know at times either. The second day, we knew where we were going, but I do know there was quite a lot of confusion from campers and day ticket holders over entrances/exits.
Phone reception/ WiFi
This was a problem we had last year too – complete lack of phone reception, which made it difficult to get in touch with friends on site and was a bit worrying in case kids got lost as you don’t have the phone reception to receive calls, even if their number is on your wrist.
It also meant vendors were cash only, which was frustrating for both vendors and ticket holders too – particularly as the onsite cash points cost £3 for withdrawing cash, although at least it did help me ration my coffee drinking :)!
We are home, exhausted from so much fun, freshly showered (minus a few bits of stray eco-glitter that will probably still be there for work tomorrow – apologies in advance to my colleagues!) and we are truly riding on the festival high.
Lily keeps saying to me that Gloworm Festival is her “number one festival and the BEST FESTIVAL EVER”, and she can’t stop talking about it.
Her highlights were the “fairground rides, meeting Skye, Playmobil rave, the climbing wall, the baby triceratops and playing with friends”.
Highlights for me were definitely making those memories together, dancing together like noone was watching, and seeing her excitement across the whole weekend, whether she was getting involved in a new activity, on the fairground rides, or meeting her heroes.
Lily was just in her total element the whole weekend and after such a crazy year (and more!), the 726-day wait was worth every second – the countdown is on til 2022.
There really is just so much to do which is all included in your ticket, and I still can’t get over the amount we managed to cram into just one fantastic weekend, even things we’d never even thought of trying!
The biggest thank you to the Gloworm Festival organisers for making this year happen – we know it can’t have been easy, but everyone was just so friendly and welcoming – you really brought a smile to thousands of faces this weekend.
We can’t wait to see you next year – see you then!