When you’re planning a wedding for November, surely booking to go to a festival with a toddler (with absolutely no camping experience) is a brilliant idea isn’t it? It’s not like we have ten million other things to organise and pay for!
I’d heard of Deer Shed Festival from people in one of the mama groups on Facebook. It sounded brilliant. It is a festival aimed specifically for families. Each year they have a different theme like monsters, time travel or machines. This year’s theme was The Wilderwind. The annual festival weekend happens in July and takes place in Topcliffe, North Yorkshire. It only took us about 30 minutes to get there which was great!
I’m a very impulsive person, so despite our plans, I decided to book up for us to go! For two adult tickets plus parking it cost just over £300. Elijah was free as he is under 2. It would have been less had we booked early. So we will definitely be booking asap next year!
As camping novices we had absolutely NO supplies. After the expense of the tickets I didn’t really want to fork out for full camping gear just now. Luckily, my mam had pretty much everything we needed. We borrowed her tent and camping supplies and were mostly set. The tent was 4 man which I felt may be too big for us. But in the end it was a good size for everything we needed. We took a double air bed for me and Craig and a “ready bed” for Elijah. He slept brilliantly in it!
Craig had to pitch the tent entirely on his own. I spent my time chasing after Elijah and making sure he didn’t get lost. He managed it really quickly. Within an hour and a half the tent was pitched and all of our stuff was set up and ready to go!
The best piece of advice I was given was to buy a wagon. It was so helpful. We used it to cart the items from the car to the camp site. Then around the arena it made a portable bed for Elijah to chill and sleep in. To make it more comfortable my mam’s partner cut a piece of wood to fit the base. We covered it with my yoga mat (haha like I actually do yoga!) and a fluffy blanket. It was perfect!
Although Elijah can walk well now, we also felt it a good idea to take a sling. I took this as an opportunity to borrow one of Cara’s Tulas. She had a few to choose from. I initially borrowed her free – to – grow. But after a trip around testing it out I felt like I would have preferred something more “knee to knee” as his legs were dangling a lot. Elijah has long legs and comfortably fit a toddler Connecta at 8 months! So instead, we went for the toddler size in Jet. I loved the fabric on it because it was fairly dark and neutral.
It’s well known toddler Tulas are very big; closer to a “preschool” size. Elijah JUST about fit in this size without his legs over extending. I had to ensure he was perfectly centred for it to be comfortable. It took a tad longer to get on than his normal buckles that we use at home because we had to adjust it. But when it was on, it was SO comfortable. The extra padding made him feel weightless. I was able to carry him for ages in the slippy mud. I wish Tula did an “inbetweeny” size as this would suit us perfectly.
I couldn’t possibly list all of the activities available at Deer Shed. There was just SO MANY. It is especially brilliant for older children. I was in awe at the arts and crafts, the science tent, the sports arena and the performances.
For under 5s there was so much to do. Elijah’s particular favourites were the soft play and sand pit area. He also loved the circus skills tent. He loved throwing the juggling balls around and playing with the hoops. He also enjoyed the sensory meadow tent with simple natural toys and objects to play with.
We didn’t watch many shows with Elijah because he wasn’t a fan of the loud noise. But then refused to keep his ear defenders on! We did manage to catch the Bubble Man and Eli was in complete awe of him!
He absolutely loved The Rig: a musical installation. It’s inspired us to try and create our own version of The Rig for his birthday with pots and pans!
The one thing I would definitely do different next time is go in a group. It would be much easier pitching tents and keeping an eye on adventurous little ones if you had a little team of families to go with. We are hoping to go again next year and thankfully the pictures I’d been uploading has sparked a lot of interest from my friends!
I don’t think my write up can do it justice just how good this weekend was. I’d urge any families to skip the sunny beach holiday next year and try this instead. There are so many amazing experiences to be had. Your children will thank you.
Have you been to Deer Shed? Or can you recommend any other family friendly festivals? Comment below to let us know!