We’ve looked forward to The Big Feastival for so long that we’re gutted it’s over! We LOVE family festivals; we’ve taken our boys to six over the last few years. This was our first time at The Big Feastival and it truly lived up to our high expectations even though it completely peed it down some of Friday and the majority of Sunday. (Typical English bank holiday weather eh!) Being fairly local to us we have friends who’ve raved about their experience at this family friendly festival for years so we were delighted to be invited to review the event this year.
Below I’ve shared highlights of our fun weekend. I’ve also shared lots of tips for attending the Big Feastival 2019 and tried to cover all the questions I myself was searching for answers to on Friday whilst packing to camp for the weekend. (Yep I’ll admit I left our packing until the very last minute and was frantically searching online for advice on what to pack!) If you’ve attended The Big Feastival and have tips to add I would love to hear from you. Please do pop your tips in the comments section below.
So what is The Big Feastival?
And do you need to add it to your wish list for next summer?! The Big Feastival is a firmly established family friendly food and music festival with a HUGE fan base. Most people we spoke to had attended for at least two years and many were there as friends had highly recommended it. Originally set up 7 years ago by Alex James (ex-Blur bassist, now well known cheese maker) and Jamie Oliver. The first events were held in Clapham as a small event to get people eating better. As the festival gained in popularity it moved to the stunning 200 acre grounds of Alex’s farmhouse in the Cotswolds. (Come on you know you want to… “He lives in a house, a very big house in the country!”) And even with Jamie Oliver no longer involved it’s firmly the summer go-to event for foodies, festival loving parents and live music lovers.
The Big Feastival – Our first impressions
We arrived on site at mid afternoon on the Friday, without experiencing any traffic jams which was a very welcome surprise! With black skies threatening to rain we hurriedly parked our car, loaded up our trolley and set off looking for space to pitch our tent. Clearly everyone else had taken a day off work as the camping fields were pretty full and it took us a while to find a pitch big enough for our 6-man tent. We were kicking ourselves for not getting there earlier. (Top tip no. 1 – Arrive early Friday and invest in a trolley, you’ll not regret it!) We felt the first drops of rain so swung into action and managed to get our tent up before the heavens opened. Whilst sheltering in our tent I realised that in our haste to unload we’d packed random bags in the first run from our car. We had rum but no coke, bolognese but no spaghetti, the sleeping bags but no air beds so we couldn’t warm up dinner or prepare the beds whilst sheltering from the rain… Although it turns out rum tastes great in tea!
The worst of the rain had stopped by the time we’d collected the rest of the stuff from our car and eaten dinner so we headed out for our first taste of The Big Feastival. The sun was just setting and the sky was vivid purple and orange. It was absolutely magical…
We instantly regretted having dinner in our tent. It’s obvious really, the clue is in the name! The Big Feastival is very much a foodie affair. A huge part of the experience is dining at the MANY food stalls dotted around the festival site. They serve everything from artisan cheese in Alex James Cheese Hub, gourmet mac n’ cheese, roasted corn and halloumi fries with a choice of delicious toppings and vegetarian Massa man-style curries. What struck me straight away was how unusual the food stalls were. No crappy gazebos serving fatty burgers in sight! Each was a spectacle in its own right – a BBQ stall with a spit fired pig, a Jamaican style cocktail bar, a Spanish tapas stall (where I bought my lunch the following day. The chicken and chorizo paella was to die for!)
I’ll be honest I arrived on site quite grumpy. It hadn’t been much fun sheltering from the rain sitting in our tent with my two overly excited boys. After a few minutes of walking around the colourful site, soaking up the fair ground atmosphere and listening to the silly antics of Dick n Dom on the main stage I was thoroughly in the festival mood and raring to go for the main acts of the night – Professor Green and Basement Jaxx.
Our highlights – Weekend at The Big Feastival
The Big Feastival is unlike any festival we’ve been to before. It’s really difficult to sum up the weekend in just a few words. It’s so much more than a music and food festival and I can genuinely see why so many people we spoke to have attended for several years. The atmosphere is addictive plus there is absolutely no way you can experience everything that the event has to offer in just three days.
Prior to arriving at the festival we were looking forward to watching the live performances by some of our all time fave artists – Craig David, Paloma Faith, Duke and James Arthur. We also knew we wanted to try and catch a glimpse of some of the festivals celebrity chef’s – Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc and Annabel Karmel. We didn’t get to watch all of these performances/talks but the ones we did watch we thoroughly enjoyed, particularly Craig David and Duke who were amazing!
— Travel Loving Family (@travellovinfam) August 25, 2018
What we hadn’t expected prior to our visit were all the extras – three days of inspiring talks inc. various Sunday Times editors, Adam Henson, Mother & Papa Pukka. Adult and kid cooking classes and demos, dance workshops, street entertainers, food samples, toasting marshmallows at sunset… All of these activities were included in the ticket price apart from the marshmallow toasting, where a fire pit is provided for you to toast your own. We loved the variety of entertainment and activities and were pleased to find that apart from the food and fair ground rides all the entertainment was included in the entry price.
Family activities at The Big Feastival
Kids are well and truly catered for. The organisers have thought of everything from the most basic of needs (a dedicated marquee with a nappy changing area, parent hang out zone and toddler toys plus Family Dining Room serving food that kids love) to the Big Top Tent with live entertainment including meet and greet/story time sessions with Paddington Bear, The Gruffalo and Peppa Pig. My boys loved practising their circus skills, meeting the animals at the Cotswold Farm Park marquee, singing along to Baby Broadway, making veggie pizzas, climbing on the huge haystack mountain and riding on the big wheel. They also take after their Yorkshire born father and thoroughly enjoyed running around finding the best free food samples, they were particularly delighted with the free fancy ice cream!
I’ll be honest, (sorry boys if you ever read this!), this was the first time we’ve taken our boys to a festival and wished we could’ve had some child free time there. I would’ve been so content walking from one celebrity chef cooking demo to another. My hubby could’ve happily spent a day mooching around the various beer tents sampling the craft ales whilst listening to the smaller live music acts. Of course as we had our boys with us we forfeited these experiences to ride on dodgem cars and watch Justin Fletcher.
— Travel Loving Family (@travellovinfam) August 25, 2018
If you are considering visiting the Big Feastival 2019 check out our top tips for making the most of the festival.
The Big Feastival contact details
Website – https://thebigfeastival.com/
The Big Feastival Address – Alex James’s Farm, Kingham, Chipping Norton OX7 6UJ
Disclosure – My family and I were invited as guests to review The Big Feastival. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.
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Other family friendly festivals we have reviewed this year
Wychwood Festival; The perfect weekend to introduce kids to festival life! (Cheltenham, Gloucestershire)
Larmer Tree Festival 2018… the highlights! (Salisbury)