This was our first year at Elderflower Fields. It was recommended to us by our friends vibeslifeus and we were not disappointed. We snuck the kids out of school early and headed straight down to Pippingford Park in East Sussex. It’s a beautiful estate where Elderflower Fields is held every year.
This was Elderflower Fields’ 10th year and it was completely sold out, with all 5000 people camping. Even so, it didn’t feel crowded. There was the odd queue for food but plenty of space for camping and loads to do for all ages to get involved. There are several camping fields to chose from, as well as pre-pitched and furnished glamping bell tents, tippi’s and live-in-vehicle options. Excellent toilets and showers, great activities, fab food, and top notch weather.
First Things First
The first thing you need to do is choose where to pitch. Deciding if you would rather be close to the festival, or the car park. Bearing in mind the steep hill, less seasoned campers would be wise to get there nice and early if dragging your camp gear laden cart worries you.
Knowing how far we’ve walked at other family festivals like Camp Bestival, the extra distance to the Wild Camping Field was well worth it. There was loads of space and lovely views. Yes, it’s a little further to walk to fill up your water bottles but we appreciate our own space and shorter toilet queues. We did see a golf-buggy style shuttle bus, but I imagine there would have been a bit of a wait. At least on the way in it was downhill all the way. The uphill return to the car on Sunday was a little more challenging.
The Coleman tent was up in no time and we cracked open the Strongbow. As per usual there’s no glass allowed on site but there are no restrictions on bringing your own drinks into the festival which is pun-tastically refreshing!
Being able to bring in your own food and drink makes things so much more accessible to lower income families and we still ended up buying a few pints. Who can’t resist a cold beverage! We ventured down to the festival on the Friday evening to see what was in-store for the weekend. Free programmes contained all the information for the weekend including acts and activities. We had already booked a few on the website as suggested. Some activities required additional payment, like the watersports, and can get booked up. Make sure you grab a slot soon after you book your tickets to avoid disappointment. We still managed to get the kids into the art and craft session and sports camp. These were both free and great fun, especially the fencing.
Elderflower Fields Festival
We headed out without our faithful camping trolley. The site is small enough to easily get around and give the kids a little bit of freedom. We saw a few families with walkie talkies which we thought was a good idea too.
The activities were even better than we could of hoped for as they were a drop-off-and-go deal! So of course Andy and I made good use of our child-free hour at the Laine Brew co bar. The trolley made an appearance in the evening with fairy lights and pillows. The late nights are a must at Elderflower Fields and you don’t miss the awesome DJ’s or silent disco.
Dragonfly Hill and neighbouring Leapfrog Lawns were home to the biggest of the stages and an amazing array of activities. After a good hour or so on circus skills we headed towards a large inflatable whale. There we discovered a very animated pirate telling a small group of fascinated children all about the sea. In the neighbouring science tent the boy experimented with friction and built tin foil boats. Wilba was happy making (and eating) structures with spaghetti and marshmallows – I’m not sure many survived.
Food & Drink
In terms of snacks we bought mini pancakes from one of the many local vendors. There was a great variety of food on offer with an emphasis on locally-sourced, organic and fair-trade ingredients. The festival site also had its own reasonably priced convenience store too for those bits and bobs you may have forgot.
After some rock climbing and time spent building a magnificent structure with the woodland tribe, parkour and hanging out at the nightjars it was time to watch The Dub Pistols on the main stage. The music all weekend was fabulous. It had a really eclectic mix from The Turbans and Collapsed Lung to local community acts and of course the marvellous Magnificent Kevens who roamed around the site playing whenever and wherever they chose. Our highlight of the weekend though was on Sunday night. Johnny Cash Converters was absolutely amazing. I’m praying Elderflower fields get them back next year I’ve never seen anyone mix dance and country quite like that.
We spent Sunday morning at the brilliant Sports Camp, led by some very enthusiastic coaches. I was truly thankful for the rest after a late night of merry making. As Andy packed up the tent we took a stroll through the trees to admire the artwork of local schools, and the beautiful landscape that played host to the festival.
The kids spent more time in the Woodland Tribe Area with their friends Emerson from Vibeslifeus and Bella from Dear_mummy. There we threw a few more shapes in the urban woods which was fast becoming our favourite place. For those wanting a more relaxed atmosphere The Nightjars area was host to music and craft workshops. There was some lovely folk music on the Woodland Stage and relaxing treatments in the nearby woodland spa.
The Elderflower Fields Community
I love the sense of community at Elderflower fields. We sadly missed The Big Picnic on Dragonfly Hill. This annual event at Elderflower Fields encourages you to make new friends. Gather 8 wristbands (people) together in exchange for a free picnic hamper of tasty locally-produced food. Dragonfly Hill was packed and we were told had to be quick to get a spot in the shade and avoid queuing too long for the hampers.
Elderflower Fields is a small and friendly family festival. Kids can be wild, free and immersed in nature and the arts. Although it could easily grow I have a sneaky suspicion from the strong community feel and the wealth of local small businesses the organisers will always put families and community first at this truly charming family weekend adventure. We had an absolutely amazing time and hope to return next year.
Disclaimer* Complimentary tickets, words as always are my own.