I’ve been to three lesser known South London festivals recently. They each had their positives and negatives, so I thought I’d do a little round up post. In the interest of transparency, I’d like to disclose that I was given press tickets to attend the first two events. I have not been asked to or paid to write this piece. Click here for my full disclosure policy.
Go Organic (8-9 Sept, Battersea Park)
The lowdown: Tickets were priced around £25, and it would have been worth the money simply to see the impressive headline acts. The Magic Numbers played on Sat, The Hoosiers on Sun, and there were plenty of other bands in between. The live music created a fab festival atmosphere. There were also live cooking demonstrations throughout the weekend. Again they had some impressive names, among which Melissa Hemsley, Theo Randall and Grace from Eats Amazing.
Alongside the music and demos were over 100 exhibitors. Organic food and drinks producers of all shapes and sizes. From big brands stocked in all the supermarkets, to small independents only found in select health food shops. For someone who takes their organic food as seriously as I do, it was quite literally heaven.
There were plenty of children’s activities going on, including an eco arts cafe, headband making, a mini farm and cookery classes. Being without the kids, hubby and I skipped it all, but the little people looked like they were having lots of fun.
Favourite bits: I absolutely loved chatting with some of the small business owners. It was wonderful to meet Philippa who created Fatty’s Organic Gin from her house in Dulwich. Not only is it a gorgeous flavour (watch out Hendrick’s!) but the branding is printed onto the bottle with vegetable inks, and unlike most other gins on the market, the bottle isn’t wrapped in plastic. This clever lady has thought of everything, and I wish her nothing but success.
We spent lots of time at the Vintage Roots stand, learning all about how organic and biodynamic wine is made. I found it fascinating hearing about the sulphite levels, and how sometimes biodynamic wines contain next to no sulphites, due to the completely natural fermentation process. This is how wine used to be made, in the days before nasty pesticides and overloading the drinks with sugar and sulphites to make it taste nicer and last longer.
We paid £5 to do a thirty minute wine tasting session with Queens Park Wines. The lady running it really knew her stuff, and it was far more insightful than I was expecting. Rather than discussing which food to pair the drinks with, we learnt all about growing regions, and cooperatives. There is so much innovation happening with organic wine right now, which is music to my ears.
Least favourite bit: There were only a handful of stalls to buy food, rather than nibble on samples, so the queues were huge all afternoon. We opted for Helen Browning’s delicious sausages, which were definitely worth the wait!
My verdict: It’s not often my husband and I get a whole six hours to ourselves without the kiddos, and we both agreed it was an excellent use of our time off. We had a blast wandering around, sampling all the delights and chatting to the vendors.
Is it running in 2019? Tickets will be going on sale in January, but you can sign up here to be the first in the know when there is any news.
Wild Child (17-19 Aug, Trevor Bailey Sports Ground, Dulwich)
The lowdown: Wild Child promised to be an enchanting new type of family festival celebrating child-focused workshops and entertainment. It was designed by parents and arts educators, with the main emphasis on arts, creative play, STEAM and wellbeing. Ticket prices were £5-30.
Doors opened at 10am, and we arrived shortly afterwards. Cards on the table, when we walked into Wild Child everyone was a little bit underwhelmed. It was very small, and there didn’t appear to be all that much going on. Once we’d settled in however, we saw that the organisers were going for quality over quantity, and had done a marvellous job. There were theatre and dance companies, a wellness warren for yoga, and wellbeing, messy play and sensory activities for the toddlers, a circus tent and science corner. As well as an indoor market, full of London-based independent businesses.
Favourite bits: We set up our little camp outside the Fantastiko Circus School, which provided brilliant entertainment, especially for the younger kids (aged 4, 5 and 6). At the start of the day, Clara was wobbling on the tightrope, balancing on two hoola hoops and by the end she was walking on it unaided. It was quite incredible watching her progression throughout the day.
It felt very safe from the moment we stepped inside, so my friend and I gave the 9yo’s freedom to roam around and check out the activities aimed at the bigger kids. They did yoga, Bollywood dancing, cheerleading, mindfulness and painted affirmation pebbles, among other things.
Dino-obsessed Freddy was in his element with the Dino-Land immersive adventure. It was a proper mini show, and the actors were just fab. We went no less than three times throughout the day.
Least favourite bit: There wasn’t much choice food wise. It was very pricey, and not amazing quality. If we were to go back I’d take a full picnic and plenty of snacks with me. Also my friend’s son had just turned twelve, so was out of the 0-11 age range and there wasn’t anything for him to do at all. He was fine hanging out with us oldies, but other kids his age might not have been so willing to sit chatting to their mum and her mate all day.
My verdict: It was great fun, and we all had an awesome day with our lovely friends. They live a fair distance from us, so we only get to meet up a couple of times a year. When we do we always add quirky memories to our bank, and this was no exception.
Is it running in 2019? I can’t find any information about next year’s event. Which is a shame, because it really was a lovely day.
Lambeth Country Show (22-23 July, Brockwell Park, Herne Hill)
The lowdown: The Lambeth County Show boasts a unique line-up, celebrating the very best of both city and countryside. Over 100,000 people attended this year, making it one of the biggest free family festivals in the UK. The event is organised by EventLambeth and part funded by Lambeth Council, along with commercial sponsorship and funding.
It might be easier to ask the question, what isn’t there to see at the Lambeth Country Show? Expect everything from a traditional fairground, and fitness area to horticultural shows, animal displays, home grown veggie and flower competitions, craft and food stalls as well as their very own farm. Not to mention the music – which is just as eclectic a mix! With dub, Afro-beat, disco, jazz, folk, ska, soul, and local talent playing acoustic folk, choir, soul and pop, steel orchestras and samba bands. All this served with lashings of pop up food stalls, fully licensed bars and the very popular Chucklehead cider.
Favourite bit: We hung out for well over an hour in the free activity section, which was sponsored by the charitable leisure centre chain Better. They had a soft play/gymnastics area, rowing machines, football, volleyball and a giant wall made out of velcro to chuck yourself at. So much fun.
Considering they have such huge numbers to contend with (among other things), I was very impressed by their sustainability policy.
Least favourite bit: The fairground section was extortionate. Most rides were £4 or £5, so times by three for us, it was very expensive to keep everyone entertained. Our faux pas was going there first, but if I had my time over, I would have gone straight to Better, and perhaps let the kids have one or two rides at the end.
The food has definitely improved over the years, and there is tons to choose from now, including lots of veggie/vegan options. BUT, it’s really costly. I do wonder whether they’ve managed to keep this lovely London festival free by charging the stall holders a lot more than they used to, which is of course reflected back in the prices they have to charge us?
My verdict: We’ve been going for over a decade, and it’s been quite interesting watching it grow over the years. I had a stall in 2007 selling smoothies and iced coffees, which was a lot of fun but so much work I vowed never again. Since then we’ve gone as a family six or seven times.
It’s a mixed bag to be honest, we’ve had some brilliant days here and some howlers. Like so many other things in life, our experience totally depends on the kiddos’ collective mood. If you’re in the area and happen to be free on Show day, you’d be mad not to pop down at least for a few hours. Be prepared to spend quite a lot of money though!
Is it running in 2019? YEP! Next year’s event has already been confirmed. The 45th Lambeth Country Show will return to Brockwell Park on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019.
Did you attend any good London festivals over the summer? Where are you planning on going next year? Tweet me @MummyTries