As the flags fluttered in the breeze and the sound of drums carried through the air, I immediately felt at home at The Sunrise Festival.
We’d survived the Battle of the Tent (note to self: read instructions carefully before attempting to put up a borrowed tent). We’d got through a last-minute trip to the supermarket to hastily stock up on supplies. We’d even made the entire journey without an argument.
We had arrived. And my, it felt good.
Walking into The Sunrise Festival is like stepping into another world.
It’s a land where music thumps, fairies dance and elves tell stories.
With a focus on green living and eco choices, the festival serves up the very best in delicious food (we ate like princes – homemade pizza, veggie platters, haloumi and chilli wraps, scented chai, creamy Somerset icecream – the list goes on) and clean vibes.
Despite trekking the entire length and breadth of the arena site, we couldn’t find one piece of stray litter. The rubbish is sorted into big, labelled containers, with every inch of it being recycled.
But the thing I loved the most about The Sunrise Festival? It’s a place of fun. A mixture of young and old, families and singletons, couples and huge gangs of friends all party together and chat – you can hear the laughter before you’ve even stepped onto the site.
Separated into various different “Micronations” the festival serves up an array of live music, workshops, play activities and places to just relax and drink it all in. Unsurprisingly, one of my toddler’s favourite spaces was the one geared towards children.
With a magical story area, complete with suitcases spilling forth colourful fancy dress outfits, set alongside a bright space-hopper arena, circus skills, bouncy castle, endless stream of bubbles, and a soft-play and sand area, my almost-three-year old was in heaven.
As soon as we arrived at the site we made a decision to let the festival dictate the pace. That meant Friday night saw us drinking in the atmosphere (and the delicious organic wine and local cider) until midnight, while our toddler danced and jumped and squealed with delight at watching the sun go down.
It was a festival of firsts: Frog’s first time having her face painted – I’ve never seen her sit so still…
As I sipped on a cold cup of wine, watching my tot party with the best of them, I realised it was also probably the first time I had ever felt that relaxed in a public place with my family, post-9.30pm.
We live in an age where parents can never win. From baby feeding decisions to sleeping choices, discipline and behaviour issues to whether you go to work or stay at home, as parents we’re often put under the microscope. But at The Sunrise Festival all of that rubbish was left at the door.
There were no judgements, no shifty shakes of the head, no hint of inter-family competition. This was a place for happiness, laughter, total relaxation and FUN!
For these reasons, I would thoroughly recommend the festival to families and non-families alike. I’ve never seen such a harmony of different types of people, all equally enjoying themselves. Whether you have babies or toddlers, tweens or teens – or if you just want to escape somewhere with your other half – this is a place to consider.
We were lucky with the weather, as the bright sunshine made spending the weekend outdoors incredibly easy. The mud was manageable and the site well looked after.
My only suggestion for another year would be for organisers to consider creating an opt-in family camping area, slightly away from the 3am revellers. When you’re in a tent, if your neighbours decide to throw a party until dawn, you can hear everything. Luckily the dancing, wine and cider meant we slept through most of it, but I can imagine the noise would have seeped into our dreams had we stayed more than one night.
As with all festivals, the toilets weren’t the prettiest place. Due to the focus on environmentally-friendly options, The Sunrise Festival uses compost toilets. These are totally fine if people use them properly, but an early morning trip to the loos proved that the night isn’t particularly kind to compost toilets.
Those tiny points in mind, I would still give a massive thumbs up to The Sunrise Festival. It was our first family festival experience and definitely won’t be our last. Even if we only do one festival next year – we hope to return to Sunrise again.
You can find out more about this festival on The Sunrise Festival website. Adult passes cost £40 each, while family visas cost £220.
(Disclosure: We were provided a family pass for the purpose of this review. All opinions remain my own.)