Wychwood Festival 2012. A family friendly hippie heaven!

A couple of weeks ago, you may remember I headed off to Cheltenham for my first festival of the year.

Wychwood was a completely new experience for me. Not in that it was cold, windy and a bit wet. That’s standard for any festival. But because it was a real family affair, with a true hippie vibe that completely surprised me.

As we pulled up to Cheltenham Racecourse (where the festival is held) we were struck by the stunning scenery of the area. This is a great spot for an outdoor event, with a backdrop of rolling hills, ample parking and a wide open space, in which the acts were preparing to perform.

We kicked off with one of my festival favourites, the ridiculously entertaining Cuban Brothers. Now – if you’ve ever seen these nutters perform, you’ll know they’re not at the top of the family-friendly tree,, but they still engaged with the audience (both young and old) making sure the jokes drifted way over the younger ones heads…which made it even more amusing for those of us that understood the humour perfectly. The set was riotous and had us laughing and dancing (as best we could in minus 2 temperatures*) throughout – and feeling massively sorry for the spandex clad boys on stage who were quite clearly FREEZING. Great way to start though – and I got to have a hilarious little chat (and do a few lunges) with the Cuban Brothers afterwards…more on that very soon.

It’s hard to follow such a great first act, but an eclectic mix of performers did throughout the weekend. From speakers such as Howard Marx and Robin Ince, to live bands we all know and love, like James. It was a real-mixed bag of a line-up, interspersed with live Poetry, healing areas (we visited a fantastic Alexander technique therapist who made me feel as light as a feather) and healthy food options where-ever we looked. There were also singalongs, face painting, stalls and craft stands for the entire family to enjoy, and lots of kids looked like they were having the time of their lives. There were lots of huge beards and dreadlocks on show, but we didn’t see any drunken revellers or fancy-dressed crazy ravers…so if that’s your thing it’s best to stick to the other festivals out there. If you’re looking for a great day out for the family though, this is it. Hence why they’ve been nominated “Best Family Festival” every year.

I went along to Wychwood with Alpro, who had a stand there to try their new range of products and also see how they were using a number of ways to interact with the public and promote their new treats, and I have to say…I was impressed. I never really considered buying Alpro before, had no interested in Soya and thought it was just a brand for people with intolerances. However, whilst this is true…they’re also really delicious, and much nicer than some of the other brands on the shelves. I loved the way they were sampling in such an active and laid back environment, encouraging people to try the brand out with no obligation, and finding out just how many were surprised and impressed! They also went one above and had some great Social Media integration too – such as a huge bowl the whole family could get in, have a video taken and then posted to facebook – a great momento and one that was really popular with the kids.

I’m genuinely not obliged to say anything about Alpro, but am choosing to say this. Their cherry yoghurt’s are blinking phenomenal. And lot’s of the other’s were pleasantly surprising too. Have a try of them if you get the opportunity, they’re not just specialist products. They’re really, really nice!

As for Wychwood itself – I’m not sure I’ll be rushing back next year…if I’m going to travel that far away and camp I prefer a festival such as Bestival or Latitude…but I would definitely recommend it if you have children. Peaceful, charming and full of goodwill. It’s a family winner!

* It may not have actually been minus 2 degrees on the Friday afternoon…..but man it felt like it!

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