Special Needs Families: Heading to a Festival

So with festival season just around the corner I thought I’d share my experience of taking Pumpkin to Camp Bestival in 2015 and 2016. As you probably know from here,  Pumpkin has additional needs, primarily severe visual impairment. As festival rookies we made a few huge boo boos the first year we went to Camp Bestival. I’m here to make sure you don’t do the same!

The number one piece of advice: TAKE A BIG ENOUGH TENT. The first night we spent at Camp Bestival was one of the most horrendous nights of my life… Quite stupidly I told myself when buying our first tent “well we’ll only sleep in it”… little did I know  there would be absolutely no sleeping at all in a 2 man pop up tent… Needless to say I wrapped Pumpkin in every sleeping bag, blanket, hats etc that we had whilst I sat soggy from condensation, cold and on the verge of a midnight panic attack. Amazingly Pumpkin slept for a while but as soon as the sun came up we got in the car, drove to Argos and bought all the things we should have bought in the first place… including a proper tent, more clothes as well as and heres tip No 2, a couple of those foil survival blankets to put under whatever it is your sleeping on. It stops the cold from coming in from underneath you.

The rest of the weekend was amazing. As a single parent I was nervous about braving such a big festival on my own but wonderfully there is a great group called Single Parent Travel Club whereby parents can organise their own meet-ups, days out and holidays. A number of single parent families arranged to camp together and during the weekend we got to hang out with and offer an extra pair of hands to such a lovely bunch of people, many of which we’re still in contact with now.

The following year we decided to try out the Disabled Campsite because it offers Blue Badge holders the choice of parking your car next to your tent; in general camping there is a hell of a lot of walking to and from the car with all your gear (the site is also extremely hilly). Because of this we couldn’t camp with other single parents but Nana came along this time which was great. This campsite has its own showers, WCs and is closer to the main action. Theres also a great Facebook group where parents can chat before and after the festival, ask questions, arrange to help with putting the tent up etc.

Next, the music… Camp Bestival is aimed at the whole family and it really does do a wonderful job at coming up with a line-up as entertaining for the kids as it is grandparents. Mr Tumble makes an appearance annually, a highlight for nearly all the kiddies. Last year my mum (Nana) had an absolute blast getting her boogie on to her favourite band Squeeze. Fat Boy Slim headlined last year and from what we could hear from our tent he was amazing! There are stages spread across the beautiful grounds of Lulworth Castle offering a huge variety of genres from jazz to bollywood. Theres comedy, theatre and the Guardian Literary Tent offers a calm oasis of stories, early morning news and famous authors and workshops.

Theres a medical tent if you need to store medication, a viewing platform for wheelchair users and lots of ‘lost children’ areas. Go here for more information on accessibility. Forget your torch? Theres shop for that, need to do your laundry before you go? Yep and it’s free, but get in early because theres always a queue. There really is something for everyone and way too much to fit into this blog post but the final word must go to the food… from Pad Thai to delicious egg rolls for breakfast, they have it all including cooking workshops and a food tent catered to the youngest of festival goers. Look out for the double decker bus offering a great cup of tea for £1!

Next month we’re heading to the Curious Arts Festival so watch this space!

2 thoughts on “Special Needs Families: Heading to a Festival

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *