Blissfields is one of those festivals that just manages to get everything right. We’ve only been once but it’s already become a family favourite because they manage to fit everything – great bands, hidden areas, fantastic kids’ entertainment – all in a very small space, yet it somehow retains its laid back and friendly vibe… just without all the walking!
The children’s area run by Angel Gardens is undoubtedly the highlight for families, and so Blissfields secured us an exclusive interview with the lovely Angel Sam – she talks about Blissfields, working at festivals, gaining a sense of belonging and the importance of spare socks.
How did you get into running kids areas at festivals?
We were looking after a couple of children from Belarus through the Chernobyl Children’s Project, we were keen to get them outside, enjoying some fresh air and having some fun. We took them to a small festival near us, we didn’t have much money at the time so
called them to see how we could do something in return for tickets. I ended up making site art and painting toilets for the festival with the kids who simply loved it. During the festival we realised there wasn’t much going on for them so I made a sign and nipped home for some bits and bats, within a few hours I had a craft area, face painting and bedtime story going on. Other folks came to us with ideas and over the weekend we created quite a program… I knew we could do something much better with some thought, before I knew it we were arguably the biggest kids area in the UK.
What do you like most about your job?
Wow… hard question! I am going to cheat and give you two answers: 1- providing things that really make a difference, it’s not really the activities, it’s the little things like kids loos, great lost kids areas and pulling kids out of the crowd to make a fuss of them… they remember it forever! 2- Providing crew with an outlet to work with children and families whatever their skills; we accept crew of all ages, backgrounds and skill base, watching them share their skills with each other and the public is a huge part of my role.
Are you offering any new activities at Blissfields this year?
Yes!!! It’s very exciting… we have pony rides and grooming classes, djing workshops, graffiti walls, A huge Flash mob, a choir, talent show and what looks like a million other new crafts and activities (try our hobby horse workshop or tutu making class).
Do you offer activities for all ages? Babies, toddlers, young children and older children? How about teenagers?
Yes, yes and yes…. our babycare tent has all the bits and bats you need to change bums and wash grubby hands and faces but we have introduced activities too, so expect music sessions and baby massage to name a few.. and of course we have NCT support for breastfeeding and general parenting support. Our craft tent is aimed at 2-8 year olds, the bell tent activities aimed at 8-12 years olds and the gardens and circus tent has stuff for all ages 0-100!.. our new teen space collects activities such as graffiti, beatboxing and djing workshops, as well as activities such asjewellery making, sewing and song writing. We also recognise young folk want to just hang out and make friends so we have a nice seated area for them too.
Do you have a dream activity that you would love to do, but are restricted by resources?
Ooooooh I could go on forever!! a climbing wall? skydiving? swimming with sharks? Learning to fly a plane?
How old were your children when you first took them to a festival, and do they enjoy festivals still? Do you think attending music festivals has affected them in any way (good or bad)?
Well I have 4 children so have a wide range of ages and experiences and they have all been festivalling for 8/9 years. Kitty was born last August (the day after I arrived home from Wilderness) and she attended her first festival last weekend, my other three are 15, 13 and 9 and they all experience their festivals in very different ways, mostly because they are very different young people. But thats the point! Festivals should cater and inspire everyone no matter what you are in to, what you believe in, your age, gender or interests. Everyone should be able to take out what they want from each festival. This is something we try do in Angel Gardens, we want children and adults to be able to pick and choose their activities and performances so they create their own tailor-made experience. They should always feel welcomed and belong. The bottom line at a festival is that you get a sense of belonging even if it only lasts a weekend. The biggest thing I think my children have learned is that they belong, they are valued and they have a voice, it gives them confidence and an education they would be pushed to find anywhere else… and yes they all LOVE festivals still. Bad things… they are far too confident!!!!!
What is your best tip for attending a festival with your children?
RELAX! Children adapt and soak it all in if you let them, if you are stressing about everything they will too and you will have a weekend of worry. Talk to them about what to do if they get lost (I wrote a blog about this on the website) take loads of spare socks (I take the odd sock bag) give them a back pack with a little torch, drink bottle, pens, roll up blanket and spare socks (again) let them explore and talk, ask and discover and most importantly enjoy everything together. Its not just about kids playing, adults need to play too and a festival is the best place to do this!!!
What do you think is the best thing about Blissfields?
Blissfields is such a lovely festival! its small enough to feel personal but big enough to feel exciting and cutting edge. The site is beautiful and the crowd is chilled. The BEST thing is that we are there ready and waiting to play and quite frankly have been a bit silly for a few days!
Blissfields is on 3rd to 5th July 2014, at Vicarage Farm, nr Winchester, Hampshire, UK
Please see our Blissfields factsheet for further information.
Get your tickets here (quickly before they sell out!): http://www.blissfields.co.uk/tickets/