Dear mummy, this is our third year visiting our favourite food festival just outside Ipswich in Suffolk. It’s held on Jimmy Doherty’s farm who sprung to fame as a well know farmer, environmentalist, campaigner and TV personality. You may have heard of Jimmy’s Farm because it was the subject of several documentary series, also called Jimmy’s Farm. Famed for food programmes Jimmy Doherty was the perfect person to host a food and music festival on his land.
The campsite was located near the festival entrance in a green lush field with great views of the Suffolk countryside. We set up quickly putting us all in the right frame of mood. The majority of the site was flat which made it easy for my folks to hike the camping gear from the car in our trolley. We camped with friends and set up a little bedouin village of tents. We didn’t receive wristbands when we arrived and when we did they were just paper, which was a shame and they just about made it through the three days before disintegrating.
At the campsite there were hot showers and clean toilets with a full-time cleaning attendant on site throughout which was good. They were some of the best facilities we have seen at a festival. Decent sinks for water and teeth-brushing along with taps for drinking water. A large communal tent provided shelter from the rain in the campsite and entertainment for the kids in the morning and on Friday night with a live band.
There was a campsite bar open from Friday 2pm onwards, closing at 11pm each evening and a welcomed coffee van helping to wake parents up every morning from 7am. We brought everything we needed, however there was a shop and store on site which was definitely a great idea for those last-minute items the adults always seem to forget.
Jimmy’s Festival was split into 4 main areas The Main Stage, The Kids Zone and The Garden and the Wonderland Woods with the food court in the centre. Every year Jimmy’s Farm chooses a charity to work with to raise awareness/funds for and this year it was Autism Anglia and there were lovely breakout areas dotted around the site making it as autism friendly as possible.
The Main Stage area was large and there was plenty of room for festival goers to set up chairs and picnic blankets to enjoy the performances and as it was on a slight slope it meant that everyone got a good view of the stage. Hay bales were also dotted around the arena to give children a viewing platform too.
The weather was a mixed bag this year, unlike the glorious heatwave of last year and the stormy weather in 2015. It was a bit of a nightmare for my folks as we were constantly putting on wet weather gear, then taking it off to put on factor 50! The weather was so interchangeable that each day venturing into the festival we seemed to bring half the tent with us!
Kids were well catered for when it came to entertainment. They had a great area to play in, with a giant sandpit, a play park, enormous ‘jumping pillow’, climbing frames, baby care tent, animal petting, ice cream vans, face-painting, Saxon arts & crafts, the only problem we faced was trying to fit everything around the fab music and cooking demonstrations.
There is an animal petting farm with pigs and piglets, as well as goats, sheep, alpacas, Meerkats, peacocks, donkeys and a good selection of ducks roaming about the place. There were a couple of chargeable rides like the tea cups and the helter skelter which must have made a fortune that weekend!
As this is a lazy days kinda festival, we were all eager to chill out, including me and I was quite happy playing in the fields with my friends. There are several gift shops, the farm shop and restaurant and loads of areas to watch the world go by surrounded by pleasant gardens. There was also a Big Top Circus at the end of the site and this offered shelter on the rainy days for 1 hour performance at an extra £3.50. It would have been nice if this was included in the ticket price though. We love a good circus and enjoyed watching the performances and magic shows in the kids zone. I couldn’t help giggle at the clown and ring master.
I was old enough to sit on my own and watch the show which gave my folks a chance to relax. We enjoyed watching the Flying Seagulls and found the show very funny and entertaining. However, this year it was all about Dick & Dom and Justin Fletcher on the main stage and I enjoyed standing in the crowd participating and dancing.
It was the first year that I actually got Dick & Dom and stood by the front barrier to watch the whole show especially as Daddy and I started the whole ‘Bogeys’ shout outs in the campsite which amused everyone! Babies were well catered for. The baby tent provided by Up All Hours was wonderful and had proper, clean, changing tables, including free nappies and wipes. They even gave us free smoothies!
Scounting For Girls, KT Tunstall, Matt Cardle, Jake Morrell, Chas & Dave were the main headliners and they did not disappoint. Even though it showered through the day, the sun did make an appearance and my mummy did manage to sit on the hay bales and listen to some great music in the evening.
We enjoyed listening to some homegrown and fresh talent at The Garden acoustic stage set within the vegetable patch, a lovely area hidden away between a very picturesque garden and a field of piglets! This area was our favourite of the whole site, with stunning flowers and a true my British Country Garden feel it was a beautiful backdrop to an acoustic stage. I loved listening to the artists in a more intimate setting and had a bit of boogey too!
Every year we’re taken aback by the quality and selection of food at Jimmy’s Farm, even if it was a bit expensive. There was a wide range of food from wood fired pizza, burritos, pies, cous cous, salads, Thai food, BBQ grub, Churrors, waffles and amazing ice creams and lollies. They could have done with more fresh produce though like corn on the cob or a fruit stand and this would be welcomed at future festivals from speaking to people at the event.
Jimmy and his team had taken on comments about providing more children’s portions and I was happy to see cheaper and smaller dishes available for children this year. The farm shop was like a treasure trove – it was almost impossible to narrow down the things we wanted to buy. It would have been good though to see more local produce concession stands selling their wares. We enjoyed the free chips from the Sarson’s Vinegar stand at the Garden Stage which was a lovely bonus.
Cider and Ale
The festival isn’t just about the food though and there’s nothing like a good beer or local cider to accompany great food, though I’m too little for this just yet. My mummy wasn’t drinking this year so enjoyed Fetimans soft drinks like ginger beer, rose lemonade and curious cola. We both enjoyed the homemade cordials stand too. Friends loved the Big Bar, the Suffolk bar and Shindig Bar which hosted plenty of local craft beers, Aspall Cyder (Isabel’s Berry was mummy’s favourite last year), Adnams, wines and other such tipples.
The Aspall Kitchen
There was a fantastic array of culinary talent at this food festival including Joe Hurd, host of ITV’s prime-time Saturday morning show The Munch Box. Youngest ever baker on The Great British Bake Off Martha Collison and five-star baker extraordinaire Richard Burr. Chef and TV presenter Rachel Green and MasterChef professionals winner Steve Groves.
Sadly we didn’t get round to visiting was the demonstrations and tasting sessions. Maybe next year my mummy might be able to break away from the music and kids activities. If you are into your food and want to learn recipes and see demonstrations than this is a definite element of the festival you want to attend.
Even though the summer has been a bit of a wash out Jimmy’s Farm still remains as one of the most idyllic festivals we’ve been too, when the sun shone we all chilled out and enjoyed good food, good music and good times. I’m sure you can tell by our photos and the video below that the location was beautiful.
Keep your eyes out for early bird tickets on Jimmy’s Farm Facebook page.
Love Bella x
Disclaimer: We were offered free tickets in order to conduct our review. All onsite purchases were are own.