Dear Mummy, after reading a lot of mixed reviews about Geronimo Festival we were eager to head up North and check out this family festival first hand.
We travelled ‘north of the wall’ a good 6 hours journey from Hampshire (Daddy’s SAT NAV said 3.5hrs) but traffic was bad on our journey. As we left the sunny south (actually the weather had turned sour) we had mixed expectations for our time at Arley Hall and what lay ahead.
But those pangs of negativity were quickly shunned as soon as we hit the gates of Geronimo Festival. A long journey had left us frazzled and with looming thunder clouds on the horizon and the threat of rain we were desperate to get our tent pitched.
First off, no queues. For like ANYTHING! We breezed through the car park, waltzed the wristband collection and armed with our trusty festival cart found plenty of space away from the car park entrance near the festival entrance. Plus the camping site was flat with only one muddy choke point by the road crossing and best of all only 5-6 minutes walk for my little legs.
All the staff and marshalls were amazing, friendly and very helpful, one even walked around the tents ensuring that everyone was happy and safe regarding a yellow weather warning which was issued over the course of the weekend. This must be what they call ‘northern hospitality’. Thankfully the wind never materialised.
We pitched our tent quickly – lots of festivals last year makes you a wizard when it comes to erection 😉 and we beat the unpredictable weather. I was even able to help this time!
After pitching the tent on Friday night we enjoyed entering the festival at 6pm and having the whole site to ourselves for a couple of hours, with no day trippers to contend with there were no queues on any of the rides and only a sprinkling of other camping festival goers.
We woke bright and early the next day after a great sleep, no noisy stage music to deal with or rowdy teenagers, most families were tucked up in bed by 10pm.
We took a leisurely stroll down to breakfast in the camping area to the Dorset Cereal tent and enjoyed a free dining experience called #BreakfastOnTheSlow something we try to adopt at home. muesli and granola, natural yoghurts, milk and fresh juice were laid out on the tables for people to help themselves to. I didn’t need an invitation to tuck in!
I enjoyed the free Yoga classes on the lawn while listening to live music and old-fashioned games were laid out to keep us kids amused while adults could read the morning papers. Very civilised. It was the best start to the day we’ve had at any festival!
Even though we packed for four seasons, the weather man got it wrong about the rain and our first day was a sun fest! We ditched out festival cart and walked around the festival with rucksacks with temperatures of 23c we made a beeline for the Castle Stage, which was smaller than expected for a festival of this size.
We’d forgotten cash so luckily there were a couple of cash machines dotted around the site on the way, they charged a fee of £2.95, which was standard as far as festivals go. Thankfully we hadn’t forgotten anything else but there was an emergency shop on site that stocked camping bits and pieces. Again it was very expensive and luckily we had come prepared.
We we’re spoilt with the kids entertainment on the stage on Saturday and Sunday with CBeebies stars Justin Fletcher, Cook and Line, Mr Bloom and a whole host of talented performers, singing and dancing along with the crowd. It wasn’t too busy at the stage so everyone got a good view however the security barrier could have been a bit lower for us smaller folk to stand at the front and see over.
Hopefully in the coming years Geronimo will get larger musical acts to keep the crowds there in the evenings too. For a family festival the music stopping at 9ish is a good time, however it was a shame to see the stalls and activities close up around 6 (some even earlier), as there was still a lot of daylight hours with people mulling around.
We enjoyed raving with Big Fish Little Fish family raves and it really was one of the highlights of our Geronimo festival. The weather was so nice it was hard remaining in the marquees as everyone wanted to be outside.
Even though some people in the past had said Geronimo is a glorified fun fair/summer fête we think a better music line-up would help combat this in the next couple of years. We loved that adults could chill out in the spa zone and with a kids club nearby it offered weary parents a welcomed break from the hustle and bustle of the festival.
When it came to activities the kids were truly spoilt especially the festival goers that camped. As included in our wristband price were all the fairground rides which were free. This included the giant wheel, carousel, helter-skelter and kiddies rides. This could have been better communicated as we only realised on the Sunday!
This is where the Geronimo experience was probably a bit easier for campers compared to the day trippers as they didn’t need to queue for ride tokens. Also as a camper you didn’t need to queue for the car park each day or entrance to the festival site. Plus you were in earlier for the bookable activities like Tumble Tots and Monkey Do.
There were so many activities we joined in with over the course of 3 days at Geronimo Festival. We escaped under the canopy of the trees at Woodland Tribe and Monkey Do. Climbing, building dens and cooking dampners on the camp fires.
Then we headed to the canopy of the Big Top, with two circuses on site we were really spoilt for choice. We watched an amazing performance from the Gandey’s Circus troop and our only regret was not seeing more circus and theatre acts while we were there. With the sun shining it was tempting to stay outdoors all the time.
There were so many places to craft and take a memento home of our stay at Geronimo, from hiding in cardboard dens, to making clay woodland creatures and funky spray painted record art, I’m sure we could have spent a day just making stuff.
All the little pop up stalls with quirky characteristics like the spoon meadow, pirate shows and the hobby-horse tent really added to the bohemian festival feel and again perfect for us younger kids.
The physical activities were really good and ensured I was tuckered out by the end of the day. I went rock climbing and played on the inflatables for….HOURS! I hung from netting and bounced in the trees with Monkey Do. I even clambered through an obstacle course with Tumble Tots.
The only area where we queued for activities was the Hasbro City and with good reason! It’s not every day you bump into Bumblebee and see a real Transformer.
With Hasbro giving away free samples of PlayDoh, My Little Pony Toys and offering kids the chance to play and hangout with larger than life mascots it’s easy to see why this area was popular.
Overall, if you are thinking of booking Geronimo Festival we’d say do it! It’s fantastic fun for the kids. As adults we’d suggest make it easy for yourselves and camp over a couple of days. There is far too much to take in over one day, plus it’s quieter early in the mornings and later in the day meaning you get a better experience. Midday on Bank Holiday Monday was the busiest we’d seen it with long queues for the food stalls and rides.
Talking of food, yes it was expensive it’s a festival after all. With the standard festival food of burgers, fish and chips, pizza and noodles it was nice to see vegetarian and vegan options along with fresh fruit stalls. However we did see a lot of people with picnic hampers and packed lunches but it was unclear whether they were campers or day trippers.
Either way, there is the opportunity to keep costs down during the festival. The free water points were helpful when temperatures soared into the high twenties. Maybe next time they could be clearly signposted. Also the introduction of more kids portions would really help appeal to those on a budget.
The site is filled with wonderful trees decorated with googly eyes which offered shade for families and a talking point. Geronimo should really build on this concept more and reinforce its own identity as there were little things we recognised from other festivals which made it a bit hodge-podge and random.
Watch our video to see Geronimo in all its glory!
As newbies to this festival we had a fantastic time. The atmosphere was great and the people were so friendly. It really was high energy and lots of fun. We just can’t get the theme tune out of our heads! But remember to keep us little ones in sight. With so much going on and so many of us excitable little ones, a large number managed to escape from their parents, thankfully to be reunited thanks to the amazing crew and security team on site.
Have you heard of Geronimo Festival or have you been?
Love Bella x
Disclosure: We were offered a free family weekend camping ticket in order to conduct an honest review. All thoughts and imagery are our own.