Dear Mummy, in a sleepy part of Hampshire, on the fringes of the South Downs near Winchester, a makeshift city has risen. Constructed and built from tents, temporary buildings and travelling caravans. Out of the ground it emerges each year, growing larger and larger – it’s a beast of a festival that consumes its attendees.
If Matterley Bowl was the tree, then Boomtown would certainly be the rabbit hole. It’s easy for people to lose themselves both metaphorically and literally. The sheer scale of Boomtown is immense. With eleven districts sprawling across four areas: Hilltop, Downtown, Temple Valley and Whistlers Green. Each district is filled with fully immersive venues and different music genres.
Boomtown may appear scary to some non-festival goers, it’s got a reputation. Renown for its crazy characters, theatrics and escapism. Everything and anything goes. Surely this place can’t be suitable for little ol’ me? Where would I find my place amongst the townsfolk who reside each year and camp amongst the stars?
Ever wondered what it’s like for a kid to go to Boomtown? Then watch our vlog!
I was invited by Kidztown folk to join them at Boomtown to help celebrate their 10th anniversary and join in the nice, clean fun in their own dedicated area for small folk. We’ve got to be honest with you, my mummy was apprehensive. You see this is the type of festival where the big folk let their hair down in more ways than one apparently. Would it be suitable for families?
Well yes, and no. We found Kidztown, the dedicated children’s area at Boomtown, friendly and welcoming. A little safe haven away from the bustling crowds and crazy folk. Set amongst a peaceful area called Whistlers Green at the top (or the bottom of the site depending how you look at the map) it really was a tranquil area. Co-ordinated by qualified child and youth experts, the amazing crew included play-workers, early years specialists, artists and performers from all over the world to help bring alive a melting pot of fun.
So much so, that it actually attracted some of the older festival crowd which gate crashed our party! A good example of this was when I was raving with BFLF in Kidztown and some big folk just hogged the dance floor and played in our sandpit. Come on guys, you had the whole festival site! But apart from the odd randoms the Kidzstown area was pretty awesome. Maybe next year they could gate it off for us small folk? Or provide passwords or secret handshakes to allow entry?
Activities in Kidztown included entertainment for children 0-5yrs and 6-12yrs throughout the weekend. With craft workshops, the Rusty Workshop, theatre and circus acts, storytelling, puppetry, music, comedy, sandpit, skate ramp, baby and toddler tents, yoga, massage, bouncy castle and its very own Boomtown street with interactive venues such as ‘Rat-a-Tattoo’, the ‘Piggy Bank’, ‘Pet Shop’ and the Post Office. Phew! That’s a lot of things to do! We loved listening to music at the Sandpit Stage and enjoyed performances from Disney Rascal and Junior Jungle.
My mummy and I enjoyed a glitter shower and even after a week we’re still covered in magic dust. Even though it chuckled it down with rain the majority of the weekend it didn’t stop play for too long and there were tented areas to hide away from the thunderstorm. Panic Circus Big Top taught circus skills and hosted trapeze & hula hoop workshops and interactive puppet shows which kept me occupied in the downpours!
The set design was pretty cool and Kidztown had a highstreet with shops. Inside the post office I set up a special Boomtown account were I collected stamps around the Kidztown area after I completed activities and challenges to collect a prize. I was very excited about this and it kept me occupied for ages. Check out our video above!
Also inside the post office was a full role play area where I pretend to be the customer we were served by a raving postman and played on cardboard cut outs of computers. On the other side of the street was a cinema, but this was no ordinary cinema, it’s where we had to act out films and we were given all the props and costumes to create a scene. They even handed out real popcorn much to my delight.
At the Rusty Workshop I use tools to make jewellery and I made a beautiful copper bracelet. All activities in Kidztown were free!
I loved Granny-oke with the raving, misbehaving granny’s and had fun freestyling in on the mic with them next to their caravan. With waggley hips and wobbly stockings we sung along to some dancefloor fillers with zimmerframes. They reminded me of my Grandma and Granny!
There was a special Forest School on the outskirts of Kidztown with it’s own mud kitchen dedicated just for children. Woodland Tribe helped kids construct wooden structures with hammer and nails in the secret Wild Woods which is something I love to do in a safe and natural environment.
SuperPirates was one of the highlights of my day. These guys specialise in good, old-fashioned play; getting mucky, being silly and letting loose! I joined in big group games of tag over large inflatables, as they chasing little people around pretending to be creatures, making us all scream with laughter. I felt safe and they went out of their way to make the whole time fun.
We didn’t really need to venture too far away from Kidztown during the day and the only thing we really wanted to see was the opening ceremony at the Lion Den, a massive stage in the heart of all the action. With a fire show and carnival atmosphere it really gave us a flavour of what to expect for the more grown up festival goers.
Boomtown certainly has a lot of stages and districts each with its own tribe and feel. We concentrated in our little safe haven of the festival site only venturing out to Whistlers Green next door for food and to take in the views of the site.
With the weather closing in and living so close to the festival we opted to not camp on this occasion but there is a good quiet family camping area near Kidzstown along with family car parking, meaning you don’t have to fight your way through the queues and searches with the rest of the festival goers.
For the first time Boomtown was participating in A Greener Festival Award with lots of initiatives to help the festival become more environmental friendly. They’ve put a huge focus into reducing their impact on the environment and we found this reassuring for future generations, even if I did get given a hot chocolate with a plastic spoon in it!
Boomtown is certainly an interesting place and we’re fairly tolerant and opening minded when it comes to festivals, but it was hard to ignore the crazy behaviour from some of the other festival goers that just wanted to have a good time. Certain areas were not suitable for children and we gave them a wide berth. My mummy making note to visit when I wasn’t on her back.
This is certainly a music festival first and foremost with a good kids area, but we’re yet to be convinced that it is family friendly across the site. Would we return? Yes. Now we know what to expect, who knows we may see you in Chapter 11, well in the Kidztown area anyway.
Disclaimer: We were secretly invited as guests by Nickolas Boom, dipping our toe in as the next generation of Boomtown festival goers. All views, footage and smiles are our own.