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The Big Feastival 2018 review

By Ian Carter

If there’s one thing our family festival experiences have taught us this summer it’s to make sure you cram in as much fun as early as you can - you never know what nature has in store.

After the third day of Camp Bestival was cancelled when wind and rain battered the site, the Sunday curse hit again as the heavens opened above The Big Feastival.

Luckily Feastival is such a great event, and the site so easily navigable even for the littlest legs, we were able to bail out early on Sunday having packed in a whole week’s worth of entertainment in the previous two days.

Bubble fun at Feastival (3806725)
Bubble fun at Feastival (3806725)

For the uninitiated Feastival takes place on Alex James’ farm near Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds.

James, who topped the charts as bass player in Blur before turning his hand to cheese-making, is a highly-visible presence at his own festival.

When he wasn’t behind the decks in The Cheese Hub - which he seemed to be for at least 18 hours a day - he could be found popping up on the main stage alongside Dick and Dom, taking part in one of the many food-related talks or simply strolling around the site.

This friendly, community feel permeates the entire festival. It’s a big event - you wouldn’t attract headliners the caliber of Craig David and Paloma Faith otherwise - but remains intimate enough to ensure the youngsters never feel overwhelmed.

It’s also an event where you can have an entirely different festival experience depending on your life stage or tastes.

The Big Feastival (3806738)
The Big Feastival (3806738)

As the name suggests, food plays a huge part in The Big Feastival. Chefs including Raymond Blanc and Marco Pierre White appeared over the weekend and some of the fine dining options seemed hugely popular.

Or, like us, you could pretty much ignore the food side of proceedings - other than eating our combined body weight in free samples of Hippeas - and focus on the family entertainment.

And boy, was there a lot of it. You could easily bankrupt yourself by giving your kids free reign at the funfair but if you are able to tempt them slightly further afield you’ll find a whole host of free activities in the Little Dudes’ Den.

Little Kickers football sessions, Big Top circus skills and simply clambering over haystacks kept our two occupied for hours.

And, of course, you could just have a more traditional festival and focus on the music.

The main stage again featured much for the kids - Dick and Dom hosted Friday’s proceedings while CBeebies superstars Justin Fletcher and Andy Day (with his band the Oddsocks) opened proceedings on Saturday and Sunday.

After that it was more adult-themed. Basement Jaxx’s DJ set drew a big crowd on Friday night, while there was a nod to Alex James’ Britpop past with the booking of The Bluetones.

Former Joy Division New Order bass player Peter Hook, perhaps surprisingly, proved one of the biggest hits of the weekend, powering through classics by both his old bands - even if he was left slightly thrown when James failed to turn up for his scheduled appearance during Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Predictably, a rejuvenated Craig David drew the biggest crowd of the festival to his Saturday night headline slot

Sunday started with heavy rain, but there was no way our five-year-old daughter was going to let us leave without seeing Andy and the Oddsocks.

It was the third time we’d seen them this year after previous sets at Butlin’s and Camp Bestival and she enjoyed them just as much every time.

Sadly, the rain showed no sign of letting up and we had to leave the site before two of the acts we’d been looking forward to, Paloma Faith and James Arthur. We’ll be back though!

The lowdown

What is it?

A multi-faceted three-day festival aimed at music lovers, food lovers and anyone who likes having a great time outdoors.

Where is it?

On Alex James’ farm in Kingham, near Chipping Norton. The M25 is even more unpredictable than the British weather, but you should make it from Kent in between two and three hours.

How family-friendly is it?

Very! It was the shortest walk we’d ever had from tent to festival arena, and Dick and Dom, Justin Fletcher and Andy Day all graced the main stage.

How much will it cost me?

Three day camping tickets range from £45 for children to £185 for adults. Day tickets are also available. Check www.thebigfeastival.com for news of next year’s event.

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