We spent last weekend being very chilled out in a field, and in the woods! We’d been invited to Chilled in a Field festival, and it was both the kids’ and Sam’s first ever weekend festival experience, and the perfect introduction. Chilled in a Field is a small family friendly festival that takes place in the grounds of Bentley Wildfowl and Motor museum, in East Sussex. The location was perfect, the weather was hot (if a bit too hot – thank goodness for shady woods!) and there was so much to do that we definitely didn’t do it all! I’ve made a video of everything though and you can see that at the bottom of this post!
We arrived on Friday lunch time, worked up a sweat pitching our tent and unloading everything we needed and were really thankful that the car park was less than a five minute walk to the camping field – unlike bigger festivals when it’s a huge trek! Three trips and we were done, pitched and ready to explore!
The main stage area is lined on one side with the food stalls, along with communal seating and the stage itself is in the corner, with the main shop, bar kids and teens tents and other stalls lining all round the edge until you get to the path leading to the Woodland Stage. A slow meander either down a bunting lined narrow path or a glittery streamered wider path led you to the most magical woodland setting, with a bar, stage, crazy marble run, double bed and lots more dotted about. This was definitely our favourite place to hang out during the weekend as not only was it lovely and shaded during the day it was home to the DJ’s so we could have a good old dance about – and we did! On Friday and Saturday there were DJ’s till eleven and then a silent disco till 4am, amazing! Plus on Saturday we caught the Tot Rockin’ Beats crew doing their thing, they hail from our hometown of Worthing and we loved all the classic tunes they were knocking out – and seeing kids and adults jumping about in the dappled sun was amazing!
As it’s a small festival don’t expect to be seeing chart toppers as headliners, but the live acts that we saw (and heard once we’d had to retire to the tent as the kids had crashed out) were great! Two favourites were Exactly Zero and Tom Williams, and ‘Musek’ the Muse cover band were pretty good too! I love that there was no crush to get to the front, if you wanted to sit or lounge about you could still see and not be trampled on by anyone!
There was lots more to do other than the music too, a kids play tent with a cosy corner, soft play blocks, jenga, giant lego and more plus a covered sandpit outside which you could see the kids in whilst watching the bands on the main stage – genius! There was a teens tent too though obviously we didn’t venture in there! An inflateable slide and bouncy castle were on site and blown up early at 8am and were FREE to go on too. There were various sessions for kids; theatre workshops, science workshops, the creation station, an amazing wooden marble run in the woods and so much more (glitter wrestling anyone?) as well as the Mobile Museum and ‘The Rig’ which was musical instruments made from all sorts of things you’t not expect and the kids were happy banging and tooting it for ages! Bedtime stories on the big comfy bed, drumming workshops and a beat-boxing workshop were all on offer, so really something to keep everyone in the family happy!
Athena made a new best friend with the girl from the next door tent, and we chatted to other parents over the weekend, being such a small festival meant you got on ‘nodding’ terms with people as you spotted them a lot which was lovely, a real community feel. We could really chill out knowing that the kids could run around safely and the site wasn’t so big that they might get lost (though there is a really robust system in place if this were to happen!)
We had a blast, and would recommend it to families of all ages who want a chilled out time. It’s a not for profit festival and it really showed, the care and attention that went into organising the weekend and making it special for everyone involved was obvious!
Next years festival has been announced already and is on the 26th to 28th July 2019, and you can keep an eye on their Facebook page for more info and early bird tickets
What we loved:
- It didn’t cost anything to do anything! All activities and sessions were free apart from a ride on the train, which was only £1 each (and well worth it!) and the hot tub and spa area (which I wouldn’t expect to be free!) I think it made the kids’ weekend to be able to go on a bouncy castle or slide and not be limited to a certain time and cry when it’s time to get off!
- Food and drink were decently priced, and you are allowed to take your own alcohol onto the site too should you wish
- Everyone was friendly! Even the uniformed security staff strolling around had smiles on their faces – but all the staff were cheerful and helpful at any time of day! Athena fell off a wooden stool and before she could even get back to me one of the volunteers had spotted her, made sure she was okay, distracted her with a cuddly toy and made her smile again – we were so impressed!
- Environmental awareness – nobody sold single use plastic bottles (we were reminded to bring our own bottles and fill them up from the taps dotted about) and you got a reusable plastic glass to use each time you went to the bar, recycling bins were in use and clearly marked and emptied regularly. The place was pretty much spotless of dropped rubbish – which says a lot for the festival goers as well as the team on duty I think!
What could be improved
- More variety of food stalls. Although you can take your own camping stove we didn’t want to both and wanted to support the food stands (And did!) but as I don’t eat fish and the kids are fairly fussy eaters we were pretty much limited to the main food stand, which to be fair made amazing food but it would have been nice to have a bit more variety when you’re eating three meals a day from the food stands. There was a pizza stand advertised on the map but they weren’t there, which was a shame as I was looking forward to a pizza. Perhaps a noodle bar or something a bit different would work.
- Something that is pretty hard to manage is tent pitches. The ‘quiet in the evening’ (aka most families) pitch is in the main arena field – amazing for getting kids back to the tent when they crash out but still being able to hear and see what’s happening. BUT it was packed – as a lot of groups pitched their tents round a central area to give them a more private communal space – fair enough, but it meant that those of us with one tent were a bit hemmed in! I feel a bit harsh as short of making the field bigger or risking upsetting families being told not to use up so much space there isn’t a lot that can be done about it, and in the booking terms it does say one gazebo per group, but there were a lot of crossed guy ropes! Thankfully we didn’t spend much time in the tent other than sleeping in it so it wasn’t a major drama, but something to be aware of if you’re used to camping in the middle of nowhere.
Watch what we got up to here: