We have just got back from a weekend at the Cornbury Music Festival. Which, unfortunately, was the last one they will be hosting, aptly named The Last Hurrah, but what a finale it was. We have had the best weekend and I urge anyone who is thinking of braving a festival with kids to absolutely go ahead and do it and, should the owners of Cornbury change their mind and do an encore next year, we highly recommend it as the perfect festival for families.
Here is our full review plus everything you need to know about Cornbury Music Festival as well as some top tips to help you et the most of your trip, should they do another at some point.
You can opt to visit the festival as day guests or, like us, choose to camp for the weekend. If you camp there are a few different sites you can choose from, we picked the quieter camp as we were visiting with children and wanted to at least try and get them to bed before midnight. Plus the quieter tent is usually full of families with the same idea meaning it is great for out going kids as they can make friends with neighbouring children and you don’t feel like you have to keep your own children too quiet in the morning as everyone is in the same boat.
At Cornbury you pitch your tent anywhere you like in the designated campsite. This is great as you can choose the spot that works best for you, near the festival entrance, or closer to the showers, near the coffee shop or closer to shaded areas, the choice is yours. We opted for a spot closer to the coffee station (absolute must), toilets and showers with a small walk to the festival and this worked perfectly for us.
There are plenty of toilette’s and shower facilities and these all seemed to be cleaned on a regular basis, although my advice would be to either shower in the evenings or pop back mid day as the queue between 6-10am is a little crazy!
There are no electric hook ups in the camping area so pack accordingly and don’t worry about it being too dark without electric as the whole camping area is well lit. If camping isn’t your thing then there are also glamping options available.
Family Friendly activities
Cornbury Music Festival is brilliant for families. There was so much for us to do in the day with the children that it actually left little time to sit back and watch the acts, luckily we could still hear the music in the background.
There was a whole kids area dedicated to a variety of activities for all ages and what I thought was particularly impressive was that some were outside but a number of them were also in tents which was a great way to get the kids out of the sun for short periods of time. We were there for two and a half days and despite spending the majority of our time in the kids area they still didn’t get to try everything, there really was that much choice.
We did however manage to do all of the below
watch a magic show
get our faces painted
create clay models
have our hair braided
use the photo box
play crazy sports and out door games
play in the toddler play area
and enjoy circus skills.
With three children aged 2, 9 and 12 we really did appreciate how much effort had gone in to making sure that there was enough activities for all ages. Our toddler loved the imaginary play tent which was full of toys including dolls, prams, dressing up clothes, bricks, a cement mixer and a Dr’s trolley to name just a few. All of which was in a tent so perfect for keeping her out of the mid day sun.
The boys, 9 and 12, both loved the circus skills tent and they kept gravitating back to it at any given opportunity. Here they had a go at juggling, riding a uni cycle, throwing and catching various skittles, hoola hooping, and lots more. Again parents were encouraged to get involved in here and the circus master was on hand to help teach you any tricks you want to learn.
All of the above activities were free and included in the ticket price and there was no restriction on how many times you could join in with an activity.
A festival isn’t a festival without music and Cornbury definitely have that covered with five separate stages, The Pleasant Valley, The Songbird, The Riverside, The Campsite Stage and The Cafe Nero stage, all hosting a range of musical genres for everyone to enjoy.
For me the Riverside stage was the best as it came complete with hay bales to sit on and was decorated with lots of weird and wonderful things such as lamp shades and discs.
The Pleasant Valley stage is the main stage where the headline acts were including Bryan Adams and Ronan Keeting. The set up is really good as directly in front of the stage is standing room only and to the left and the right you can set up camp with chairs or blankets if you prefer. There are also two big trees you can sit under in the shade and still see the stage.
As well as the headliners on the main stage there were also some up and coming bands that we hadn’t heard of before including Ferris & Sylvester who were absolutely brilliant. They played a mix of songs including a new one from their new album which I will be buying this week as well as keeping an eye on them as I have no doubt they will be headlining a festival themselves soon.
Festival food is the best!
There was so much choice and the smells coming from each vendor were incredible. We had taken some food with us for breakfast and lunches that we could eat at the tent but had decided in advance to eat our evening meals in the festival and I was surprised by just how much choice there was.
The kids enjoyed pizza and chips – what else. Whereas my husband and I tried the paella which was gorgeous as well as a side portion of olives.
What I did notice when looking at the food options is that there was something for everyone from meat to fish to vegetarian dishes and even specific vegan food suppliers. You could choose the good old British staples of pie and mash or fish and chips or go something a bit more exotic with Indian or Greek cuisine, as well as some classics like the pizza.
The prices varied slightly from vendor to vendor but as a guide you could get a bag of chips for £3.50 and most main means were priced between £8-£12 but everywhere you looked people seemed to be enjoying big portions so it all looked great value for money and reasonably priced.
In addition to the main food vendors there were also ice cream vans. Now on the first day we made the mistake of ordering the toddler a “small” ice cream for £3. Small is not the word I would use to describe it, it was minute, even for a toddler it was really small and over priced especially as for an extra £1 you could get a normal ice cream which actually looked massive in comparison, but you live and learn!
The ice cream vans were also selling slush ice creams. The boys tried these and at £5 were much better value for money than the small ice cream. You got 3/4 of a cup filled with slush puppy and then topped with Mr. Whippy ice cream and the boys loved them.
We also tried the churros which again were delicious and at £8 for 8 large churros with dipping sauce where a great sharing pudding and good value for money.
On the last day we also tried the smoothies. Again they had a small and regular option but having learnt our lesson on the Friday we asked to see the two sizes and I was glad we did as the small was very small but for an extra £1.50 you got a decent size smoothie for £5.50. We went for strawberries and banana and they were delicious and really cold which was just what we needed.
My advice – check the sizes before you order.
Things like festivals often have hidden costs and these can make people feel uncomfortable or really put a dampener on the weekend. For me, Cornbury Music Festival didn’t seem to have any hidden costs as most things were included in your ticket price.
The only thing that might take you by surprise is that in order to know the times the acts are playing and which stage they are on you need to spend £10 on a program.
Apart from that I think everything else that you could pay for are things you would expect to pay for but just in case there is a list below.
I will however say that one thing I was impressed with was that the fun fair was not in sight of the kids area so parents could avoid it if they wished and stick to the free activities.
Stalls selling a whole host of beautiful items from clothes to furniture and everything in between
Food vendors from £3 up
Massages, yoga and meditations tents
Fair ground games
Most took cards but there were a few that asked for cash so remember to take some with you.
1.Have a wander round the camp site before you grab the first space you see as there is loads of room, some is on slopes and some flat so check first.
2.Head to the showers late at night if you can, or pop back mid day as they are really busy between 7-9am.
3.Try and plan your must see acts in advance, especially if you have kids as there is so much for them to do it might be hard tearing them away from the kids area.
4.Take sun cream and umbrellas, it is England after all.
6.Take a power bank as there are so many photo opportunities that you will need to recharge your phone over the course of the weekend, although you can pay £8 for a charging company to do it for you if you forget.
We had the best weekend, made some amazing memories and are really disappointed that this was the Last Hurrah. The Cornbury Festival was a fantastic family festival and definitely worth every “our we nearly there yet” during our three hour drive.
Festivals with kids are so much fun, don’t wait till they are older, go now. Just check what activities they have on for kids before you book as not all of them are as family friendly as Cornbury.
If you are planning on going all out and doing a weekend camping festival like we did then make sure you read our post about what to pack. Or if you like the idea of a family festival but want to start with day time only festivals then check out our reviews of the BBC summer festival in Liverpool and Cheshire Fest near Manchester, to find out how to get the most out of them.
(We were gifted our tickets in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own).