Geronimo Festival Arley Hall 2017.
“The best festival we’ve ever taken the kids too.” This is exactly what my husband said as we were driving home from Geronimo, and considering this is about our 6th festival as a family, that is high praise indeed! The festival was previously held at Tatton Park and Harefield House and going by reviews, they had had a few teething problems. Luckily, I hadn’t read any reviews before going and I’m thankful to say that they all seemed to be ironed out from what I saw. We were invited to review the festival and received our tickets free of charge but all views are very much our own!
We made a little vid to show you some highlights!
We are seasoned festi goers and are well used to the festival experience, having worked at all the ones we’ve been at before, so I’m going to try and write the review thinking about it from the point of view of someone less used to going to them.
We arrived on Friday night and there were no queues to get in, we also didn’t see much signposting, but I think we came in a random back way, thanks to our satnav. There were plenty of people around to direct traffic once we arrived and there was an abundance of parking in a large field. We had been given camping passes but managed to organise to park in the live in vehicles field when we got there and found a really lovely spot down by the enormous lake and got set up. This is the first year that camping had been offered, and I think it’s a brilliant addition!
Pretty much the only queue we encountered all weekend was to exchange tickets for wristbands and I think that was only because everyone had arrived at roughly the same time and the portacabin only had one window for the three members of staff so it just got a little crowded at points. Oh, apart from the donkeys, which seemed to have a big queue the whole time we were there!
There was a camp shop and food van but you could only access them until 9pm and after 9am, this was a shame because there would have been a lot of business for them but from what I could gather, it seemed to be a health and safety issue. The other thing that may have been an issue for is that the grass was very very long and so got very wet when it rained overnight, it’s also quite a hilly site but we didn’t find it too strenuous and people were easily pushing buggies and pulling wagons up.
With Manchester fresh in people’s minds, there were a lot of concerns raised over security but I think they handled it very well. Everyone was reassured that they had worked closely with the police, who were present on site, and there were security personnel on every gate and walking around patrolling the festival and campsite constantly. Bags were also searched on the way in.
After breakfast, we headed in to the festival, a rough idea of what we wanted to see, and had a walk around the parameter to orientate ourselves. It was huge! There were so much to see but there was also an awful lot of space around the various attractions too meaning that it never felt crowded or claustrophobic.
Almost all of the activities were free, the only things we found with a charge were the funfair rides at £1 a ticket and the many stalls selling things. As with all festivals, the food was fairly expensive but we found if we shopped around a bit, we could save some money, we managed to get a hot dog and chips or beef stew and mash for the children for £3.50 each and found another stall doing cups of tea for £1. We also paid for ice creams which were £2.50 each for a Mr Whippy.
Thinking ahead, we had brought enough provisions for breakfast, packed lunches and snacks both days, so only paid for dinner on Saturday night and extra treats. Having a fridge in the van definitely contributed to the ability to do this, but I think it’s possible even if you’re camping, cereal bars and crisps go a long way towards saving money at these things. I think that this is the first time I’ve ever been so organised and it really paid off as we saved a fortune because all I seemed to hear was ‘I’m hungry!’ 😀
We started with some free running training with Evolve, which the children absolutely loved and got some great instruction, in a similar vein, they enjoyed the Military Style Education assault style course, the free jump and Monkey Do, the rope course in the trees. Bear in mind that you need to book on for this and it gets very busy but it’s absolutely worth it as they get half an hour up there and it was one of their favourite things.
The shows featured many of their idols from Cbeebies, I think the photos above and below clearly demostrate their excitement when they were waiting for Mr Bloom and Cook and Line to come out, their expressions not dissimilar to fans at a massive rock concert! 😀
Some other highlights from the festival were the Extreme Mountain Bike Show (which I think my husband might have enjoyed the most), the very funny Cirque Du Hilaire, the Fairy Love dance podium, trying out all the different products on the Fire Toys stand, the dinosaur show which had a t-rex wandering about, the Birdie photo booth, the craft tents and the helter skelter and carousal.
We found most of the activities by walking around, I only have a couple of criticisms, the map was pretty basic and the sign posting wasn’t fantastic and so it was hard to find everything, also a lot of the shows weren’t on the program and so it was a case of making a note of times on the boards to remember for the next day. There were also a lot of stalls selling things and my children are used to me saying no but I can imagine that if your children were asking for things constantly, it would be annoying. My daughter did get a glitter facepaint, (I left her with Daddy!), and it was £5 and was much less then on the picture which I personally would have moaned about but he didn’t so it’s his own fault really! 😀
Previously I have seen comments that people couldn’t see the main stage because people were standing and I noticed that they actually asked people to sit down so that everyone could see which was great for anyone at the back.
I can’t comment on entrance queues to get in as we were camping and so didn’t use the main entrance. There were hardly any queues for the attractions during the day, and any there were were fast moving. This went for the toilets as well, of which there were plenty and there was always loo roll although the handgel had often run out. They were far cleaner then most too.
There seemed to be plenty to do undercover for the few rain showers we experienced and we definitely didn’t get round it all in the two days we were there for. We decided to leave on Sunday night because heavy rains were due in the night and we weren’t sure we’d be able to get out as we were at the bottom of a big hill. We also wanted a day at home so I can’t comment on how the last day was, but I did notice that some things were only on on Saturday and Sunday. One thing we didn’t get to do was the Ape Project where the children could use hammers and nails to build a castle. It looked brilliant, we just ran out of time!
Geronimo was honestly one of the best festival experiences we have had as a family, despite having some grey,, windy and quite frankly freezing weather during our weekend. I think it was perfect for their age groups, 4 and 6, because they are still fans of some of the CBeebies shows and there was enough to do even if they weren’t, both of them being very active, adrenaline seeking children, and that was well catered for. The venue was brilliant with huge amounts of open space and a gorgeous lake to camp by. It was a real countryside experience and we saw lots of wildlife as well.
I think if we had been buying food all weekend we may have felt differently, but because we had bought a lot beforehand and brought it with us, the meals we did buy were expensive but we’d planned to have them, plus we are used to festival prices and I actually think this was more reasonable then some I’ve been to. All in all, we thought that Geronimo was absolutely fantastic and would definitely go again.
I shall leave you with the results of our photo booth fun!