Go head over heels at this family-friendly festival

Somersault Festival. Picture: Felicity Milward

Somersault Festival. Picture: Felicity Milward - Credit: Archant

Somersault is a relative newcomer to the wave of child-friendly festivals popping up every summer, says Bridget Galton.

Few photos of legendary festival Woodstock show that amid the drugs and nudity, there were hundreds of families with kids enjoying Hendrix, The Who and Janis Joplin.

That was 1969 – the year of my birth – and these days we shy away from exposing our tots to too much adult-oriented carnage.

Until recently I was firmly in the camp that festivals, like weddings, were best enjoyed child free.

But after friends sang the praises of child-friendly festivals we joined the throng of mid-life musos trying to juggle the constraints of parenting with having a good time.

Year one was a steep learning curve. While seasoned festival-goers arrived with their own gaily decorated trolleys for transporting kit – then later sleeping tots around the vast site, we exhausted ourselves dragging tiny kids, buggies and equipment for miles, only to be camped next to youths who partied all night.

Bleary eyed and awoken next morning at 6am by our kids, we led them in a loud chorus of ‘I am The Music Man’ until the youths got the message.

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That year I remember only exhaustion. Skip two years, and we ventured off again with older children and started to see what the fuss was about.

Better organised and equipped, we combined visits to child-friendly activities with sitting in the sun drinking cider and listening to the bands.

The kids loved the atmosphere and freedom even if the balance of child to adult fun was still somewhat out of kilter.

But then as all parents discover, if they’re happy, you’re happy.

This year we’re off to Somersault – a new festival with a bit of a difference that appeals because it’s laid back, child-friendly yet promises plenty for the grown-ups.

Running from July 23-27 July at Castle Hill Estate in North Devon, it’s only in its second year but has both diverse entertainment and plenty of fun outdoor adventures.

Headlined by Crouch End rockers Bombay Bicycle Club alongside folksy singer songwriter Laura Marling, Crystal Fighters, and Passenger – my son Patrick’s current favourite artist, by day there are craft classes, field trips to surf in nearby Croyde Bay, coastal rafting, paddle boarding and swimming in the river Bray, or mountain biking, power kiting and rock climbing on Exmoor.

There’s a strong theatre and circus theme with stunning trapeze from Gorilla Circus and daring feats from The Invisible Circus echoed in a range of activities for kids including fancy dress, circus skills and both walkabout storytelling and shows by Rhubarb Theatre.

There’s a hippyish wellbeing vibe with yoga classes, massages, treatments, and barefoot runs. The food and drink offer includes a whiskey and ale tent and smoked meats dining area, or by night there are four course feasts cooked on an open campfire in the feasting tent hosted by four restaurants, from Fifteen Cornwall, River Cottage, Valentine Warner and The Ethicurean.

Once the kids are in bed, take turns to venture across the river and into one of the Late Night Forest Parties dancing to the sounds of DJ Yoda and Norman Jay. A perfect summer’s entertainment

Visit somersaultfestival.com