I’m going to be totally honest here; going to Electric Picnic without children is better than going with children. However, last weekend we didn’t have a choice; it was go with the kids or not go at all.
At the last minute I got an awful longing on me to go to Electric Picnic but there was no way I would have convinced anyone to have looked after Aidan and Sarah for three days at such short notice. So instead I impulsively bought two family camping weekend tickets on Adverts and set off for Stradbally with Daddy Chambers, a two-year-old, a four-year-old and a tent that hadn’t seen the light of day since Electric Picnic way back in 2010.
I figure had I actually thought about it, I never would have done it. Do I regret it? Not at all. In fact I think the weekend was a great success. I’ll be frank, it was a music festival experience like no other I had. Alcohol was very limited and the nights were relatively early but it was refreshing not to be hungover!
Every single year the family camping tickets are usually the ones to sell out first, so taking kids to Electric Picnic is not a new phenomenon. Indeed the festival markets itself as a family friendly one, which it is, up until a certain time that is!
Let me point out that we have never once camped with the kids before last weekend. When they found out they were actually camping they couldn’t contain themselves. I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the family campsite on Friday afternoon. There were no portaloos, real showers and kids a lot younger than mine, enjoying the whole experience.
Despite not being campers, Daddy Chambers had the tent pitched in about 20 minutes and we didn’t hang around. We headed straight for the festival site but first we had to pass through the Soulkids area, which was a massive hit with Aidan and Sarah all weekend. There was all sorts to keep them entertained. Over the course of the weekend they had ukelele lessons, ballet lessons, tried their hands at juggling, spun some plates, made crowns out of flowers, played giant Connect Four, hung out in the sand pit, went on a nature walk and had their faces painted. Soulkids is obviously something I hadn’t experienced when I went to the Picnic solo in the past but it’s superb for the kids and was definitely one of the highlights for families.
Out on the actual festival site, Friday was a cracker. We were subjected to some awful sights, most notably young ones with their arses hanging out of denim shorts and streaky fake tan but the mood and the weather were great. The kids were in awe at it all; the massive tents caught Aidan’s eye, while Sarah was giddy with excitement when she noticed there was an ice-cream van on every corner we passed.
I’m very much one for keeping the kids in routine but I obviously let it go a bit at the weekend but was very conscious of expecting too much from them too. They watched Little Hours and Hudson Taylor on the main stage and even let us go see Young Fathers on the Electric Arena stage but that is as much as we got out of them. We headed back to the campsite to see how our first ever night camping with the kids would go.
To my absolute amazement both of them fell asleep within minutes of being changed in to their PJs. They nodded off a lot quicker than they do at home and both slept right through until 7am. I managed to escape after that to meet up with friends and see London Grammar on the main stage, while after that I took over the babysitting and Daddy Chambers went rambling. It was absolutely Baltic on Friday night and I struggled to sleep but I was just relieved that the kids did.
On Saturday morning the kids loved the novelty of washing their teeth with the masses and got a great giggle about everyone walking around in their pajamas. We ate crepes for breakfast before heading into the madness again.
We treated them to a few rides on the amusements. They went on the bumper cars, the massive ferris wheel and the old time carousel. We went to another Morning Gloryville rave, chilled out by a fire in the Body and Soul area and watched Keywest on the Main Stage. Did I tell you Aidan loves a rave? Check out the time that I took him to a Morning Gloryville event in Dublin.
In the evening both kids watched a full set from The Riptide Movement on our shoulders. Aidan recognised some of their songs from the radio and it really helped that the band released massive balloons during their set. After that we caught Madness on the Main Stage but then came the rain. On went the wet gear but it was much heavier than forecast so we headed back to the tent for some shelter.
The kids were wiped after all the walking and fell asleep pretty much straight away, I got out to see All Tvvins but was wiped so headed back and slept in beside Sarah in one end of the tent.
On Sunday myself and Sarah woke up as fresh as daisies but when I enquired if Daddy Chambers had a good night’s sleep, I was met with a death stare. It turns out the night was a wild one, didn’t the tent nearly blow over and the end the boys were sleeping in flooded. Myself and Sarah slept through it all!
To cheer us up with headed in to see the Dublin Gospel Choir open up proceedings on the Main Stage and they were brilliant. Despite a few showers, Sunday was a scorcher and a great way to round of the weekend. Even better was the fact that Galway won the All Ireland, a game we watched in the Newstalk tent. Thereafter, tired and mucky, we headed for home.
So there you have it, that was our weekend at Electric Picnic with two small children in tow. It was a strange experience but definitely one I’d do again. If you are considering it next year just bear in mind that you won’t get to see all the acts you may want to catch. Also, you won’t be boozing much. Even after the kids went to bed I took it easy because I knew the would be up early. It was actually refreshing to be at a festival and not be totally hungover on the Saturday and Sunday mornings. And because we went at such short notice we weren’t terribly organised. The weekend ended up costing us a fortune what with food, treats, amusements and the few beers. If I was going again I’d take a lot more of my own food because lets face it, the price of the tickets is hefty enough.
Aidan and Sarah both played a blinder. Sarah, despite her tender years, really loved it. She never once moaned about anything, she walked her little legs off and got in to the spirit of it all. You’d want to have seen her during the Riptide Movement; she was up on my shoulders, giving it socks, shouting and clapping to every tune. So many people stopped to look at her. Aidan was also fantastic but he got tired a lot quicker and looked to be carried a lot, which was minus craic! We didn’t bring a buggy, which was a big faux pas on our behalf.
I was slightly worried about exposing the kids to extremely drunk and drugged people but we genuinely didn’t see much of that. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of drunk people on show but they weren’t that bad and at their age, Aidan and Sarah were oblivious to it.
We are seriously considering doing it all again next year and if you’re half tempted, my advice is to just go for it!