You will have seen from my previous post, Facebook and Twitter profiles that we were lucky enough to attend the very first Geronimo Festival this weekend. Unfortunately I am too pregnant with the twins and finding mobility an issue so missed out on all the fun when Granny and Aunty Belly took the boys along instead. Thank you Aunty Belly for the following (very thorough) review of the day…
On Saturday morning Granny picked me (Aunty Belly) and the boys up and we headed to Tatton Park for the very first Geronimo Festival. As we got closer to the venue we were worried we had gone to the wrong place as we couldn’t see any signs. It was only once we’d paid for our parking that we finally saw our first sign. For anyone who might not know the area I think some signs near the venue might be helpful.
We wanted to be sure we were there for when the gates opened as we didn’t want the boys to miss out on anything they wanted to do. We got to the festival site, parked up and had a bit of a picnic snack well before the 10am opening time. Helpfully there were some portaloos in the car park so if you had had a long journey and were bursting to spend a penny you didn’t have to wait until the festival opened. Right next to the festival entrance there is a really good play area and the boys were able to stretch their legs from the journey before we headed to the queue to get in.
We were lucky enough to have VIP tickets which allowed us to use the special VIP/Fast Track entrance which had a slightly smaller queue than the main entrance. Unfortunately, there was a delay in letting people in. The boys did start to get a bit bored and there were a few comments from fellow queuers that it had gone 10am and neither queue had started moving yet. We don’t know what the delay was but you can expect some teething problems on the very first day of a brand new event and by 10:10am we were in.
We headed straight to the VIP area to collect our lanyard which included a map and the times of each stage show and ‘Meet and Greet’ session.
Having all the festival information on a lanyard was very handy as you didn’t have to keep going in and out of a bag or pocket to see what was going on and you didn’t have to worry about losing it. Granny and I did struggle a little with seeing what was where on the map as the locations of each activity were numbered on the map but the numbers were on the opposite side of the card so you had to keep flipping it over but we got there in the end.
We asked the boys which people they wanted to Meet and Greet and decided to plan the day around this. Each person was only doing one session a day and we didn’t want them to miss out, they definitely wanted to meet Mr Bloom and Cook & Line from Swashbuckle.
The first thing the boys wanted to do was go to the Lego tent, this was a joint tent with the Sealife Centre. Unfortunately, they weren’t quite ready for visitors so we had to convince the boys that we would definitely come back later. Spud was still a little grumpy about the Lego when we came across some comfy looking hammocks.
They boys decided they looked like fun and so we threw them in one each and they absolutely loved swinging in them and hiding from everyone. I think if we’d have let them they’d have stayed in them all day! It took a lot of convincing to get them out and I even had a go myself. The man running the area (who was dressed in a rather fetching tiger suit) was extremely friendly and it was a great start to the day.
We came across the We Are Adventurers stand next which was great as both boys were keen to do some den building. A lovely man, who I think was called Ben, took the boys into the wood to help them build a den and as we were their first visitors of the day he suggested Granny and I might like to see if we could build a better one! Helpfully there were lots of piles of sticks and branches, ferns and leaves, perfect for den building and in no time we had two dens up.
In all honesty the boys had done slightly better than Granny and I and if we had been stranded in the woods overnight I think I’d have been knocking at their door for some shelter, particularly as they had added some home comforts with a leaf carpet, a garden and an outdoor seating area! The We Are Adventurers people were knowledgeable and friendly and even showed the boys a couple of different ways to construct a fire.
We stayed in the trees and went on a bear hunt. The boys were given a pair of binoculars each and a sheet with riddles which led to items hidden in the woods and had to write the answer to each one on the sheet to get a prize at the end of the hunt. Granny helped Pooh Bear with his writing but Spud was able to get all of the answers and write them on his sheet (with a bit of help with the spelling).
With the hunt complete the boys went to collect their prize and were allowed to choose from a selection of healthy snacks which they proceeded to chomp on as we made our way to the ‘Inflatable Village’. This was a line of a variety of different bouncy castles and the boys both had great fun bouncy around for a bit.
It was then time to head back to the VIP lounge to meet Mr Bloom. I have to confess that as I have no children of my own I had no idea who Mr Bloom was or what he did, all I knew was that he had veggies! They boys queued up and it was quickly their turn to meet him and he was an absolute delight. He asked both Spud and Pooh Bear what their names were and what vegetables they liked, then posed and shouted ‘Pot-tay-toes’ and I quickly sent the photo over to mummy who had been eager for the boys to meet Mr Bloom (as so many of the mums were!)
Spud was very anxious that we head back to the inflatable Lego/Sealife igloo to make sure he didn’t miss out and thankfully this time it was up and running. Although the two companies were in the same area and we spent a considerable amount of time there (including a further visit in the afternoon) were didn’t actually see anyone from the Sealife Centre so we don’t know what the boys might’ve been able to do with them. The Lego people were great, there were tables full of Lego to play with and as the temperature outside was rising and the igloo was pretty cool Granny and I took the opportunity to have a little rest while the boys played. I know for a fact the boys have mountains of Lego at home but they just wouldn’t be torn away from all the building that had to be done so while they were making picture tiles with a very lovely and knowledgable Master Builder, Granny headed back to the car to get our picnic.
The great thing about Geronimofest is that once you are in, everything apart from food is free! Another fantastic thing is that you can take your own food and drink in with you, we didn’t want to be carrying our food around with us all day and thankfully the car park was only a short walk from the entrance so it was easy to pop back and get our cool bag. Wanting to do a thorough review I thought I should check out what food was available and there was a great selection. Fishfingers, noodles, Portuguese food, hot dogs, mac and cheese, street food, wood fired pizzas (which I have had at another festival and they are scrumptious!), curry, Portuguese cuisine, chips and dips and churros.
I think even a fussy eater would be able to find something tasty to eat and with prices around £5 it wasn’t too expensive. For those not driving there were also a couple of bars so you could relax in the sun with a refreshing pint or G&T. There were also ice cream vans, frozen yoghurt stalls and soft drinks stands so all your refreshment requirements were taken care off. I hate being thirsty and so had taken a bottle of water in my bag with me, I was delighted to find that in the middle of the festival there was a ‘Water Point’ where I could refill my bottle with drinking water.
Lunch time coincided nicely with Mr Bloom and Swashbuckle on stage. We sat down on our picnic blanket a little distance from the stage and whilst we were able to hear everything that was going on, unfortunately we couldn’t see everything. We were close enough to be able to see but too many people were standing at the front making it difficult for little ones to see even if they were nearer to the front. We were able to get close to the railings at the front ready for Swashbuckle but there were some older children standing on the railings so they still struggled to see until some people left and they were able to scooch forward. It would have been great to have had the children at the front sitting down since Cbeebies is most popular with smaller children so everyone could see nicely. The boys absolutely loved Cook and Line, they thought they were hilarious and loved singing along and doing the pirate salute. Having never watched Swashbuckle I didn’t know what to expect and have to say I was very pleasantly surprised, I really enjoyed the show and they even had me giggling (as I hid behind Pooh Bear from the water gun!).
Cook and Line headed straight to the VIP Meet and Greet after the show and were fantastic with the boys.
Asking their names and talking about their t-shirts (Spud had a Harry Potter Lego t-shirt on and Pooh Bear was wearing a dinosaur top), I think Spud was a little star struck meeting them, particularly since they said that Lego, Harry Potter and pirates were the three coolest things ever and he must be super cool! Pooh Bear had come over all shy as well so the photo might not be the best but Spud was ever so chuffed with the whole experience.
We then decided to go over to the Funky Junk Zone to do some arty bits, this is something Pooh Bear had been looking forward to and the tent provided some much needed shelter from the sun after being outside watching the stage. The first craft they boys wanted to do was decorating ducks with sticky jewels. The lady running the area could see I was clearly itching to have a go myself and said that adults were more than welcome to chose their own duck to decorate. The activity was super simple but thoroughly enjoyable and it was great to be able to join in and have my own duck to take home.
With our ducks looking dapper Pooh Bear led us over to the next craft of butterfly masks. These were paper masks shaped like butterflies for the boys to decorate with pens, sequins, glitter, pipe cleaners, pom poms and streamers. They had a great time letting their creativity flow.
The Funky Junk Zone was also where the kids cooking class was, this was something Spud had wanted to try out but unfortunately we were in the middle of the masks when the next class started filling up and we didn’t manage to find time to come back to it later on. Fortunately Spud was so busy doing other activities that he wasn’t too bothered that he missed out on the cooking.
When it came to loo breaks, there was one block of toilets at the festival which was plenty as there never seemed to be a big queue. They were well stocked with paper and hand sanitiser as well. The only thing I would say is that it would be good if the toilets were a little more spaced out, the loos were a bit of a walk from the woods and the inflatable village, especially for little legs that might’ve left it to the last minute to go.
Another thing that Pooh Bear had really wanted to do was the Pig. This was a large pink mummy pig with a snuffling snout and blinking eyes and it looked pretty cool from the outside.
Spud didn’t agree and so didn’t want to queue up for it, preferring to go back to the Lego igloo to construct a massive Lego wall! As I went with Spud I’m not entirely sure what happened at the Pig, I know that it was for children and adults and there were shows every 10/15 minutes with 10 people being able to go at a time. Each person was given a pig tail to wear and put their heads through holes at the side of the pig so from the outside it looked like they were little piglets having a drink! Whatever happened in the Pig, Pooh Bear really enjoyed it and he would recommend it to everyone.
After dragging Spud from the Lego once again we had a quick walk around the market area, this had a range of stalls where you could buy t-shirts, sweets, bread, cakes, jewellery and many other things. You can also buy Geronimofest merchandise, we checked out the prices and it was very reasonable, £5 for a t-shirt, £3 for a programme (in the same style as the VIP lanyard) and £5 for a picnic blanket which Granny and I both thought was great value.
By this time the weather had become pretty hot and the boys were in need of refreshment. The two ice cream vans on site both had pretty long queues so we sought an alternative in some frozen yoghurt which the boys thought was delicious and we found a lovely spot of grass in the Circus Zone and watched some very talented performers doing tightrope walking and gymnastics. In this zone you can also do circus skills and there is a Big Top where at certain times throughout the day there are circus shows. With the boys having been to the circus before they decided they would rather do other activities on offer but from what we did see of the performers, it was sure to have been a great show.
With the boys enjoying their fro-yo I took the opportunity to have a look at the nearby BMX show. The riders were very talented and as it was the last show of the day for them they were a little more daring than they had been throughout the day (so they said), the man who was talking through the stunts was informative and pretty funny as well.
The boys had really been looking forward to going to the nets in the trees, Monkey Do. We headed over there and were dismayed to be told by one of the event people that unless we had booked a session the boys wouldn’t be able to have a go. They could however go on one small net but not the main course in the trees. Granny and I were a little miffed about this because we hadn’t once been told that you had to book for this and couldn’t see it anywhere on the timetable of activities, it just listed the session times. The boys were understandably disappointed but were thrilled to be able to go on the small net however this quickly got crowded and we had to convince them to come off it so there was room for other people to have a go. If we had been told at the start of the day or there had been announcements about booking sessions we would have been able to avoid the boys having to miss out on an activity they had really wanted to do.
Spud is quite an accomplished bike rider for his age and so we popped over to see the guys at LeisureLakesBikes.com who had a bit of a cross country course set up. They fitted him with a suitable bike and helmet and he went off around the course, one of the men ran around with him to make sure he was ok and didn’t fall off but by the second lap he realised Spud didn’t need him and so he went off on his own. Not wanting Pooh Bear to miss out we had planned to take him to the balance bike course next door, however a very lovely man (who’s name I unfortunately can’t remember) said he would take Pooh Bear around on a big boy bike, holding him up so he could do the same course as his brother. Both the boys had beaming smiles after their rides and all credit to the men running the course for being so friendly and accommodating.
Seeing the ice cream queues had died down we sent Granny to get the cones in while we went to queue for the Helter Skelter. All day the queue had been pretty big and the boys had wanted to go on it but as they tend to get bored queuing we had put it off all day. With our ice creams to keep us occupied we figured it was the best time to get in the queue and we couldn’t have picked a better time as two fantastic circus performers and taken it upon themselves to entertain those waiting in the long line with some slapstick performance which was great.
We were at the front of the queue in what seemed like no time at all and when we reached the top of the tower we were treated to a great view of the whole festival site.
It was about 4pm by now and so we checked the map to see what we hadn’t been to yet, only to realise we’d missed out the whole ‘Pasture’! This was where all the animals were. We made our way over there via the seating area, this is an excellent idea, a place with sofas and armchairs for weary parents to sit down and relax or eat your lunch. There was also a piano and the boys enjoyed a quick tinkle on the old ivories on our way through.
The next activity was a donkey ride, Pooh Bear was eager to do this however Spud was having a bit of a teenage, too cool moment, we persuaded Spud to have a go and I’m glad we did because both boys absolutely loved the short ride on Andy and Dennis.
Carrying on with the animal theme we headed over to Ranger Rob, this is a company who do birthday parties, animal therapy and petting zoos and was possibly my favourite part of the day. When we arrived at the tent there was a man with a huge snake, giving everyone a turn to have it around their neck and stroke it, both boys were pretty impressed with it.
There was another man who was holding a gecko and again both boys were able to hold this, Spud was thrilled when it jumped from his hand onto his chest and was surprised to find that the gecko’s hands and feet were quite sticky. There were a range of different reptiles and creepy crawlies, snakes, chameleons, frogs, spiders and some even Granny and I had never heard of. The man went through them all, holding them up so everyone could see and telling you lots of interesting facts about them. The creatures all look very well cared for and the men were extremely knowledgeable about each one and I am now seriously considering booking them for my next birthday party, never mind the nephews! Not content with having held a giant snake, we made our way to the Tatton Park stand where there were some extremely cute chicks and ducklings. The boys couldn’t wait to hold a fluffy chick.
We were all getting a bit weary by now and the day was drawing to an end. At 4:30pm there was a parade scheduled, we weren’t sure where it would be but presumed it would go along the path that cuts through the middle of the festival site, which it did. As we walked over we heard music and drums and could see a couple of dancers, there were event staff handing out flags to everyone ready to wave in the parade. We weren’t sure what to expect but to be honest it wasn’t quite as exciting as we were expecting. There was a large colourful bird followed by three dancers and some musicians and later on some ladies dressed as butterflies joined in but it wasn’t enough to keep the boys happy standing still!
With everything winding up we popped to the Heart FM people for a quick photo in their giant deckchair and then went back to the hammocks to finish the festival as we started. This time the boys went in one hammock together and once again they had a whale of a time.
We weren’t in a rush to get home but if even if we had been we didn’t see huge queues of cars waiting to leave, although I think the weather probably helped with this. Despite all of the walking they’d done during the day the boys still had enough energy for a second go on the playground and we had to catch them before we could get them into the car to go home! Getting out of the car park was no problem and within minutes Pooh Bear was fast asleep and Spud wasn’t far behind him. If Granny hadn’t been driving I think she might’ve joined them too!
It was a great day and we did so many different activities but there were some we either didn’t have time for or the boys weren’t bothered about doing or didn’t want to queue up for. If we had had more time they could’ve done a high ropes course and zipline, Spud showed an interest in this but when we showed him the queue he changed his mind and the queue for this was pretty big all day. There was also a bike obstacle course but having had a look we thought both boys were a bit too small for any of the bikes they had. As I’ve said, it was disappointing the boys missed out on Monkey Do because we didn’t know that there was a booking system. The Circus I’m sure would’ve been fantastic and if we hadn’t been so lucky with the weather we might’ve sought shelter from the rain in the Big Top. There were a couple of crafts we didn’t do, the cooking and some drawing and there was also an area where you could play with Brio trains. Throughout the day we saw some spectacular creations from PifPaf riding festivalgoers up and down the path we saw Elsa, Alice and Cinderella walking around meeting people (I did ask Spud if he wanted his photo taken with them, he looked at me like I was stupid!). You could also spend more time at the stage area, we only watched two acts around lunch time as the boys generally like to be doing things but you could easily spend more time there. We didn’t visit the Groovy Zone at all, this is where there are dance and music classes, including Zumba sessions. I did ask the boys if they wanted to have a go but it’s not something they were interested in. This just goes to show that there is something for everyone at the festival and there is a great range of activities. There is also a 3ft and Under Zone for smaller children, as the boys are older we didn’t visit this area but I do know there was baby ballet, yoga and massage along with some play areas. One thing the boys had really wanted to do was tree climbing as they love climbing the tree at Grannys house, on the website ‘Big Tree Climbing’ with ropes and harnesses is advertised but we weren’t able to find this on the day.
We would thoroughly recommend Geronimofest, Spud is almost six and Pooh Bear is four which I think are great ages for the festival and will be for a couple of years. There is also plenty to keep younger children occupied as well. If you are going to go to Geronimofest we would like to give you our top tips to make the most of your day out:
- get there for when it opens, kids can play on the playground if you’re early and you’ll need the whole day to get in as many activities as you can
- check out the website and have a list of your top activities to do/acts to watch or meet in your head for when you get there, that way you can check whether any are at certain times and you can plan your day around those
- check if any activities need to be booked so you don’t miss out
- take a water bottle with you, you can refill it for free throughout the day at the water point
- If you don’t have a buggy to put everything on, take a back pack to carry any creations you make during the day
- be prepared to walk, although the site is not particularly large you will probably walk around quite a bit so wear comfy shoes
- go to the loo before heading to the inflatable village or to the woods as it is a bit of a walk for little legs
From what I’ve been told by the boys, Aunty Belly and Granny Geronimo was good value for money. You don’t need to spend anything once there apart from the £5 parking fee. If you take a family of four to the local fun fair you can easily spend £50 in a few hours and Geronimo is a full day affair. Despite the activities they weren’t able to do, they still had a really busy day so it would be great to be able to buy a weekend ticket and we live close enough for this to be viable without paying for accommodation.
Please pop over to the Geronimo website to find out more about all the wonderful companies who entertained the boys so well throughout the day. It’s a good idea to follow Geronimo on Facebook and Twitter too so you’ll be first to hear about earlybird tickets and all the acts and activities for next year.
***Disclosure*** We were given a family VIP ticket to Geronimofest on Saturday 23rd May in order to review the event. As always this review reflects our honest opinions***