So as a young, free, and single gal, music festivals were my thing. I loved nothing more than packing a bag, tent and a few essentials and spending my weekends (often in the mud) watching some great music with good friends.
We attended Cloudspotting in 2016 which we thoroughly enjoyed and it was a brilliant introduction to family festivals but with a number of our friends having raved about what great festival Deershed is – a complete all rounder for families – it was time to get this one in our diaries so we could see what all the fuss was about.
Well it has taken so long with holidays, work and days out to get around to publishing this post that tickets for Deershed10 have come on sale. We managed to snap up the Tier 1 tickets so I think you can safely assume that all the rumours were true. We are already planning some of our summer holidays around it.
So what is it all about – here is all you need to know – along with some of what we got up to.
The setting of this festival is in the idyllic Baldersby Park in Topcliffe, a few miles from Thirsk in North Yorkshire.
On arrival to the site you have to pay for the parking and cash only so make sure that you don’t forget this.
You park up and unpack. There is a trolley hire service which I would definitely recommend if you don’t have your own. We had our own (not quite as good as Mr Trolley’s) so we managed just fine but could see that without this and having to navigate children it could amount to a bit of a stressful time (not the best way to start a festival weekend). Mr Trolley also offer weekend hire which is great for transporting all your chairs, blankets, bags and weary children at the end of the day) and it is recommend to pre-book this.
The campsite is really well organised with plenty of volunteers to help find a spot, particularly if you get there late. There are big paths that are pretty well lit at night to find your way back and a decent number of toilet blocks that are cleaned petty regularly and all have hand sanitiser outside which is a nice touch. The only downside is that in a morning the queues are insane. So my advice would be to either take a potty (particularly if you have small children) or not think you can wait at all as it could be a while before you get your turn.
I think the great thing about the site is that it is really clean and nothing is too far away from the arena.
There is a glamping option with pre-erected tents if you don’t fancy setting up your own and more information can be found here.
Food and Drink
Now this is where Deershed really excels. The food is of a really great quality and loads of choice including super quick pizza, falafels, mac and cheese, tacos, fish and chips. They have pretty much it all covered even a quirky little café with cups of tea and cake. All the food we had was really, really good and not just “by festival standards”.
However, the food can be pretty pricey with most mains starting around £7.00. If you are a bigger family and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner from the vendors then the cost will really stack up. We mixed it up with our own food, snacks and festival food so it helped keep the cost down. We cooked one meal at home and froze it so that it remained chilled and then just had to warm it through without too much fuss.
With smaller children you may find that heading back to the tent for a bit of down time whilst you cook something up is a great way to give them a second wind too.
There is a good range of drinks – for the beers/soft drinks Deershed take a charge for a plastic glass – you take a drink – go for a refill and they will change and wash for you. Then at the end of the weekend take your empty back to the bar where they will exchange it for a Deershed10 souvenir glass. A nice memento to take home (and great for future camping trips). In addition there is a lovely little gin tent next to the main stage where they do tastings and demonstrations, not to mention some delicious cocktails.
From fancy dress to handcrafted souvenirs and jewellery there are plenty of stalls to wander around and pick up some little trinkets. A particular favourite was hanging around the bubble stall the children were drawn to it like bees to pollen.
We loved meandering around and we had given Ella a little personal spends so she could choose her own stuff. We opted for some lovely fudge for the journey home.
Gosh where to start!!! Deershed pretty much has it covered but I will detail as much as I can below.
Music – an hugely eclectic line up on a number of stages, there is the main stage, In the Dock Stage, Lodge Stage and Pallet Stage (which is exactly what the name suggests. There may be a lot of acts that are not well known so a great way to get involved is to download the playlist that comes out before and see what takes your fancy. My personal highlight was seeing Public Service Broadcasting, Goldfrapp, Warm Digits, Field Music and Joan as Policewoman but over the whole weekend we heard lots of snippets of music in addition to watching the full sets of some.
Comedy – now one of the big regrets of the weekend is not seeing so much comedy. I think one of the issues was during the day inside the tents it was too hot and uncomfortable. Mr WB did catch James Acaster though and said he was brilliant. Completely pitched to the right audience. Next year we will make sure we take our chairs and settle in for this so we get the most of it.
Sport – the sports field was utterly brilliant. We were there with a couple of groups of friends and some of the children spent most of the weekend here whereas we jumped in and out (excuse the pun). We tried a number of activities including the mini-golf, archery and slacklining – we loved watching the sock wrestling – such fun and wish we had gone a little earlier to sign up for a couple of additional activities. There was plenty for everyone and for those that need to burn energy it is a perfect place.
Arts, craft & science – in complete contrast the arts and crafts allow some quiet time compared to the sports field. There was such a broad range of activities available. Ella built a boat, make a guitar, tooth pillow, friendship bracelet, wooden fish – all for free. There were a few more activities paid for and we signed up for the Screen Printing and some other paintings that now take pride of place on her bedroom walls.
The science tent is huge and again this is something we headed to a little late but for certain will get involved next year, from slime making to soldering there is loads of really cool workshops for the children (and grown-ups) to get involved in.
Spoken word/poetry – whilst this was not something we did there was lots of opportunity to immerse yourself in the quieter side of this festival.
Wellbeing – over in the Hideaway there was a great programme to complete the holistic experience – from sunrise yogo to Gin/Yang Yoga. We enjoyed the Family Rave Yoga which played some great old-school tunes whilst we stretched away. We loved this so much we headed back for the Greatest Showroom Yoga which was so uplifting. We loved seeing the Guilty Pleasures Walkabout Rave around the festival and were a little gutted we missed this activity so would definitely hunt this one out in the future.
Shows/Cinema – Deershed do their research and provide some brilliant shows, some ad-hoc performances just around the site and others more structured. Kitsch and Sync provided some fun with their trio of Bedraggled and Pseudo Synchro. There were also a few films but again the tent was sweltering so we opted to stay outdoors
Wilderwild – was great for some natural activities, from Land Art, clay modelling, making a dream catcher to name a few. As with all areas there were a number of paid activities and it is worth booking these in advance if you or the little ones are keen to try. Ella loved seeing the Newfoundland Dogs but missed the ride which she still talks about.
Funfair – in addition to all the above and the odd swingball just placed at the back of the main stage there is a small funfair with Helter Skelter, Swing and Big Wheel.
Deershed really thinks of everything and there is something for everyone. We had the best weekend, time for activities, trying something new, listening to music, seeing shows and just hanging out with friends.
Other useful info
The War on Plastic – One thing we were really impressed with is that Deershed had banned the sale of plastic water bottles this year and advised everyone to bring a reusable one along. There were plenty of water stations to refill and this did will have saved us a fortune as the weekend was scorching so we needed to keep hydrated.
Sunday Nights – Deershed9 officially finishes around 5.30 on the Sunday evening but there is the option to stay on for the Sunday evening for a little extra and that kicks off some additional entertainment. However, for Deershed10 they are extending the whole festival to include the Sunday night.
ATM – there is an ATM on-site but if like us your resent paying to take out your own money then it is probably best to either take more cash or really stick to a budget.
10 Top Tips
- Arrive early – next year is during the normal school holidays so no excuse.
- Hire a trolley (or take your own).
- Take snacks/food if you want to keep the cost down.
- Take glitter and face-paint. There are places to get this done but the queues were pretty big (plus we even got the big boys involved).
- Book activities in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Take advantage of the free-activities.
- Try something new.
- Watch new music.
- Immerse yourself in the theme.
- Book next year in advance.
The whole family had an awesome weekend. It is obvious the festival is run by families for families and it seems everything is thought of. The site is clean, well managed, the acts varied, the atmosphere electric and all around you, all you see is happy smiling faces. Sure it helped that the weather was fantastic (aside from a short spell of rain on the Friday lunch) which always helps but I suspect that come rain or shine the smiles will be from ear to ear.
We can’t wait to return and would encourage anyone else to go.
Happy Deershedding 2019 everyone (26th-29th July)
(Worried about what to buy your loved ones this Christmas – think about tickets to Deershed 10 – book before December 14th and receive some free “gubbins” to wrap up with your confirmation)