By Charlotte Mellor

We kicked off our summer holidays by being ambitious! Attempting to attend a mainstream medium sized festival. Kendal Calling, based in the Lake District is a family orientated music festival that has been running for 11 years.  Aimed in particular at families and only being an hour and forty five minute drive from Manchester I thought this would be the perfect one to test the water with.

Scarlett has been attending small local festivals her entire life, I took her to her first one at only just 7 weeks old, even before we knew she was blind.  She loved it, and was ever so calm throughout the entire thing and has been a hippified festival lover ever since.  Her love of music and the outdoors and perfectly combined in a festival.  I too am a lover of all things festival and it is great that I have a daughter who is so down with doing something so cool!

Now in terms of selecting our first one I took three things into careful consideration. Firstly the size, with festivals there can be a lot of walking involved, so you need to bare this in mind if your child has any mobility issues.  Thankfully I had the mobility buggy on hand to assist with the relocation’s to the variety of areas Kendal Calling has to offer.  We also took the cane, it comes everywhere with us now and it served two purposes.  One to help Scarlett get around the busy surroundings whilst on foot and to symbolise to the other festival goers.  It worked a treat and people were much more mindful of Scarlett when she was scrabbling through the crowds.

Secondly, location from your home!  With festivals there is always the inevitable queuing in traffic. Apparently it is part of the fun… If your child doesn’t particularly like to travel in the car for lengthy periods then do account for extra travel time when making your way too and from the event.

Thirdly, how the festival is orientated.  Kendal was great for us as it is very family themed, with a designated zone for young ones called ‘Kids Calling’.  This was perfect and we spent a good few hours in this area.  It was slightly less busy that the staged areas where the bands were preforming and it was a life saver to keep Scarlett’s brother Sonny entertained and occupied for hours.  Other festivals despite having family designated areas may not be appropriate dependent on the age of the child.

Okay, next on to the ticket types.  

I at time of purchase didn’t realise I could get a free carer ticket to go along with her to the event, so please do check this before you buy.  There was also an access section that needed to be completed.  Unfortunately being the poorly organised individual that I am I left this too late to gain access to the campsite where there would have been people on hand to assist with the tent build and in closer proximity to the arenas/food areas.  I contacted Kendal Calling and unfortunately they weren’t able to squeeze us on to the access campsite, they did however very kindly offer me an additional spare adult ticket so that II could recruit and extra pair of hands, and a wristband for the viewing platform.  This was very kind of them to do so, as the error was all down to me, so well done Kendal Calling team for attempting to offer a solution so that Scarlett could still attend the event.

Be prepared!

As there is often quite a distance between your camp area and the arenas ensure that you have a rucksack to cover all eventualities.  I am sure all parents are aware of their go-to survival sack whilst out and about.  To give you an idea here is what I included in Scarlett’s emergency bag:

  1. Ear defenders- Sometimes Scarlett uses them, sometimes she doesn’t, I carried them with me at all time.
  2. Music system and earphones- Overwhelming sound environments are part of the whole festival day out, so if you need to an iPod or similar music device can be a great way to completely block out sound.  Scarlett is also very calmed off music so if there is a time when your child becomes overwhelmed ensure to keep their calming device to hand, as nipping back to the tent isn’t an easy task.
  3. Biscuits, snacks, treats, drinks- Keep all of your child’s favourites with you, helps beat big food queues and expensive prices.
  4. Cane- If you child uses a cane keep it with you, one for mobility and one to signal to the festival goers you are with a child who has a visual impairment.
  5. Blankets and coats- It can get cold quick at night as the sunsets

Each child’s bag of calming items is different dependent on the child, if you have it with you it can help you to cope with any eventualities!

All in all it was a fantastic experience that both children thoroughly enjoyed, as it offered things that catered for both tastes.  I can not wait to take her to her next one!

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