Body and Soul Festival with kids
This is a little off topic from the usual scope of this blog, but I’ve been asked to write about this a few times and as we’ve just come from a fab weekend in Body & Soul, I thought, why not.
My husband and I are keen festival goers and Electric Picnic has been an annual anniversary event for us every year. 2014 marked our first trip as a family of 3, and then 2016 as a family of 4. A festival is a different type of event really when you have kids in tow, but very enjoyable nonetheless…once you come to terms with this new reality! It’s more about what’s going on during the day than after dark; spending time in areas you didn’t look twice at pre-kids; and a lot less alcohol. At Electric Picnic, one of these areas is Soul Kids by Body & Soul, which is like a whole mini-festival for kids. You could go to Electric Picnic and have a jam-packed weekend with smallies without ever leaving Soul Kids. That’s kind of where we got to last year; our first with 2 little ones and our first time camping with kids. We took time to explore the whole arena and caught a few acts at the main stage, but Electric Picnic is so big now and the kids so young that it all felt a bit peripheral for us, or us peripheral to it. If I’m honest it just didn’t seem worth the money if you don’t get to see any of the big ticket acts, and I was frustrated about how long it took to get from A to B…we’d just about get there and it was time to feed, nap, change someone or all three. So, for the first time ever, we haven’t bought early bird tickets for Electric Picnic this year (but are not quite ruling it out yet either…).
As a consolation, we bought tickets to Body & Soul for the four of us this year. Body & Soul is a much smaller festival taking place in WestMeath in June, with around 15k tickets as opposed to Electric Picnics’ 40k+; and with all the flair expected of Body & Soul but a lot less big name acts. We didn’t really know what to expect but in true last minute style, we dusted off our festival packing list late last week; threw it all in the boot of the car and headed down during naptime on Friday. And in short, it was a big win-win for us! We had an absolute blast! A fun-filled, relaxed and easy weekend and we are a house full of tired bodies today.
So, here’s the low-down:
- The family car-park is right beside the family campsite. Right beside. As in, we could practically see our car from our tent. Couple of trips back and forth from the car and we were all set.
- The family campsite is only about 5 mins walk (adult walking that is, not toddler) from the arena and the entire arena is spread-out but quite compact…so easy to make your way around. Also great for popping back to your tent if you need to get different stuff if the weather changes, so you are not hauling a massive bag around. The campsite also has some Soul Kids activities on-site through the day, a play area, and a café selling decent coffee.
- Soul kids is contained within the walled garden and amazing for little kids. You really could spend the day in there. A stage for music and dancing; room for workshop; lots to play with (sand pit, hula hoops, outdoor games); activities like giant bubbles and balloon making…the list goes on. There are toilets, baby changing facilities, drinking water…and I think my favourite of all – mini teepee tents for shelter for kids (think naps)! We actually managed to achieve the elusive double-nap with both boys in the teepee. That was quite a smug and blissful bit of headspace, I must say!
- Lots of wooded areas to explore with gorgeous structures and art among the trees and big variety of places to sit and relax.
- The layout at the main stage is great for setting out a picnic blanket at the top of the hill and watching the acts.
- All the staff were so friendly and great with the kids, and the overall vibe in the festival is friendly and welcoming.
- Huge variety of tasty food and drink.
- Soul kids is at the opposite end of the arena to the family camping (this year anyway). On the one hand it means you get a chance to explore other areas on your way to and from, but on the other hand it’s a bit of a nuisance if you are heading home with tired kids and don’t want to get them all giddied up en route. It being close to all the evening action also meant it was quite noisy. Our kids were too tired to be bothered by the noise but it does go on until after 4 am, so might be a problem for some.
- Although it's free flow from campsite to arena (i.e. you can bring in your own alcohol), you can’t bring alcohol into the Soul kids area. Yeah, I get it. But for that moments peace when the kids were asleep it would have been lovely for hubs and I to sit beside them and have a sneaky cocktail (instead we took turns going out to the orchard for a drink with friends – also with kids).
- As we are new enough to camping with kids, we haven’t nailed the evening time yet. In our future I see a blissful vision of camping with other parents and taking turns to get a late night in the arena…
Tips and other bits
- A solid camping list is key for making sure you don’t forget anything. If you would like me to share mine with you, stick a comment below.
- Go for the bigger tent – you won’t regret having too much space, but you will lose your mind if you are all crammed inside while it’s raining and you’re trying to sort out breakfast.
- When you are staying in family campsites (both EP and B&S anyway) they give you wrist bands for kids on arrival that you can write your contact details on.
- While my preference is for slings in the arena, a hardy buggy would be able to get around grand, and if nothing else, it’s handy for carting stuff from car to tent.
- The general dress-code at Body & Soul appears to lean towards ‘what you’d love to try but it’s too extravagant for everyday wear’. Think metallic bodysuits, fruit bowl hats, wigs, psychedelic onesies, and lots and lots of glitter. I for one didn’t get the memo, so was dressed like a practical mum of two under three…the choice is yours!
Have I missed anything, what else would you add to this list?
Claire Flannery is the Founder and Owner of Strength Within coaching and consultancy, where she focuses on helping people create the headspace and mental clarity to discover, cultivate and maximise their strength within. She is a qualified Business Psychologist, Executive, Business & Personal Coach and Gentlebirth Instructor with over a decade of experience working in HR leadership in Financial Services. She is also a Mum to two small boys and has personal experience of successfully managing her career while preparing to transition out of, and back into, the workforce; and is passionate about helping people to successfully navigate the huge identity and life transition involved in starting and growing a family. As a large part of her work, she is privileged to work with women and their partners as they make their journey through pregnancy, birth and early parenting. Along with Coaching services, she runs Gentlebirth and Return-to-Work workshops in Dublin, Ireland.