We arrived at the flat, spacious and very scenic camp site on Friday evening. One major luxury with this festival was that we could drive around the camp site, find a pitch and unload everything before having to drive back to the car park (there was also a toilet block, shower block, stand pipe and elsan point).This was particularly advantageous as it was pouring with rain when we arrived. We pitched the tent in record time, before parking the car and then heading off into the arena.
There were 3 stages (all under cover), which was just right for the amount of people attending. There was a smattering of the usual festival stalls and food outlets too, but not as many as in previous years (maybe due to the inclement weather which has been ongoing since the hose-pipe ban was announced!). There was one totally vegetarian/vegan food stall, plus plenty of other options such as veggie burgers and crepes at the other stalls; these weren't as varied or adventurous as the food at some larger festivals but more than adequate.
The festival site had plenty of bins/recycling points, a real ale tent and even flushing toilets with running water in the sinks (as opposed to portaloos and anti-bac foam). There was a large, undercover kids area with art, craft and musical activities, circus skills and more besides. There should have been a climbing wall too, but I guess the rain made it too dangerous to use.
Old favourites Chumbawamba and the Oysterband played on Friday night and were as entertaining and tuneful as usual. We also discovered some new acts over the weekend, who we hadn't heard of before, including Abandoman (Irish hip hop comedy!), Jesca Hoop (the slightly loopy former nanny of Tom Waits' children), Dizraeli and the Small Gods (hip hop/folk fusion) and The Leisure Society folk/pop/rock).
The only down side to the festival was the weather and the resulting muddiness of the site, but that certainly wouldn't put us off going again.
I would definitely recommend the Big Session to anyone who wants to try out a small, friendly festival with their kids, before venturing on to a larger one...who knows, if you go, you might even get to like folk music too!
The Big Session Festival takes place at Catton Hall, South Derbyshire. For more information, visit Big Session.
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