On Sunday, we took Tweetie Junior to his first festival. It wasn’t V Fest, though – it was Lollibop, in the Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford. Billed as ‘The Big Bash for Little People’, Lollibop boasted the kind of line-up that sends CBeebies Mums crazy – Alex Winters opened on the main stage, a very pregnant Katy Ashworth was in the Lollibop Kitchen and Justin Fletcher was far and way the most popular performer of the day. There was something for everyone – we met a Cloudbaby, Optimus Prime and several stilt-walkers, got our picture taken with Sid and Andy off of TV and boogied at the disco tent. Dotted around the place were face-painters, craft tents and meet and greet opportunities. I felt there was plenty to keep kids happy.
It was a festival so of course we experienced the delights of the portaloos but thankfully, they were a far cry from the ones at Glastonbury. Even by Day Three, the Lollibop loos were clean and fresh smelling. The aptly named Boob and Botty Boudoirs catered for breastfeeding mums and dirty bums – these were sponsored by Tesco and a friend who attended on Friday told me they were fully stocked with free nappies and baby wipes, but by Sunday the freebies were gone and the boudoirs had seen much better days. If your little one needed more substantial food, there were food stalls everywhere, although I felt they didn’t really cater for young children as well as they might have done – in among the Nando’s and Jamaican Jerk Chicken, fishfinger sandwiches seemed to be the most child-friendly offering. There was also a Grown Ups Creche, which sold alcohol but we didn’t venture into it – it didn’t feel quite right, somehow.
The cost of the ticket (to admit one person of any age over one year) was £28.00 on the day, although cheaper tickets were available if you booked in advance or if you had a promo code (which we did). I thought the one-price-fits-all ticket price wasn’t ideal and would have preferred to see cheaper tickets for children – the cost for a family of four was over £100. Food and drink was as expensive as you’d expect – the most cynical was £3.00 for four strawberries and two marshmallows with a dash of molten chocolate on top. Luckily, we’d taken a packed lunch with us so our outlay was purely for treats. There were a few giveaways too, I came away with three bags of Haribo and a handful of foil wrapped cake bars.
Where Lollibop really came into its own, though, was the entertainment. Every single performer we saw, whether already famous in kids’ entertainment or up and coming, was brilliant. After Sid and Andy from CBeebies had done their show (which was the second or third they’d done that day), they had a meet and greet, where I nearly got trampled by the rush of salivating mums (you think I’m exaggerating – I assure you, I am not). Sid and Andy smiled their way through it. And at the end of his show, Justin Fletcher took the time to sincerely thank the crowd for all their support and seemed to genuinely be grateful to be there. Katy Ashworth was excellent in her I Can Cook slot and I picked up a few tips for my own school visit performance from her.
Overall, I think Lollibop was great value for money – there was plenty we didn’t get to see and do before heading for home with a tired Tweetie Junior. It was a great introduction to the festival experience – next up, Reading and Leeds…