With over 700 festivals in the UK now it’s hard to know which ones to pick, but being a parent of a 7 year old I now look towards festivals that have any mention of family friendly.  Deer Shed is one such festival with family written all over it and frankly it got me quite excited.  It’s a weekend festival that covers 3 days, but not in the usual way.  It’s a slow burner on the Friday evening, full on festival fun on the Saturday and a chilled end on a Sunday - the perfect escape from the hectic everyday world, as we all know working with children isn’t easy!

So what did we get when we arrived?  Well, for a start no queue to get in! Yep, that’s it, straight in and park up within minutes, then just a short walk from the car park to camping, definitely a relaxed start to the weekend and a rare treat at a festival. Now anyone with children who camps know that the pitching the tent can get a little bit, well stressful, but at Deer Shed fear not!  There is a huge field of swing balls, space hoppers, building blocks and sports equipment, enough to keep any child’s moaning at bay all weekend!

So, to the festival itself.  The main arena, if not a little smaller than I’m used to, was packed full of things to do for adults and children alike. With 3 stages of music and 2 areas of family entertainment, 1 being a huge big top, it was hard to know where to start.  We started at the Bar, with real ales at real pub prices not festival prices, what a refreshing change!  Friday was a little more relaxed and quiet, with music on 1 stage for the grownups, an illusionist and Cabaret on the other for the little (and big) kids. The stand out act from Friday for me was Yorkshire’s Hope and Social, they got the intimate crowd moving with their vibrant mix of acoustic folk.  I Finished off my night in The Big Top with NY Sushi Disco, playing an eclectic mix of music, including some 80s disco classics and my all time favorite,  Jackson Sisters I Believe in Miracles, disco heaven! For those adults without children, of which there were a few, there was the adult only lounge, a chilled tent with luxurious cushions and DJs, that went on till the small hours.

Saturday is the big day at Deer Shed, more bands than you would expect from a festival of its size.  As the In the Dock Stage and Obelisk Stage played alternately this meant that if you sat in the right area you could enjoy all they had to offer with no need to move!  A blessing if you happened to be towing around kids and prams.  If you fancied something a little different the Key Production Stage had acts like The Neat and Let’s Buy Happiness playing through the day.  But hold on, it’s a family festival, what about the kids?   Well that was a case of what to do first, friendship bracelets, plastacine aliens, learning some acrobats or even a bit of beat boxing from Vid Warren, oh the list goes on and on.  Back to the music, for even though there is a lot of kid’s activities this is still a music festival.  The stand out band of the weekend for lots of people were Laki Mera, a quartet from Glasgow who’s atmospheric blend of electronica and Laura Donnelly’s eerily tender vocals suited the early evening slot a treat. I liked them so much I bought the album!! The night, and the festival, was closed by I Am Kloot who captivated the crowd and were accompanied by a clear sky that made the perfect back drop for their performance. Johnny, who also attended the festival all weekend, led a chatty and charismatic show and proved that the choice of giving them headline status was well made.

It may seem strange giving a day by day breakdown of such a small festival, but Deer Shed’s charm is in the change in mood each day. With Friday we have the slow, relaxed start, Saturday the wall to wall music and activities and then on Sunday, well, Deer Shed was made for Sundays! The fields and areas that were buzzing with music, chat and excitement the night before were transformed to a sea of tranquility - papers, cake and coffee were the order of the day. The Big Top was host to the Just Music Café and we were again treated to Laki Mera, whose charm had not diminished from the previous afternoon. And for the kids, lots of big cardboard boxes! Save your money on your next Child’s birthday, the cardboard box is the way to go - I have never seen so many kids have so much fun!

So, would I recommend Deer Shed? All I have to say is, can I do it again next weekend!

Article By Charlie Greenwood