That was what crossed my mind as we stood in the grounds of what is usually a sedate National Trust property in Knutsford, Cheshire. I can imagine that the grounds are normally a beautiful place to take a stroll and enjoy a picnic, in the tranquility of the countryside.
Not this bank holiday weekend, however. This weekend, Tatton Park has been transformed into the home of the fantastic Geronimo Festival.
Geronimo Festival is our first experience of a festival, and from what I’ve heard and read about others, I wish they could all be as good as Geronimo was. We felt apprehensive after reading some of the horror stories about the event at Harewood House in Leeds earlier this month – and even more so after reading that tickets had sold out for Sunday 29th May – the day we were going. Would we struggle with parking and be queuing for hours? It’s fair to say I was pretty apprehensive on the drive there.
I needn’t have worried. The event was well-signposted, we were parked within ten minutes of arriving in the grounds, and the organisers had used social media and the website to warn everyone well in advance that Tatton Park charged an additional £6 for parking (we’ll be heading back there for a day out at some point, so the parking charge certainly hasn’t put us off!). By the time we arrived, the gates were open. We went through the Press & VIP entrance which was fairly painless once they’d found my name on the list, and we didn’t have to queue at all, but even for those who did, the queues seemed to be moving fairly quickly and the security staff on the gates were very efficient and friendly.
Once you’re in… all I could say was “Wow”. I don’t know whether I was expecting it to be like some kind of church fete thing with lots of car boot and very few interesting activities, but I was blown away by the amount on offer at Geronimo. Our first stop was the press tent, where we picked up our press pass – and then it was time to go and have a walk around!
The queue for the helter skelter and the merry-go-round were already building up at this point, but the rest of the field was quite quiet, so we went for a stroll to see what food was on offer and what the prices were like – pretty reasonable, considering it’s a festival, but the best thing is that Geronimo welcome picnics (more on that later) so you can save yourself a bit of money there.
We made our way to the 3ft and Under Zone, to sign SB up for a Tumble Tots session. We’d been warned in advance by the Geronimo facebook page to sign up for a session, because they’d book up quickly. Having made our booking, we then explored the rest of the zone. The BabyBallet session was taking place on the GeroniStage at that point, so we did some colouring inside the tent, and moved on. We signed SB up for a toddler science class later in the day, and had a look at a few other things.
I have to say that the provision for even the smallest “Geronimites” was spot on. In every zone there was a tipi for baby changing and a tipi for baby feeding – we spotted five or six of each all in all, but I think there were more. We didn’t use the baby feeding one, but inside the baby changing tipi there was a changing table and a separate changing mat, and a basket of nappies and wipes, free of charge – it’s such a lovely touch, and something that really makes a difference at a childrens’ festival!
Our next stop was the Library Zone, which was anything but quiet! We joined in with the Baby Rave – SB was a little overwhelmed by all the music, but she loved the bubbles and the snow machine, and had a great time dancing around outside the tent as well as inside! (I may have had a sneaky dance too!)
SB was getting a bit ratty by this point, so we decided to slow the pace down a little and we headed over to the Pasture Zone. This was a lovely area with pony & donkey rides, owls, a creepy crawly/snake show and – one of the definite highlights of our day – the sheep show.
Okay, no Welsh jokes please – I’m totally serious. This show was absolutely fantastic. As well as introducing us to different types of sheep right there on the stage – ranging from the most common to one of the rarest and most endangered – we also got the chance to watch a sheep being sheared. To her credit, SB calmed right down and sat and watched it with us. She was very taken by the sheep, and we found the commentary interesting and absolutely hilarious in equal measure – I hope the presenter doubles as a comedian, because he was absolutely brilliant and had me in stitches at times.
After that it was time for some lunch. Rather than braving the queues for the many food vendors (and there really were loads; something to cater to every tastebud!), we’d bought our own picnic. We looked for a bench, but instead we found something really pretty awesome – there were four or five little pagoda/gazebo things, undercover to protect from the sun, with cushions and soft mats laid out to make them really comfy. We made a beeline for one and ate our lunch there, enjoying the sunshine and a chance to chill out. It wasn’t overly noisy, wasn’t overly crowded despite being sold out, and it was a special treat to have this little pagoda thing available. One thing I would suggest is to have more! They fit two small families or one big family at a time, and they were absolutely brilliant for some chill-out time. When we get a garden, I’ve told Daf that I want one!
So that brings us up to the end of our morning at Geronimo Festival! I’ll continue shortly with Part Two, featuring sheepdogs, geese, tiny child motorcycle daredevils and a bear?!
In return for this review we were given a family ticket to attend Geronimo. This will not impact on my review in any way – this is my honest opinion of the event.