Port Eliot is a magical place to visit when you’re a child; adventure lurks around every corner. If you’ve never done it before, taking kids to a festival can seem daunting – but Port Eliot is the perfectly petite place to start: it’s small and easy to navigate, and it’s surrounded by a house and gardens that will fill them with wonder.
We crowdsourced these family festival tips especially for those who haven’t done it before. Here’s your guide to coming to Port Eliot as a family, written by other families who do every year.
Camping and facilities
Camping on the hill at Jago’s View Campsite is a great spot for families. It is a wee bit hilly but it’s far enough away from the music at night and there’s plenty of space for big groups – there’s a fantastic view of the Estate from here too! There is plenty of flat space in the campsite, but it does get busy with tents. The water taps run up the middle of the campsite – it’s often helpful to locate yourselves near a tap.
Look out for buggies powered by the cancer charity PANTS who will be helping campers with their kit get to the campsite, for a small donation.
Loos & baby-changing
This year we’ll also have baby-changing in our kids area, Wildlings Wood – very handy when you’re away from your tent. It’ll be located next to the kids cafe, sandpit, picnic benches and general chill zone.
And new this year especially for our short-legged visitors, there’ll be child-sized compost loos in the Wildlings Wood.
The Port Eliot loos are maintained to a pretty high standard but if you want a really fancy experience, buy yourself a Loowatt pass.
Places to cool down and relax
There are lots of shady spots all around the site to retreat to on hot days, between the lovely ancient trees and open tents. And of course, the ultimate cooler is a dip in the river. The very best way to wake up!
The hill by the viaduct is ideal for a picnic – there’s lots of space to sit, a lovely view and it’s not too busy.
What to eat
Most of our streetfood sellers will be able to do small child-sized portions for a reduced price – just ask them. There’s plenty that will appeal to little ones tastes: fresh pasta from The Cooking Cooks, hot pots from Katie’s Cornish Hotpots or crepes from Lemon Jelli to name just a few. Woody’s Pizza and Chip off the Block are also favourites. And there are some sweet treats too – like the best ice-cream you’ll ever have from The Dartmouth Icecream Company. Head here to see the full array of food on offer.
What to pack
Aside from usual camping essentials, here are some top tips from Port Eliot Festival-goers especially for family camping:
- Wet wipes – an absolute essential when camping with children!
- Light up toys/ torches for the evening. Lots of fun and good for keeping an eye on the little ones.
- Bring plenty of warm blankets and clothes to stay toasty at night – a good sheepskin goes a long way! For very small children, warm clothes and blankets are less complicated than a sleeping bag.
- A washing up bowl or big tub can be a great asset too – for storing your dirty washing up, mini paddling pool for a hot day, Somewhere to store muddy wellies!
- Tent big enough to stand up in and do wet weather games/activities in
- Refillable water containers and coffee cups, and a flask for hot water to make warm milk.
- Bug repellent. Don’t forget this! The festival is by water, so it does get some mosquitoes.
- Really good camping mats to make sure you get your 40 winks!
- A pre-pitched tent if you’re so inclined – fewer things to carry.
- A trolley, cart or trundle truck to push the kids around in. Good for carrying things, and gives them somewhere cosy to have a nap during the day…
- A small paddling pool to put on the shower floor to turn the shower into a sit down / bath option for little ones
- Toys, books and games to keep kids entertained in all weather conditions
- Binbags, for little (or big) accidents. Please the bring green compostable kind if you can, that don’t contain plastic.
- Ear defenders for the kids, for when you’re near the big stage soundsystems
- Be prepared to share a bed with your little ones. Accept it and enjoy it, one day they won’t want to!
- Rummaging for, and storage of, clothes can be a pain. Use tall, narrow bags that are clear and heavy duty. You can easily see what’s in them right to the bottom and the clothes are kept dry.
- Lots of snacks and nibbles… and wine
- Plus, don’t forget your welly boots, sun cream, waterproofs, potty, toys, and headtorch
- Silly clothes, face paint and biodegradeable glitter. James Wilkinson says, “pack a tutu, foxtail and a smile for both daddy and daughter, there is never enough glitter.”
Things to see and do
For the tiddlers
Tinies Soft Play will feature special appearances from The Music Bus (baby sensory and nursery rhymes) – there will be baby changing facilities and a feeding zone. It’s also right next to the sandpit and kids’ cafe so perfect chillout zone for tiny tiddlers.
Messy Play (0-3s) is back with added mess
The Joy Journal features homemade playdough, squishy soap, free flow painting and nature paintbrushes
Musical Storytales for Tots will bring stories to life with glorious, creative music play. They use sounds, songs, instruments, dancing, ribbons, puppet boxes, home-made paraphernalia and mayhem!
For the Middlers (5-10)
Come on our Alice in Wonderland Treasure Hunt and venture down the rabbit hole in search of clues
Diggory Piper the Worst Pirate Ever is a musical jaunt across the high seas. There will be skullduggery, tomfoolery and CHOCOLATE.
Circus Skills: Come and try out pois, juggling, flower sticks, hula hoops, diablo, spinning plates or try balancing on a pedalgoer, bouncing ball or stilts.
For the slightly older kids
At Flint and Steel Forest School, children will learn den building, tool station, knot tying – all the essential skills to get survival ready!
Under-16 photography workshops are less technical, more adventure and exploration with creative compositions and framing, seeing the world from all angles.
Come and throw pointy things in the Viking Games Arena! Axes, arrows, spears, and a few medieval vikings games thrown in for luck.
Tree climbing: can you reach the top?
At Aardman Model-Making, Choose between Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Feathers McGraw with real life Aardman experts!
Kidz Comedy Club: For anyone who thinks they’re funnier than their parents (surely that’s everyone).
Robot Dancing Workshop – it’s finally time to perfect the ultimate disco dance
Foraging with Wild School – a mixture of botany, cookery, folklore and magic for the whole family.
Soundart Radio Workshops – Vox pops, improvised opera, ASMR, Soundart will send you off into the festival with a recording device to record the festival through your own ears. We can’t wait to hear the results!