When it comes to festivals and being sustainable, we have a long way to go. So much plastic, from drinks through to food vendors is rife and when you’re locked in a festival environment for the weekend, there’s often few alternatives out there. So, when Deer Shed announced that they were getting #DrasticOnPlastic at this year’s festival, we travelled down to Thirsk in Yorkshire to see what it’s all about.
Taking place on the first weekend of the school holidays, Deer Shed is a convenient hour south of Newcastle. We LOVE that this family festival takes place in the North – a real treat not to have to travel for a day to the south coast for some other named festivals on the circuit! We were pitched and ready to hit the festival within the hour. The car parks are located near the camping fields and there is a trolley hire point in each car park where you can hire a Mr Trolley to take your tent and bags to a spot within the fields. It costs £5 for a half an hour use, and we’d certainly recommend this to make your life easier.
Once pitched, we were ready for our tea – we do love a bit of festival food and were keen to see the impact of Deer Shed’s approach to working with food vendors to reduce plastic on site. On the most part we were impressed with most food stalls using compostable plates, bowls and cutlery as well as a number of water points located around the festival site where we could fill up our water bottles. We were excited to see a stall selling pressed juices, but not so keen to see that they were served in plastic cups with plastic straws! Ah! Most food places sold cans of cold drinks, that can be recycled in the many recycling points around the festival, but the odd vendor was still selling bottled water – the juice place in particular! When it came to hot drinks, we took our rCup (the world’s first cup made from recycled cups… we love it!) with us and everyone was more than happy to make our tea and coffee in our reusable cup, and I’ve never actually seen a festival with as many people carrying their reusable drinks cups with them – this is clearly a conscious crowd!
When it came to the ‘adult’ drinks on site, the main bars had a £2 deposit scheme going where you bought a reusable plastic cup where they poured your beer or wine and swapped this for a washed alternative when you took it back. The cocktail bars dotted around the site had an amazing range of hedgerow gins, but did like to serve this in single use plastic glasses, which was a shame. Although we appreciate your sloe prosecco may not look as pretty in a half pint reusable plastic cup, it’s a bit kinder to the environment! That aside, we did see a couple of punters take their own reusable champagne flutes into the bar – so perhaps this is a development for next year?!
Food and drinks aside, the line-up of activities over the weekend was jam packed. I think we could’ve been there for a week and only covered 50% of what was on offer. From music, to comedy, to arts, crafts, science, sports, fairground rides, drama and dance workshops, this festival has it ALL.
The WilderWild is a unique area where immersive drama, pottery workshops and nature all come together. We loved sitting around the campfire on the first evening, taking some time away from the bustling festival, we found this lovely little area of calm. There’s something special about a campfire, especially when the sun goes down and was one of Isabella’s highlights.
Another highlight was taking part in a drama workshop hosted by the Theatre Royal, York. The theme of Deer Shed 9 was ‘Making Waves’ and this workshop fit in wonderfully with it, as they had the children immersed in sounds and movements of the sea. A brilliant way to kick off Saturday morning and we were amazed at how all the kids were immediately at ease.
Yoga was a constant feature of the festival, with session running right through each day and night – from sunrise yoga at 7.30am, to night time yoga and even yoga to the Greatest Showman, which you couldn’t get moved for. I can see Deer Shed doubling the size of the yoga tent next year to meet the demand – we were absolutely delighted to see this.
Around the corner from yoga, you’d find a queue of children raring to get into the Sports Field first thing in the morning – we spent a good couple of hours trying to master Slack Lining, playing crazy golf on a course made out of reusable materials (hi-five!) and having a go at archery. This could’ve been a festival of its own – brilliant!
As with very festival, music was everywhere – from the main stage to the pallet stage, and even in the trees! Although big names like Goldfrapp, Derenge (we managed to get a front row view of their giant octopus and lit up jelly fish!) and Public Service Broadcasting graced the main stage over the weekend, our absolutely favourites were the Hyde Park Brass Band. They were all over the festival site, morning, noon and night – from strolling around the campsite playing their tunes, to packing out the big top, and hiding in trees at the finale of the festival. Beyond uplifting and an absolute delight.
Family friendliness: 5/5
Deer Shed 10 will take place from 26th-28th July, comfortably within everyone’s summer holiday (no missing Friday’s line up arriving after school!).
Early bird tickets will be available from 10am on 6th September 2018 via www.deershedfestival.com/tickets