When I first heard about the Gone Wild Festival, my emotions did a little dance—excitement twirled at the thought of adrenaline-packed activities and live music, but dread stomped its feet at the idea of camping. Now, picture me: a 40-year-old single mum who thrives on weekend adventures and great tunes. I’m the woman you’ll find running a 10KM or White Water Rafting on a free Saturday, not pitching a tent in the great outdoors.
Imagine an ‘Adventure Barbie,’ if you will, complete with blonde hair and a love for pink. Yes, even my wellies and their accessories are colour-coordinated! (Don’t judge; fashion is my background, after all.) So, how did this non-camper fare at a festival that practically demands it? Stick around to find out—and pick up some style-savvy survival tips along the way!
Trial Run: Camping In The Garden
I won’t lie, the prospect of camping alone as a single mum filled me with a fair amount of anxiety. I had never single-handedly set up a tent before, so practicing with my son Theo in our garden turned out to be a godsend. We were working with a tent that hadn’t seen the light of day in five years and predictably, the instructions were nowhere to be found. Thankfully, we found a straightforward YouTube tutorial that guided us through the process effortlessly. This dry run proved invaluable because, once we got to the Gone Wild camping field, we realised there was no phone reception. Can you imagine? Without that practice, I would’ve been standing there for hours, scratching my head and wondering what to do next!
Camping In A Field With Kids
Let’s start from the moment you arrive. Picture this: you’re directed into a parking spot in a sprawling field filled with thousands of cars. As you scan the horizon and fail to spot a camping area, it hits you—there’s going to be some serious lifting involved, and that’s before the ‘exercise’ of pitching your tent. Prepare yourself for at least a 15-minute trek to the campsite.
Top Tip on Tent Placement: Location is key when it comes to pitching your tent. While being close to the festival entrance might seem convenient, keep in mind that music often plays until midnight or later. Similarly, setting up camp near the toilets might seem practical, but the constant noise of doors slamming could disturb your much-needed rest. Choose your spot wisely for a more peaceful night’s sleep.
Top Tip: Beware the free-for-all when it comes to camping spots. This year, spots weren’t allocated, so finding a patch of grass to call ‘home’ turned into a bit of a scavenger hunt across a very big field. Don’t bring all your luggage on that first trek out. You might just find yourself schlepping it back and forth.
Setting up the tent required a team effort; it simply wasn’t a one-person job. While I took care of the details, Theo quickly grew restless. To keep him engaged and feeling helpful, I delegated some tasks to him, like fetching water and assembling the camping chairs.
Within Gone Wild’s FAQs they suggest that wind breakers and additional gazebos are not allowed. This is not surprising considering how packed in the tents were, but we did spot a few around the site.
Camping With Kids: The Food
Snacks: If your kids are anything like my son, who seems to be perpetually hungry and always asking for snacks, brace yourself—because the festival’s range of activities will amplify their appetites tenfold. Unfortunately, the festival’s offerings were lacking in the healthy snacking department. So, I’d highly recommend coming prepared with your own stash of nutritious options like fruits, cereal bars, and dried fruit to keep their energy levels high.
The Farm Shop: If you’re searching for a culinary respite during your Gone Wild Festival experience, look no further than the conveniently located farm shop just outside the campsite. Open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m (during the festival), this little oasis offers locally-sourced, quality food. From heavenly cups of hot coffee to kickstart your morning, to a mouthwatering bacon bap. Alleluia!. And it’s not just about quick bites; they also offer a range of sandwiches, delectable pastries, and irresistible cakes.
Camping Stoves: BBQs are not allowed on site and I have to admit that as a first time camper as a single mum, I didn’t want the stress of taking a camping stove, but most families had them and I’ll be investing in one next time, just so I can make a morning cuppa! LOL. One of the rules states that you must place it on a camping table, they can’t be on the ground. There’s a butcher’s counter in the farm shop where you can pick up fresh cuts for your breakfast.
I commend the Gone Wild team for keeping the festival experience sanitary and comfortable. Believe me, I came prepared for the worst—my bag was brimming with hand gel and extra rolls of toilet paper. To my pleasant surprise, none of it was needed! The portable loos and showers remained impressively clean throughout the festival, defying all my camping horror stories. If like me, you’re a hotel lover at heart, rest assured, Gone Wild did a great job in keeping things clean.
The Showers: Imagine a small wardrobe plopped down in the middle of a field, and you’ve got the right idea! But, they were hot, clean and lockable.
Top tip: Opt for a towel poncho and a pair of sliders when you head to the showers. The space is so tight you could barely swing a cat, but the poncho gives you the freedom to wash up without worrying about soaking your clothes. There’s a small area to peg up a couple of things, but trust me, space is at a premium!
Pro tip: If you can find a microfibre poncho then even better – they are faster to dry!
Washing areas. There are few sinks available for washing up. I recommend taking paper plates!
Water stations: Situated around the campsite, you can easily find drinkable water.
The festival kicks off on Thursday morning, and timing is everything. By the time we made our way down to Devon, lugged all our stuff to the campsite, and set up our tent, we didn’t engage in our first activity until 4 p.m. By Friday, we noticed that the queues for activities had doubled in size. My recommendation? Get there early on Thursday. Not only will you secure a prime camping spot, but you’ll also beat the rush for activities. With an estimated attendance of 10,000 people this year, early arrival is your best bet for making the most of the festival.
Camping Top Tips
- Check the tent is still in a good condition in the weeks before you go. It’s surprising how many people I speak to who find them mouldy.
- Don’t forget the mallet!
- Take a tent light to hang inside the tent
- Invest in a proper sleeping bag – I took the ones we’ve used from sleepovers and by 6am the first morning we were freezing.
- Take extra blankets in case it drops in temperature
- Take blow up beds and buy a battery blow up pump
- There are no charging points. Buy a portable charging bank
- Buy a collapsable water container
- Take a dust pan and brush, bin bags, anti bacterial wipes
- There’s no place for hairdryers, so pack the dry shampoo
- If like me you wear makeup everywhere, take a waterproof mascara
- Take loo roll just incase
- Camping chairs are a must – buy the ones that come with a carry case
- You’ll need a camping table if taking a camping stove
- Don’t forget the sun lotion, insect spray, hand gel, first aid kit
- Picnic blanket and book for the queues
- Torch, ear plugs, eye mask
- Take an additional bag for dirty laundry so it doesn’t get mixed up with the clean clothes
Gone Wild; What clothes do I pack?
The day I packed for the festival, the weather was 24 degrees Celsius. Confident that hoodies would suffice for evening wear, I left heavier coats behind. Big mistake! The temperature dropped significantly during the nights, forcing me to make an early morning dash to a nearby Tesco Superstore just to purchase coats on the first day. Lesson learned!
The weather forecast also said it would be dry for 4 days. I therefore didn’t pack our wellies – Big mistake no.2! Eeek!
- Clothes by night: Take joggers, thermal long sleeve top and warm socks for bedtime – It was 22 degrees outside in the day but believe me, at 2am in the morning, my goodness, you’ll feel the cold at 8 degrees. I wore a vest too!
- Prepare for all weather: Wellies, Coats, Raincoats! Pack them, even if you leave in the car!
- Clothes by day: You will need spare trainers, gym leggings/shorts, t shirts, hoodies, sunglasses
Getting to the Gone Wild Festival
Depending on where you pitch your tent, it’s roughly a 15 minute walk from the general camping area to the main stage. Going through security they will cofiscate food and drink. They allow water bottles and were ok with our small snacks (cereal bars, apples, dried fruit).
The walkway is lit up so don’t worry about torches to get to the festival.
Top Tip: The majority of parents with younger children used a foldable festival trolley to put their gear and kids in. (camping chairs, picnic blankets, waterproofs etc)
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