Are you a parent with a mini-adventurer at your side, always on the lookout for the next big thrill? Do you find yourself scouring the internet for hours, looking for the perfect family break that doesn’t break the bank in the Summer holidays? If so, you’re in the right place. When I stumbled upon the Gone Wild Festival, it promised a whirlwind of activities, music, and entertainment, but did it live up to the hype and deliver the perfect adventure break for me and my 10-year-old son?
Where is the Gone Wild festival located?
Nestled within the historic grounds of Powderham Castle in Devon, the Gone Wild Festival combines the magic of music and activities with the backdrop of centuries-old history. Being close to both Exeter and the quaint village of Kenton offers festival-goers a blend of both the old and the new, the bustling and the serene. It’s not every day that you get to enjoy a festival within the grounds of a 600-year-old family home!
As the sun sets and the sky darkens, Powderham Castle transforms into a luminous fairy tale setting, its walls and towers glowing in the night. It’s the perfect spot for that quintessential family photo.
Bear Grylls Activities
A Heads-Up on Bear Grylls Activities: Parents, brace yourselves. I have to admit, I didn’t fully appreciate what ‘Bear Grylls-level intensity’ meant until we were knee-deep in it—literally. Imagine full-on, combat-style assault courses complete with mud-crawling, river-running, and paintballing so intense that the camouflage paint laughs in the face of soap. And let’s not even talk about the color run. Sure, you could opt out, but try telling that to your kids who seem irresistibly drawn to these activities as if by some adventurous magnetic pull. And yes, there’s a ‘dry option’ for the assault course, but good luck convincing your young adventurer to take it. Mine ended up losing a shoe in the river and making the 20-minute, squelching, cold walk back to camp.
Pro Tip: Pack an extra pair of trainers! Wear comfortable active-wear rather than jeans.
Don’t let the mud-caked warriors emerging from the 2.5km assault course intimidate you; Gone Wild is a festival that truly offers something for everyone. For every group of adventure-seekers scaling walls and dodging paintballs, you’ll find a set of grandparents contentedly queuing in their camping chairs, engrossed in a good book with a steaming cup of coffee.
Yes, you heard that right: this isn’t just for the adrenaline junkies among us. If activities like rock climbing, abseiling, or combat archery seem a tad too ‘Bear Grylls’ for your liking, fear not. The survival village offers tamer but equally engaging activities. Ever wanted to make a fire from scratch? Go foraging? How about field cooking? All these and more are on offer. And if even that seems like too much, there are yoga classes to help you find your Zen or massage stations to work out the kinks. So rest assured, there’s something for everyone.
A full range of activities can be found via the Gone Wild Festival website.
After Sundown: The Festival Line Up and Evening Excitement
The musical lineup at the Gone Wild festival was pretty spectacular. From Ella Henderson’s soulful vocals to the infectious energy of Ministry of Sound and let’s not forget the nostalgic beats of Scouting for Girls and Feeder. Gabrielle, Sugababes and the iconic duo Dick and Dom also graced us with their presence. (Hats off to them, they were brilliant!)
As a single mum, the evening gave me an opportunity to re-charge and let my hair down – grabbing a drink, and basking in the glow of the setting sun as I sang along to a mix of old classics and chart-topping hits. The atmosphere was nothing but welcoming. Each night, I found myself dancing amongst the families around me. I was amongst many parents who granted a little screen time to their tired children, who couldn’t be happier to enjoy some downtime. A win win for everyone.
One of the absolute highlights for us was the silent disco! Two DJs in a duel, spinning tracks that ranged from old school hits to pulsating dance music. And you better believe they read the room—or rather, the field—perfectly. Imagine singing Christmas carols at the top of your lungs in the height of summer, or spontaneously joining a conga line with absolute strangers. Yes, that actually happened! It was such an inclusive, joyful atmosphere that we found ourselves returning for a second night. Everywhere I looked, I saw families sharing this joy, grinning from ear to ear. And isn’t that what festivals are all about?”
Styling tip: Don’t forget the face glitter and glow sticks. People went to town with their festival attire, from sequin jackets to flowers and fairy lights in their hair. Take your wellies a coat and raincoats! (We are in the UK!)
Pro Tip for Parents: Pimp up a pull-along trolley for your little ones. I saw some that were decked out with lights and even makeshift roofs to keep the kids dry. It’s not only practical, it’ll ensure your evening is extended as you party, they can crash in their cosy den.
Let’s not forget the VIP appearances that added an extra touch of ‘wow’ to the entire festival experience. While Bear Grylls made his grand entrance to kick off the festivities (though he seemed to vanish shortly after!), astronaut Tim Peake captivated us with stories of his time in space. His talk was not only enlightening but incredibly engaging—proof that the festival was as much about learning as it was about letting loose. And speaking of letting loose, Joe Wicks, the fitness sensation himself, gave a workout to remember.
But let’s keep it real here—while Joe Wicks put the crowd through a gruelling 30-minute core-burning routine that left many panting for air, by Sunday afternoon, I hit my own personal wall. In fact, just moments before he burst onto the stage with all his infectious enthusiasm, many witnessed my desperate quest for a life-saving cup of coffee. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit that I had given it my all and had nothing left in the tank. My last reserves of energy were earmarked for the inevitable ‘long graft’ back to the car. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay. Festivals are a test of endurance and knowing when to recharge—or caffeinate—is as important, right? LOL
Gone Wild Colour Run
One of the absolute highlights of the festival was the unforgettable colour run—a premium activity priced at £25 per person. Over 1,000 festival-goers, clad in pristine white T-shirts, gathered at the main stage for the grand kickoff. Led by RV One, an organisation with a mission to rehabilitate the mind through functional fitness, creativity, and adventure, the event served as a vibrant salute to mental health awareness.
Before embarking on their rainbow journey, families were handed packets of coloured dye. At the countdown, the air erupted in a breathtaking display of colour – vivid clouds of rainbow hues enveloped the crowd, along with a contagious roar of laughter. The once-white T-shirts were quickly transformed as participants jogged through various ‘colour stations,’ eventually emerging covered head to toe in an explosion of vibrant hues.
As a keen photographer, I was much more content capturing this incredible spectacle from behind the lens. I did, however feel sorry for the clean-up crew though, what an operation that would be!
Trust me, even if it’s not something you want to participate in, go along to experience the beauty of colour.
Festival Food and Drink
If you’re a fan of all things fried, you’ll be in heaven. From pizza to fish and chips, burgers to nachos, and even curry—if it’s fried, you’ll find it! But here’s the catch: for an event that’s all about physical activity and outdoor adventure, the lack of healthy food options was quite disappointing. Dim sum and falafel were the only ‘healthier’ options we could find within the festival grounds.
Fortunately, we stumbled upon a hidden gem just outside the festival entrance—a local farm shop open from 8 AM to 5 PM. Not only did they offer an array of sandwiches, salads, hot pastries, and cakes, but their food was also of great quality and locally sourced.
Pro tip: if you’re in search of better-quality, healthier food, it’s well worth making the short trek to the farm shop during the day. Trust me, your body will thank you!
Pro tip: Don’t forget your water bottles. There are re-filling stations located all around the festival. It will not only save you money but also queuing time! Take healthy snacks – they seem to let you in with fruit/ small snacks.
Room for Improvement
Before I wrap this up, let’s talk about the queues. Now, credit where credit is due, the organisers were quick to send out feedback surveys post-event and have acknowledged that the long lines are an issue they’re looking to resolve for next year. I won’t sugarcoat it- I waited for about 1.5 hours for three of the main activities over the weekend. While this was frustrating, my son kept himself entertained with other activities like circus skills and watching a parkour show.
On the flip side, some activities had no waiting time at all, like the assault course, which is a major draw for many. But when it came to food and coffee, be prepared to invest at least 30 minutes of your time standing in line.
Despite these hiccups, they’re not deal-breakers for me. The overall experience was so positive that these queues wouldn’t prevent me from booking tickets for next year’s festival. I think it’s worth mentioning, though, so you can plan your day accordingly and maybe bring some extra patience along with your camping chairs and a good book.
Gone Wild Tickets
The default accommodation tickets for the Gone Wild Festival are for general camping. Does the thought of camping fill you with dread? You’re not alone. Read on for my guide to surviving—and even enjoying—the camping experience as a single mum and a confessed non-camper. From packing hacks to pro tips, learn how I went from tent-averse to festival pro.
Don’t miss out on their Early bird tickets for just £184 (free under 18 ticket included). Considering the ticket covers four days of adrenaline-packed activities, musical performances and camping, it’s a no-brainer. I haven’t found an offer like it anywhere else!
Gone Wild 2024
The Gone Wild Festival in 2024 is the 22ND – 25th August at Powderham Castle, Devon