Lollibop 2014 was the Big Bash for Little People. It ran from Friday 15th August until Sunday 17th August 2014, 10am-6pm daily. Taking on feedback from last year, the location for this year’s Lollibop was Hatfield House, situated in Hertfordshire. Described as an amazing stately home with surrounding lawns, gardens and woodlands. Boasting the hottest names in kids’ entertainment plus hundreds of workshops and activities at no extra charge. The festival is for the under 10s, but older children are welcome. Prices started from £20 pp. With parking in advanced being £6 or £10 on the day. A standard family of 4 was £82.50 (incl. booking fee). On the day VIP ticket upgrades were £35.00. Once inside no extra costs have to be incurred (if you take your own food and drink and do not purchase the merchandise). I went along with my husband and three boys ages 11, 6, and 5 (with Sensory Processing disorder) courtesy of Carousel PR.
Lollibop 2014 Venue
We were warned prior to leaving NOT to follow the signs for Hatfield House but instead to make sure that we followed the yellow signs to Lollibop. My husband found it no problem at all. We did not arrive early and there was some queuing to get into the car parks. I did find this part a bit of a mess. My husband tried to speak to one of the car park attendants to find out where he needed to go, but they rudely just told him to keep on driving. I had a rough idea of where to go thanks to information prior to the event. Luckily another attendant was more helpful. Cars were just charging into one another as about 4 lanes seemed to merge into one. Other than that there’s nothing other than praise for the venue. We got in quickly, it was well sign-posted, there was plenty to do, we were handed maps/information as soon as we went in and pointed over to where the boys could have our phone numbers attached to their wrists. We never had to wait to use the toilet, and they were clean and well stocked throughout the day. I am not fond of crowds at all, but it was so spacious that at no point did I have an issue with this. The boys absolutely loved all the trees, and at one point I had to stop and let them climb one.
We happened to walk straight in the direction of the things for sale and I had spent £29 after only being there a few minutes. The boys had been given bubble guns to play with, try before you buy. At £9 a gun, and £4 for decent batteries. I am glad I let my son have one as there felt like there were bubbles everywhere. The younger two had balloons, £5 each and could be refilled if they went down. In hindsight we wish we had bought them a little later in the day as they did become a tad annoying. There were all manner of bags, t-shirts etc for sale. There was a magazine and if you visited all the stalls and collected the stickers there was a chance to win a family pass for next year.
Pom Bear Picnic Zone
The picnic area was a short walk from the car, so we did not have to carry everything around with us. The area itself was clean, tidy and spacious. There was a tent with lots of activities inside, and lots to play with outside. There were also lots of bears. This area was so good, and the staff so friendly that I did not think my boys wanted to leave. They also provided us with free Pom bear snacks.
Hosted by CBeebies Alex Winters there was live acts on stage outside through the day. My children had never been to a festival and I felt it really helped them understand more about them. My 11 year old was asking about being covered up if it rained and so we talked about the fact that the act would carry on regardless. A lot of the live acts my boys had grown out of. We did stay a little while for the iconic Justin Fletcher who my youngest could just about see on his dad’s shoulders, and the rest on the big screen. I liked the fact that adults in the seated area were told to stay seated. We had a clearer view of CBBC’s Sam and Mark at the end of the day too.
When we arrived it took our children a little while to get around to the Lollipadium (distracted by merchandise and free face painting). We had hoped to see Scooby Doo starting at 11am, but were told that actually the queue was so long that people were waiting in it to see Postman Pat which started 50 minutes after Scooby Doo. My husband was disappointed that we had travelled all that way and were not going to see the live shows, but I thought actually our boys had grown out of the other acts, and was therefore not worth the wait. I had been given advice that there was plenty to do and not to waste our time queuing. So we moved on.
We had first seen Titan at our local shopping centre some years ago. It was actually on our 11 year old’s birthday but he was too young to remember. Titan performed and then moved on. Crowds followed him like the Pied Piper, he stopped and performed a little more, then moved on, then stopped. This gave people the opportunity to really get up close and see him.
Our Sensory Seeker did manage a queue to have a photo taken inside Thomas the tank engine. The wait for this was half an hour. My husband said that whilst our son was having his turn someone just came and sat their child on the front and took a picture – without waiting at all. Now although we do not like queues – and our Sensory Seeker finds them difficult – they are a fact of life. I do wish there was a member of staff preventing this kind of rude behaviour though. My husband is too polite. There was also other activities around Thomas and our son was very pleased with his prize.
Whilst the youngest waited for Thomas the tank engine the other two had a go at the Tottenham Hotspur football skills. There wasn’t a great deal to do here (a few kicks of a ball, one around an obstacle another timed), but the queue was short and the boys really enjoyed it.
Whilst this was happening it was getting close to our time slot in the Lollikitchen. This was entry by ticket only that we had taken in the morning. I decided on the Gingerbread decorating option as it sounded like the one that suited my boys better. Had I known more about the morning Chinese session I would have picked that as it sounded so interesting and scientific when speaking to the lady from Kiddy Cook. She told me not to worry about my son’s needs that she is used to working with disabled children. They offer parties too. Shame we do not live closer. We were really impressed with how they let our Sensory Seeker in, even though he was really late after finishing off with Thomas.
I am sure the boys could have played here all day. They were given a sheet and they had challenges to do which gave them stickers. Once they had collected them all they could trade them in for a prize. One of which was a Pikachu hat (which they very kindly let me have one too). We discovered Pokemon Art Academy – which my husband said was really good for our Sensory Seeker (he needs to develop his hand control) and that he took to it really well.
National Geographic Kids
They had the animal man there, but the showing was another 30 minutes after we were at the stand. There was really so much to do the boys did not want to wait around. It is a shame as I have heard that he was really good. There was plenty to do at National Geographic Kids, and I was pleased to hear an understanding parent say, “it’s ok he’s just excited,” when I realised that my Sensory Seeker had just pushed in front of her children to have a feel through the hole.
We also made an object out of clay each, and then put them on the tree. There was even free wipes provided afterwards to clean your hands.
Bear Grylls Survival Skills
Maybe I was being a bit naïve here, but I did think that Bear Grylls would be at the event, mainly because his face was on all the posters. It was what made me feel that the event would appeal to my boy Scout (11 year old). Needless to say even without Bear Grylls the boys had lots of fun. They learnt to start a fire without matches (the boy Scout is big on fires at the moment after learning at Scouts about how to start and maintain them), there was an assault course and the opportunity to eat a meal worm (again).
I really wanted to visit this area so have no idea how we missed it (we were there 10-6, minus parking time). We saw Hagrid from Harry Potter wandering around though. I think this was mainly to do with the fact that they were in time slots, we just kept on moving as there was so much to do.
The boys had a little dance there and we were intending to go back for the pillow fight but time ran away with us.
Skylanders Trap Team
Regular readers will know we are big Skylanders fans in this house and helped promote the launch of Skylanders SwapForce. This year sees evil monsters being trapped and their powers utilised for yourself inside crystals. There was dressing up, free photos taken on the green screen, opportunity to be one of the first to play, and a competition every hour to win prizes. Unfortunately, only 6 children per hour could compete. My 11 year old was very disappointed after two attempts not to be selected. Again there was plenty to still do, so we just moved on.
Join in with Southbank
We found the Robot Making Workshop late and did not get a chance to make a costume, but did get to play with some of the robots that others had made from cardboard boxes, Definitely a rainy-day activity idea. It was the end of the day and my 6 year old was getting quite tired. An incident had just occurred that he may have found quite upsetting too, so I was glad that he wondered over to the relaxing Yoga (provided by Tatty Bumpkin). The staff really seemed to get him involved, and he joined in, being imaginative and using his body. My husband took our Sensory Seeker off to try out the Giant Join in Dressing up Box, as this is one of the things that really meets his sensory needs.
Conclusion of Lollibop 2014
All in all the boys had a fantastic day. In fact I realise there’s even more that I haven’t even mentioned! I would in future like to see more Live acts geared for the older children. I think the venue was a fantastic location and generally it worked really well (with the exception of the Lollipaladium, but I heard that these issues were already being dealt with by the Sunday). I was really pleased with how quickly and easily we exited the park (as we left at 6). Our Sensory Seeker can struggle on days out; he did have a few wobbly moments but all in all the Festival (and us) were able to do with his sensory needs. I think when considering the cost you have to think about the fact that it is a full day, and what is provided free (face painting/Haribos/Pom Bears etc – that you don’t have to worry about your children asking for).
I received free entry for myself, husband and 3 sons, plus a parking pass into Lollibop 2014. This is an honest review, all words and opinions are my own.