This year we headed along to Wychwood Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. Active Impact and Gloucestershire Parent Carer Forum had this opportunity in order to help make Wychwood inclusive.
Finding Wychwood Festival
We have never been to Wychwood Festival but are well aware of where Cheltenham Racecourse is so didn’t think we would have any trouble finding it. However, when we arrived at the roundabout where it is there was no indication that a festival was going on at all! We kind of figured that there must be another entrance.
After turning around we did see some very small signs pointing us in the direction of where we would normally go. We figured that perhaps if we had used a SatNav it would have taken us in. Once into the Racecourse there were people directing us to some extent.
This was our first time at Wychwood, but apparently it was also the first time they had moved it. This is from a hardstanding carpark to a fully grassy site. Posts on Social Media were already saying how far it was from the car to the campsite. Before we left we received an e-mail confirming that there had been difficulties and advised us to park in “day parking.” Therefore, this is where we headed.
Parking at Wychwood Festival
Apparently this is the first time charging for parking to help encourage people to car share. It was cheaper if paid for in advanced. We had received a parking ticket as part of our entrance so it said the price we paid was 0.
The man scanning our car parking ticket didn’t think it was paid for – but luckily tried scanning it anyway. Then, I am assuming because we went to day parking, didn’t give us anything to put in our car. He just said to keep showing our paperwork and wrist bands.
Arrival and Checking in at Wychwood
Initially I had been told to head for the box office. First there was someone directing people to which booth at the Box Office and they assumed we would go to a certain window but the woman there had no clue. She sent us down to where everyone else would go.
My husband hadn’t finished work until late, and with not knowing what to expect we decided that we would not camp the first night. This was lucky because it meant we were not dragging all our camping gear backwards and forwards!! She was lovely but the tickets couldn’t be found; nor could she find us on any kind of guest list.
We went back to the Box Office and she wasn’t being much help. Honestly I think the only reason we got any tickets at all is because I started to go into a meltdown!! Admittedly I missed the part where the latest e-mail said to go to the day entrance to collect tickets. Still with me saying who I had come with, I didn’t find her very helpful. We asked for our parking ticket back – which she gave us but said we would have to pay for parking again the next day!! Fortunately she was just clueless and we did not!
Wychwood Festival Itself!
Once we got over the initial teething problems getting in the festival itself was rather good. Much smaller than most the festivals we were used to but nice all the same.
There did appear to still be plenty of places if we had wanted to camp. Accessible camping was not the closest to the festival as stated and from the entrance and the festival would have been really difficult with mobility difficulties. For us it would have been fine as it would have been quieter.
As it was we went home each night, I don’t think the heat really helped with sensory needs.
Things to do
As well as the music and comedy there were actually a few things our teens joined in with. There were board games, clay making, and even the sensory seeker joined in with some colouring in. As well as snuggling down to watch a few movies!
Conclusion of Wychwood Festival
Wychwood Festival seemed to be a lot more social than other festivals we have attended – and that includes other local ones.
Toilets weren’t too bad for a festival, music and comedy were great. There was also a good mix of things you’d generally find at festivals such as fairground rides, activities for children (some free some not); well-being tents, festival shops – including a merchandise tent! Not forgetting a variety of festival food and drink!
Definitely recommend for anyone local without mobility difficulties. Personally the sensory tent was aimed too young for our needs; but the relief sought in being able to go home and come back really helped with this.