“ Clapham Common / London / UK „
Entertaining an 18-month old baby is far from easy, so needless to say I was slightly dubious about the prospect of keeping her happy at an all day music festival, albeit a family friendly one.
We took our daughter to Sundae on the Common last year and my lasting memory is of my husband and I trying to stop the rain from beating down on us by huddling underneath a substandard blanket, and of me trying to breastfeed a hungry baby underneath the same said item!
Despite these little issues we had a good day, and it didn't put us off in the least, but we had convinced ourselves that this year would be even more challenging as our lovely baby is now an energy infused toddler who is no longer willing (or able) to sit still in her portable carseat for the duration.
For those who have never heard of Sundae on the Common, it's a fun, family event held once a year, in July, on Clapham Common in London. Organised by Ben & Jerry's ice cream, it has been running for six years now and gets bigger and better each year.
The basic premise is that live music should be accessible to everyone and so the festival caters for all sorts. Tinytots mingle with teenyboppers and there are plenty of families and older people here so noone is left out. There are disabled viewing platforms and the whole site is flat and easy to navigate.
As we entered the common, my daughter squealed with delight when she spotted Daisy, the affable, laid-back Jersey cow, sunning herself in the farm enclosure. The animals here are representative of the local city farm and include chickens, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs, cows and a rather well-endowed donkey!
It's free to wander around but donations are very welcome and I think it's well worth supporting the farm as everyone, old and young alike, were excited to introduce themselves to the wide array of characterful animals here for their big day out.
Dotted around the whole site are ice-cream tents offering tantalising tastes of various Ben & Jerry's flavours, including the latest varieties. The queues are long so sadly I didn't get the chance to over-indulge, yet we managed two ice-creams each and one for my eager daughter who was thrilled by the experience. The ice-cream is limitless and totally free, which is definately one of the highlights of this event.
For the kids, there are a range of activities, including an old-fashioned carousel and a helter skelter! There is also an excellent play area, provided by a travelling children's centre. The range of toys here was astounding and my boisterous baby particularly enjoyed using the climbing frames and slides and chucking balls at an older boys head in the ball pit! She found this absolutely hilarious but understandably the poor thing was less impressed with this game.
There is also a mini trampoline, little baby area and kitchen plus a range of other toys to suit those under five (and their immature parents). In addition, creative children can make their very own windmill or have their face painted and both activities seemed to be a huge hit.
I could go on forever about the variety of things to see and do at this festival, but instead I will digress to first mention the music which is meant to be the main focus. There is a different line-up for the Saturday and Sunday, and customers are only allowed to book for one day to allow everyone a chance. We plumped for the Saturday as Scouting for Girls were included, a band I really enjoy for their uplifting, pop tunes and their ability not to take themselves too seriously.
Apart from the headline act a number of other bands played, with the music kicking off at around 12 noon when the venue opens and carrying on until it closes at 8pm. The other acts playing included Idlewood, Slow Club, Little Fish and Pearl and the Puppets, none of whom I had heard off or paid much attention to if I'm honest. This is no refection on the acts, but merely a testimony to all the other things vying for our attention.
For those who want a 'proper' festival vibe, there is a large bar as well as a vintage bus set up as a bar selling the best summer drink in the world, Pimms. Both were extremely popular as to be expected. Prices were high with a soft drink costing £1.50 but this is standard at these events and there are free water taps so you can always refill your bottle and keep things cheap and cheerful.
Ben & Jerry's prides itself on its eco credentials and is aiming to make all flavours Fairtrade by the end of 2011. The company also seeks to only use responsibly farmed cows and free range eggs. It also pours money into various projects researching climate change and supports community initiatives.
So as a reaction to all of this there are fairtrade stalls at the festival, as well as one represnting the RSPCA. All products sold in the bar are fairtrade when possible, and this is something that really appeals to me as I'm a firm believer in equality and fairness.
I have to say my daughter had an absolutely fantastic day, and because she was happy so were we. She enjoyed the atmosphere and the buzz of it all and was happy to interact with strangers on whom she bestowed her sweetest smiles and cutest giggles, fooling them all into thinking our little girl was always this adorable and angelic!
We didn't have a tear all day, in fact we didn't even get a little whinge or moan as there was so much going on to hold her attention.
The weather was amazing and in stark contrast to the previous year. Luckily as parenthood has become more natural to us, we have become more organised and this year has the necessary picnic titbits, rug, suncream, hat etc.
There is no shade here and only a solitary tree, so we welcomed our respite in the play area where we were able to cool down in the maquee and recharge or weary batteries.
In the afternoon while waiting for the headline act we got peckish and were spoilt for choice by the amount of eateries available, and quality ones too. There is a place to eat fresh salad, a hog roast, burger places and even a Pizza Express! In the end we opted for the chunky chip van which sold amazing chips with all sorts of dips, such as the yummy cheese and garlic mayo combination we sampled. Delicious!
Toilets are obviously the portable variety but they are checked regularly and are clean. They are certainly a far cry from the horror of the ones I experienced at the V Festival some years ago now! This is probably due in part to the type of people at Sundae on the Common. People are less inclined to drink to excess, especially with so many families in abundance.
The festival is very relaxed and everyone is out for a good time, but there is no threatening behaviour or bad atmosphere. Everyone seems respectful and decent and that to me makes for a great day out.
After stuffing our faces, and walking around the site a few times it was finally time for Scouting for Girls to come on stage and do their stuff. They bounced on with an energy and enthusiasm which was infectious and very catching. The sun was setting slowly on a beautiful day and I will never forget standing in a crowd of like minded people with my precious baby bopping in my arms in response to the music.
We all had an amazing day and it was well worth the ticket price which came in at less than £40 for two adults. Tickets can be booked via the Ben & Jerry's website and if you sign up they will let you know the dates. I will definately be going back next year with my hubby and daughter, especially since it tired us all out so much that we had the best nights sleep afterwards. Let's just hope my little treasure can keep up the good behaviour!
Ben and Jerry's Summer Sundae is an annual event and has been going for about 5 years now. It occurs on one weekend each year (usually in June) and it takes over Clapham Common for both the Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets are usually only about £13 (plus booking fees and postage though) and for that you get all the free ice-cream you can eat (in all of the Ben and Jerry's flavours), fun activities (toe-wrestling, helter skelter etc) and a day of live music.
There is only one stage at Summer Sundae and the music there usually kicks off at about midday and goes on until about 8pm. For that you get roughly 8 acts over the course of the day and the line-ups on the Saturday and Sunday are different from each other. The main act is usually somebody pretty famous (they've had The Feeling and The Proclaimers in previous years) and you will probably have at least heard of most of the other acts as well.
The overall vibe at Summer Sundae is really laid-back. They are really well organised in that they don't let the place get over-crowded and you will always be able to find a place to sit on the grass. There are also several places selling different types of food, as well as bars selling drinks (alcoholic and soft).
There is a family vibe at Summer Sundae so expect to see children there, but there are just as many groups of teens and twenty-somethings there as well, so it pretty much caters for everyone.
Tickets sell out quickly so the best way to make sure you get one is by registering on th Ben and Jerry's website, so they'll email you when they're on sale.
The Sundae on the common is a hidden gem. As much Ben and Jerrys as you can eat and live music- what more could you ask for? Tickets are about £10 and you can check out the band line up on the website. Last year "The Feeling" were there, and i think as the Sundae gets bigger they will get even bigger bands (The Feeling rock!).
In addition to Ben and Jerrys ice cream there are other ethical food outlets selling lovely organic and gourmet food such as Pieminster and fine burger company. Other attractions include mystic moo, a helter skelter, city farm- where you can meet the animals, ice you own cookies, candle dipping, flavour graveyard and many more. The atmosphere is great- laid back and relaxed- no drunken fools here!
It's a great day out for all the family. We always take a picnic and blanket and make a day of it.
I will try to make this review make as much sense as possible, but it's hard to order it when it was all so good so bare with me!
I went to this festival for the first time this year, it took place on the 26th and 27th of July on Clapham Common. It was fairly easy to get to (but wasn't signposted) from the tube station, about a 10 minute walk. As the festival was on there were various brands hading out cereal bars, cans of drink and goodie bags as you walked along the route to the festival which was nice! The doors officially opened at 12pm, but I went in at 12.30 and there were about 30 people in there! There was a band playing but unfortunately for them there was not a great audience.
Of course, 12pm is the best time to be in there if you want FREE ice cream(Ben and Jerry's none the less), when you buy your ticket (around £6 by the way!) it entitles you to not only entrance to the festival, but also free ice cream all day, and with 19 flavours to chose from, you need to get there early to avoid the queues!
Once inside there is a lovely atmosphere, it's all very family orientated, there was a helter skelter, swinging boats and a city farm as well as a bar and a pimms bus. For younger children there is also a special kiddie area with lots of fun looking things to do! As with all places such as this, food and drink are expensive when you get in there, not to mention the queue for the bar taking 45 minutes! There are free water taps around the festival so if you plan right (and bring your own food) it is an incredibly cheap day out.
The bands change every year, but it's always 'fairly' unknown bands which then become a lot better known over the year, so get in there and see them early!
Any advice to people going would be to take a picnic blanket. It is just the done thing at this festival for everyone to sit and watch the music. I would next time take one than pay £10 for one, although it was lovely!
At the end of the festival Jerry came on stage and thanked us all for coming. There is a hidden message behind the festival in that it is all climate neutral and there are lots of stands there supporting energy saving and the like which are all worth a lot.
Just some general info now:
You cannot buy tickets for both Saturday and Sunday, you have to choose between them. It is also not a camping festival, it runs from 12-8 on both days.
There is only one tree so if you know you want shade and it's going to be a hot day, get there early! Similarly if it's going to ran, plan ahead there is NO shelter.
There are plenty of toilets in several places around the site. These are well looked after :)
For £6 you can't beat ice cream and music all day!
Music festival with fairground attractions and of course, lots of the cold creamy stuff... Ice Cream!