Gloworm Children's Festival 2021

Image of a young girl smiling whilst having her photo taken with Marshall, the dalmation fire fighter from Paw Patrol. Alongside the image is a title that reads 'Days out, Gloworm Children's Festival 2021, Thoresby Park, NG22 9EQ'

Festivals, not something that's been on the top of people's to do list over the last 18 months but as normality gets ever closer and we begin to emerge from a time of lockdowns and restrictions we finally get the chance to stand in a field of strangers, sharing portaloos and common interests. Joyous. Gloworm Festival is the UK's absolute best family orientated festival. It's a heady mix of Cbeebies characters, Playmobil raves, glitter face paints, arts and crafts and circus tricks. Whatever your little ones are into they'll find something to enjoy at Gloworm.

Image of a young girl with plaited hair, pink sunglasses and a tie dye top riding in a plane on a vehicle themed children's ride. In the background there are circus tents and a carousel ride.

The festival is a celebration of childhood. There are traditional fairground rides such as a Ferris Wheel Helter-Skelter and Carousel alongside more adrenaline fuelled options such as the Waltzer. For smaller children there is the obligatory train ride, the vehicular themed roundabout and the swing chairs. All rides are FREE up until 5pm each day- this is amazing value as the cost of rides soon adds up. As expected you will have to queue for the rides but we managed to access the small kids rides and the Carousel with ease, waiting only 10 minutes maximum. The queues fluctuate throughout the day so my advice would be to just keep an eye on the queue and jump in if it's quiet. If you view the rides as an added bonus rather than the main attraction you won't be disappointed- if it's rides you're after then a theme park would be a better choice than Gloworm.

Image of a young girl in a tie dye top and plaited hair hugging a large character. The character is Paddington Bear, he is wearing his signature red hat and blue duffle coat. He is hugging the girl back. In the background is a tent and campaign banners advertising action medical research for children

The biggest draw for us was the character meet and greets. Iris is obsessed with Paw Patrol and luckily for us Marshall and Skye were making appearances at designated times throughout the day. You are given a timetable for the day/weekend when you arrive but if like me, you like to prepare in advance then my top tip would be to follow Gloworm on social media as they release this information in advance. We also wanted to see Hey Duggee as it's my niece's favourite character and Paddington as we love the books. We were fortunate that we got to see who we wanted to but we were a little disheartened that some meet and greet queues were not allowing any more people to join the queue meaning we could see the characters from a far but weren't able to actually meet them and have a photo with them. We were particularly disappointed we didn't get chance to speak with Maddie Moate as Iris really wants to know how toilets are made (I've no idea why!).

Image of a young girl in a tie dye top and plaited hair meeting Skye the pilot Paw Patrol character. Skye is wearing a pink flying suit and has pink flying goggles on her head. The girl is smiling. She is being held up by a man in a Hawaiian shirt.

We also really wanted to see the circus. Seating is allocated on a first come, first served basis. We got to the tent around 10 minutes prior to showtime and easily got a seat, possibly as it was the first show of the day so most people were still finding out where things were. The circus has two shows, we saw show A and a friend of mine saw show B, both were incredibly good. I was a little apprehensive to begin with as children are placed on the front 3 benches and adults sit behind. It worked out that we were around 5 rows away from Iris, the furthest I've probably ever sat from her and she's never been to a circus so I thought she'd be a little scared. Thankfully her cousin was with her and watching them sitting in the front row sharing sweets and gossiping like little old ladies was heart warming. There was quite a long wait for the show to begin and in that time there were people walking around selling light up wands. I didn't agree with this as the children are sat away from their parents so there is no one to explain if they can't have one. Iris put her hand up for one thinking they were giving them out. At this point it felt really unfair not to buy her one. I don't begrudge paying a fiver for a wand at this kind of event but I do think the sales tactic is a little underhand. 

Image of Happy's Circus Ring at Gloworm Children's Festival 2021. The image shows a circus ring and a crowd of seated children around the edge. In the ring is a clown and the ring master holding lanterns in front of blue curtains.

Moving on, the circus show itself was spectacular- I expected a short 20 minute show but we got a full hours entertainment. The kids were mesmerised by the dancers and the aerial acts, the jugglers were amazing, the ringmaster was hilarious and the clowns were full of innuendo that made the adults chuckle. My personal favourite was Mr Slinky, it had me rolling with laughter. Sitting and watching Iris laugh, shout and join in was so brilliant it almost made me cry. If you ever get the chance to see Happy's Circus anywhere then I fully recommend it.

Image taken inside a bell tent. The tent is set up as a toddler gymnastics area and has lots of hay bales laid out to create a pathway. There is climbing apparatus laid out to create an assault course for toddlers. There are two young girls using the equipment and parents supervising. There are 'Tumble Tots' branded banners, flags and bunting.

If you're a children's brand then Gloworm is a fantastic opportunity to get your name out there and grow your audience. There are various stalls and tents throughout the festival, some large big brands such as the Playmobil and Cbeebies tents and smaller traders like a lovely lady selling Usborne books. A lot of the stall holders host workshops for the children to get hands on with their products. All Day Play was really popular, we queued to join in the last one of the day but sadly they couldn't fit us in- it looked really fun though and the staff were so apologetic. There was music and laughter coming from all of the different stalls all day long! If you've got under fives then the Tumble Tots tent is well worth a visit. We came to Gloworm in 2019 and Iris loved it then and enjoyed it again this year.

Image of Rent A Dinosaur green life size human controlled puppets roaming around Gloworm Children's Festival 2021

Local attractions also exhibit here and we had a great time meeting the dinosaurs from rent-a-dinosaur. I love how realistic these were and I really wish I'd been filming when the T rex turned round to look at Iris- I've never seen her move so fast! There was also an array of real life animals hosted by White Post Farm, a highlight was when Iris the girl got chance to meet Iris the goat! 

Image of the main stage at Gloworm Children's Festival 2021 featuring Skye and Marshall from Paw Patrol, alongside a presenter/host

The main stage is host to some fantastic entertainment. We headed there to join in the Pup Pup Boogie with Marshall and Skye and enjoyed a Playmobil rave in which Playmobil blind bags are thrown into the crowd and there are opportunities to win big bundles of Playmobil by doing the craziest dancing or pulling the silliest face- I honestly don't know how Daddy didn't win anything! Later in the evening, from around 7pm the stage features some brilliant tribute acts. Most people pitch up chairs and blankets and settle down to enjoy the music and there's a really chilled vibe, children are usually wrapped up in dressing gowns, nodding off in camp chairs and parents are treating themselves to a beer from the Yorkshire Bus Bar. It's a really great way to wind down after a jam packed day and this year it felt extra special. 

Image of a young girl facing away from the camera and looking towards a large stage that has Playmobil written across it. There is a crowd around her and she is sat on a man's shoulders so she can see above the crowd.

Where there's kids, there's snacks and Gloworm has an abundance of food options. From traditional fish and chips and stone-baked pizza to Greek cuisine and vegan specialities. There's something for everyone, even those with coeliac disease. Obviously eating out is a big concern of mine, fortunately Gloworm posted a list of caterers offering gluten free food on their Instagram prior to the festival. This was so helpful as I got to do a bit of research into each caterer and read reviews to see if others had been 'glutened' when eating their food. I decided to go with a gluten free halloumi flatbread from Eats, Shoots and Leaves served with coleslaw, a chickpea salad and gluten free fries, made using a separate fryer. As with all festival food it was painfully expensive at £13 for the wrap and an extra portion of fries but it was delicious and I suffered no adverse effects- the chickpea salad in particular was very tasty. Knowing we'd be there all day we also took a picnic for lunchtime and a million snacks and drinks because we knew fuelling a full day's food and drink would leave us bankrupt! 

Close up image of some fries with ketchup on top and an image of a gluten free halloumi wrap with coleslaw and chickpea salad

In terms of facilities, there are plenty of portaloos dotted around the venue. There were never any queues and they were the cleanest I've ever used (probably because it's a family festival and the majority weren't drunk at 11am!) From a Covid perspective there was plenty of space, even at the front of the main stage. It was closer than I'd liked but it didn't feel claustrophobic. Though the tents were technically indoors many had open sides so even when you were indoors, you were outdoors. Great for blowing away Covid particles, not so great when it rains but thankfully we only had a small downpour and not enough to dampen anyone's spirits.  

Gloworm is held annually at Thoresby Park in Nottinghamshire. We are incredibly lucky to live around 15 minutes drive from the venue but if you're not that close the festival offers camping tickets for tents, campervans and caravans as well as a glamping option. People travel from all over the country to experience this one of kind festival. The main festival entertainment is held on Saturday and Sunday but there is Friday night entertainment for those that are camping. Day tickets are expensive at £35 for an adult day ticket and £20 for a child but you get a lot for your money, especially as the rides are free until 5pm and you can watch 2 different circus shows. Gloworm offer discounted ticket prices if you book early for next year- something we will definitely be doing!

 Thanks For Reading 

Blog writers signature 'Katrina'
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