A review of Gone Wild Festival 2022.
A fabulous family festival right on our Devon doorstep. Whether you choose to go all weekend or just head there for the day, whether you choose to camp or go home to your comfy bed – you will have great fun and it will soon become your new bank holiday tradition.
What I really love about Gone Wild festival is that it is completely geared up for families – there’s a big focus on the children. It’s a super relaxed, fun atmosphere and not crowded. Children, no matter their age, are welcome at the workshops, however there are age and height restrictions for some of the activities – see below.
And that’s just it, children are welcome but it’s not just for children – its a chance to have fun as a family together. All too often we set up activities or play dates or fun things for the kids to do – but how often do we join in too? Gone Wild Festival is an opportunity to have adrenaline-filled (if you want to), adventurous fun together like climbing or abseiling one minute, followed by a child-friendly yoga class the next.
Activities available at Gone Wild Festival
There are so many! We have been for two years and still not done them all!
In 2022 there was no booking for activities, instead just turn up and queue. Mostly the queues were short and after a quick snack it was our turn, but tree climbing and abseiling was too long for us at 1h30 (to avoid this get there earlier) and we decided there was more fun elsewhere. These type of activities only make up a small amount of the fun that’s available. See a list of all the activities on Gone Wild website here. Much of the fun you don’t have to queue for, Nature Valley survival camp, the main stage, the workshops, the group activities, the music… and they are great.
What age is Gone Wild Festival best for?
There really is something for all ages.
I’ve been with ages ranging from just turned 2 year old to a 14 year old. The two year old (in 2021) had some pram time and was official photographer for me and his big sister when climbing, but there was also plenty for him to watch and enjoy. By 5 years old, they are able to do most of the activities (thankfully not axe throwing though with their aim!) and have a go at things they wouldn’t ordinarily get to do – certainly not all in 1 weekend. Below I’ve popped some details of what the younger audiences enjoy.
A massive hit for the younger audience is the circus tent – with the circus show, bubble show, trapeze workshop and silly clown along with all the circus bikes, balls and equipment free to play on all day everyday. New in 2022 there was also Dinomania who were so entertaining and brought their fabulous dinosaurs to see, feed, stroke and have pics taken with. The Toastie tent had lots of crafting and PlumPlay outdoor toys and mud kitchens for them to enjoy. The main stage also has fabulous child-friendly acts throughout the day.
This year, at 3 years old, we abandoned the pram and my son got stuck in to nearly everything: caving, going inside a bubble, shelter building and lighting his own fire at the Bear Grylls survival academy (I can’t say his knot trying skills were any good though!), story yoga, the trapeze, slip and slide, drumming as well as completing the 2.5km run (with a little help from daddy!) going through the sheep dip and he chose to do the high obstacle course section twice! Oh and we can’t forget dancing on my shoulders to the headliners before falling asleep in my arms right after some candy floss at 9:30pm and being carried to the car and bed at 11!
My daughter, at 5 and this year at 6, still enjoyed all that, but was also able to go on the climbing wall and tree climbing (last year) and generally be able to take more from the talks and workshops as well as actually succeed in hula hooping rather than turning round and round while the hoop dropped to the floor! She also managed to stay awake til 10:30 before falling asleep in my husband’s arms… (yes we wished we’d had a wagon!)
My niece and nephew are older (11 & 14) and love to get involved in everything! They enjoyed all the activities and it was great that they could do them with my two too. Their highlights (I made them pick only two) were the wet obstacle run at their fast pace and the freedom of dancing away to the headliners – we let them go right to the front which they loved! You can also load each wrist bands with money, so if older children would like more freedom they can pay for food and drinks etc themselves.
What type of festival is it?
Adventurous, educational, music… There are so many options:
You can choose to watch and listen. There are inspirational talks from adventurers and experts, live music and headliners and the BMX ramp to watch for hours.
You can choose to stay clean and dry. Plenty of fun activities where you stay dry!
You can choose to get messy and wet! As you’d expect from a Bear Grylls festival, there are plenty of opportunities to put mud or camo on your face and run through the river or go through the sheep dip or giant water mud slide or rafting.
What I LOVE is that you can pick and mix what type of festival is good for your family each day, there’s no expectation.
Everyone, but especially the Marines, are all so kind, encouraging and a-tuned to the individuals – they’re not shouty or pushy (which would completely turn my children off). It’s about exploring new adventures, new experiences and new limits all while having fun… if you want to that is.
To Camp or not to Camp
If you buy a full four day weekend ticket then camping is included in the price. I heard good things about the camping set up. Clean facilities and only short queues (or none at all if you time it right). I was worried about noise levels, but was told that it was respectful and calm at night – everyone has children. It did look good fun and I am tempted (just have to buy all the gear first!). Many consider it great holiday at the end of the summer to look forward to.
The tents are in a field close to Starcross, the accessible camping is in a field near the cafe and the motorhomes are behind the main stage (but as the speakers are facing the other direction I was told it wasn’t too noisy!)
For us, we headed back home each evening after a festival supper and tucked the children into bed. We headed to the festival mid-morning and chose to all stay up together for the headliners on the Saturday night, and carried our sleeping children back to the car. On Sunday, I was so excited for the Ministry of Sounds Classical I popped back after the children were asleep – and it was amazing! Next year, i’m going to try to do that for the Friday night too. For me, the convenience of living just 15 mins away meant that popping back and forth was good for us. My children aren’t great sleepers and have great FOMO (as do I) and I don’t think they would have lasted the whole weekend if we had camped.
The food was good – a variety of different types and typical festival prices. £5 for chips and £8-10 for a burger/ wrap etc. I couldn’t tear myself away from the yummy local West Country Dim Sum!
Nature Valley was also there for snack pick-me-ups with their bars being handed throughout the festival. Yummy they are too!
Need to know
When: Bank holiday weekend in end of August. Thursday to Sunday (sign up to my newsletter for a heads up on dates)
Where: Powderham Castle
What time: Some activities start early eg morning yoga. Most are 9am and the music finishes at 11pm
Ticket Type: There are either full weekend tickets (which include camping) or day tickets.
Price: See Gone Wild website for details.
How to pay on site: Money must be preloaded onto your wrist band via the website or huts on site. Food, drinks, crafts, products etc can all be paid for using your wristband. There is a charge of £1.50 to load money onto a wrist band on the first time then no charge to top up. Make sure you claim money back after the festival within the 2 weeks.
Buggy friendly: Yes absolutely. For the past 2 years its been dry and sunny too so the ground is really easy for wheels. Many people also had wagons for the children (loaded with fairy lights so they could be seen when it got dark).
Toilets: Lots of portaloos and sinks about and all remained in a clean condition and no shortage of loo roll throughout the festival.
Water: Lots of drinking water refill spots about so take your bottle but don’t worry about having to carry too much water.
Parking: the dedicated parking field is close by to the tent camping field (close to Starcross). It’s quite a walk to get to the festival site… and it seems longer for little legs on the way back! My husband made the mistake of leaving something in the car and tried to pop back for it in the day… FYI it’s too far to pop back!
Ticket discounts: Loyalty tickets – if you went this year, then there’s a loyalty discount and kids of all ages go free (one per adult ticket) if booked before 30th September. If not, Tier 1 early bird pricing for Gone Wild 2023 is available until 30th September £170 per adult and kids under 11 go free for each adult. If you’re an emergency services worker, in the military or in scouts you can apply for a 5% discount on your tickets (this discount if not valid with the loyalty offer, sorry guys!).
PR review: I was kindly given tickets for the weekend and have chosen to review it for Little Devon. You know my thoughts are all my own and I cannot wait to go again next year!