Friday the 5th August was certainly a day to remember for both myself and that of my youngest, 20 month old, ‘Harley’ aka little, ‘H’
I had been very fortunate to obtain a, “Press pass ” entitling a family of four free VIP access into the Lollibop (the three-day festival designed especially for tiny-weeny partygoers) It was noted that the festival was best suited to children aged ten and under, Little man is ten, eleven in October, looking at the programme, I didn’t think it would appeal to him… I was right! It didn’t! Little man decided to spend the day with dad, over indulging in his, “Special interest… Buses” My eight year old daughter had already made plans to go on a trip to the seaside with her friend (I know, better social life than me)! So, It was just me and my very cheeky toddler, ‘H’. Knowing I had access for up to 4 people, I decided to invite my younger sister, ‘Rachel’ and her daughter, “Amy” a 18 month old crazed, “Waybuloo fan”
Finally the day had arrived, I don’t know who was more excited, Me or the children? Yet the morning wasn’t one of my best! Everything that could possibly go wrong… did! Harley thought it was a great time to show of his talent, “Having a tantrum” and as for me, I was putting washing powder in the microwave and milk in the washing machine. I hadn’t hardly slept a wink the night before and this had nothing to do with Little man! I had struggled with the hellish heat and found it impossible to get comfortable. This resulted in me walking around like a zombie the best part of the morning. Finally having left the house I met up with my little sister and niece and we headed to the train station. Once there I discovered I had forgotten Harley’s rains resulting in a crazy dash around Oxford Street in a bid to purchase my third pair of rains this year (forgetful being my second middle name, Late my first). We finally reached Regents park, the location for the Lollibop. Harley had cried the whole way there. I was at my wit’s end, praying the day would be worth the stress of that horrid morning.
It wasn’t particularly hard to locate the venue once of the tube at Regents Park. It was pretty well sign-posted and only a two-minute walk just across the road. However, we should have entered via the press tent, which I just couldn’t locate. We were thankfully allowed through the main gate where we were directed to the press area to obtain wristbands and passes. My first impressions were good ones! Just through the main gate to the right you would find, “Lollibop’s transport for kids” (Smart trike with parent handle) were available to borrow for the deterioration of your day, I’m unsure if there was charge for the service, but I don’t think so. The area looked amazing, with lots going on. The queues didn’t look that long and the smiles displayed on the face of almost every child said it all!
On the way to the press tent, we bumped into some really funky characters, Our first of the day. Harley looked at this two funky little oldies with nothing but confusion, Me I thought they were pretty cool. Harley was here to see someone with a little more popularity, “Bob the Builder” would be his highlight of the day, what with him being his biggest fan. Having made it to the press tent, I met the very lovely Jen and her team. After a warm friendly welcome, a cold drink and a nappy change, we were off.
Leaving the pushchairs safely in the VIP tent, we put this pair of over excited toddlers on their rains (yes, new rains £12 Oxford St) and off we went.
Bob the Builder was due to meet and greet in the 3 Ft and under area of the festival, in around 20 minutes time. So, with this in mind we decided to stay close by, opting to set the kids free in the soft play area. What is it with kids and balls? Seriously Little H is ball pit crazy. He loved diving in and out of the balls and Amy seemed to enjoy it too… Well, that was in-till a bigger boy dived in, knocking H flying over the side of the pit. Thankful it’s a great padded area and my little boy was brave, he wiped his little tears, got up and throw himself back in. The soft play area was nice enough… However a little constructive criticism, “Big kids should not have been allowed in the soft play area or that of the 3 Ft area all together” (with the exception of meet and greets , yes bigger kids like Bob too). It was clearly designed for the smallest of little people and having ten-year old + boys jumping all over the place ruined a great play session for what looked like many. Lastly it wasn’t fenced in, meaning your child would escape every ten minutes and you would need to set chase. Apart from these two things, It was lots of fun.
Harley seemed happy in the soft play area and I wondered just how I would persuade him to leave. Then he saw something! “Bob Builder, Bob Builder” Harley shouted frantically. Yes, there was Bob making his way to his meet & greet. I grabbed Harley making a mad dash for the gate, “I didn’t fancy a long wait as Harley just wouldn’t have understood” Luckily we only had one or two people in front.
This to me was the highlight of the day! It made the whole stress of that morning extremely worth it, I even had a tear in my eye as I watched my little boy walk up to Bob, put his little hands out and say, “Bob Builder, hello” In a shocked little voice. I whispered to the big guy,”I warn you, this is Harley and his your number 1 fan and from now on, your biggest stalker” It was at that moment I thought to myself, “Jesus, How am I going to get him out of here” We tried to get Harley to turn to face the camera so I could catcher the beautiful moment. Amy obliged without problem, yet H was unable to take his eye’s of the big guy, he was totally star struck. Take a look for yourself!
As suspected H didn’t fancy leaving his mate Bob the Builder! I turn around to see just how long the queue had now become… there was only one thing left for me to do, The good old, “Grab & run” As he so angrily kicked his little legs while delivering a string of head-butts to my chest, he shouted, “No, no, More..More… Bob builder, Fix it” I turned to see Bob bobbing up and down obviously indulging in a little giggle… “Harley really was acting the crazed little fan”
I carried Harley straight into the WOW tent located bang next door. It was filled to the very rim with fantastic WOW toys. They had Wow play tables with at-least three toys on each. The tent was busy and from every corner you could hear the sound of mothers ordering their children to share. Myself and H are a massive fan of WOW toys and Harley has been lucky enough to review a few this month. These are toys that will be added to the Birthday and Christmas list in our house for sure.
This visit to the WOW tent had also given me the chance to meet Lucy who had put together Little Hs reviews… It was nice to personally thank her for so kindly doing so. Just as I contemplated moving one I realised that the tent had some empty seating, so it was nice to take a break and chill for five minutes while H and Amy explored all the wonderful toys that surrounded them. The WOW team had the right idea when it came to keeping the kids happy. With the parents all set to move on only to be faced with refusing toddlers, (this or they wanted to take the toys with them) the WOW team came to the rescue with they’re cleverly prepared surprise! Each child was given a cute little WOW toy as a gift on their exist. This Just proves that these guys really do know children when it comes to toys as most smiled and bopped away happily.
It was such a hot day on Friday. We sat on the grass where I topped up the children’s sun cream while my sister grabbed them an ice lolly to help them cool down. These were steep at £2 each, but it came as no surprise, it wasn’t any more than other festivals and child friendly events we have attended so no shocks there!
Next we took a trip to the Alfresco Bandstand, which was a nice area, smaller than the main stage but not as busy! The Waybuloo’s were busy teaching the children their moves. Harley waved and clapped and it was Amy’s turn to be star struck. Sitting on her mummy’s shoulders her face displayed one almighty smile. It was these little moments that made Lollibop a festival that stood out from the rest. Sadly Amy didn’t get to give the Waybuloos a hug as they were entertaining up on the stage which was fenced off for health and safety reasons.
There was plenty to do and see, everywhere you turned something magical was taking place. It was hard to follow the scheduled acts and appearances that we wanted to see due to the sheer wonderful distractions we faced, Clowns, music, beautiful stalls and amazing activities.
The Children meet Peppa and George Pig (from a parents view these guys weren’t pretty) There was no photo opportunities as again they are in an enclosed area. However, despite this, the children were able to touch them and say hello face to face. I had to laugh when George pig put his face near Harley’s leaving him shouting, “Woo, woo pig, away, away” as he pushed his snout in a bid to get him out the way. Yes, these guys are pigs remember :) they didn’t look as cute as they do on the TV but H soon got used to them, again needing to be carried away (My chest was bruised by now)!
We then visited my favourite area, “The Enchanted Forest” It truly lived up to its name, with stalls selling everything from fairy wings to fairy dust, there was toadstool seating areas and a range of magical activities, it was a lovely area within the festival. This was the place to find great storytellers and awesome bubble blowers. It was beautiful watching the children happily run around chasing bubbles.
We then Checked out some of the yummy food on display! The Children had not long eaten when we arrived at the park at just gone 1 pm, a few hours after it had opened at 11 am. This resulted in the children showing Little if not any interest in food. However, as for Me, I was staving, but at that point in time I didn’t fancy the queue, I was just to hot (Food queues were not outrageously long but long enough to put me off )! With this we left it till a little later in the day when at some stages they could be found empty.
There was much more exciting staff needed doing! We danced to the, “Zingzillas” and the fabulous sounds of “Rastamouse and da easy crew” who were performing on the main stage. The Cbeebies Presenter Sid was hosting the show and did a brilliant job too. The area did get a little busy as expected, However, it was nice to see Alex, (another Cbeebies presenter) stood next to me with his family. Of course he could have got himself right up the front… What with it being his turn to host the same show at this very same festival the next day it wouldn’t have been hard. Yet to see him with his child on his shoulders happily dancing to the sounds of the easy crew in the same way I was, did put a smile on my face.
I also noticed something very interesting about the main stage, (In a good way) It had a large viewing platform! Ok, What did I care, Little man wasn’t at the festival right! Just to see that they were catering for those with disabilities was a wonderful sight! Some of those who accessed the platform wouldn’t have stood a chance of seeing anything down below as there were those in wheelchairs and other children like Little Man who wouldn’t have coped well with the crowding that was taking place on the ground. Honestly If my Little man was younger and interested in the Lollibop I would have been able to take him that day with little problems. The organiser had noticeably tried to make the event a good one that was fun and accessible for all.
Having had a good boogie with my smiling toddler, sister and niece, we grabbed some food (fish and chips… Very yummy but a tad expensive, though it was expected). This was followed by beautiful fresh strawberries and cream, one word, ‘WOW’ very lush. As we ate we watched some funky makeovers taking place! These were done on random people out the crowds & pulled up on stage. The makeover itself was pretty funky business, involving coloured hairspray, “Lots of it” funky makeup, sick on gems and other funkiness … Seriously this was entertaining stuff , I loved it!
Soon after we took a walk back to the VIP tent where we decided on taking the children back out to the main festival area in their pushchairs, both looked a tad hots and eye rubbing was a sign little H was getting tired. All the same I was surprised when they both happily complied with no fuss made at all (Not normally Harley’s style).
The Press/VIPs tent was much cooler with seating areas in and out. I was quite surprised to see a number of Celebes within the area( I dunno why I was, after all those with children are their to give their kids a fantastic day just as I was! I guess, I just didn’t think about)! Well, all were very down to earth, enjoying the sunshine with their children just like anyone else meaning no one felt out of place (re-phase… I didn’t feel out of place), Celebes included, ‘Jeff Blazer’ and his children & ‘Angela griffins’ to name a few. Lucky, I don’t get star stuck, that is… unless your an overly good looking Hollywood film star (I say no names) Well after a short rest, a lovely cold drink and quick game of spot the celeb’ we set back off exploring.
We checked out some of the many stalls where I was shocked but presently surprised to meet Andrea (The very lovely business mum… founder of the “Mommy I’m here child locator”) I’m currently running a giveaway on this very blog, where I’m giving away one of her lovely teddy bear child locators (ends 25th August) I was also very lucky to conduct a review on the wonderful child locator, which funnily Harley had tied to his shoe lace at this very festival, (The fault of losing him in at the lollibop, any festival in-fact… makes me feel a little light headed.) Meeting Andrea allowed me to put a face to the name and personally thank her for the review opportunities and her wonderful device I now can’t live without! Andrea is a very inspiring business woman and extremely nice lady, was so glad we met!
We hadn’t been out the vip area that long when I suddenly noticed the two little were knocked out sleeping in their pushchairs. With this, me and my sister indulged ourselves in a little harmless childish behaviour I even considered getting my face painted (I didn’t… much to my sisters delight)
We also visited the lovely stall of the online shop,”festivals Kidz” where I got to meet the lovely founder, ‘Romany’ who was making beautiful head dressings with dried flowers for the little fairies of Lollibop. The stall was amazing selling items like, ear defenders in a cool range of neon colours (great for those on the autism spectrum and well as festival goers). There were also beautiful, yet funky kites on display and some really awesome “Tees” all half price. The stall was filled with lots of festival treasure from pretty fairy customs and girlie raincoats, to head dresses and baby items. I loved the many circus bits and pieces which again are great for those on the autism spectrum & those with Sensory processing disorder (SPD) These products would be ideal in helping the development of motor skills or could be used for their sensory benefits. A,” must visit” both on and off line.
Sadly we didn’t get to visit the actual circus, nor did we do any off the baby mini mission activities or indulge in “Baby loves disco” which has the likelihood of becoming a firm favourite off mine! Yes, serious, I love to dance and it seems Harley does too! Baby loves disco could quite well be a match made in heaven! Really looking forward to hearing more about the company at the… “Business mum’s unite” in October this year. Our reason’s for not being able to participate in the above planed activities is down to a couple of now snoring toddlers ! With this we Instead walked off in the hunt for a couple of helium balloons (Bob the builder for little H and Waybuloo for Amy) these were very reasonable priced. reasonably priced at £5 for a small and £6 for large (serious I’ve seen these things sold at a tenner ago, so was nicely surprised)
As the time quickly passed, regardless of our enjoyment, We left a little earlier at 5.45 pm as opposed to 7 pm, If the children were a tad older we would have stayed till the very end! This doesn’t mean we were bored or there wasn’t enough activities for the toddlers as their seriously was!This wasn’t to do with the children’s entertainment needs, I’m not stating their wasn’t enough on offer for them, quite the opposite in fact… The children were totally knocked out with all the excitement of the days events, and didn’t even get to try everything, there was just so much to do! that they were still happily sleeping when we headed off home.
A quick Little summing-up on the festival designed for little people
I was lucky to have free Vip tickets so for the festival. Hence reasons why I haven’t really commented on such issues. However I did hear parents moaning about cost stating their disgust at the price for a little one to get in! In the defensive of Lollibop, It was advised that tickets should be brought on line avoiding the gate fee & a situation where you’re paying a lot more… Tickets on the day equal pricey tickets and we all knew it! It know it’s easy for me to state, but I truly felt that given their was such a great line up and so much to do, You got your moneys worth… After all its no more than other places this time of year, such as, “Lego land” and in my view Lollibop is just as good, especially for my little Bob fan! When I arrived at one queues were very small at the gate and also not huge in the park itself. I did hear that the queues were very long on the Saturday & Sunday, I can only comment by stating, “Yay I got the right day” (This really wasn’t the case Friday) How about Maybe a book and return service for meet and greets, workshops and face painting for next year? s that something that could be organised?
The location was perfect (I’m a London girl and love Regents park & it famous, ‘London Zoo’) maybe a Lollibop tour could be worked upon for all those missing out on such a great event. This would put the smiles on lots of little faces, which is so worth the effort!. The event was big but everything was nicely compact and easy to locate. I wasn’t to keen on the Haystack seating! I ran over thinking we were gonna find a mini farmyard for little H & Amy to explore.
The festival was awesome, very child centred, as stated on the tin! Yet it provided an amazing day for all the family, and had lots happening. It still managed to keep that rather hippy feel about it that I love.. (If that’s the right word for it). This atmosphere was helped by the sights of Little girls in tutus, and fairy wings with pretty flowers in their hair running around throwing handfuls of fairy dust while playing with glittery hola=hoops! This made me wish that my daughter was there with me, “I know she would have loved it”
So the big question: Would we come back next year and do it all again? Gosh, Yes! Lollibop is magical, a festival that will continue to develop it’s magic into total awesomeness with every passing year. It’s a festival that’s not to be missed!