I’ll be honest, the day could have started better. We had jobs to do in the morning that we couldn’t reschedule but the tickets had been offered and we were taking them. We packed an overtired toddler, two over-excited boys and clothes for all weathers into the car and headed for Body & Soul.
We sailed on, boys chatting about Electric Picnic and wondering what the kids’ section would have to offer. We were chatting so much that we forgot where we were going, missed the turn on the M50, so we got a secret mystery tour of West Dublin as we found our way from the N2 to the N3.
Body & Soul is a boutique festival, it’s small, with only 10,000 attendees, so there’s less fuss about it, fewer road-signs and a much smaller car-park. It’s more higgledy-piggledy inside as a result.
We approached and saw businesses chancing their arms “Stock up on refreshments here” as if there were none for miles around. A circuitous traffic management route, oblivious to the lack of traffic on a Saturday afternoon, delivered us to a field. We collected our tickets as the rain started. We laughed. We had to, because if not we might have cried.
Then, we remembered that we’d forgotten the kids’ ear defenders, still in the attic (maybe?) since Electric Picnic. Not a lot we could do about that then. We walked through the field, and the next one and got our wristbands. We’d decided to leave the buggy behind and the small girl declined the invitation to walk or even hold handies so she took it all in from her lofty position on Daddy’s shoulders. The security guards smiled and got the boys to give them high fives and promise that they’d do loads of dancing. Things were looking up.
We walked through the campsites, row upon row of colourful tents, festival goers in clothes that magazines tell you you should wear to festivals. Short shorts, fisherman hats, sarongs, flowers in the hair, elaborate fancy dress. The smell of fake tan and stale beer hung on the air. We were there. The unmistakable carefree vibe of a festival hit us. It was overpowering and it sucked us right in.
This is what a festival is. A state of mind, chilled, relaxed, excited, content. leave your real self at home and be someone else for a weekend or a day. Dress like a vampire, wear a onesie or a pink wig. Paint your face, wear a unicorn horn. Festivals are the grown-up excuse to act like a kid.
The boys’ eyes focussed on a red and white tower, a helter skelter slide. “Can we PLEASE?” they asked. “Yes!” we replied, with a jovial “we’re at a festival” tone and off they headed, mats in hand to climb the wooden staircase, one coming back down the stairs rather than the slide because he changed his mind.
Next stop the carousel, “can we?” they asked. “Let’s All”, so the five of us did. A family carousel ride, 3 shining horses between us, bobbing up and down.
Our young festival-going veterans knew that they were onto a good thing- they wanted to go straight to the SOUL Kids area. So, we did. SOUL Kids had a full programme, we got to enjoy a drums performance, disco dancing, outdoor jenga and making masks (masks which got lots of admiration).
We dismounted and starting exploring. We found a beach stage, a stage set up like a little house, a games room, a walled garden, installations in the wood. Music floated through the air, a brass section, a haunting female vocal, a synthesized chorus. The atmosphere was festive, the venue like a wonderland. The whole area was dressed up for the occasion, mirrors hung, a wall of plants planted in plastic bottles, getting the festival’s eco message across.
- Having a hotdog picnic on the grass in the garden
- The wall of herbs and plants, planted in plastic bottles
- The mirrors in the walled garden
- A 99, sure who doesn’t love a 99
- Sitting taking it all in at the main stage
- Maud in Cahoots on the Mother Stage
- Helter Skelter
- The hanging mirrors
- Watching people in their fancy dress pass by
- The King Crisps dress up stand
- The glow pod in the woods
- The Craft Village, we missed the workshops though, they sounded great, I’d definitely catch them if I went again
- Seeing the Happy Pear twins (“the men off our cookbook Mam”)
- Listening to LIVE music and explaining instruments to the kids
What’s Body & Soul like for the kids?
Delightful. The boys ran from stage to stage, curiosity to curiosity with glee. The three kids were at home in the walled garden which contained the Soul Kids area. The walled garden and wooded areas are safe and fun to explore. There are loads of food options.
You’d expect the toilet situation to be dodgy and it is. Despite many toilet visits we didn’t see any toilet paper at all, even in the kids’ area, so definitely bring your own, and explain to your kids what they might see in portaloos.
A Flavour of our Body & Soul in photos
Disclosure: We received free tickets to Body & Soul in exchange for this review.