Jo Leigh and her family take a trip to see all that CarFest South 2018 has to offer.
As a wife with a car fan enthusiast for a husband, a visit to CarFest is on the list of annual must-do's and this year the sell-out crowds, incredible live music acts, great food and a rich mix of family entertainment delivered again.
As we arrived to a fluid parking system, we parked up and unloaded to set off for the usual trudge to the main arenas. However, with the varied parking fields, the trudge was exactly the reverse. Within minutes, we found ourselves transported back in time into a Vintage Steam Fair full of fun fairground games and rides - all powered with huge steam engines (another fascination for dad!). As the children went on yet another steam powered ride, it was hard to prize them away in order for us to catch the track performances which were, as expected, full of screeches, revs and wheel smoke! The new track this year was a whopping 920 metres long and specially F1 designed with the help of Jody Scheckter and Ross Brawn! The Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro in its first UK appearance was a sight with Adrian Newey also on site to admire the Valkyrie in the flesh. Donning the headphones for the kids here worked a treat and is a must for any festival of speed or music.
Then the weather turned to intermittent rain and we were challenged to find shelter, which must always work in the traders favour as we headed for the shopping village; especially the rural craft and Britain's best tents. With purchases in tow and a break in the clouds, we dined on a feast of street food in the centre of the track. Here anything goes in our family, we gorged on the best indian pakora's I've ever had, then hopped across the walkway where we bought a pot of Churros - our festival guilty pleasure! Next stop beer tent...
We spent the afternoon catching a few shows in the kid's theatre; we saw the Flying Seagulls who were their usual mad selves, boogied in the silent disco and also did a stint in the Top of the Pops tent. So, by the time the evening came, we were more than ready to site back, relax and enjoy the entertainment, albeit in the rain. As we were there on a Friday, we were keen to see The X factor winners Rak Su, a great family feel good act who, in our opinion, were gone too soon. We wanted more. However, we were more than happy to see the evening through with Paloma Faith and her many chart toppers.
Our day visit is never long enough to cover everything and we were disappointed to have missed the CarFest Kitchen where Bake Off Winner Candice Brown cooked up a storm. However, we did visit the Pudsey store to obtain the obligatory flashing ears (and get a cuddle from the man himself) which was an ideal accessory when trying to spot a little one in the crowds. The Horrible History area was great fun for the kids as they re-enacted battles from centuries gone by with very authentic film and tv props. The Farm Olympics is always a certified crowd pleaser with ferret racing and the on-site bouncy castle is the biggest in the world. The Carnival area had bubbles and mechanical statues a plenty, which made a great added attraction for little ones.
The spirit of the day was not dampened by the weather one bit, in fact, in some way it seems to add to the amazing atmosphere at CarFest South. Next year we've vowed it will be the whole weekend and we'll also invite other family members to make a whole extended family experience. Well worth it for families of all ages and stages.
More details for 2019 can be found here: www.carfest.org