Geronimo is a new family festival, which took place at Tatton Park in Cheshire over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. It’s aimed at families with children up to the age of about 12. We were invited to check it out, and whilst I’d originally planned to take the whole family, the geekson was poorly the night before, so I left him at home with the geekdaddy and the geekdaughter and I took the opportunity to have a rare girls day out together.
Tatton Park is in Knutsford in Cheshire, and is only a 20 minute drive from our house, so it’s a place we’ve visited several times in the past. It’s already a great place for a family day out, so I was sure it would be ideally suited to host a family festival. There is plenty of parking available, and we arrived and parked very easily.
The Geronimo site was right next to the adventure playground, which could be a blessing or a curse, depending on whether you need to distract the kids at any point. Halfway through the afternoon the geekdaughter demanded to leave the festival and play on the playground for half an hour or so, which wasn’t a problem, but I wondered if we were missing out on anything for her to do something we could do any time.
On walking into the Geronimo area the first thing we noticed was the space. There was loads of it. The site was huge, and everything was well spread out, meaning that it never felt crowded in any way. There was a huge variety of activities, things to do and see. There was a very nice selection of food stands in one area, and a selection of stalls selling an assortment of products. And then there was a stage area, extemely well sited in a natural ampitheatre meaning a good view was available to all.
All that space was very well used. I liked the fact that many of the activities made use of the natural environment. The first thing we headed to on arrival was the Monkey Do area, as we had been told that this would get busy and it was best to get there early. This was an area where large nets had been slung between the trees at different heights, and the kids were able to climb around the nets and drop from one to the other. There were timed entries to this area, and on arrival we had a short queue to get allocated our time slot, which was about an hour later. There were different timeslots for different ages, and I was quite glad that we hadn’t brought the geekson with us, as he’d have been in a different timeslot to the geekdaughter. Apart from that the system seemed to work well, and we arrived back at our allocated time and the geekdaughter could get straight on.
The geekdaughter stayed in the nets for her whole 30 minute tiimeslot, and told me at the end of the day that it was her favourite part of the event.
Another area that made great use of the natural surroundings was the “Bear Hunt”. A treasure hunt through a wooded area, with a stock of fancy dress so the kids could dress up as explorers or bears whilst doing it. We enjoyed finding the clues, and earned ourselves a little box of Alpha Bites by Bear Nibbles (a very fitting partnership I must say!)
Another area of the festival allowed the chance to get “hands on” with a number of different animals. The geekdaughter enjoyed her pony ride (which had a much shorter queue than the donkey rides nearby), and then we saw several exotic animals at Ranger Rob’s animal experience. We saw a chameleon change colour, and the geekdaughter was freaked out by the size of the tarrantula! Finally in this area there was a selection of young chicks bred on the farm at Tatton Park, and the geekdaughter got to hold one of them.
There was an area dedicated to all things circus, with constant circus skills workshops running, and loads of hoops, diabolos etc available for anyone to try out. There were also two big tops running circus shows. The geekdaughter and I watched both shows – the main big top presented a show as good as any circus I have paid money to see (no animals though), and the little big top presented a show made up of circus skills and comedy with opportunities for the kids to join in.
In every area of the festival we found something fun to do. The geekdaughter wanted to have a go at the mountain bike riding, and they put her on a bike that (to me) looked far too big for her. But she rode it brilliantly, and enjoyed cycling around the little track that was set up (again, which made great use of the environment as it went around trees and up and down dips). There was a great selection of food available for lunch, and the geekdaughter plumped for an enormous hot dog whilst I had some very nice Chinese food. There were interesting things to see everywhere, including several trees with eyes in which amused the geekdaughter no end. Lots of little “pop up” theatre events happened throughout the day (which we kept missing, although the times were clearly posted in each area, so if I’d have been more organised with my planning we would have been fine!). If we’d have had the geekson with us I am sure we’d have lost him in the Brio tent – an area with so much wooden railway laid out for kids to play with. And if that hadn’t gripped him then he’d have wanted to stay in the LegoLand Discovery Centre tent which had lots of Lego set out for kids to play with as well.
Finally, quite late on in the afternoon, we made it to the main stage where an assortment of CBeebies presenters and other performers appeared throughout the day. I wasn’t sure that this would appeal so much to the geekdaughter, who has graduated to CBBC now, but she was absolutely gripped. She worked her way right to the front and we stayed there whilst Mr Bloom, Alex Winters and Katy from “I Can Cook” entertained us all. The crowd was small, probably because it was late on in the day, but that made the performances even more intimate, as the presenters came off the stage to interact directly with the crowd. At one point Alex came off the stage to hold the “world’s biggest” hokey cokey with the crowd, which all the kids loved.
I think the geekdaughter’s absolute highlight was right at the end of the show, when Alex Winters again came out into the crowd to say goodbye to everyone, and she got a High 5 from him!
Hopefully you can tell from my writing that we absolutely loved Geronimo. It was a great day out with plenty to do. We found it didn’t feel crowded at all – the only time we had to queue for any period of time was for the Helter Skelter, although we did avoid the zip wire which said the queue would be an hour. I am not sure if the empty feel was due to the huge amount of space available just eating up the crowds, or the weather (which was very grey) deterring people from coming, or simply due to there not being huge numbers of people there as it was the first year of the festival and many people were not aware it was happening. The festival was organised by Simon Goldman, a father of seven, and I really like this quote from him which came in one of the press releases I received:
As a father of seven, I know how hard it is to find quality days out that cater for the whole family. With Geronimo, we created a festival to keep the kids entertained all day long, and create memories that will last a lot longer. The lineup was jam-packed with 100s of things to see and do, and offered families a rewarding experience through a combination of imagination, creativity and adventure, alongside a number of exciting live performances from some of the best-loved names in children’s entertainment. It is important to me that Geronimo wasn’t just another festival and that families left feeling like they had experienced an amazing day out that they’ll be talking about for weeks and months afterwards.
Well, the geekdaughter and I will certainly be talking about Geronimo for weeks and months afterwards I can assure you. I very much hope that this first year was enough of a success for them to bring it back next year, and if it does come back next year I’ll be taking the whole family, no question! I’ll be watching the Geronimo website, and their Twitter and Facebook accounts for any news about future events.
Disclosure: I was given VIP tickets for the family to Geromino for review purposes. All words and opinions are my own (apart from the quote from Simon!).