Festival Review: Standon Calling 2016

Standon Calling

Standon Calling - Credit: Archant

With an increasing number of boutique, child-friendly festivals springing up over the past few years, finding one which suits your individual requirements as a family is a challenge in itself.

Do you worry about the distance to travel, the quality of the camping, the range of all-age activities, before you even consider the line-up?

Thankfully Standon Calling ticks all of the boxes, being just a short drive away on the outskirts of Hertfordshire, with a comfortable capacity of around 10,000 people, and delivering a package which will appeal to fledgling festival-goers and seasoned veterans alike.

From fairground rides and an outside swimming pool through to a pirate-themed carnival and luxury pampering area, the sheer diversity of what is actually a relatively small event needs to be experienced first-hand to be properly appreciated.

After all, it’s all very well trying to sum up your weekend to jealous friends afterwards, but capturing the atmosphere and vitality of those few days is hard to put into words. But let’s give it a go…

Based around the theme of Legend of the Lost Seas – basically an excuse for men dressed as mermaids and buxom pirate wenches – Standon celebrated its eleventh birthday in style.

Highlights for us included the hilarious sea shanty set from London-based dads-in-a-band the Haringey Mariners, a seminal performance by legendary Britpop legends Suede, and the sultry vocals of big-haired songstress Jess Glynne, but one of the delights of a festival is discovering new talent as you wander between stages, getting lost in the music and the moment.

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With a four-year-old festival fan in hand, it was also easy to find ourselves exploring some of the other attractions on offer, like Tamysn Murray and Alice Hemming’s storytelling sessions, the plucky amateurs taking to the high trapeze for their first attempt at circus skills, or watching our daughter dancing along to a percussion combo with reckless abandon.

Was it a perfect weekend? Not completely. The bars were too packed and staff seemed oblivious to the concept of first-come, first-served, the headline acts started a bit too late for our liking, and the long wait for a refund on credit loaded to your wristbands seems unnecessary, but these are just niggles on what was otherwise a sun-drenched few days of music, mayhem and memories. We’ll be back next year.