|Dylan the dog at Curious Arts Festival|
So with Dylan, and any other dogs who feel they'd like to try festivalling with their owners, in mind, I've been checking out where they could go this Autumn ... we may not get to any of them this year, but if not, we'll try next autumn.
First up - for the Bank Holiday, a real historical treat, England's Medieval Festival held 24th-27th August at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex. I'm a great fan of 'living history' events, and went to a lot when my children were young, but they were small affairs with maybe half a dozen 'knights' and their households. This event looks huge!
There'll be a siege camp (and daily siege), a living history village, falconry, jousting, archery, gunnery, and sword-fighting demonstrations, medieval minstrels shows with music and dance. There'll be medieval themed food (or something more familiar) The children's area, Kids Kingdom, will have activities specially for younger ones - jesters and wizards, have-a-go archery, and story-telling. For those staying on site overnight, entertainment continues with a torch lit parade, folk music, and a fire pit to gather round.
I think this looks fantastic - and of course, dogs are welcome, though there's a warning on the website about gunfire, and advising care near horses and birds of prey. I just wish it was better located from my point of view; north of London, rather than south.
|photo credit -Nenad Obradovic|
|photo credit - Jonathan Cherry|
So, expect music, books, talks, crafts, poetry, campfire cooking sessions, wild swimming, great food, yoga, tai chi, stargazing, a vintage fairground, an adventure playground (might just be for children that one ) and "axe throwing for everyone".
|photo credit - Rachel Kay|
The whole vibe is one of family-friendly outdoorsy fun and relaxation.
|photo credit - Jonathan Cherry|
|photo credit - Charlie Budd|
Dogs are definitely welcome (apart from in the main music tent), after all part of the 'good life' concept is spending quality time with family and friends, and your dog definitely counts as one of them. There's even an opportunity for your best friend to learn a few new tricks with The Incredibly Clever Canine Circus. How cute is that? Dylan (and my husband) may think 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks', but I'm a firm believer in 'you're never too old to learn' so it's worth a try.
Next we're heading east, to the wide open skies and marches stretching as far as the eye can see of North Norfolk. Burnham Deepdale is a small place on the road between Brancaster and Wells next the Sea, which you could easily speed past, but don't, because it has lovely walks along the edge of the marshes, an interesting round towered church, and Deepdale Backpackers and Camping which is home to Deepdale Festival
Taking place on 28- 30th September (and nearly sold out for on-site camping, though it is possible to buy a day-ticket and stay elsewhere) it has a little bit of everything for almost every musical taste - rock, blues, country, folk - spread over three stages.
In addition there'll be street performers, poets, star gazing, fire pits, drum workshops, street food, real ales and gins, the usual array of small shops of Burnham Market plus pop-up shops and stalls.
This caught my attention in the first place because it's a part of Norfolk that I love and I'd vaguely thought that Deepdale might be a place to experiment with taking our tent (so far it's only been to a couple of festivals). A festival just gives me another excuse to go :)
|photo credit NT/Eric McDonald|
Heading down to Devon now, for the National Trust's SouthWest Outdoor Festival . Taking place over 5-7th October near Salcombe, this is a rather more serious outdoors festival with canoeing, coasteering, stand-up-paddleboarding, trail running, and mountain bike challenges. Fortunately for lazier outdoors folk (me) there are also more sedate activities - including guided walks, yoga, foraging, bushcraft and star-gazing.
photo credit NT/Lloyd Russell
North Cornwall Book Festival , taking place on the same weekend, 4-7th October, at St Endellion, not far from Doc Martin's Port Isaac. This is a rarity in being a book festival that dogs can attend. I love Edinburgh and Hay book festivals, but only guide dogs are allowed in to the actual festival sites. Admittedly, even here, dogs aren't allowed into ALL events - as a rule of thumb, they're fine under canvas, but not in buildings - but there's more than enough where they could happily come along (just check which before driving to Cornwall)
The emphasis is obviously on the written word, with both author events (Joanna Trollope, Patrick Gale, Wyl Menmuir, Jill Murphy, to just name a few) and writing workshops, but there's also an exhibition of lino prints and wood engravings, a bookbinding workshop, and music and 'unbridled cabaret' in the evenings. It all sounds rather fun!
Unlike the other festivals I've covered, this isn't an all-inclusive camping experience. It's held in and around St Endellion church and accommodation needs to be found elsewhere, but this is a popular tourist area, and October is a little out of season so there should be lots of choice if you're travelling from outside the area. Tickets are for individual events rather than for the whole festival, so I'd be tempted to add a little holiday as well - drop in on an author talk or two, join in with the evening fun, and take some time to re-visit the fishing villages and beaches of this part of Cornwall - and in early October it might just still be warm enough for swimming ...