Headlining Our Very Own Big Little Tent Festival 2016

A few weeks ago, I did something in the garden that I’ve not done before. No – it wasn’t anything sordid, so get your minds out of the gutter people. What I’m talking about instead is creating my very own back yard-based partay for the The Big Little Tent Festival (BLTF).

Now in its second year, The Caravan Club’s Big Little Tent Festival is all about encouraging families to get outside, to spend quality time together and experience the joys of camping in the comfort of your own garden. As one of four Official Festival Families for 2016, I was tasked with hosting my very own festival this summer. What’s more, I was asked to ‘take over’ their social media accounts too to share our festival experiences.

I tried to come up with a catchy, pun-tastic name for the festival, however I’m afraid that I failed miserably. The best I got was (Dad)V(enturer) Fest, Coach-ToddlerL-a and Dadload Festival – all of which are pretty pathetic by my own high standards. In fact, just writing the above sentence has made me die inside all over again. Ah well, I’ll get over it.

I’m not going to lie though. With plenty of other summer festivals happening, I was never going to attract the headline acts, the variety of food stalls and crowds of hundreds of thousands of people to compete with other festivals. I did have Nickelback constantly phoning me in the weeks leading up to the event looking for a spot on my stage, but I wasn’t *that* desperate for a live band.

Instead, I planned a picnic, provided plenty of toys, created a playlist of awesome music and rocked up with a “let’s see what happens” attitude that can only be associated with a parent planning toddler-based activities. I’d also managed to get my hands on a free Big Little Tent Festival pack before the event, meaning that I could festivalise – if that’s even a word – the garden with stuff like bunting, flags and wristbands. You can get your free festival pack here, which also automatically enters you into an awesome competition to win a European camping holiday at Campsite Port’Land in France.

Toddler L’s morning nap gave me the perfect opportunity to set up the garden ready for her awakening. To clarify, I mean waking up – I wasn’t planning some kind of spiritual enlightenment with me in the role of pastor. We had our garden landscaped earlier in the year, so we decided to replace a large proportion of grass with decking. As such, we don’t have the space to pitch a proper tent, but there was plenty of room for a deckchair, picnic blanket and pop-up travel tent.

As the sprog usually wakes up pretty hangry (angry due to hunger) the first proper part of our Big Little Tent Festival was to prepare some grub. I’d considered a BBQ, but that felt like a bit too much hassle for one and a half people. Instead, with the sun shining and a variety of picnic snacks at the ready, we sat out on the rug and enjoyed a bit of alfresco dining.

If I closed my eyes and concentrated really, really hard, I could have almost imagined I was eating a ham wrap overlooking Lake Tahoe – well, if it wasn’t for my next door neighbour noisily mowing his lawn as he whistled an out of tune song. 

After finishing our food, we spent the rest of the afternoon playing, listening to music and basically doing what we do indoors, but outdoors. It’s funny how a different location – even if that location is six foot away – can change how you view things. I’m guilty of having the TV on most of the time when we’re in the house and focusing too much on my laptop, so it was good to lose these distractions and put 100% of my attention towards Toddler L.



As the day wore on, I began to uncover the hidden benefits of having your own festival in the garden compared to going to a ‘proper one’. I could grab stuff from inside the house when needed, I didn’t have to deal with crowds, my view wasn’t blocked by someone on their partner’s shoulders and the toilet remained in a hygienic state. The only thing that was similar was the dog’s insistence that he crowd surfed whenever any heavy song came on.

Due to Toddler L’s late afternoon nap, our Big Little Tent Festival came to an end at 4pm. I tried to perform an encore to keep it going, but the sprog chose her bed instead. It was probably for the best though as we’d already received three police visits for noise disturbance. Only kidding, it was actually because Toddler L was drunk and disorderly.

So that was our Big Little Tent Festival. We’d laughed, we’d cried, we’d danced, we’d sung and we’d tantrummed. It had been a fun afternoon hanging out in the garden and doing something different to normal. As The Big Little Tent Festival continues throughout the rest of the summer holidays until 19th September, I’d recommend that you give it a go too – just keep your hands off my festival names which are currently being trademarked!

N.B. This is a collaborative post written with The Caravan Club in my role as Official Festival Family for The Big Little Tent Festival 2016.