All Together Now Festival, Curraghmore House, Waterford, Ireland
We’re always up at the crack of dawn, Patrick and I. Not because we’re morning people, far from it. But because we’ve got two little roosters who love to greet each morning with shouts of laughter, sometimes tears, the odd cock-a-doodle-doo but mostly with loving looks of ‘wake up sleepy head, it’s a new day, and we’ve got lots of energy after our eleven hours of sleep and we plan on using it, right now’. We wouldn’t have it any other way. But if truth be told, an extra hour in bed every now and then would be welcome. Last Sunday was no different, but there was an added pep in us parent’s steps when wakey up time came – I think we actually bounced out of bed – because we were heading out for the day to the brand spanking new festival All Together Now and we planned on making new family memories in the forecasted sunshine.
When travelling with toddlers to any event or for any reason, it’s wise to be prepared – and we were. Our ‘baby bag’ was packed with all the necessities for the day including sunscreen, hats, water, changes of clothes, back up food for Cassidy (15 months old) in case we didn’t find suitable food out and about – in our case cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off, an avocado and a banana. Smith who is three years old, will thankfully eat most of the foods we eat, so there’s less of a fret of starvation, and parent guilt.
All Together Now took place in Curraghmore House in Co. Waterford – a stunning estate owned by Lord and Lady Waterford. The first festival of its kind to be held on the 800 year old grounds. (Oh here are some fun facts – Lord Waterford is the 9th Marquis of Waterford, but the third Marquis of Waterford originated the phrase “painting the town red” after a night out in the early 1830’s – so I do believe he would definitely have approved of the festival. Plus there’s more to the beautiful Deer Head art installations, there’s history too, because according to legend, a St. Hubertus Stag saved the house from being burnt to the ground in the troublesome 1920’s and the stag is part of the family crest)
Celebrated over the Bank Holiday weekend of Friday August 3rd to Sunday August 5th, the beautiful James Wyatt designed House, Gardens and Lake of Curraghmore with its sprawling gardens, courtyards, shell house, tiered lawns and tree-lined pathways was transformed from it’s already magical ambience into a music and cultural wonderland for both the young (under 12’s) and the old (over the 21’s).
Divided into six main areas and sixteen stages: the Music area that included Arcadia Spectacular and featured some of the best Irish and International acts around, the All Curious Minds area that featured poets, performers, artists and artisans, the Theatre & Comedy area that featured the biggest and funniest comedians alive in Ireland, the Lawns of Tranquility that featured everything wellbeing from treatments to mindfulness workshops, the Food & Feast area that featured everything for food lovers from food stalls to talks and classes.
And last but not least the Kids Together area – especially for the little ones that featured everything from the Disco Shed to giant bubbles. And in our day excursion on the Sunday of the festival – we got the chance to dip our toes into each area.
It’s hard to put into words the highlights of the festival for me, but essentially it was the best family festival experience we’ve had to date. The feel of the festival from the friendliness of the stewards who directed us on where to park our car, to the those at the gates checking our tickets. The lady who carefully and gently wrapped a security band around Cassady’s ankle and Smiths wrist. The friendliness of the staff at the coffee stops and food trucks along our way. The kindness at the staff at Déisí Food Café, when all our littlest one wanted was a buttered blaa and some plain chicken – not a problem. The folks at the Hot Press tent who gave the best advice on who to go see, musically, and applied glitter to my brows. The staff happy to give directions, the fellow festival goers who smiled, laughed and were happy in the moment of a very special festival experience. The musicians, the artists, the authors, the DJ’s, the fellow parents and guardians who were making it all about their little ones. The toilets that worked, the weather that just kept getting better as the day went on, the campsite that looked so good we just wanted to check in there and then, the stewards who waved good-bye wishing us a safe journey home and the sunset that greeted us as we did so, with two sleeping beauties cosy on the back seats.
Congratulations All Together Now – you were the perfect family and kid friendly festival – we’re planning on returning next year, but not just for a day. Hmmm … and with a line-up like this years – I wonder who’s free to babysit next August Bank Holiday … wink wink.
*Thanks to All Together Now for giving me and my clan the opportunity to experience the festival with a complimentary pass. Of course it goes without saying – all my words are my own.
For more photographs from our day – have a watch of this video …