18/08/2012 19:36 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Lollibop In Regent's Park: A Great Day Out In Theory

Did my son and I enjoy Lollibop? Well, to be honest, not that much. But it was entirely my own fault. And I still think it's a brilliant day out in theory.

The festival for children is now in its third year and occupies a vast space in London's Regent's Park London this weekend.

It's much like a festival for adults, only for under-12s. There are blaring, pounding beats you can't hear yourself think over, portaloos, food vans and stalls selling things, people walking around in crazy costumes, plus a variety of stages and chill-out tents.

Of course, it's child-friendly. There are buggy parks and 'boobs and botty' tents for breastfeeding and changing. And instead of pop stars on the stage, it's the ZingZillas.

The ZingZillas

Children of all ages were thoroughly enjoying themselves - there's an overwhelming amount to see and do, from watching their favourite kids' TV characters perform to exploring the Science Museum tent to chilling out in a small field of hammocks.

"So why did we have a bit of a nightmare? "


The first mistake I made was forgetting that I wouldn't like to go to an adult music festival, and that fundamentally this would be the same. I used to love Reading and Glastonbury when I was young, but now I'm in an exhausted mother in my 30s I'm like an old woman, and find too-loud amplifiers and hordes of people way too much, especially after nights of interrupted sleep.

The second mistake was not realising that while probably the majority of children will love Lollibop, it's not for every child all of the time. I should have kept in mind that my 18-month-old son likes peaceful activities best - he's no more into crowded, frenetic, noisy places than I am.


And if your child isn't in a party mood, Lollibop quickly becomes hell on earth.


Our experience went a bit like this: son did a poo on arrival and didn't take kindly to being changed in a sweaty changing tent.

Back outside with our friends, we found a great bubble tent where our toddlers could play with all sizes of bubble - the only thing was, the music from a nearby stage was so deafening that my son just became overwhelmed and cried.

Then I realised he might be teething but I hadn't thought to bring any Calpol with me - we were deep within a festival, an hour's walk from a chemist, and I could have kicked myself.

Son refused to go in his pushchair so I carried him for what felt like half a mile around the festival looking for somewhere peaceful (I had no map). By this time the children needed some refreshments.

There followed a delightful half hour where a nice lady gave me her last sachet of Calpol and we discovered a quieter, calmer section for smaller children. Our boys chewed apples and had great fun in the soft play area and at a brilliant sing and sign class. It turned out we didn't need the Calpol after all.

But soon our belongings were scattered around the field, my son was covered in banana and he was screaming because the amps were being moved right up next to us and it was all just too loud and too much for him.

Both of us sweaty and shattered, we knew it was time to cut our losses and leave (our friends had already wisely made their escape while the going was good). On the way out we were briefly diverted by some some fake gorillas, but when one of the gorillas grabbed our pushchair my son got scared and started to wail again.

Our relief at leaving the sun-baked, packed festival for the peaceful shady park surrounding it was immense. My over-stimulated son conked out within 10 minutes.

My friend's son, the same age, had a lovely time though for the most part - as did most of the children there.


It's an amazing day out - just as long as you're all in the mood for it.


Did you go? What did you think?

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