The Jubilee Weekend Day 1 – Sainsbury’s Jubilee Family Festival

Back in April we was very lucky to be one of the families drawn from the Sainsbury’s ballot to attend their Jubilee Festival in Hyde Park for free. 

As the day approached we planned our day out in detail.  We studied the program of events and timings,  chose our route into London and picked up some picnic items to keep our energy levels up.

We left home at 8.15am, filled the car up with petrol and set off.  As we got to the M27 we noticed the sheer volume of traffic already queueing to get to Bournemouth and were quite relieved to be going the opposite way.  We were very lucky to have a completely clear run and got to Richmond in good time.  We parked up the car close to Richmond Station and went off in search of the tube.

Thankfully I have a Family and Friends railcard which reduced the price of the train tickets, but I was still a little surprised to be paying £13.20 for two adults and one child (the little ones were free).  We then encountered our first problem – no lift!  So with two little ones, a picnic, a changing bag and rain covers we struggled down a flight of stairs to get on the tube.

We had to make one change to get to Hyde Park corner, and guess what – no lift.  How on earth to Londoners with buggy’s get round the tube – it was a nightmare!!  Thankfully hubby was more confident than I in navigating the escalators with the buggy – I was in charge of Isaac which was a feat in itself.

Once at Hyde Park corner we followed the throng of people and came face to face with the first huge queue of the day.

Now, I am British – we do queues!  But there were no Marshall’s, no signage, nothing.  We stood around for a long time not moving (it turns out that they were late opening the gates – 10.45 instead of 10.30).  As we finally approached the front it then turned out that there were several gates and so we filtered to one of the quieter ones.

As we got to the front, we were accosted by a burly security guard who seemed to take great delight rummaging through all our bags to check we weren’t taking in anything we shouldn’t.  He seemed most disappointed by the plethora of nappies, baby wipes, clothing changes etc, and finally let us in!  We handed over our ticket, picked up our maps / activity packs and we were in!

Our first point of call was a comfort break.  The toilets were well signposted and they also advertised a baby changing area too.  As usual the boys walked straight in to their toilets, but at the ladies there was a queue.  Us ladies were obviously not trusted to queue nicely as there was some young (male) upstart marshaling us into the cubicles as they became free.  He wasn’t quiet about it either.  The toilets themselves however, were clean and had toilet paper – always a bonus!

We got our bearings and soon spotted the family tent.  It was nearing midday and Isaac’s main request of the day was to watch Mike The Knight.  As we approached the tent, we were greeted by some lovely cheery Butlins staff who were sponsoring the tent.  We were given a brochure and warned that the tent was extremely busy and that Mike the Knight would be on again later in the day if we wanted to come back then. 

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival

She wasn’t wrong.  Fireman Sam was currently performing and the tent was full to bursting.  As the Fireman Sam performance finished, a few parents left, so we decided I was going in with Isaac whilst hubby stayed outside with Kian and Eliza.  To say it was a battle getting in was an understatement.  It was dark, they had allowed buggy’s in, which to be fair, they had realised was a mistake so they were asking people to take them back outside.  However, Isaac and I made it to one of the sides at the front and after a bit of encouragement from Mum, sat in front of me, as a security guard refused to move back a little to we could see.  The Butlins red coats were keeping the children entertained in between the shows with a game of Fireman Sam Says (Simon Says).  Sadly they didn’t come our way, so we didn’t get the chance to win a prize, but Isaac was enthusiastically joining in.

It was then time to begin, cue the Mike The Knight Theme tune………………………………………..

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family FestivalSainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival

The show itself was brilliant, Mike the Knight needed help to perform in front of the Queen and was enthusiastically assisted by a Butlins Red Coat.  I am not sure how long the show lasted, about 15 minutes I think, but Isaac sat transfixed all the way through!

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival

Once the show had finished, we managed to get out fairly easily.  As we emerged into the daylight we were glad we had got into that show as people were now queueing to get in!  We found hubby had secured a picnic table and so sat down for some lunch, whilst listening to Bob the Builders adventure unfold within the tent!

After lunch, we decided to have a wander.  I wanted to do the Disney tent, but the queue was huge so we decided to come back later in the day.  The kids were fascinated by some of the decorations and characters we saw though:

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival
Ever get the feeling you’re being watched?
Sainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival
Stilt walkers

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family FestivalSainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival
The next part of the day consisted of Kian excitedly collecting stamps on his map, as once you had collected 15 you got a Sainsburys Jubilee Festival bag.  Surrounding the site were various brands touting their wares.  Some offered free samples, others competitions, exhibits and games.  If I am honest it felt like a huge marketing event and we had to queue for each and every one.  Some were fun – Jammie Dodgers had free mini biscuits, monkey masks and a wet sponge throwing competition, Crusha you could make and decorate your own milkshake and Kelloggs we decorated Rice Krispie cakes, but a lot of standing around waiting was involved.
Sainsbury's Jubilee Family FestivalSainsbury's Jubilee Family FestivalSainsbury's Jubilee Family FestivalSainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival
The Main Stage opened at 13.30 and was hosted by Jon Culshaw and Myleene Klass.  There was a bit of chat and banter and then Lissa Hermans started off the entertainment with the National Anthem.  It did bring a swell of patriotic pride to my heart and I was impressed by the amount of people who got on their feet.  Youth Music voices quickly followed and we were all singing along with some pop favourites.
If you didn’t like what was going on on the Main Stage, there was also the Commonwealth Stage, the Parade Ground and Alfresco Dance.  Something for everyone!
Sainsbury's Jubilee Family FestivalSainsbury's Jubilee Family FestivalSainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival

Around 2 o’clock the sun finally decided to show it’s face, which did improve the atmosphere as it had been quite chilly up until then.  We had seen some Army vehicles at the Parade ground a little earlier, but something seemed to be attracting quite a large crowd. 

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family FestivalSainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival

The light Cavalry were demonstrating using swords on horses, picking up flags using poles etc.  The crowd whooped with delight when every skillful challenge was met.

We then decided to try and brave the Disney tent again.  The queue didn’t seem quite so large this time, so we joined it and waited, and waited, and waited.  It then dawned on us that one of the doors was closed and no-one was actually going in.  Frustrated by the lack of communication a few people in front of us went to find out what was going on.  It turns out that they closed early because Disney were doing the finale show.  We walked away in disgust, no communication – nothing and behind us was a huge queue still waiting patiently!

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival
My Boomerin was essential today

We decided at this point to have another comfort break and then sit down and find our spot for the Warhorse and Disney shows.  I headed back towards the baby changing sign and once again queued patiently.  Military man was still there and when I asked where the changing facility was I was told it was in the disabled portaloo!  At this point I decided to find a quiet spot and change Eliza under a tree as it was cleaner.

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival
and so were the reins!

We found a great spot on the grass near the Main Stage and sat down to relax and wait for Warhorse and Disney.

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival
Playing with sunglasses

Warhorse was the highlight of the show for me.  I cannot believe how realistic these puppets were and I would love to go and see this in the West End.  The horses moved and sounded just like the real thing.  They galloped, cantered and trotted around the arena before stopping and moving around the picket fence so people could see them up close and even touch one.  I touched the black one on the nose and it shook and whinnied just like a real horse!

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family FestivalSainsbury's Jubilee Family FestivalSainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival
Once Warhorse finished we sat back down in the positions we had secured earlier, and soon became frustrated by people who realised something was about to begin and just stop in their tracks right in front of us and therefore obscuring our view.
Sainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival

We watched as an orchestra filed on stage and then began to play some of our much loved Disney songs.  On the big screens either side were clips from the films.  I was really disappointed!  I was expecting a real proper Disney extravaganza with dancing characters full of colour and fun.  We stayed a further 10 minutes and then chose to leave as it wasn’t what we were expecting, and by doing so managed to avoid the likely stampede to the nearest Tube Station.

All in all, we did enjoy the day in parts but if I had paid for my tickets as many people had I would have been sorely disappointed.  As a marketing event I am sure Sainsburys and the brands there have done very well, but as a festival it was poorly organised and even chaotic at times.

The children’s shows should have been on a stage, rather than a tent, giving everyone the opportunity to see them, as most of the families we saw were there with young children.  Those that managed to get in, but at the back were told to take their children off their shoulders due to Health and Safety, but in doing so the children couldn’t then see the show!

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival

The event was well staffed, I saw people constantly emptying bins etc, so there were no problems with wasps and other insects.  Alcohol was available in the shape of Heineken and Pimms, but no-one was out of control or visibly inebriated.

Sainsbury's Jubilee Family Festival

I hope that lessons were learnt from Saturday’s show and Sunday’s was better organised.

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