An Arts Festival for Kids In Kent
One of the challenges of home educating is that instead of finding things to do as a family each weekend, you have to find things to do every day. That can get old fast, so we are always happy when we hear about new and educational events to visit.
We were very excited back in the Summer to get tickets to the BOiNG weekend family arts festival in Canterbury. We don’t usually do ‘early’ in our family (or even ‘on time’) but we made a concerted effort to haul ass for this, which meant we arrived for the opening of the awesome event. We are always so so happy when something is put on especially for kids; BOiNG provides opportunities for little ones to get involved in all kinds of art, from sand sculptures to abstract theatre, and the organisers really went all out in their efforts.
It was hosted by Kent University and the grounds were filled with mini deck chairs, sandpits and giant beanbags under shady trees- I really appreciated this as it’s often awkward to find somewhere comfy to sit with so many spawn. The girls immediately kicked off their shoes and started exploring, crawling in and out of the mini tents and full sized cardboard wendy houses that had been created especially for the day.
There were performances going on all around us from minute we got there; it was the ideal action-packed family day out. We saw beatboxing, stuntmen, silent circus clowns (for your nightmares) and gymnastics to name just a few. Everything within the grounds was free; there were some bookable events that we had kindly been given tickets for, so I left LTF Dad watching a gymnast (“What? What? She’s good!”) and took the two older girls to see a pretty cool show. ‘The Magic Garden’ featured an interactive light floor, some enchanted ivy and two pixie-like protagonists who may or may not have fancied each other. It was a in a dark theatre which kind of freaked the three year old out, so I was pleased to learn that the next show we had scheduled was also in a pitch black room. Major lols. This was an abstract performance of ‘The Princess and The Pea’, and I had been looking forward to a nostalgic show of one of the world’s best fairytales.
I”m pretty sure that somewhere along the line, something got slipped into my Diet Coke, because this was hands down the trippiest experience of my life. This show was one of those awkward things where as a parent you’re actually dying but you have to act all cool in front of the kids, and moreover make out like this is all good middle-class art-exposure fun (but the Princess is actually a robot and comes right up in your face doing weird stuff during the performance, and the actors pace the perimeter of the stage repeating lines over and over again and everything is great and ERMAHGERD would someone pass the gin and a straw). Funnily enough the kids loved it, the little weirdos, and it was only the adults who were left rocking quietly in a corner.
I was relieved to go back out into the bright sunshine, where LTF Dad happily informed me that he’d managed to catch the gymnast’s second performance, the lucky thing, and had found a luminarium for us to explore. A luminarium is a huge domed structure made from multicoloured vinyl, which is super thin so the sunlight shines through in different hues. It was great fun to explore and despite our best efforts, we didn’t lose even one of our offspring, for which we awarded ourselves five Parent Points.
It wouldn’t have been a fun family day out without some sweet treats so we grabbed some cupcakes from the cafe; this was decorated really elaborately in an Alice In Wonderland theme with carrot bunting and rabbit-ear chairs (maybe this explained the freaky show vibes). Every aspect of the festival was so well thought out and kid-focused; we barely finished the cupcakes before an exuberant team member handed us headphones for a silent disco. This was probably the kids’ favourite bit of the day and I’ve had several requests for wireless headphones since we got home; it would actually be a pretty good way of getting some peace and quiet every now and again!
After a fun time boogeying it was LTF Dad’s turn to get jealous as we paid a visit to the local firemen (“did he just wink at you?”), who were being adorable and helping children climb all over their fire engine. A lot of local businesses and organisations had got involved and as well as the firemen there were craft stalls selling lovely handmade jewellery, soap and other bits- I’m not into shopping but it would be a great place to pick up cool and unique gifts.
By mid afternoon we were shattered and still had some fun bits planned in central Canterbury, so we waved goodbye to the festival and headed off. Anyone who wants a fun day out with kids should definitely check out BOiNG next Summer; we will most definitely be going back and will probably get a hotel so we can stay for the whole weekend!
I was invited to BOiNG festival by Visit Kent; my opinion is not paid or swayed in any way. It was much better than I had expected and I would recommend it as one of the best family days out I have ever experienced!
Travel journalists, home educating our lovely brood of 3 girls. Planning a year-long RTW trip late Summer 2017.