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Last ever Shindig Festival

Shindig Festival - 23rd - 26th May 2024

Bristol 24/7 review 2022

‘A VIBRANT, SUN-DRENCHED AND ARTFULLY SOUNDTRACKED WEEKEND’

Those that know, will know: festival-going with the family in tow can be a tricky thing to navigate.

Will the grown ups get to see any music? Will the little ones be prized away from the craft tent without a meltdown or a bribe? Why didn’t I think of bringing a babysitter?

Well, happily, Shindig has got your back. It’s a beautiful, boutique jewel of a festival that really does have something to offer, whatever your age, energy level or musical predilection.

Those that know, will know: festival-going with the family in tow can be a tricky thing to navigate.

Will the grown ups get to see any music? Will the little ones be prized away from the craft tent without a meltdown or a bribe? Why didn’t I think of bringing a babysitter?

Well, happily, Shindig has got your back. It’s a beautiful, boutique jewel of a festival that really does have something to offer, whatever your age, energy level or musical predilection.

Arriving on a stunning, sun-drenched Saturday morning, we make our way straight up the hill to the disco set at Father Funk’s Church of Love, beset by dancing revellers and giant bubbles, which sets the tone for the rest of the weekend.

And then, an exploration of the site. Shindig is newly located for 2022 at the Dillington Estate, Somerset, which is convenient for all Bristol festival-goers, at just an hour’s drive.

It’s a gorgeous setting, too. While large enough to contain multiple areas, it’s very easy to dot around between them, neatly avoiding the ‘festival trudge’ that characterises so many comparably larger events.

Shindig 2022 – photo: Connor Baker

Shindig is scattered with mature trees that provide ample shade, as well as splendour, to the site, and enhance the relaxed vibe that is suffused throughout the festival.

The theme of this year’s event is Mardi Gras, and the site also appears to have got the memo – it is fun, vibrant and shimmering, littered with sculpture (some, not all of it ‘playable’, despite what my kids would have me believe).

We bop to hip hop karaoke at The Dig Inn, run around madly at the Situation DJs - and their obligatory smoke machine – in the Shimmy Discotheque, and my children have the time of their young lives listening to the brilliant father and son Slim & Jay Goodgroove bringing all the summer vibes at the Tutti Frutti beach bar.

Shindig 2022 – photo: Dan Cadell

It’s refreshing at a festival where you don’t necessarily recognise the names in advance, to go where the mood and the music takes you.

Bands are largely just the preserve of the Band Stand, but there’s no complaint from me about that; this really is a party festival – albeit a laid back one, with plenty of space to take it all in if you’re not one to be found dancing by the DJ booth.

Shindig is well-served by food and market stalls; and fast-moving queues for refreshments are the ideal time for marvelling at and congratulating fellow patrons on their variously sequinned, jewelled, and fringed ensembles.

Shindig 2022 – photo: Connor Baker

Crucially for my own party, the Kids Kingdom is also crammed with excitement, from the improv and circus games with the Flying Seagull Project to Aardman model-making workshops; the Kings of Ping, a slightly chaotic mele of variously sized children throwing themselves around inflatables, and the inspired Feminist Mouse Circus.

Across the weekend, as the long afternoons are overtaken by lengthening shadows, it’s hard not to sense the air, pregnant with expectation for those big Shindig nights.

My only regret is not being able to stick around long enough to enjoy them; next time, I’ll follow my own advice to all festival parents, and always bring back up.

By SARSKI ANDERSON