All the fun of the fes­ti­val

A three-day event is great for kids, writes He­len O’Cal­laghan

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Family -

WHAT chil­dren want more than any­thing is un­in­ter­rupted time with fam­ily — so says art teacher San­dra Ped­er­sen, who man­ages Soul Kids at Body&Soul, a fam­i­lyfriendly fes­ti­val that cel­e­brates cre­ativ­ity, mu­sic, play and na­ture.

The three-day event later this month at Ballinlough Cas­tle, Co West­meath, is billed as an oa­sis where chil­dren aged up to 12 years can be free without sched­ules or rou­tines. A stand­alone fes­ti­val run by an en­tirely fe­male team, Body&Soul has sold out over the past eight years and won nu­mer­ous awards: Best Small Fes­ti­val 2011, Best New Fes­ti­val and the So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity Award in the Ir­ish Fes­ti­val Awards, as well at the Greener Fes­ti­vals Award in 2016 for com­mit­ment to im­prov­ing as a sus­tain­able fes­ti­val.

“Par­ents need to un­der­stand they’ll have a dif­fer­ent kind of fes­ti­val when they go with their kids. Body&Soul is about sub­merg­ing your­self in the cul­ture of it all,” says San­dra, who em­pha­sises the fes­ti­val’s strong sus­tain­abil­ity and na­ture themes — ECO-Unesco runs na­ture trails in the woods, teach­ing kids about the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and bio­di­ver­sity. Chil­dren have fun ex­plor­ing — they go on bug hunts and do tree iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, which in­volves be­ing blind­folded and ‘meet­ing’ a tree, ie, be­ing in­tro­duced to it by name and hug­ging it.

“Cre­ative work­shops amidst the hid­den wood­land path­ways and leafy forests of Ballinlough are part of what fam­i­lies can ex­pect. “We do ev­ery­thing from dance to weav­ing to wil­low-mak­ing to face­paint­ing. Chil­dren can make gi­ant pom-poms and do mu­sic work­shops with in­stru­ments. There’ll be hip hop as Gaeilge.”

This year, the ded­i­cated fam­ily camp­site re­turns, as well as an early open­ing Soul Kids Tent to help lit­tle ones wake up with yoga and art work­shops. This sanc­tu­ary for sleepy small­ies also in­cludes space for fam­ily camper­vans. Wind-down ac­tiv­i­ties take place in the even­ing: sto­ry­telling, yoga and hot wa­ter-bot­tle filling. There are ded­i­cated fam­ily toi­lets, baby chang­ing ar­eas, se­cu­rity and a fam­ily HQ info point, along­side hot show­ers and traders.

“Soul Kids is an op­por­tu­nity to hang out at a fes­ti­val as a fam­ily. Kids just love camp­ing and get­ting at one with na­ture – so many chil­dren are on screens to­day. Soul Kids re­moves them from that,” says mum-of-one San­dra, whose daugh­ter An­nie, eight next week, “finds pack­ing and camp­ing so ex­cit­ing be­fore she even steps in­side a work­shop”.

Soul Kids at Body&Soul, June 22-24. For de­tails see: bodyand­soul.ie/info

FAM­ILY FRIENDLY: Body&Soul will let chil­dren learn about na­ture and give them a chance to in­dulge in their cre­ativ­ity.

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