All the fun of the festival
A three-day event is great for kids, writes Helen O’Callaghan
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.