28-30 August 2015
Reviewed by Victoria Moore
As any radio 2 listener will attest, it’s hard to not get excited about Carfest in the weeks running up to both events, the anticipation of the festival builds as you hear the auction winners set off in the supercars for their journey across the countryside.
CarFest South is hosted at Laverstoke Park in Hampshire. The farm and park are owned by racing champion Jody Sheckter who takes to the track in his F1 car and his farm site staff cook up a storm in burgers on BBQ grills which waft occasionally over and make you suddenly realise you’re hungry. They certainly deliver too as they taste as good as they smell.
The road signage is good with directions from the motorways and you’re stewarded all the way in. As you work your way into the event you are met by the aroma of supercar power and the revving of engines mingled with vintage fairground rides. A point that may be missed by most but was a great indication of the high level of guest experience to come was the fact that they’d placed toilets by both the parking area and event entrance, great if you’re travelling with little ones or when you’ve travelled a long way and it’s worth noting that they stayed clean all day.
The festival is organised by a big team of fantastic event professionals fronted by Radio star Chris Evans. It is very apparent that a lot of thought has gone in to ensuring this festival is family friendly. There was so much going on, it’s like a big boys dream play area around all the car stands and in the Motorsport area where the owners are happy to talk and share the wisdom about their vehicles.
From Fiats to F1 cars, you can see them all and smell the tyres smoke as they take to the track which runs through the middle of the event. The Hot Rods were my favourite closely followed by the Sofa and Orange cars, it’s quirky, awesome and a must visit show for all petrol heads.
There’s a real mix of activities for little ones through to teenagers with Megaland hosting a range of farm machinery and diggers that could be tried out for free by kids, and bread and icecream making sessions, not forgetting the big kids, there’s an ‘up to 17 years old’ driving experience ran by Mercedes in a range of their new cars, and lots of adult driving experiences and passenger laps that can be bought, or celebrity and one off laps bid on, or if you take your cheque book you can raise a paddle at the car auction all raising money for Children in Need.
For the foodie lovers there’s a vast array of eateries, so if there for the 3 days you need never eat at the same twice, even if not dining around the camp stove. We picked a Thai curry, Buffalo Burger and beef & bean Burrito and devoured every mouthful. The food stands are varied and high quality with something for every taste and diet. Like at food and country shows there’s also a range of stalls and stands tempting campers and day visitors with brownies, pastries, cheeses, fudge, alcoholic beverages and juices.
Working our way around the festival we journeyed past the car auction straight into the 40’s. Reenactment costumed owners proudly showcased their cars and you could stop for a cream tea at the hessian sacked tables, or continue on into the fabulously retro vintage area with clothes, gifts, homeware and music.
The festival is attended by a real mix of people, those suited and (welly) booted, through vintage glamour to shorts and t-shirts pushing a double buggy. We visited on the Sunday and I was surprised at how clean and tidy it all was, bearing in mind that there had been thousands of people enjoying the festival for 2 days already. The paths although muddy had been diligently covered with bark chippings to make them walkable, pushchair-able and motor scooter- able which is a big plus that can’t be boasted by many festivals.
If you’re lucky with the weather you can have a jam packed day before getting your dancing wellies on and bop the night away to bands such as the Shires, Eddie & the Robbers, Level 42 and Take That. This isn’t like a normal music festival where there’s a big squish near the front. CarFest-ers bring their foldable chairs and pitch up for a few hours good entertainment, there’s space to dance and you can get to the front at the sides of the stage quite easily if wished, but there are big video screens all around which show the motoring interviews throughout the day then the acts at night and the sound quality is great so you don’t need to be near the front to experience it all.
CarFest is a fantastic family event as there is something for everyone. I went for the music and food and my other half went for the cars and neither of us left disappointed as it offers a wide range of things to see, do, experience and devour. It’s worth waiting by the phone to book the early bird tickets for next year’s festival. See you there hopefully!
For more information visit and updates visit www.carfest.org.