Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
If you want a low key, music packed weekend suitable for all of the family The Ultimate Tribute Festival is for you.
The festival is held at Colebrook Park, Honnington Estate, just outside of Tunbridge Wells, Kent. We live around 35 minutes from the venue so drove straight from work with our 5-year-old son. We were slightly worried about large queues to get in but the majority of people seemed to have gone much earlier than us so traffic was at a minimum. Parking was well signposted off the A21 and after a bumpy ride through 3 fields we were parked up immediately by helpful attendants.
The ticket office was situated in the parking field and we very quickly picked up our entry wristbands. We then went through two security checks, one prior to the camping area and one after. The parking is right next to the campsite and you are allowed to take most things in, bedding and food etc but no glass bottles or cans, drinks are allowed but must be in plastic. You can take small amounts of alcohol in to the camp site, decanted into plastic bottles. From there it was only a few minutes’ walk to the last bag check prior to entering the festival field. No alcohol is allowed here and the plastic bottle only rule still applies. You can take in snacks and soft drinks with no restrictions.
We arrived around 7pm when a lot of the campers and families with younger children had already arrived. The ground opens at 3.30pm so we had missed a few bands but there was still plenty of space and straw bales to sit on.
The venue is fairly compact only taking up one very large field and didn’t take too long to walk round. This was perfect for families as you could easily keep an eye on your children.
Around the edge of the field were the trade stands including dress up clothes such as hats and wigs and stalls doing face painting. All round one side there were food stalls with every type of food imaginable from burgers to pizzas to vegetarian tacos, you certainly wouldn’t go hungry. There were also a few small fairground rides such as bumper cars & a large inflatable slide for the younger ones.
Several large marquees fill the perimeter of the area, the main stage is in the style of a big top and is spacious enough both for watching and dancing as is the slightly smaller 2nd stage. Both had a chalk board outside with the evening’s performers on and the times and also a typed copy of the events for the whole weekend. This was a great idea as you could easily plan what you wanted to watch and when. There was also a smaller VIP area and a large beer tent, big enough to cater for the thirstiest of event goers!
Being so easier to get in to the event made a huge impact to the relaxation of the weekend and instead of arriving stressed from queuing we grabbed a straw bale, threw down our picnic blanket and started enjoying the music. With such an eclectic mix of bands over the weekend you couldn’t help but find something to your taste. From ABBA to ACDC, Pink Floyd to Neil Diamond there was something for everyone. We found it to be one of the most enjoyable festivals we had been to. It felt very safe, there was loads of space for everyone and the food and drinks prices were really reasonable. Later in the evening when we were getting cold we had Souvlaki and hot drinks and for £5.00 and £1.50 respectively felt this was competitively priced compared to other events.
The camping area was really close to the main festival area so it was a quick 2 minute walk if you wanted an extra jumper etc. It was really secure too with Heras fencing all round and security guards on the gate. If you were camping you got a 2nd camping wristband so that the guards knew you could bring alcohol into the camp site for instance but not into the main venue, a very well thought out idea.
We had a fantastic weekend at The Ultimate Tribute Festival and I would recommend it for any age group. It had an amazing atmosphere, probably helped by England winning their football match which was free to watch at the venue. My son spent the whole of Monday telling his school friends how he met Britney Spears and how he can’t wait until next year to go back to this brilliant festival.
For more information visit www.theultimatetributefest.co.uk.
The Ultimate Tribute Festival, Colebrook Park, Honnington Estate, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 3UP