Reviewed by Jenny Bennett
I’ve been going to festivals and live music events for nearly 20 years now but having started a family in 2012 the flexibility and ease of getting to them hasn’t been so easy. When What’s Good To Do offered me the opportunity to go and review Victorious Festival in Southsea I agreed before you could say ‘babysitter’ and avidly set about researching the line-up and facilities.
Victorious is a relatively new festival now in its 4th year based on Southsea Common in Portsmouth that runs over the bank holiday in August each year. It’s a non-camping festival which offers excellent value for money with day tickets starting at just £21.60 (including booking fee) for an adult, £7.56 for 5-15 year olds and £1.08 for children under the age of 5 years old.
Your ticket includes entry to the festival but also entry to the D-Day Museum, Skate Park and the Blue Reef Aquarium so it really is a day or weekend out for the whole family. Victorious don’t offer weekend tickets at the moment so you’ll need to get a ticket for each day you want to attend and you can also upgrade to a VIP Package for an extra £50 per ticket giving you a dedicated site entrance, posh toilets, a raised and covered viewing area for the Common Stage and a dedicated bar which I’ll save you quite a lot of queuing time!
We caught the train down and walked from Fratton although in hindsight it would have been much better to get the train to Portsmouth and Southsea as that’s a closer station. You can get a taxi to site but its walking distance and there are also plenty of buses as well as cycle parks at the site itself and cycle lanes on the road in the city. If you prefer you can drive and pre-book parking but they do try to encourage people to use public transport or cycle as much as possible to keep the weight of traffic down through the city and reduce the environmental impact.
The festival is broken down to 9 different stages across the common as well as shops, boutiques, bars and a huge variety of food options. The drinks are pricey but no more than I’d expect at a festival – around £5 for a pint or a glass of wine, £8.50 for a Bacardi and mixer or between £2.00 to £2.50 for a bottle of water or soft drink. If you are so inclined you could also splash out on cocktails, Pimms or Champagne that start from £6.50 for a cocktail or £99 for a bottle of Laurent Perrier Rose if you fancy a real treat – it’ll still be served in a plastic cup though as no glass is allowed on site.
You’ll not go hungry either with a choice of food outlets to meet almost every taste scattered all over the common. Victorious don’t allow large picnics or alcohol to be brought in but you can bring in small amount of snacks and factory sealed bottles of soft drinks which is useful for those of you with little ones.
We were impressed by many things at Victorious – the fact it’s incredibly well laid out, the sound quality is spectacular (something not always managed at outside gigs) and for a site that can hold 80,000 it never felt over crowded or like they were trying to cram in as many people as they possibly could. It was easy to walk around, easy to find a bit of floor to sit on if all the provided seating was full and easy to see and hear the acts we were watching – even if you are slightly height challenged like I am!
As we walked around we came across the kid’s arena which was something we were particularly interested in. Some places say they are child friendly but in reality they aren’t so we hadn’t brought our daughter with us – when we return next year though we may well do. This special corner of the common is full of family friendly activities including Battle Front Laser Quest, a climbing wall, an area to meet Mr Bloom or the Octonaughts, face painting, craft making, paint stencilling and much more. It’s not fitted in as an afterthought either – you get the impression they have designed this festival with a family’s needs in mind right from the start of planning. You’ll find an abundance of toilets, well-marked baby changing facilities and breast feeding areas. I’d be very happy to return to Victorious with our daughter next year knowing it’s a safe and welcoming environment for families and children.
One thing that helped us throughout the day was the app we’d downloaded before arriving. It gives great value for money at only 79p. It lets you see who is on now and next, select performances you want to see to add to your personalised line up and it’ll alert you when those performances are about to start. Save yourself time and energy and download the app – it really will add to your day.
I was very impressed with Victorious Festival – for an event that has been around for less than 5 years it feels well organised and like it’s been put together by people who have really thought out every last detail. The ticket prices provided excellent value for money and we will be buying our tickets for next year soon so we can take advantage of the early bird price offer. The acts this year were excellent and the organisers are already attracting some big names who all seem to enjoy the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere the festival provides.
Top marks for entertainment, value for money and organisation.
The Victorious Festival will be back 27 & 28 August 2016. For more information or to book tickets visit www.victoriousfestival.co.uk.