I was very lucky to be chosen as a Lollibop ambassador for 2013 and the whole family have been looking forward to the event for months.
Last year was our first year a Lollibop and the kids had a whale of a time so we had high expectations for this year too.
Top of our list to see were:
Sid Sloane and Andy Day from CBeebies
Dick ‘n’ Dom
I downloaded the parents are heroes pack from the Lollibop website and planned our day (as much as is possible with a newborn) around these things.
This year also saw a change of venue. Last year Lollibop was held at Regents Park which was a stunningly beautiful location but I was excited by the change to Queen Elizabeth Park as hadn’t yet seen the Olympic Park and the transport links were better for us!
We set off from home at 7.30am to catch the train from Bournemouth to Waterloo. Even at that time of the morning we struggled to get seats and had to move some teens out of the disabled area so we could put the buggies there. The journey was uneventful and smooth as we kept the kids occupied with ipad games and I spy.
At Waterloo we headed straight for the Jubilee line which took us directly to Stratford. With three little ones and two buggies in tow we were relieved to see both stations had lifts and were easy to navigate and soon we were headed for Queen Elizabeth Park.
Helping direct us were lots of people in bright pink t-shirts with big foam hands pointing us in the right direction. They made us shout, sing and dance and got the kids really excited on the 20 minute walk to the venue. We walked part of the way through Westfield which was decorated with bunting and flags too. Isaac complained of tired legs and I wish I had brought the double buggy, but that was all forgotten when we arrived.
I was a little disappointed with the area around Queen Elizabeth Park – I was expecting it to be lush and beautiful with an Olympic buzz still around it but it looked tired and grey.
Once inside the festival, we found bright colourful tents, bunting, flags, signs which really brightened the place up. It made last years Lollibop feel much more like a village fete – this year had a proper festival vibe.
My first port of call was the press tent to pick up our program where we bumped into a certain Alex Winters and then it was off to see Sid & Andy’s show in the Lollipalladium. This tent looked like a Circus tent and the atmosphere inside was electric. The compere (in a very bizarre outfit) kept the kids entertained whilst we waited for the show to begin.
We were lucky enough to be right at the front and the boys didn’t disappoint. Andy arrived first, “clearing out his loft” with lots of boxes full of old stuff. Sid then popped around for the summer party but it seemed Andy had forgotten all about it!
They made bunting out of old things found in the boxes, made the audience wave bright and colourful things like hats, drink bottles etc and then proceeded to dress up in various outfits and sing, encouraging the audience to join in. They were engaging, funny and had the young audience captivated from beginning to end.
Once they had finished we headed to the press tent so I could feed Sebastian and meet up with some other bloggers including TheBoyandMe
(click on their names to see their thoughts on LolliBop).
As we emerged we bumped into Andy and he kindly stopped for a photo and even commented that he had seen me dancing during his show – future Cbeebies presenter perhaps?
We then had a wander around the site and found the River Island tent. There was a long queue outside and I enquired if they were still taking bookings but I was told after the previous days feedback that they were not taking bookings and you had to queue. We left with the intention of going back later but sadly when we went back it had closed!
We explored the meadows where we spotted some real life Gnomes and watched Isaac and Kian have fun rolling and running down a really big hill, whilst Eliza stretched her legs and then headed back to the main stage to see Justin.
After seeing Justin at Camp Bestival we knew that if we wanted to watch him properly we needed to get to the front of the stage. We thought we had a good position at Camp Bestival but as soon as he comes on kids are hoisted onto the shoulders of everyone in front of and you can’t see him.
Hubby took the little ones to the front and I stayed back with Sebastian and Kian only to find myself in a conversation with Jeff Brazier and his boys which was very surreal whilst we watched the Beat Boxers.
It was getting busier and busier and Sebastian was unsettled so I headed back to the Press Area to feed him again. Hubby then appeared with a very upset Isaac who needed a wee…….if waiting at the front for an act MAKE SURE THE KIDS HAVE A TACTICAL WEE FIRST!
Thankfully he re-gained his place thanks to a lady in the crowd and I joined them to the side of the stage once Seb had finished.
Justin was fantastic – we all enjoyed his set which was full of songs from his Best of Friends Album which had us singing and dancing as well as some of his other favourites.
He also did signing with the kids and some of his character voices too.
Once he had finished we headed for the Skylanders Swap Force Arena to play the new game. Sadly the compere recognised us from Camp Bestival so we couldn’t take part in the challenge but the boys did get to play the not yet released Skylanders SwapForce on the consoles and meet Eruptor and have their photo taken.
At this point it started raining so I retreated to the Boob and Botty area just behind which had comfy arm chairs for feeding babies and lots of changing mats. I was impressed by how clean it was and as soon as the bins filled there were emptied.
I went back to find the boys (who were still playing in the Skylanders area) and we headed off for some food as it was much quieter than it had been earlier. There was lots to choose from – burgers, Nando’s, pizza, churro’s – even fruit.
We found a bench close to the main stage to eat and watched Alex Winters and Jem Frazer entertain the crowd before Dick ‘n’ Dom appeared. Kian was off like a shot to go and watch them and although their set was almost identical to last years, had a whale of a time. For the second year running he was invited up on stage but shyness got the better of him!
Dick n Dom are certainly an act for slightly older children and the adults who were more than happy to get involved with their silly antics. Eliza and Isaac enjoyed watching the custard pie fights, but best of all was their rendition of Nellie the Elephant……it always whips the crowd up into a frenzy!
Although it had stopped raining the wind had whipped up and made the area in front of the main stage into a dust bowl. I had to put our snoozeshade onto the pram to stop straw and dirt getting in and I ended up with some in my eye too.
We tried to meet Hello Kitty and Poppy Cat but it was clear that Eliza was intimidated by the giant characters and wouldn’t go near them so we made the decision not to waste any time queuing for photographs, although she was very excited to see Hello Kitty on stage a safe distance away!
Other highlights of the day were meeting the Top Trumps team and playing their new Top Trumps Tournament game which has now been added to the boys Christmas lists, meeting the Go!Go!Go! gang who performed at various times throughout the day and chasing the huge bubbles around the park.
We did find it a lot busier this year and I was told that the event was a sell out which means there was 15,000 people there. It is fantastic that it was so popular but it did mean that we didn’t get to see quite a much as we did last year as there was lots of queues, although having a young baby in tow who demanded regular feeds contributed to this too.
Isaac wanted to see Optimus Prime, but we have promised him we will see it a Bournemouth Air Show next week.
That said, there was lots to see and do by just wandering around. There were lots of people in fancy dress who were more than happy to stop, chat and pose for photographs plus arts & crafts, a Science tent and even market stalls selling everything from bubbles to clothing and even tails!!
There was something to entertain all ages, although I would have liked something extra for older children as there were no bike displays this year. The Beat Boxing was fun on stage, but Kian didn’t want to attend the workshop or go Street Dancing as he is quite shy like that.
Some of my highlights of the day were watching Molly from Northernmum
learn some dance moves with PreSkool ………
Isaac making new friends with TheBoy and Alex……….
and just watching the kids singing, dancing and just having a whale of a time!
As a parent the ultimate sign of a good event is this………… a sleeping child (and yes she is in Sebastian’s pram). Hopefully he will enjoy it more next year as he will be able to join in too.
My Tips for enjoying LolliBop are:
- Plan who / what you want to see before you go…….we missed seeing Katy Ashworth as the kids wanted to see Sid & Andy, although we did catch some of her performance
- The CBeebies presenters were more than happy to be stopped for pics and they were often out and about mingling
- Buy a Lanyard so you know who is on and when (it also makes the kids feel important)
- The stalls are quietest when the big acts are on, so if you don’t mind missing that take advantage of a quieter time
- Wear sunglasses even if it’s not sunny – prevents dust in the eyes
- Be prepared to walk – there is a lot of ground to cover so a buggy is a must for littlies and there are plenty of buggy parks around when you want to leave it
- A picnic isn’t essential, there are plenty of food stalls and they were reasonably priced and some were even free!
- Go with the flow and don’t worry about what you have missed, just enjoy the experience
Did we enjoy it as much as last year?
The venue wasn’t as pretty but the shows were much better. My only real grumble is that it was held on the first weekend of the football season and we struggled with over crowded trains on the way home as West Ham and Arsenal were both playing at home, but we should have checked that out ourselves first!