RunFestRun – Could this be the best family camping festival?

RunFestRun – Could this be the best family camping festival?

We were extremely excited to experience the first ever RunFestRun! A family camping festival at Bowood House and Gardens in Wiltshire.

Chris Evans was launching this fantastic combination of running, camping and music all in one festival. And any fans of Chris Evans will know he doesn’t do things by half!

We LOVE family camping festivals but it was our first running festival and we wondered how suitable it would be for kids.

Well… RunFestRun did not disappoint! 

In fact, I honestly think it could be up there as one of the best family camping festivals.

Yes, it is a running festival but there are plenty of races for all abilities. Even babies can take part in a 2k race which is completely buggy friendly. And if you don’t want to, or can’t take part in the races, there are plenty of other things to keep you entertained.

I’m having to hold myself back on all of the exciting bits as this is only the intro!!

Keep reading to find out all about this amazing family camping festival… the races, the music and the fantastic kids’ activities on offer.

Not to mention the delicious food, entertainment and the fact that we were able to meet so many sporting celebrities!

Best family camping festival with Paula Radcliffe

Top marks go to Chris Evans who did a brilliant job of hosting the event and making sure it was really family friendly and focused on the kids.

In this review, we share detailed information about our family camping festival experience, along with everything that’s on offer across the weekend.

We’ll help you decide whether RunFestRun is the perfect family camping festival for you, as well as provide you with lots of top tips to get the most out of the festival.

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What is RunFestRun family camping festival?

RunFestRun is a family camping weekend packed full of fitness, fun activities, amazing food, shopping and two nights of brilliant live music.

The whole weekend’s activities were supported by running legends, including Paula Radcliffe, Steve Cram and Colin Jackson.

And there was a complete schedule of inspirational speakers including Jo Pavey, Chrissie Wellington, Fearne Cotton and Christine Ohuruogu.

Where is RunFestRun festival?

The first RunFestRun festival was held at the stunning Bowood House and Gardens in Wiltshire, which sits in 100 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland and vibrant rhododendron forests.

Our weekend was so packed full of activities, our only regret was that we didn’t get chance to have a good walk around the grounds (although between us, we covered a good distance by running)!

Ticket prices for RunFestRun family camping festival

A family ticket to RunFestRun 2019 at Bowood House and Gardens cost £350, which is probably fairly average.

On face value, it may seem a lot but that gives you 2 nights camping, 2 nights of live music, entry into a half marathon, a 10k race, multiple 5k races and a few shorter races. And there are other free activities and freebies too.

In comparison, weekend camping tickets for our family at Camp Bestival would cost £419 and The Big Feastival would set us back £481 (although you do get an extra night camping with these).

ℹ️ Click here to find out more about future dates, locations and ticket prices for RunFestRun festival.

Which team would you like to be in?

Of course, it wouldn’t be a running festival without some competition, so everybody was part of a bug-themed team. We were in Team Butterfly led by our team captain, Paula Radcliffe.

Points are gained for participating in each race so the more running you do, the more points for your team. On the last day, we had a team finale ‘Big Bug Race’, which was probably the highlight of the whole weekend.

This was a completely family-friendly race/walk where you had to collect points along the 5k course. Points were awarded for giant inflatable bananas and pollen (different sized balls).

Read more about the Big Bug Race further on…

Best family camping festival - our tent

Races for the whole family and all abilities

Whatever you do, don’t discount this family camping festival because you don’t consider yourself a running athlete!

The races range from 2.5k up to half marathon distance and on a mixture of terrain including tarmac, grass, tracks and paths. So there really is something for all abilities.

❗️ Top Tip

If you have kids that need a buggy and you want to take them on the main races, I’d recommend a running or off road buggy, or at least one with fairly decent wheels. We took our old Phil & Teds Sport Stroller but below are some of the best jogging buggies.

It was actually really inspirational to see young children running/walking, lots of parents pushing buggies with babies in and even people in wheelchairs. Chris Evans made a point of recognising some of these incredible people by getting them up on stage to share their stories.

If you don’t want to or can’t take part in the races, that’s completely fine too. There are plenty of other things to do.

RunFestRun festival race route

Two nights of epic live music

The live music also ticks the box for being completely family-friendly. Both nights saw a good crowd in front of the main stage but there was still plenty of room. We even took our foldable chairs, as did others and some families enjoyed the live music from picnic blankets.

The bands/DJ sets really got everyone up and dancing but also kept it a good atmosphere for the kids.

The girls (and us of course) danced away to Reef, Razorlight, Ten Tonnes, The Coral, Faithless (DJ Set) and Olly Murs.

The brilliant thing about the live music is that it was finished by 11pm. This was still a late night for the girls but meant we could just about stretch them out without missing any of the music. On the second night, Florence fell asleep in the buggy but Freya made it until the end both nights.

These Edz Kidz Ear Defenders are the best selling on Amazon and the Ems Baby Ear Defenders are what we used when our girls were babies.

The brilliant thing about the live music is that it was finished by 11pm. This was still a late night for the girls but meant we could just about stretch them out without missing any of the music. On the second night, Florence fell asleep in the buggy but Freya made it until the end both nights.

Other family-friendly activities at RunFestRun

There’s plenty to keep the whole family busy in between races.

If you don’t fancy running but would still like to take part in something energetic, then try one of the workouts in the Gymnasium.

The Kids Zone will keep both children and parents entertained for hours and Volvo (the main sponsor of the festival) had a tipi with giant bugs, a life-sized spider web, crafts, face painting and more.

And if that wasn’t enough, the kids can burn off even more energy on the trampolines or mini athletics park.

And all of this is completely free!

For an additional charge, there is a Funfair complete with Helter Skelter and Big Wheel.

Or maybe, water sports is your thing so try out paddle-boarding or zorbing on the lake.

And after all of that if you just want to relax, sign up for a yoga workshop or treat yourself to a massage.

Delicious, nutritious and healthy food

You won’t go hungry at RunFestRun with a delicious range of nutritious and healthy food and drink. You can still get traditional festival food like fish and chips and churros. But there’s also plenty of healthy, vitamin-packed alternatives too.

Best family camping festival food

A great shopping village for fitness fanatics

And if you fancy a spot of shopping, there’s plenty to look at in the shopping village from running gear, equipment and technology to energy-filled food and drink.

Arriving at RunFestRun – our family camping festival experience

The festival started at 2 pm on the Friday with the campsite open from 12 pm. So there is plenty of time to find a pitch and set up your tent.

We were all very excited as we followed the yellow signs for the festival. As we made our way down the long driveway of Bowood House and Gardens, we were greeted by lots of stunning purple rhododendron bushes.

If you’ve been to family camping festivals before, you’ll know that parking is usually in a field separate to the camping area and RunFestRun is no different.

It wasn’t too far from the car to the camping site but we were grateful for our buggy. We loaded it up with all of our camping gear and luggage and managed everything in 2 runs.

❗️ Top Tip

If you have a buggy, use this to carry your camping gear to the camping area. If not invest in a trolley like the one below from Amazon.

❗️ Top Tip

Trolleys can also be used as a make shift bed for small children. We saw a few kids fast asleep in their cosy, festival decorated trolleys

Entrance into the camping site was seamless. We showed our ticket confirmation and they gave us wristbands and we were in!

Everything you need to know about RunFestRun camping site

Once you’re through onto the camping site, you have free rein on where to pitch your tent.

❗️ Top Tip #1

Arrive early to find the best pitch for your tent

❗️ Top Tip #2

Before choosing a pitch for your tent, locate and consider how close you want to be to the…

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Food & drink outlets
  • Entrance to the festival
  • Lighting

We chose a location that was fairly close to all of the above without being directly next to noisy toilets and busy routes.

I would choose the same location again but move slightly closer to the lights that lit up the pathways. These provide a good source of light without needing to rely on torches.

We use a Colman Mosedale 5 tent, which we absolutely love. It’s easy to put up and has plenty of room for the 4 of us.

RunFestRun Camping site

But the best feature for us is the blackout bedroom, which means the girls don’t wake up at silly o’clock when the sun starts to rise.

Check out the video below of us putting our tent up at RunFestRun family camping festival.

Toilet facilities, water stations and showers

The camping site at Bowood House and Gardens is just a field, so the toilets are portaloos.

There seemed to be just the right amount in both the camping site and the festival. We rarely had to queue, and they were very good at keeping them clean too.

There are also water stations dotted around to fill up water bottles, brush your teeth, wash your pots etc.

Showers were available at the bottom of the camping site close to the festival entrance.

Glamping, caravans & campervans

If you want a little more luxury or don’t have your own tent, then you can choose from a selection of Glamping options. Prices start from £400. Click here to read a review from a family that stayed in the Glamping tents.

There are also pitches available for caravans and campervans.

If you don’t fancy camping or have day tickets only, use the search box below for accommodation nearby.

Friday evening at RunFestRun

RunFestRun kicked off Friday evening with a 5k Sunset Shuffle, which we all took part in.

After a warm up with the celebrity teams on stage, we set off on what was a glorious evening. It was Freya’s first 5k run and she ran almost all of it! Even Florence jumped out of the buggy a few times for a little run too.

❗️ Top Tip

Check out the schedule in advance and highlight which races, workouts sessions and moivational/inspirational talks you want to do. There’s a lot going on so it’s good to plan ahead.

The grounds looked stunning in the evening sun and the atmosphere was so friendly, happy and relaxed.

Chris Evans made his way along the route chatting casually to everyone. We ran with him for a short distance before he sped on ahead.

Approaching the finish line was an incredible buzz as we ran past the stage high-fiving everybody who hadn’t taken part.

Best family camping festival at Bowood House

We refuelled on copious amounts of protein bars, bananas and waffles that were handed out at the finish line (those waffles were AMAZING).

Then we nipped back to the tent for a quick baby wipe wash and change of clothes. The showers weren’t open on the Friday so be prepared to go without. Luckily, our 5k run was more of a gentle jog with the children so we weren’t too sweaty.

❗️ Top Tip

Collect your race packs as soon as you arrive to avoid the queues.

This was our biggest disappointment of the festival. We queued for our race packs but when we received them, they had run out of t-shirts.

I hope the organisers of RunFestRun will take learnings and ensure this is not an issue for future festivals.

We headed back to the main stage to settle for the festivals live music after we cheered those taking part in the LightupU Neon Night-time Run (5k was enough for us on day 1).

We nibbled on snacks that we’d brought with us for tea and freebies from the race (although probably not the best thing for your digestive system).

The atmosphere was just perfect with families all around us relaxing, drinking and dancing. The highlight of the evening was Razorlight and we danced into the evening, taking me back to my student days.

Both of the girls made it to the end and it all felt very civilised as we made our way back to the tent. No drunkenness and it is was all very quiet as we snuggled down into our sleeping bags.

❗️ Top Tip

Take your toothbrushes and toothpaste with you so you can brush your teeth and use the toilets on your way back to your tent. It saves you going back to your tent and coming out again.

Saturday at RunFestRun

After a great night’s sleep in the tent, I headed out in my pyjamas and a jumper over the top to get cups of tea and coffee. I didn’t have to wait to use the portable toilets en route (and they were surprisingly clean) but I did have to queue for the drinks. I spotted just two food and drink outlets in the camping site but this was clearly not enough.

❗️ Top Tip

Get up early to buy tea/coffee/breakfast or take your own stove to avoid the queues.

The first race of the day was the half marathon, which Lee (Daddy) took part in. We were still getting ready but made it to the main stage in time to see him finish.

Before too long, it was mine and Freya’s turn to take part in the 5k race. Given that she had never run 5k before and this was her second 5k race within 24 hours, she did incredibly well.

We had some time for lunch and a wander around the festival before the next race, a 10k which I was doing on my own.

There was also a 2.5k race and a 3k road race but we were completely raced out.

RunFestRun best family camping festival for kids

The girls enjoyed meeting the giant bugs in the Volvo tipi (a welcome escape from the hot sunshine). They played in the giant spider web and made bug hotels whilst I took part in the 10k race.

The course was beautiful but it was so hot. I was extremely grateful for the water stations, although I tipped most of it over my head to cool down. At the 8k mark, I caught up with Paula Radcliffe who was walking with her daughter so took the opportunity to walk too (so amazing to walk/run alongside the fastest female marathoner of all time).

When they started running again I tried to keep up but they soon pulled away from me. Although I had very little energy left in me, Paula gave me the motivation to make it to the end!

RunFestRun finishing line

After refuelling, we went for a much-needed shower, which was inside a big tent split into two halves for male and female. When we got there, there was no queue for the males but we had to queue for about 15-20 minutes.

❗️ Top Tip

Take clean flip flops with you as trainers/outdoor footwear is not allowed inside the shower tent.

There is a large changing area with a hessian floor and a ramp up to a line of individual shower cubicles. Despite there not being enough, they were clean and warm and we felt so much better afterwards.

We went back to our tent to chill out for half an hour and enjoy a well-deserved beer!

Then we headed back into the festival for some dinner and get ourselves set up for the second night of live music. We had a fantastic evening dancing away with the girls.

Olly Murs was brilliant but we all loved Sister Bliss Faithless DJ Set. Even Florence enjoyed raving away to ‘God is a DJ’.

All that dancing wore Florence out and she went to sleep in the buggy but Freya made it to the end of the Olly Murs (who she absolutely loved)!

Sunday at RunFestRun

On Sunday morning, we had just enough time to have breakfast, get ourselves ready, take the tent down and pack up the car. We were so glad we did this because, after a glorious weekend the rain finally set in heavy, just as the festival was coming to an end.

As we walked to our car back through the camping site, we felt sorry for the handful of people taking their tents down in the pouring rain.

RunFestRun had saved the final and probably best event of the whole weekend to the last.

We put on our butterfly wings and headed to the stage for our Big Bug Run warm-up with Chris Evans, Vassos Alexander and the celebrity team captains.

Best family camping festival entertainment

They certainly pulled out all the stops with inflatable bananas and balls scattered around the course to collect and win points for your team. But they weren’t just dotted around and hidden behind trees.

Entertainers along the way made you sing, answer questions and take part in fun activities in exchange for balls.

There were giant insects (people dressed up as butterflies and caterpillars), two friendly pterodactyls and bands/singers to spur us on.

RunFestRun family festival fun

This certainly was a ‘fun run’ that everyone enjoyed taking part in. The buzz and euphoria was amazing as we ran past the main stage and through the finish line arch.

We took all of our balls that we’d collected and handed them over to our team captain, Paula Radcliffe.

❗️ Top Tip

If you take a buggy to the festival, take it on the Big Bug Run to store collected balls in. Other people were stuffing them up tops, down shorts and everywhere!

We had just enough time to do a spot of shopping (I got myself some lovely new running gear from Mud & Blood) and find out the winners.

Unfortunately, Team Butterfly didn’t win but we had so much fun (although I was very jealous that everyone in Team Dragonfly got invited to CarFest as their prize for winning).

It was nearly time to leave and the sky turned grey and the heavens opened up. We ended an incredible family camping festival dancing away to a silent disco playing Mr Brightside in the pouring rain! It was brilliant!

Our final thoughts…

RunFestRun certainly exceeded our expectations in terms of it being a completely family-friendly camping festival that we ALL really, really enjoyed.

Yes, there were a few negatives, the biggest being that we didn’t get our race t-shirts. However, the few negatives certainly didn’t dampen our overall experience and I’m sure RunFestRun will rectify these for future events.

Our highlights were definitely the Sunset Shuffle, Big Bug Run and Saturday evening live music. Being able to mingle so freely with sporting celebrities was also incredible. In fact, everybody was just so friendly and outgoing, we chatted to so many people over the weekend.

This running festival is definitely not just for running enthusiasts. If you love running and fitness, then this is definitely a good festival for you… but I was completely surprised at how much focus was on the kids. There were obviously plenty of people without kids but there were so many families just having such a good time together.

I would highly recommend this as one of the best family camping festivals and we will definitely consider coming back next year!!

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