Reviews for River and Rowing Museum

Henley Festival 2016 (Family Sunday Review)

By Claire Paye, dated 11th July, 2016

Family Sunday 10 July 2016

Review by Claire Paye with Amelia (age 10) and Charlie (age 7)

The main problem with Family Sunday at Henley Festival was that there was far too much to do and too little time. Which is a nice problem to have. 

Henley Festival kids

My children are currently beatboxing around the house, ready to trot out their line that they were trained in person by Shlomo who, if it all goes wrong on the international superstar beatboxing circuit, could have a second career as a children’s entertainer. He had a fantastic rapport with the crowd and particularly with the children he brought up on stage for his ‘Ready, Steady, Beatbox’ competition. The amazing thing about it for me was that we were second row in from the stage (the Floating Stage, no less) even though we only just rocked up as the show was starting.

In fact, we felt like privileged participants at a private festival. There was no queue to park, no queue for the top quality toilets and it was easy to get seats near the front of each venue. There were plenty of people around but they were absorbed into the beautiful site by the river Thames. 

The highlight for Amelia and Charlie was Professor Kaos’ Science Blast, where he introduced concepts such as reactions and flammability with fun experiments and plenty of audience participation. Amelia was delighted to be chosen to go on stage to demonstrate how heat bursts balloons, and even more delighted to discover that heat will not burst a balloon filled with water held over her head – you’ll have to see the show to discover why.

Balloon filled with water over her head at Henley Festival

Audience participation also included parents being volunteered to go up on stage to be subjected to a quarter million volts of tesler coil, AKA Taser whilst holding an aluminium can. Apparently it was only one amp. So that’s ok then.

We spent some time listening to the very talented Jay Foreman sing his disgusting, and amusing, songs. However, we arrived late and left early due to trying to track down Osadia, the elusive hair art (I know what that is now) team. Unfortunately, having produced some amazing carnival-style designs in the hair of very lucky punters, visible to all as they walked around the venue, they then disappeared.

As a veteran of many a face painting queue – ‘how about doing something at this fair other than standing in this queue?’ – I know the siren call of anyone decorating a girl’s face or, in this case, hair and even, as it was Henley Festival, an older gentleman’s hair. If I was planning Henley Festival Family Sunday I would plump Osadia full of energy drinks and send them out there for eight hours non-stop, the demand for their services was so great. We are already planning a return trip next year and will be heading (excuse the pun) straight for the Osadia venue.

We missed KAPOW:2FACED DANCE, although I saw their superhero dance fight antics out of the corner of my eye as Shlomo was performing. We saw the Upswing aerial acrobats letting some lucky children have a go on their hanging hoops (I’m sure there’s a technical name for them) after their show, which we also missed. We caught the last tune played by the all-female brass quartet Bella Trompa in the impressive saloon-style Ronnie Scott’s bar.

Kids at Henley Festival 2016_1

It turned out to be an extremely good value day out as we didn’t have time to sit and drink or eat in the many bars and restaurants around the site, let alone see all the many performers. We did, however, manage to catch the bouncing kangaroos, the massive angels and several of the other roving performers.

The whole day had the feel of an exclusive pre-show party. Definitely something to do with the kids next summer.


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