We spent Easter weekend at Easterfest in Toowoomba – which I’m sure you would have realised if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook. I was thrilled to share the experience and help just a little to promote this event. This is truly a family event with music and activities for all ages and tastes. There were such a huge range of artists performing in a bunch of different venues across town that it was impossible to catch everything. We spent most of our time at the main venue in Queens Park and it was so worth giving up the weekend for.
If you’re thinking of bringing your family to Easterfest, I would definitely recommend it. After putting it off for a number of years thinking that our kids were a little too young to really enjoy it, I realise now that they would have had a ball. There really is something for every age, but of course you need to plan a little for your family and the stage that they are at.
Rather than just telling you what we enjoyed all weekend, I wanted to give you some useful information that could help you plan for bringing your family to Easterfest. If there is something you want to know that I don’t cover, please ask me in the comments and I can tell you what we experienced.
There is lots of food available both in the Easterfest main area at Queens Park and around town. We did a mixture of feeding our kids at home for some meals (benefits of living local!) and eating some meals at the venue. You can bring in food and drink so we carried water and a couple of snacks with us. If you’re in from out-of-town, there is a Woolworths at the top of the Range and a Coles in Grand Central where there were also some performances. For parents, there was a coffee van just outside the Kids World and also coffee available within Kids World so you could enjoy while the kids played.
TOP TIP: Even on Good Friday, the cafes around town that were hosting bands were trading so it was a great place to grab a bite away from the crowd. (Thanks for my coffee break, Bon Amici on Margaret St!)
Check out the map to find the toilet facilities. These are a little different each year, but this year there were a couple of toilets within the Kids World which is much easier than taking smaller children to the main bank of portable toilets. David from SU QLD told me that they had been hoping to get these toilets in the kids zone for a couple of years and were hearing lots of positive comments from parents, so let’s hope we see that again next year. There was also a tent in Kids World for parents who needed to nurse babies or change nappies.
TOP TIP: Make sure the kids pop their shoes back on before they use the portable toilets – many had their shoes off for the jumping castle and sandpit – but the toilets were getting a LOT of traffic and bare feet in there is not the best plan for hygiene!
Easterfest is alcohol and drug free, and there were plenty of uniformed police around the venue. We felt very safe even late at night. Only people who have paid for tickets can get through the gates, and I know many friends who let their teenage children spend unsupervised time with their friends within the fenced venue. The Kids World was completely fenced in as within the larger venue and there were multiple SU QLD staff manning the entry and exit points, making sure that children did not leave without an adult. We were comfortable sitting at a table in the kids zone while the kids played the various activities and in the sandpit. It was small enough that we could see them but still relax – perfect really!
TOP TIP: Write your mobile phone number on your child’s forearm with marker so that if you do get separated, staff can call you easily.
The Kids World activities were geared towards kids of all ages. For younger kids there was baby animals to pet and a big sandpit under a lovely tree. For the almost ready for school kids there were some craft activities in various tents including colouring in, searching for treasure in a big box, playdough and making pirate hats. There was also some simple throwing games that they would have liked and face painting. All the activities in the Kids World were free.
My kids fall into this age group and they LOVED Easterfest. They were old enough to enjoy lots of the music and we took them to two of the three nights at the Mainstage, as well as other performances during the day.
My son was especially keen to see JC Epidemic this year, a crew of BMX riders and dancers who were performing across the weekend. He loved seeing them do tricks on the half-pipe.
There was also a Sports Zone that ran organised games and sports all weekend, like cricket, frisbee, soccer and more. We didn’t spend much time here but I can imagine when my 8-year-old gets a bit older, this would be his favourite zone.
We spent most of our time for the kids in the Kids World where all the activities were free. My girl had her face painted and enjoyed the blow up slide. My boy loved the huge rainbow jumping castle slide, the pirate ship ride, the sandpit and the sideshow alley games – mostly throwing things or trying to shoot things with a Nerf gun! The SU QLD Chaplains manning the stalls were fabulous!
TOP TIP: Kids World is great to use as a base for the rest of the venue. The kids could play while we decided what to do next or caught up with friends. (We ran into all the cool folks in Kids World including Danyell who won tickets in my giveaway – so nice to meet you!)
BONUS TIP: Pick your spot to sit at the Mainstage and the kids can roll down the hill or dance like crazy things before they fall asleep in your lap. We found a spot on a slope where the music wasn’t too loud for the kids but there was some room to run around without blocking other people’s view. (Thanks for saving us a blanket patch on Sunday night, B!)
For older kids, it is all about the music and the bands. We saw heaps of groups of teens at concerts and checking out the displays and shops across the weekend. Many of these were camping and I think that would have been a very cool thing to do with a group. In fact I was chatting to a friend I went to school with and she said they’ve been bringing their kids and their friends to Easterfest for years and they usually camp with their youth group. This year when one of her cherubs decided on the day that he wanted to stay, so they just bought a sleeping bag down the road and clothes from the Lifeline tent!
Another draw card for youth this year were two amazing YouTube bloggers from the states, Tessa Violet and Shawna Howsen. These girls are very cool and have a huge following. I got to meet them in the Forum when I spoke on a panel about Online Klout. It was new for me to talk about my online job to a group of people in the “real” world but a great experience. The panel also included Stu Harris from yesHEis who talked a little about their new initiative, #goeverywhere.
It’s the little things
It was the little things that I loved across the weekend:
- Sitting in the Supper Club on Saturday night and listening to the musical enthusiasm from the young guys seated beside us.
- Enjoying that “Big Band” brass sound!
- The Chaplain in the Guest lounge who stopped to tell me I looked lovely just before I went to speak on the Panel in the Forum – I needed that little boost – thank you!
- Meeting the family who had won tickets from my giveaway and discovering that they had received extra tickets for their extra kids as well.
- Running into my cousin and her family in the Kids World.
- Seeing a performer who was one of the youth group kids when I was a leader years ago.
- Meeting a bunch of people who I knew were friends of friends and “see” on Facebook but had never met.
- Chatting to a lady at Bon Amici’s who had carefully chosen all the folk music performances to attend and hearing her enthusiasm.
- Watching my boy play in the sandpit in Kids World for ages with such focus – enjoying such a simple activity!
- Noticing a row of young people from our church in the Forum as I was speaking – friendly faces in the crowd!
- Seeing that little spark of “Wow!” on my girl’s face as she listened to Endless Praise perform.
- Laughing at the wittiness and perfect delivery of Idea of North as they argued in scat.
If Easterfest is something you’ve been considering for your family, just do it! We had a fabulous time and I’m sure you will too.
Thank you to the organisers for inviting me to speak at and blog about Easterfest this year. We received a family pass for our family to attend, but as always all opinions are my own.