Being based in North Oxfordshire it’s always nice when a big event is held fairly close to home. We were invited along for the fourth year running to enjoy a day at Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace last weekend. We’ve always been on the last day of the four-day event in previous years, but this year we had the opportunity to visit on Saturday instead.
We always like to arrive bright and early to make the most of our day and had no issues parking within the main grounds in time for the gates to open at 9.30am. We weren’t the only ones who wanted to make a full day of it and Baker Street was soon abuzz with the crowds.
One of my top tips is to invest in a copy of the Show Map which gives you a detailed view of the overall layout, listings of the various exhibitors and a timetable of the various events and talks taking place each day. I’d also suggest deciding what you really want to visit as it’s fairly difficult to cover everything in detail on one visit. This map also shows the various water points for both humans and dogs which are dotted around the site. A number of people have mentioned to me since our visit that the human watering points were really poorly signposted this year. I agreed, if you didn’t have this detailed map, they really weren’t obviously placed. This feedback has been passed back to the event management team and will be corrected for 2020.
This year we’d booked free tickets to two talks taking place in the National Trust theatre, and made a decision on which of the Countryfile presenters we wanted to see on the Main Stage. For the first year, we wouldn’t be taking in any of the discussions in the Big Barn. So, knowing the times for these three events we could work out what and where we could explore for the rest of the day.
This year we spotted a big wheel, there was an extra charge for this and unfortunately, my son couldn’t be persuaded to take a ride, I bet the views were great looking out across the sight towards Blenheim Palace itself.
One area I still haven’t managed to set foot in, even on our fourth visit, is the Shopping Village. My son and OH don’t do shopping at all, so I’m always outnumbered. One day I will get to look at the various stalls and their wares.
In previous years we’ve always managed to spend a good chunk of time watching the Stihl Timbersports, which is always really entertaining. This year we only made a fleeting visit and got to watch some of the wood carving rather than the speed competitions.
We love playing croquet but at Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace, we just enjoyed watching as others tried the game.
The Main Arena had a range of horse and dog displays throughout the day as well as falconry and mountain bikes. Whenever we passed the area it was always well attended as usual. There was also a large timetable on show so you could see what was happening there throughout the day.
Each year I try to persuade my son to try the watersports taking place on the River Glyme, but he still can’t be convinced. Maybe next year. We did head down to have a look at the action though and to visit the Wildlife Zone, which is one of our favourite areas to explore.
We got to watch some fence weaving, meet a range of caterpillars, see a wild bird up close and make a beeswax candle as part of our annual Countryfile Live tradition. There were lots of other activities children could try out including clay and pine cone hedgehogs and there was a t-shirt painting area that looked great.
We did miss seeing a larger selection of farm machinery that’s been on show in previous years. That’s always been a highlight for my son. There were a few machines on show at the entrance but we were eager to get into the showground so we didn’t really get to see them at all this year. We all hope they’ll make more of an appearance next year. The farm animal area was as popular as ever and even the hand wash stations had had a bit of a makeover this year, causing much delight with a number of young visitors.
There may not have been the number of agricultural machines on show that’s we’ve been used to but there were a few car manufacturers on display and you could try out a couple of them.
For the first time this year at Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace we got to watch a couple of cookery demonstrations and walked around some the food stall, tasting produce as we went. The Suffolk Salami stand and their chorizo was a particular hit with all the family.
We had tickets for two talks in the National Trust theatre this year, firstly Connecting Kids to Nature and later in the day we got to listen to wildlife cinematographer Simon King. Both talks were really interesting and I was impressed by how intently my nine-year-old son listened too. I hope he was inspired to keep interested in the countryside around him as he progresses to his teenage years. I found it quite sad that it’s a known statistic that children lose interest in nature between the age of ten and fifteen and it may not return until adulthood. I’m hoping we can buck that trend, but time will tell.
For us, as always, getting to see the Countryfile presenters is one of the main attractions of visiting Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace. We are fans of the BBC One show and have been lucky enough to have been on the show ourselves when my son was a pre-schooler. The Main Stage seems to have got a bit smaller each year which seems a shame to me as the crowds trying to see the different talks would suggest that they are as popular as ever.
Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace for the fourth year saw us arriving as the gates opened and leaving as the gates shut again. So I guess that tells you all you need to know, it’s a full day, and even when you know exactly where everything is, you almost certainly won’t fit everything in on one visit. I always enjoy looking at the Facebook posts from my non-blogging friends and seeing how they enjoy their time at this event. Some shop til they drop, some enjoy a tipple or two in the Craven Arms and some have children who will happily paddleboard, climb trees and enjoy the funfair. I’ve not heard one say that they were disappointed with their visit, although I think we were all rather relieved this year wasn’t quite so swelteringly hot as last year.
For those of you who live further up the country, Countryfile Live visits Castle Howard for the first time this year, from 15th-18th August, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what that looks like for a future adventure ourselves.
Did you visit this year?
disclosure: we were given complimentary tickets in exchange for an honest review