Because Life Should Be a Festival!

The personal journey of Kevin & Maddi' Parker and their children through festival world. Impressions, depressions, elations, adventures, highs, lows and everywhere we possibly go (thanks BM)....

KISS - Kiama Circus Festival Good Fun

Kevin Parker - Sunday, January 08, 2012

Festival Australia got to the first couple of days of the KISS Arts Festival in Kiama, NSW which is running from 3rd -15th January in 2011.

Our children loved the circus skills workshop during the day which was great value at $50 per child for 6 hours. The team of instructors were great with the kids and all of the parents enjoyed the show that the children put on at the end of the day. After they finished we all took a dip in one of Kiama's beautiful sea pools as it was a hot hot day.

 In the evening we saw Harvey's Troupe,a group of emerging circus artists who put in plenty of energy and were good value. The show could have done with trimming by about 10 mins and some of the adult concept skits weren't appropriate for the overwhelming family audience with young children for the 5pm show. Overall we all enjoyed it.

On the following night at the Gala opening we saw Fool's Gold, a group of professional circus artist perform under the Big Top set-up in Kiama's Hindmarsh Park. As we could expect the standard was high with a slick performance given by all of the artists.

Our daughter,Lily (aged 7), was inspired to write the poem and review below. A good day out was had by all.

How I feel to be on a Trapeze

p so high in the sky
I fly doing tricks
It feels so nice dancing prancing
So high in the sky flying on the trapeze
I love it I love it so high in the sky
Only me on the trapeze

By Lily age 7)







When We Went to the Circus
It was late when we arrived at the circus
and the music was very loud. When Miss
Shirley Sunflower came out Mum was
laughing her head off. The first act had a
very good name: ‘Strings on Fire’ where a lady
played on the violin and hula hooped at the
same time. I enjoy the rest of the acts but
we had to go home before the end.

By Lily (7)  

Peats Ridge Eclectic Workshops for Body and Brain

Maddi Parker - Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Looking through the Peats Ridge program we have discovered that it is more than just good music and plenty of people to celebrate summer with.

Yes, Xavier Rudd is playing on opening night and Gotye will sing the New Year in, but, with 4 primary school children, our needs are focused on the daytime and peats_ridge_colourfulearly evening streams.

The Children's Festival areas are segmented into three age groups with entertainment for age-specific crowds (under 7, under 12 and teenagers). The colourful programme tells us that there are opportunities designed to 'open yourself up to some new experiences, push yourself out of your comfort zone and forge new friendships', all something that comes naturally to children so should be fun.

Whilst there is plenty going on in the children's areas the Peats Ridge general workshop schedule also includes activitites that appear suitable for both adults and older children together. These include such tempters as Hula Hooping, Belly Dancing, Body Percussion, Acting, Laughter Yoga and Bollywood Dancing!

In the Peats Ridge Eco-Living area, experts will present on subjects such as sustainable fisheries, coal seam gas, deep ecology, solar power and a delightfully provocatively named workshop about the 'religion of economics'. Sustainability manager Nic Moodie will explain why the Peats Ridge Festival is world renowned as a model for sustainable event eco_ideas_peats-ridgemanagement. 

There are also workshops on transforming waste into sculpture, organic pest control, bushtucker, the future of electric vehicles and how to live in better harmony with the planet and why reducing our impact makes a difference.

As we are touring Festivals throughout Australia this year, our children will be primarily taught by us - with so many topics pertinent to education Peats Ridge Festival can hold the 'homeschool' baton for a few days!

Where? Peats Ridge, Glenworth Valley NSW - Just off the Sydney to Newcastle F1 Freeway

When? December 29th 2011 to January 1st 2012

Festival website? Peats Ridge Festival

Summer in Kiama is ... Ice Cream and Circus tents

Maddi Parker - Thursday, December 15, 2011

When we were kids in the early 1980s Kiama NSW was a 'must stop and get an ice cream' town during the summer because of the guaranteed traffic jams as the enthusiastic city folk made their January pilgrimage down the coast. Since then, two major highway bypass projects have meant that getting in and out of Kiama is not only much easier but that the town has a far less frantic feel about it. January still witnesses gridlock in the ice creamery on hot days though!

Kiama is only 2 hours from Sydney (120km) and 1 hour from the Southern Highlands (Bowral/Mittagong) by car which makes it an easy place to visit for a short trip. The hot orange red of the Illawarra Flame trees, rich green of the huge pine trees and salty air give an instant sense of 'sea change', if only for a day.

Over the years we have been very grateful to Kiama for its well kept parks and playgrounds to entertain our four young children for hours at a time. Interspersed with throwing rocks into the harbour and great fish 'n chips we all get a relaxing family day out.

There is a stunning seaside pool tucked below the central caravan park, patrolled beaches and an Indoor Leisure Centre for rainy days. Run by the council, the staff have a fun and reasonably priced school holiday program including craft, gym indoor sport activities and an inflatable pool toy that keeps our family engaged for hours.

Only a short distance from the centre of town, past the picturesque harbour, lies the famous Kiama Blowhole discovered by George Bass way back in 1797. The sight of the water spouting high into the sky has delighted our children many times over the years. The area is very well fenced but vigilance still required for boys and girls going through their climbing phase!

A little further down the coast lie the seaside town of Gerrigong and the hamlet of Gerroa. Both offer lovely views and safe swimming areas. Be warned though,Seven Mile Beach can get a bit rippy and is only patrolled for a few short weeks over summer - fortunately there is a smaller family friendly beach between the Gerroa shore and delightful creek.

The Circus Comes to Town

This summer Kiama is hosting its first seaside Festival (KISS). There will be a circus tent in the centre of town in Hindmarsh Park, surrounded by a living mural community art project that all are invited to contribute to assisted by local artist, Boyde Miles.

On the weekends markets and performers have been invited to bring the streets alive. Evening circus performances and daytime circus workshops will definitely interest our children. A daytime circus skills workshop from 9 to 3pm costs $50 and guarantees 'delighted exhaustion'. It's on the calendar.

From 3-15 January 2012 the KISS Arts Festival will showcase both local and visiting artistic talents and promote the beautiful seaside town of Kiama, NSW which is 2 hours south of Sydney.

Family Friendly Festivals for Summer

Kevin Parker - Monday, December 12, 2011

Most of our festival going over the years was prior to our four young children, although we did manage to get to loads of folk gatherings with our eldest son who is now into his twenties.

Now, with four children under eleven, we are very interested in family friendly events as we set off on our year long 2012 festival odyssey around Australia.

A number of the larger festivals portray themselves as family friendly, but, with the exceptions of Port Fairy, Woodford and the National Folk Festival, we have only attended others as party animals who didn't fall into bed totally exhausted before 10pm! It's now time for us to test how true the claim are of those gatherings who encourage families take part in the celebrations this summer.

As our programme beds down we are considering a couple of options to start off the new year with a bang.

 Woodford Looking as Strong as Ever

We love the Woodford Folk Festival  having been many times.  We had a ball there as singles, as a couple, and have since enjoyed the enclosed children's festival area with loads of activities to entertain and engage our children. Combined with the family friendly ambience of the festival the children's facilities always make the event a strong candidate.

In the past we have brought our own camping gear, although, when our children were very young we took advantage of  the Tent City facility with it's pre-erected tents close to the action.

The 2012 Woodford festival is looking exceptionally good, particularly with 'The Dreaming Festival'(cancelled in June due to storm damage) running in parallel with the regular gathering. The programme has arrived and it a piece of art in it's own right. Woodford runs from Dec 27 2011- 1 Jan, 2012.

Family commitments, the long drive north and financial considerations, mean that we are going to have to give Woodford a miss this year, but we highly recommend it to families with children of any age as a great experience. Be warned, go prepared for the possibility of very hot days and very wet days but the spectacle is well worth it.

This year we will be in New South Wales for our festival quota and have pretty much earmarked the following events.

Peats Ridge

In less than ten years the Peats Ridge Sustainable Arts Festival has become a fantasmagorical 3 day festival to see in the New Year. It has created a children's hub high on the hill where, they tell us, there's 'a whole world of activities and play designed to keep kids of all ages happy'. There’s a designated family campsite, the Festival has plenty of open space and there’s a family swimming hole manned by a Life Guard! The children's programme looks well-thought through.

There is a cool music line-up for teens and adults, as far as we can tell! We were mortified that when we looked over the adult programme as we are now officially now a bit out of touch with contemporary music. Our 10 year-old son, who is up to date, assures us that the acts booked are "really wicked".

The clincher for us is that there are dedicated areas for children of different ages with three specific areas for different age groups (under 7s, under 12s and teens) so Peats gets our nod to see in the new year with style. Watch this space for our impressions.

 Kiama Festival

In Kiama, NSW, the circus tent returns for school holiday workshops, but this time with an entire seaside festival attached. The KISS Arts Festival looks like a real family affair with street performers, kids' circus skills workshops and professional performers in the high top each night.


There will be an opening gala night and other shows including Harvey’s Troupe that produce bold modern circus and Fool's Gold featuring trapeze, acrobatics, unicycling, axe juggling, slack-rope walking, sword swallowing, whip cracking, magic, hula-hooping, stunt car jumping, pogo sticking, roller skating.

We will be enrolling our children in one of the circus skills workshops and spending a day or two in an area that we know well and love.

The KISS Arts Festival  event runs from 3rd - 15th Jan, 2012.

 Parkes Elvis Festival

We thought that we needed a festival that is a little more out of the ordinary, so what better place than a hot, dry Aussie country town full of Elvis impersonators, entertainers and visitors at the Parkes Elvis Festival? This way the children will get to learn both local history and some music history in the same week.

As well as enjoying the five day festival ( 11 -15 Jan, 2012) with it's concerts, parades and a thousand Elvis's, we will be taking in some of the local sights.

On the list:

  • The King's Castle Elvis Exhibit
  • Parkes Motor Museum
  • Henry Parkes Museum (folk history)
  • Pioneer Park Antique Machinery Collection

We also plan to take the children out past the Parkes satellite dish, famous for its role in relaying Apollo 11 telemetry and television pictures from the Moon on 21st July, 1969.

 Sydney Festival

Throughout January the Sydney Festival is offering a variety of children friendly events and we will be trying to catch some of these in between. We will be endeavoring to get to the first day on Saturday 7th January where in the heart of the CBD from 3pm. There is kids live music, street theatre, a double decker bus of dancing music at Hyde Park. Will have to see what else falls into place.

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