We had such a great time at Lollibop last year, and so I was really grateful that thanks to Little Tikes we received a family pass and the opportunity to experience the festival for a second year.
The venue changed this year to Hatfield House. We arrived around half an hour before the festival opened, and had no problem driving into the car park and parking. Parking cost £10.
We headed first to Tikes Town by Little Tikes, very easy to spot near the entrance. It was a large fenced off area, filled with Little Tikes toys - cars, outdoor play equipment and smaller toys like play kitchens, cars and diggers. Children took turns to play in small groups, with a very short queue and smooth handover. We visited again several times through the day because the children loved it here so much, it was really well organised with loads for them to do. I even got to sit in an adult sized Little Tikes car!
Nearby we also enjoyed the Duplo area, where the children could build their own constructions and take them into a special tent where a computer brought their creations to life. This part was a bit hit and miss to be honest, but the children were very impressed and kept running back in with their latest models!
The Thomas and Friends area was another very good part of the festival. If you could do without having your picture taken with Thomas then there were very few queues, and lots of little games that the children could play to win small prizes, like hooking a train and knocking down blocks.
We spent most of our day wandering around and exploring the different tents and activities, which we didn't find too busy. We spent some time watching chickens hatching from eggs in the Incredible Eggs tent, and making shapes from clay to stick to a tree in the National Geographic tent. In the Science Museum tent Mia held a bubble with some kind of cloudy gas inside and we saw some helium balloons being exploded.
One tent that we very much enjoyed was the Wizard School, with a Harry Potter theme. There were short queues for the children to make spiders, magic wands and a little pot of magic beans, and we were just in time to watch a magic show with Harry Potter and Hagrid. We also enjoyed the den making area, where we were provided with sheets and pegs, with ropes strung from trees to build between.
The Nintendo area had a cool slide which the children loved and a challenge where you had to collect stickers by doing different activities. We didn't manage it as the children didn't have the patience for it, but it did look like a lot of fun.
We arrived half an hour early at the main Lollibop Live stage to watch Justin Fletcher, easily the most popular performer, and we had a pretty good view. We were quite near the back but many people towards the front were sitting down on the provided benches and also there was a slight slope. We did still had to lift the children up to see though and it was quite uncomfortable with a large helium balloon in front of us that kept bopping us, so we didn't last the whole set.
I've read several other reviews of the day now, and everyone seems to have found different things to see. We spent all day there and felt that we'd seen it all, but I keep finding things that we missed, in particular the free Haribo passed us by this year! There is certainly plenty to do without watching any of the shows. We didn't spend any money at all once inside as we brought our own food.
Our only disappointment was the organisation of the Lollipalladium tent. I tried very hard not to promise anything in advance to avoid disappointment, but I did tell Harry that Andy Day from CBeebies would be there as he loves his dinosaur programme. Unfortunately the show was in the Lollipalladium tent, and it soon became clear that there was no way we were going to get in at all due to limited capacity and long queues all day. Fortunately our children weren't too bothered and we were able to distract them elsewhere, but I did see some upset people.
At the end of the day we found a face painting stand with no queue (included in the ticket price), so Mia had her face painted for the first time. She's never shown any interest before, but she loved it, she chose her design from the book and sat so still while the lady painted some pretty pink flowers. It looked really good!
We had a great day at Lollibop and I would love to return next year. We didn't really see any of the shows but we still found plenty to do in the tents across the festival. But at £82.50 for a family ticket (advance price for two adults and two children) plus £10 parking I do think that Lollibop need to improve it somehow so that everyone can see the acts that have been advertised, as they are the main incentive for the cost of the ticket.
We received complimentary tickets to Lollibop, with big thanks to Little Tikes.