This weekend, GoFest permeated my being. Just as any good festival should, it gave me a feeling of anticipation on Friday, excitement on Saturday and fatigue on Sunday. But in each case, no sooner had I waved my wrist band to whoever cared, I was carried into that parallel existence that any weekend festival goer will relate to.
GoFest 2015 was billed as ‘the sporting Glastonbury’ and it didn’t disappoint. A mixture of warm weather, live music, celebrity spots and good vibes combined with a chance to try out every sport imaginable under one roof, meant that we had a thoroughly exhausted but happy family on our hands by the end of the weekend.
Friday’s highlight was skiing on the freshly imported snow, trucked down the A3 each day to create a mini ski slope in the Snow Zone. Definitely one of the most popular activities, our kids who have never been skiing before embraced it wholeheartedly. Uh oh, looks like the pressure could be on for a skiing holiday. Darn you, GoFest!There were plenty of other activities to try, from bouncy obstacle courses to Segway, via tightropes and trampolining. There was much excitement as we bumped into Ian Waite in the Surrey Sports Park foyer. Charming as ever, he agreed to pose for a photo with our avid Strictly fans and this really did make their day.
We stayed on for the evening entertainment. It was such a treat to get a close view of Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe performing their jive then rumba. And yes, these genial people willingly posed for a photo again. Following them on stage were the energetic and catchy Only One Direction, which went down very well with the children. OK, we admit it, we could be spotted having a cheeky bop too.
Due to other commitments we returned only briefly on Saturday but we did have a chance to try the Sokka zone, run by Kevin Keegan. This zone focused on speed and agility games and was great fun.
We were back with intent early on Sunday morning, ready to give GoFest our all. The children wanted to have a try at climbing, but unfortunately it was fully booked for the day.
So we popped down the corridor to see what was going on at the Squash Zone. I was mad on squash as a teenager but haven’t dared enter a court for at least twenty five years for fear of leaving it on a stretcher. But it was fantastic fun and really nice to teach the kids a few of the basics. And I was still standing afterwards, bonus!
Some of us joined the Family Fun Run 1 mile and they had the chance to test their mettle against Olympic athlete Roger Black. If you look carefully amongst the pack you may spot him. All finished credibly and it was the perfect warm down after squash as my husband remarked through gritted teeth.
But there was no rest for the wicked. Next we were off to the Cricket Zone and got some top coaching tips from Surrey cricketers. The gymnasts amongst us took to bowling quickly after being told to bowl as if you are doing a cartwheel. One in particular got carried away and actually followed through with the cartwheel. We didn’t manage to capture this on camera so her blushes are spared for now.
After some batting tuition we were asked if we wanted to play ‘blind cricket’. Yes, with real blindfolds and not being able to see a thing! It was as difficult as it sounds and a real ‘eye opener’ into how sport can be accessible to all and open up a world of opportunities to those with disabilities.
And later in the afternoon we discovered that our eldest daughter has a talent for fly-fishing after she successfully learnt four techniques in 10 minutes, something that usually takes grown men hours of tuition apparently. I’m not sure whether we will be following this up, living in land-locked Surrey, but what it does demonstrate is the ethos of GoFest, which is to open as many doors as possible and create new opportunities for kids and adults alike.
GoFest organisers should be praised for believing in an idea and executing their vision to such an effect. GoFest was other worldly once you got stuck in and embraced what was on offer. We look forward to GoFest 2016 as there were so many sports and activities that we didn’t have time to try.
The only negative about GoFest 2015 was that more families didn't sign up for the experience. So we hope that your curiosity has been piqued enough to encourage you to grab some tickets next year and have your own very unique experience, just as we did.