At the beginning of this month, Pete and I went to Oulton Park in Cheshire for CarFest North. Radio 2 listeners might have heard of the 3 day festival set up by Chris Evans for Children in Need. Billed as a combination of his favourite things, cars, food and music, it’s supposed to be a great family day out and as my husband is car obsessed, I knew he would love it and snapped up tickets for his birthday in January.
We arrived at 10.45, in time to watch the ‘magnificent sevens’ hill climb – groups of 7 of various types of car (starting with the 7 Ferrari’s Chris Evans has collected,) racing one by one round the track, with commentary about their heritage. We didn’t watch them all, instead heading to grab a coffee and some breakfast whilst checking out the food offerings. There were loads of food trucks with delicious options for eating – festival in style but far beyond the usual greasy burger and chip offerings. We had coffee and headed to the paddock to see all the sevens up close and personal.
Now I’m not much of a fan of cars but I do think some of them are beautiful and in the sunshine with them all super shiny and polished, there was plenty to keep me occupied until Pete spotted the Formula one cars getting ready to do their lap – it was absolutely deafening! The highlight of Pete’s day was seeing James Hunts Formula One winning car from 1977.
Next we watched the aerial display including the Vulcan bomber which took my breath away – it was so big and so low, it felt like an alien space ship coming to take over the earth. Lunch was a huge burrito and some paella, chosen from the mix of organic, farmers market, and specialist food trucks around the main area (I didn’t get to properly investigate the pies v cakes tent full of British independent bakers of pies, cakes and some jams and chutneys but Paul Hollywood was there judging.) Next we headed to the track again, to watch the cars repeat their laps. The DB5 from Skyfall and the DBS from the Quantum of Solace were amongst the cars, as well as the car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a car made into a shed, and lots of celebrities driving their cars.
It’s a pretty long haul watching them all, but luckily for me, when we got to the ones we had seen before, it was gloriously sunny and I stretched out on the grass for a rest. With only the music left to happen, we staked out a place centre stage, only a few rows from the front and enjoyed some Pimms before the music started. It soon got busy and we had to squeeze past to get more drinks and some dinner later but it was worth it as the music was fab with an x-factor style kareoke session, followed by Noasis, Deacon Blue and then The Feeling. Everybody knows Oasis so they were great for a sing along, but I couldn’t recall anything of Deacon Blue’s until they got started and they were really incredible. The Feeling were also brilliant – so good I’m thinking of going to see them again in October when they go on tour. The headliners were actually Ocean Colour Scene, but unfortunately it started to rain and after hearing their one memorable track we left, having had a great day.
You can camp for the weekend, but for us I think it was enough for the one day – other than the music, we saw everything we wanted to in one day. What was great about it was the atmosphere. There were families everywhere and people just having a great time, no drunken louts, blokes with their shirts off or kids causing trouble. Everyone was just relaxed and enjoying everything on offer. I’d definitely recommend it – particularly for a family day out if you’re not sure about taking kids or a present for blokes/dads who are hard to buy for – if they like cars, you’ll be spot on treating them to this.