For the past 20 years Coventry has been hosting a rather special summer event. A family festival on a grand scale, taking place over 3 days with music, food, drink, fairground rides and plenty of other attractions to keep everyone entertained. Best of all - it’s free!
May 2019 Update: Sadly it is no longer free to go to Coventry Godiva festival. In 2019 Coventry City Council took the decision to make the event ticketed. This means at the time of writing (May 2019) tickets cost £2 per person per day and parking will now be £10 per car per day. It’s a real shame that ticketing and charges have had to be introduced. Even though it’s still very cheap, for me this completely changes the easy-come, easy-go nature of what was a brilliant weekend out. I hope that this doesn’t signal the end of this fab little festival.
Coventry is a city that is most definitely on the way up. With the annual Coventry MotoFest growing in size & popularity each year, a £36 million new water park opening in 2019 as well as being crowned European City of Sport for 2019 there’s a lot going on in my hometown city. Of course, let’s not forget that Coventry has been named as UK City of Culture 2021, and it’s even on the shortlist to become home to the new regional Channel 4 headquarters. Exciting times for Coventrarians!
So it’s not surprising that Coventry’s War Memorial Park is host to the fantastic free Coventry Godiva Festival every summer. This year, the date was a little later than normal, because earlier in the summer the BBC used the War Memorial Park to host their Biggest Weekend event.
This year I went along to Godiva Festival to check out what was on offer. I wasn’t disappointed.
Easy Access and Free Parking
We choose to drive to the event because it’s so easy to do. On approach to the War Memorial Park there are signs directing drivers on how to get to the car park for the event. When we arrived at the entrance to the park there were plenty of volunteers directing us where to go. We got free parking just 5 minutes from the festival entrance.
I should note that when we’ve been in previous years, if leaving near the end of a day there can be a bit of a queue to get out of the car park. However this year, we left a couple of hours before the end and drove straight out no problem.
May 2019 edit: parking now costs £10 per day per car
Quick Security Check
These days security is at the forefront of everybody’s mind. I’m pleased to say that there were careful bag searches being carried out, and it was clear that there was double-fencing up around the perimeter of the event to prevent any attempts at vehicle ramming. There were lots of lanes to go through at security so we didn’t have to queue, and we also picked up a handy guide for the weekend.
Three Zones To Enjoy
There are 3 areas to explore once inside Godiva Festival:
- The Main Music Area
- The Fairground Area
- The Family Area
1. The Main Music Area
This is where the main event really takes place. There is the Main Stage, a 2nd stage inside the large Rhythm Tent, as well as a smaller stage for accoustic type acts near to the large bar.
Speaking of bars, there are 2: the Hill Top Bar which is opposite the main stage (with the accoustic stage by it), and the Stage Bar, which unsurprisingly is located near to the main stage!
There are also a lot of food vendors selling all sorts of tasty food options, and several trader stalls with typical festival clothes, hats and accessories!
The variety of cuisines on offer included mexican, chinese, thai, burgers, indian, pizzas, bavarian, hog roast, crepes and many more!
Across the 3 day event there’s a lot of great music to enjoy. The 2018 acts included Professor Green, Gabrielle, Jake Bugg, Jonas Blue, Editors, Tony Christie, The Neville Staple Band and Ronan Keating.
A fun addition this year was the big wheel at the back of the field, where you could get great views of the whole Godiva Festival ground and beyond into Coventry.
2. The Fairground Area
There’s not too much to say about this area, it’s a fairly typical fair. It’s geared mostly to older kids and adults, because there was a smaller, child friendly funfair in The Family Area. We didn’t venture into the fairground area to go on any rides, but it looked like there were some pretty big, hair-raising rides! I’m probably stating the obvious here, but you had to pay to go on the rides, they weren’t free as part of the festival.
3. The Family Area
The entertainment in the family field has been expanding every year. This year was the biggest yet.
First there’s the Paradise Tent offering comedy on Friday evening, then various different types of music including local talent on Saturday and Sunday.
This year there was also a small stage hosted by BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, a children’s fairground (including inflatables), the much-loved Vintage Village and a few activity tents for families (including an animal petting pen). I was intrigued to see a yarn maze inside one of the tents, where you could take some yarn and add your part to the maze! Another new addition to the family area this year was a bar.
This field definitely feels like it’s no longer just an “add-on”, but instead it’s part of the main event, and there were certainly plenty of people buzzing around.
Our Day Enjoying The Festival
Now for a run-down of how we enjoyed our day at Godival Festival!
We went on Sunday and ventured into the main music area first. I was keen to see Tony Christie who was due to be on stage fairly early at 1pm. We arrived not long after the gates opened at 12 noon, and seeing as we’d enjoyed a lazy Sunday morning, went to get our “breakfast” in the form of iced coffee and donuts. Not at all healthy, but hey, we were at a festival!
We went and pitched a spot in front of the main stage with our blanket, listening to the warm-up acts. It was very sunny and there was a lovely atmosphere as the area in front of the stage filled up.
Eventually it was time for Tony Christie, he did a great set, must have been well over the 30 minutes he was scheduled to sing. Of course he finished off with a rendition of “Show me the way to Amarillo” which everyone sang along to!
We decided to go for a walk around the festival next, and found ourselves on the big wheel. Then we went through to the family field for a look around. I always love going to the Vintage Village tent where there is jewellery, clothes, bags, cakes and other vintagey lovely things!
We found a super picture stall called Mrs Flower’s Fabulous Card Company. They sell vintage picures of fairytale/Disney and other much loved characters. Many of their products are from vintage playing cards, though I found a wonderful gift card which took me back to my childhood. It was a picture of Cinderella going to the ball in a beautiful gold carriage, just like I remember it from my Ladybird book. Yes that’s right, there’s more to Cinderella than Disney! If you like vintage pictures, then I highly recommend you visit the Fabulous Card Company Etsy shop and follow them on Instagram.
After our walk around the family area we decided to head back into the main music area because we wanted to get some food. I always love eating at Godiva festival because I find the food quality really good. It certainly lived up to expectations this year.
I went for a chinese dinner of sweet and sour chicken on rice, with some spring rolls on the side. My boyfriend chose a burrito which looked amazing! We sat down on our blanket to eat our food, and just at that point one of the entertainment groups called Kinetika Bloco started playing their carnival-style music, parading right in front of us! We couldn’t have planned it any better.
We decided to head home after that, having spent several hours at the festival. The beauty of a free festival is that you don’t have to stick around for hours trying to “get your money’s worth”. We left a few hours before the end of the day’s events which meant it was really quick for us to get out of the car park.
Looking For A Low Cost Summer Day Out Next Year?
For money savers and frugalisters alike, Coventry’s Godiva Festival has to be a great option. For the kid’s there’s even the chance to make a bit of pocket money - every year budding young entrepreneurs head around the site collecting empty beer cups which they then take to the refund desk for a small amount of cash. Not only is it fun for them, it also keeps the site’s ground really clean. Win win!
May 2019 update: The dates for 2019 Godiva Festival are set as Fri 5th - Sun 7th July. If you’d like to go, you must now purchase tickets in advance. You can find out more about Godiva 2019 by following on Facebook or Twitter, and at the bottom of the Godiva Festival website there is an option to sign-up to the email list.
Have you ever been to Coventry Godiva Festival? Or do you know of any similar free festivals that run elsewhere? Do share in the comments so that others can get great tips on good days out.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my day at the wonderful Godiva Festival, and who knows, maybe I’ll see you there next year!
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