Playstival: A festival dedicated to playing? I’m more excited than my kids

Are We There Yet? The Happy Pear twins have come up with fun weekend at Airfield

The Happy Pear twins David and Stephen Flynn with one-year-old Benji Duckenfield as  launched the new children’s play festival “Playstival with The Happy Pear”. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

The Happy Pear twins David and Stephen Flynn with one-year-old Benji Duckenfield as launched the new children’s play festival “Playstival with The Happy Pear”. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

 

It’s amazing nobody thought of it already. A festival dedicated to play. This weekend the inaugural “Playstival” is taking place in Dublin. It’s a brilliant and important idea even if this new word Playstival is a little tricky to pronounce.

I like the name though because it sounds exactly like the kind of word a child would invent. In our house when we are simultaneously nervous about something and extremely excited – the scarifying rollercoaster at Tayto Park for example, or being anywhere in the vicinity of President Michael D Higgins – we say we are “nervacited”.

When it comes to Playstival I’m just plain old excited. Perhaps even more than my kids.

I used to be embarrassed about how in touch with my inner-child I was even deep into middle-age so I felt vindicated when I came across this quote from the Muppets creator Jim Henson: “The most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children.” His take on childishness as a badge of honour made me feel less odd, and more normal and obviously 50 per cent more sophisticated which is not a word I’d ever have used about myself.

I cry easily – like a child. I get over-excited about things – like a child. I am prone to the odd irrational tantrum – like a child. I like to play – like a child. So when I heard about Playstival from the Happy Pear twins – of course those hand-standing, permagrinning, wheatgrass-swilling boyos are behind it – I thought it was a brilliant idea.

It’s a two-day summer festival for children and all the older people their lives. Here’s the blurb: “Playstival celebrates play, imagination, and fun with a range of hands-on, fun and imaginative games and themed play universes. Play is an integral and important part of children’s lives and the focus of Playstival is to “go back to basics” and experience a more innocent approach to games and play – no fancy technology or screens to be found! Playstival is both interactive and active, kids don’t just sit and watch, they play.”

This is what author Shon Mehta had to say about the inner child: “The problem with the inner child is that if it keeps showing too often, people label you as childish,” said author and entrepreneur Shon Mehta. This used to bother me. These days, not so much. Want to play?

Playstival with The Happy Pear at Airfield Estate, Dundrum, Dublin 14, Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th August 9am- 6pm. Tickets are €12.42 (€10 ticket price + €1.39 booking fee + €1.03 VAT) at Playstival.ie. Under 2s go free. For more see playstival.ie

The creatively themed play universes vary in age-range suitability from 18 months to 12 years and include a construction site for kids, an architects area focused on team-skills, a pedal-powered train service, a kid-sized food market, a games filled animal farm, toddler-rific children’s island, a magical wonderland tea party for all the family to discover, and even a visit to the wild wild west.

Parents and guardians will have the opportunity to play with their children, or to let them interact with others and the games and engage their imaginations. Each play universe will have trained supervisors.

In addition to the play universes, families can enjoy free activities at Playstival such as lego brick-building with The Brickx Club, laughter yoga, storytelling, papercrafts, drama classes, science shows and mindfulness.And of course there’ll be Happy Pear grub on offer throughout the weekend – from healthy wraps and salads, to hot dishes, as well as Happy Pear smoothies, hand-roasted coffees, and a selection of healthier cakes and treats. All set in glorious 38 acre Airfield Estate, which is one of the best play universes in the city any day of the year.

The Dublin  Horse Show

Confession time: Bunking in to The Horse Show was a big part of my childhood every summer. (Don’t try this at home, kids, obviously it’s very naughty not to mention immoral).

When I were a lass, our main entertainment at the show came from collecting free stickers from allthe stands. We made our own fun then you see, but these days you don’t have to.

When we visited the other day I couldn’t believe the amount there was to do with kids, that I would have loved when I running around the RDS collecting stickers and other, mostly agricultural themed, stationary items.

The ever-popular Keeling Kid’s Zone has bouncy castles and slides and pony rides and face painting and a place where you can learn how to grow your own fruit. There is also a Vintage Berry Bus for strawberries and cream pitstops.

This year the show features 1,500 horses and ponies, hosts 135 competitions, and more than 300 shopping stands, food and drink stalls dotted all over the grounds, as well as eight world-ranking international show jumping competitions. And stickers, I hope. Loads of them.

The Dublin Horse Show, RDS, Dublin Keeling’s Kids Zone, from 11am-4.30pm until Sunday August 12th. Tickets: Adult – €23. Daily concession (Child U16 / Student / OAP 66+) – €17. Daily family of six Sunday (maximum two adults) – €60 family of six. All other days – €65. dublinhorseshow.com

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