Monday, 20 August 2012


Bimbadaboum - The 100% Family Festival
Earlier this year, whilst searching for activities to do with Lydia, Chris came across something called the "Bimbadaboum Festival". This is basically an event put on specifically for young children, with shows and activities to keep them interested. So, Chris booked us some tickets for the festival on Saturday 18th August. Under-2s get in free, so we only had to pay for 2 tickets (costing 66.- CHF).

I hadn't really read much into the event prior to going there, just the basic information shown on their website (, so didn't have any huge expectations. I knew that this was the 5th year of the festival and that there would be children's entertainers and some stuff for the kids to do, like little workshops for various crafts. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by what we found there.

The festival itself was held in Geneva, so unfortunately we had to navigate our way around the city with it's nightmare-ish roads and one way systems. At one point we got lost following the directions on Chris' iPhone's Google maps, as a road we were supposed to use was blocked off due to some kind of market. We had to retrace our steps and then couldn't find a way of turning around to rejoin the road back towards the festival! After being stuck in Geneva for about 45 minutes, we finally got on the right road and parked outside the festival in the designated car park (which had ample space for a large number of cars, so that was good).

On entrance to the festival, they tied a paper wristband on each of our arms to allow re-entry. Lydia's wristband also had our mobile numbers written on it in case she managed to get lost during the festival, so that was a good initiative from the organisers. Unfortunately, Lydia wasn't a huge fan of the wristband, immediately trying to prise it off her little arm. It took a lot of convincing and distracting her to keep it on! This might be a bit easier for older kids, I should think.

Once inside, we had a wander around to see what the festival had to offer. The first thing we found was a queue of children waiting for pony rides. Lydia had never been on a pony before, but we decided to give it a go (the rides were free). Although she didn't enjoy wearing a riding helmet, she absolutely loved the pony ride itself. In fact, she didn't want it to end, leading to a small tantrum when the ride finished.

Near the pony rides there was a big, central stage where the performers would be... well, performing... later in the day, with a drinks stand and some food vendors just next to it. What we noticed was that the space in front of the main stage was basically open grassland with no cover - the day we were there was in the middle of a heat wave, with bright blue skies and over 30°C, so not really ideal to stand out in the open under the heat of the sun with no option for cover. Otherwise, it looked like a great place for kids to enjoy a show.

As we walked further around the festival grounds we came across some stands selling artisan's/homemade products, such as jewellery, clothes and wooden toys, as well as some small shops selling their wares. This made for a nice little browse, with some interesting items on sale. Chris bought herself a little good luck bracelet with the words "Mes plus grands réussits - Mes enfants" ("My biggest achievements - my kids").

We continued our walk and came across a second, smaller stage, where a show was already in progress. This had young children (around 10 years old or so) performing the Phantom of the Opera. Some of those kids could really sing! Lydia enjoyed this as well, clapping the performers after they finished their songs. Once again, cover was at a premium under the hot sun, so this wasn't ideal for little Lydia.

We moved on and found the food area - several stalls selling various different types of food, from burgers and chips to pasta and vegetables. It wasn't quite lunchtime yet so we continued walking and went past the circus tent, where artists would be carrying out high-flying acrobatics later in the day.

We completed our tour of the festival in an area full of activities for kids such as face painting, a "baby gym" soft obstacle play area, finger painting and - best of all - a music area where kids could try various different musical instruments (guitars, drums, bongos, keyboards, flutes, and lots more) as well as listening to nursery rhymes and kids songs played by volunteer performers. Lydia loved this, as she banged a drum or shook a tambourine to accompany the guitar.

She didn't particularly enjoy the finger painting afterwards, although this might have been because it was approaching lunchtime and we was getting hungry. We also hadn't got her to do much finger painting at home, so it was all new to her (we spent most of the time trying to keep her paint-covered fingers out of her mouth!). We decided it was time to get something to eat.

We headed back to the food area and bought ourselves some lunch (I had burger and chips with a salad, Chris ordered chicken and rice with a salad), then went to find somewhere to sit. There were several tables and benches under an awning at one end of the food area (also for picnics) but there weren't any spaces free so we sat on the grass under the shade of a large tree and ate our lunch.

It was time for Lydia's nap after that, so I popped her in her pushchair and took her for a stroll around the festival to get her to fall asleep while Chris enjoyed a relaxing break. I came across the pens where they kept the ponies (fortunately Lydia was asleep by this time otherwise it would have made her too excited to sleep!). Just next to that I also noticed the festival had a "ForĂȘt des Contres", basically an area in the woods where kids can go to listen to someone telling fairytale stories. I thought this was a nice touch, but at 16 months old I know that Lydia wouldn't be interested in listening to it. Maybe when she's older we'll give this a try.

Mmmm... Callippo....
Once Lydia had finished her nap, we decided to get something to drink. We thought it would be a good idea to get some ice cream or lollies as well, to try and cool us down on such a warm day. I bought a lime flavoured Callippo for Lydia, as there was nothing else really suitable for her. I was worried that she wouldn't like it though, as lime is generally a very strong flavour.

I needn't have worried - she loved it! So much so, in fact, that she also ate half of Chris' as well!

We went back over to the music area to let her play some more. She really seemed to enjoy this, and it was nice to see her joining in with the other kids.

By about 2pm, it was getting really hot as the heat of the sun reached it's peak. Someone at the festival had the brilliant idea to put a few paddling pools out for kids near the part of the grounds with the circus tent. This was fantastic as it meant we could get Lydia to cool off a bit. She happily played in the pools for about half an hour, and enjoyed splashing around with the other kids.

Once she'd had enough and we'd got her dried and dressed, we went back to the main stage area to take in some of the show. The organisers had put a few parasols up to provide some cover, so everyone crowded under those. Lydia watched the singer on the stage and applauded every song, but her short attention span soon made her wander off in search of something else to do.

There were a few shows lined up for later in the day, but at around 5pm we decided to head home. Lydia isn't old enough to sit in once place and watch a show, so it wasn't really worth it to stick around just for that.

An audience ready for a show
(from the Bimbadaboum website)
My overall impression of the festival was a very positive one. It was very well organised, interesting for adults and fun for kids, not too expensive (my burger was 8.- CHF which is quite competitive) and also benefitted from thoughtful organisers who reacted to the high temperatures by provided parasols and paddling pools. I was surprised that the festival wasn't too crowded either, but I think this might have been partly due to the heat and also due to the fact that it was the school holiday period (so many families might have been away). I don't know if the festival is particularly well known either; according to their website, 21'000 people visited the festival during it's 4 day run this year, so not a lot really. That actually made it easier for Lydia to participate in the music sessions, gym, finger-painting, pony rides, etc. as there wasn't much queuing.

In honesty I think Lydia might have been a bit too young to fully enjoy it this year. Yes, she liked the music and the pony ride, but one of the main attractions to the festival is the performers, and Lydia didn't really pay them any attention.

I think we will go again next year, although it'll be more expensive as Lydia will be over 2 years old and therefore will have to buy her own ticket (on this year's prices that would cost the 3 of us 93.- CHF compared to the 66.- CHF we paid for the 2 of us this year).

The Bimbadaboum festival is definitely something I would recommend to other parents as something fun to do with the kids, and a good day out in general. Bearing in mind our experience benefited from good weather, so I'm not sure what it would be like on a rainy day (particularly the large grassy area for the main stage would be very muddy).

Next year's festival is planned for the 15 - 18 August 2013. Check their website regularly for ticket information, although you can buy tickets at the door as well (subject to availability).

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