Mark and I are huge Formula 1 fans and have wanted to attend a Grand Prix for years but we always thought it was too expensive and not suitable for kids, so it’s something that has stayed on the Bucket List, that was until last year. I was scouring the internet for something to get Mark for his birthday (he is so difficult to buy for!) and I kept seeing adverts for the British Grand Prix. After doing some research I decided that it was family friendly and that although it was eye wateringly expensive I could spread the cost over a few months, interest free. So I went ahead and booked.
The British Grand Prix is held at Silverstone, a few hours drive from where we live. We travelled up on the Friday afternoon after the kids had finished school, the traffic was kind to us and we had an easy journey in the sunshine. Now we live in the UK so I had already mentally prepared for the weather to be absolutely awful, I mean you’re almost guaranteeing it will rain if you want to do something outdoors, but the weeks leading up to Grand Prix weekend were hot and glorious.
We opted to camp at Silverstone for the weekend at Woodlands which is the closest campsite to the track. There are two areas within Woodlands – Lively and Family. We opted for Family as we had the kids with us. When we arrived we were directed to where we could park and pitch our tent, they set everyone out in lines with the cars parked on the outside and the tents in the middle. There are two lines of cars and tents to each row and then a ‘grass road’ between each row. There was plenty of space and we didn’t feel squashed in at all. The atmosphere at the campsite was lovely, everyone was laughing and joking with each other, groups of children and parents were playing football and the smell of barbecues filled the air.
Once we had set the tent up we went for a wander to check out the food and entertainment options. I have to say we were all really impressed. In the family area there was a bouncy castle obstacle course, a climbing wall, remote control cars, food trucks and a covered area with entertainment including family friendly movies. Over in the Lively side there were several stages with live music, funfair rides, dodgems, food trucks, bars, a shop and big screens showing sports. The food options were quite varied, with curries, vegetarian options and Chinese food as well as the usual burgers, hot dogs, pizza, fries etc. In the mornings the food trucks offered breakfast choices too. As with any event, the food was not the cheapest so if you’re on a budget you might want to take food with you.
I’m not going to lie, my biggest concern about going camping for the weekend was the toilets. I mean, I’ve been to festivals so I know how gross the toilets get and I did not want to have to deal with that when we had the kids with us. I have to say that there were more than enough toilets and that they were all cleaned regularly, both the ones in the campsite and the ones inside the track area. There were also plenty of areas for hot showers and brushing your teeth etc.
Saturday at the Grand Prix is Qualifying day so we were up early to head into the track to watch the action. Guess what? Yep, it was grey and chilly!! How unlucky were we?! Fortunately I had packed big coats for all of us, but we all decided that it would probably burn off and the sun would come out, so we decided to brave it without coats. By the end of the day we were absolutely freezing!
There was so much to do inside the track area and most of it was free. We found an area to watch Practice and the kids spent some time playing in a little sports area where they could do table tennis that we could see from where we were. There were a lot more activities inside the track so after Practice we waked over to have a look, while we waited for Qualifying to start. As expected, there were plenty of food trucks and merchandise stands, but there were also stands from various brands to look around. The stands do get crowded but they’re not unbearable. The kids’ favourite was the Disney Cars stand because they had Playstations (I think that’s what they were?) set up to play a racing game on and they really enjoyed that. There were was also a huge Ferris Wheel that was roughly £5 each to go on and it gave a great view of the track!Our kids were 14 and 12 at the time and loved it, but there were lots of younger children there too and it was definitely family friendly. We were able to walk around most areas except the Grandstands and the VIP area. We did contemplate upgrading to Grandstand tickets but the cost for all four of us was a bit too much at the time, if we go back I would be tempted to pay the extra just to have a seat with a good view that is undercover.
Once Quali was over we headed back to the tent as we were all freezing. We had some down time in the tent with snacks for the kids and Prosecco for me and Mark and then we went up to the family area so the kids could go on the climbing wall and watch the movie. It was a nice way to spend a few hours and the kids enjoyed themselves. There are other races going on during the weekend but we didn’t watch any on the Saturday as the kids were too cold.
We were up early on the Sunday so that we could get a good spot around the track to watch the race. The best spots go quickly, so you need to be prepared to stay in the same place for several hours. We took our coats and some blankets with us as we didn’t want a repeat of the day before and fortunately the sun did come out for a while and the rain held off until just after the race. Being trackside for the race was fantastic and it was great fun to see a Grand Prix ‘in real life’. Once the race was over they opened up the gates to allow the spectators onto the track and it was a mad rush to get over near the podium. Lewis Hamilton won the race and he came out into the crowd right by us after the awards were given out!
Although our tickets covered us to stay until the Monday we had to leave on the Sunday evening due to work commitments and school, so after the race we went straight back to the tent to get packed up. In hindsight this wasn’t the best idea because the queue to get out of the campsite was crazy and it took over an hour to get out! If we were to go again we would probably go to the after-race concert and take our time to leave so that we avoided the queues a bit.
When I booked the tickets I was really unsure whether we would all enjoy the weekend and whether there would be enough to entertain us once the races were over. I needn’t have worried because we all said it was one of the best weekends away we have ever had, so if you’re thinking about going to the British Grand Prix with your family we thoroughly recommend it.
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