Family Activities

Family Arts & Activities

A little bird once said that the early bird catches the worm but we have plenty of family friendly arts and activities throughout the festival weekend to keep you entertained whether you’re a wild goose or a night owl.  Join Bo, our resident Hen Harrier and feathered friends native to Bowland throughout the weekend as you dip into our exciting leisure programme….and don’t forget bird fancy dress for our Saturday night festival parade.  Here’s our A-Z guide.  Full details on timings will be published in our festival programming, complete with some surprise additions.  


Arts Award

Devised by Trinity College London and supported by Arts Council England, Arts Award Discover is a creative activity for children and young people to discover the arts around them, find out about artists and their work and share their experience with others.  The award will link our Birds of Bowland Project and activities programme.  All those who complete the Cloudspotting Discover Log Book will be eligible to receive an official Arts Award certificate from Trinity College London (subject to £5 administration and postage fee).


Between Still and Storm by Aidan Moesby and Tim Shaw, produced by Kerry Harker

Aiming to provoke contemplation and wonder, Between Stillness and Storm presents a large-scale sculptural installation generating audio and visual responses to changing weather conditions, in daylight and at night. The installation developed in response to the festival site, combines traditional and contemporary techniques for ‘sensing’ the weather, through both analogue and digital equipment such as atmospheric sensors, solar panels, anemometers and Crooke’s radiometers, using the weather itself as a source of power translated into sound, light and motion.  Triggering personal responses Between Stillness and Storm provides an intergenerational and accessible platform for further exploration of how the weather and our state of mind are inextricably linked. Supported by the Northern Festivals Network, using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. (All weekend)


Bike Hire

Gisburn Forest is home to some of the UK’s best mountain biking trails of various different levels.  Don’t miss the opportunity to experience mountain biking at its best and blow away a few cobwebs at the same time.  Bike hire including helmets is available throughout the weekend from the Gisburn Hub Café.  Hire costs are per bike and include helmet: £14/1.5hr…..£24/3hr….£29/full day.  Please note that booking is essential and that there are only adult bikes available but please feel free to bring your own….don’t forget to lock it up!


Bowland Explorers

The Explorers are back, and they’re in a bit of a pickle….The great and the good are flying in for the grand opening of the Cloudspotting Museum of Exploration and Adventure, but the priceless treasures due to be unveiled have been somehow lost in transit.  Can they really create a showstopping new exhibition in just one day?

Imaginative play, arts and crafts and glorious silliness for all ages – join us!  Village Green, Saturday 10am-4pm.


Circus School

Non-stop fun and proven to improve co-ordination, relaxation and exercise the brain our Circus School with The Fire Man Dave includes drop in workshop sessions and jaw-dropping demonstrations.  Pop in and have a go at juggling, stilt walking, plate-spinning, hula-hooping and other thrilling activities (Village Green, Saturday)


Clogging – Meet the Arkwrights

The Arkwrights (Dave Heap banjo/fiddle, and Lesley Stepper, choreographer/teacher) are passionate about Clogging or ‘Flatfooting’. This Appalachian acoustic genre originated here in the north of England and on immigration to America became influenced by traditions from the indigenous Cherokee tribes of the region. Over time, musicians of African heritage added the banjo and other syncopated rhythms. Tap is a modern contemporary version of this step dance tradition. Originally from Lancashire, the Arkwrights added “Visiting Cloudspotting 2017 feels like we’re coming full circle, doing our thing where step dance was hugely popular back in the day and where clog dancing originated. We look forward to inviting festival goers on to our boards to have a dance, even try some new steps, don’t be shy!!” (Enchanted Forest, Saturday)


Cloudspotting Carnival

Join Bo and our drumming band as we parade through the festival site celebrating the native birds of Bowland.  Starting from the Village Green we will dance the route to return to the main stage for a jamming session with main stage performers, Jeramiah Ferrari. Make sure you have your bird costumes, whistles, percussion instruments and party vibes! (Village Green, Saturday)


Cloudspotting Choir

This year at Cloudspotting you can experience the fun of singing in a choir with your whole family! SongPlay Lancashire will be guiding our pop up choir through three sessions over the course of the weekend, culminating in a main stage performance! The opportunity to take part is open to everyone of all ages, and the more the merrier! There’s no need for you to know anything about music, and you don’t need any previous experience or special skills. Totally accessible to everyone, this promises to be a festival experience to be remembered! (All weekend – location and times tbc)


Cloudspotting Trail

Produced in association with the RSPB this trail through the woods will lead you to discover clues, reveal answers, complete activities and even meet some other native Birds of Bowland along the way.


Creative Activities

Returning this year, we are very pleased to have the talented folk of Blackburn’s The Bureau curating the activity area for us, linking with our Birds of Bowland project, they will bring an ingenious and varied programme of science, creative arts, forest arts, spoken word, photography and well-being workshops to the Village Green and woodland areas.

The Bureau is a vibrant arts centre in the heart of Blackburn, providing versatile space for arts activities, music, cultural events and community participation.


Drumming workshop

Our wood clearing area is the location for our Saturday afternoon drumming workshop delivered by More Music and the Bay Street Band.  Their rhythmic beats and chants will get you in the mood for the evening Cloudspotting Carnival.


Fit, Flap & Fly by Fine Chisel

Flit, Flap & Fly is a squawking adventure that follows a young bird’s frantic and funny journey towards independence, and his relationship with his fine-singing father. Suitable for all ages (but particularly aimed at 4-7 year olds and their accompanying big people) the audience is invited inside the nest, where they find themselves part of the daily life of a unique bird family.

Bursting with live music and audience participation, everyone can learn birdsongs and get ready to take flight for the first time.

FINE CHISEL are a multi award-winning theatre company and band from Bristol. Their shows blend playful storytelling with foot-stomping live music, and have been seen across the UK in theatres, pubs, village halls, schools, fields, streets, farms and more.  Supported by the Northern Festivals Network, using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. (Enchanted Forest – various times Sunday)


The Gruffalo

Trek through the forest to discover clues as you hunt down The Gruffalo!  Pick up an activity pack from the Forestry Commission tent in the Village Green, follow the trail and complete fun activities along the way!



Come and get social with your knitting needles in this workshop facilitated by our partners at RSPB to produce your own wooly version of Bo.  Bring wool and needles to reflect the size of bird you would like to produce.  As a guide: Double Knitting yarn – 3.5mm needles / Aran yarn – 4.5mm needles / Chunky yarn – 5.5mm needles.  (All weekend: location and times tbc)


Laughter Yoga

Laughter has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, boost immune system, stabilise blood sugar, lower pain, relax muscles and reduce anxiety. Laughter Yoga is a type of gentle exercise class where laughter is the exercise. There are no jokes or tricks, just playful, unconditional laughter lead by a laughter yoga facilitator. Come and laugh for no reason. No comedy, no jokes, no humour, just gentle games and exercises to get you laughing. After a laughter session you will feel fitter, healthier and happier. (All weekend, various locations)


Madam Bridget’s Caravan of Curiosity by Ian Douglas

After years of travelling the road and enthralling audiences Madam Bridget has returned to her roots as a world famous fortune teller and tea bag reader.  Madam Bridget invites you to join her in her little camp where she will regale you with stories songs slight of hand and mind reading that will leave you feeling completely agog. Supported by the Northern Festivals Network, using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.  (Friday – venue and times tbc)


Orienteering / Family Sports Day with Lancashire Sport Partnership

We want you to go and explore the beautiful Gisburn Forest.  But we want you to do it like proper explorers.  Lancashire Sport have an orienteering challenge which will help you gain the skills of those who have explored before us!

Throughout the weekend from the Village Green, we are also hosting the Family Sports Day activities including soft archery, coconut shy, tug of war, rounders and more.


Oulala Cabaret and Can Can Workshop

The OULALA Cabaret will be transporting you back to the “Belle Epoque ” and to the Twenties in Paris .Two dancers will bring back into life “La Goulue ” ,the queen of the French Cancan and Mistinguette the star of the Charleston.Come along and go ….OULALA !

Following the cabaret, learn how to Cancan in the pure French tradition with Lucie Labadie who has trained in the Cabaret style and performed with several Cabaret shows in France and in China .Now living in Stoke on Trent. Supported by the Northern Festivals Network, using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. (Sunday – Cabin in the Woods 2-4pm)


Play in a Day

A former student of the National Youth Theatre and facilitator of theatre workshops at the acclaimed Burnley Youth Theatre, Jack Herbert will introduce young people to the techniques and skills necessary for devising, storytelling and performing a piece of drama.  Young performers will be introduced to the benefits of incorporating narration, freeze frame, mime, improvisation, verse and song into a devised piece of drama so that it may then be rehearsed and performed later to a festival audience as a play in a day linking our bird theme of the festival. (Limited places available, register for this day workshop in Cloud Cuckoo Land on Friday evening.  Workshop takes place on Saturday, 10am-4pm with performance at 4pm, Suitable for ages 6+).


Rock n’ Learn with Harriet Gore

Pre-school fun with award winning musical educator Harriet as she brings her unique blend of rhythm and fun to our beautiful festival setting. (Sunday – Little Fluffy Clouds 11am)



A partner organization of Cloudspotting, The RSPB is the UK’s biggest nature conservation charity – they focus on conserving the UK’s wildlife and restoring and protecting its natural habitats. They will be in and around the site throughout the weekend delivering a wide range of Birds of Bowland Project games and activities from their central hub in the Village Green including conservation talks, guided bird walks, The Hen Harrier Survival Guide,  knitting, mask making activities and much, much, more.  Please visit their stall in the Village Green for updated information on activities, locations and times.


Saleem Seedat’s Sunday Sufism

Back for a third year, come and learn about the spiritual tradition of Sufism and partake in some of its rich poetry! Also, feel the calmness of nature through Sufi meditation.

A scholar in contemporary Islam and a regular speaker for the Inter-faith Team at Cambridge University. Saleem is currently the Chaplain at Blackburn College as well as a lecturer of Islamic Studies at a local seminary.  (Enchanted Forest – Sunday 4pm)


Sleaze and Fink’s Ultimate Music Quiz

After enforced absence due to an extreme sports injury last year, Sleaze and Fink return to Cloudspotting to question your commitment to musical trivia.  Two fools plumb the murky depths of your musical knowledge. Expect pantomime professionalism, badly drawn album covers, and the inimitable stylophone round.
Be prepared to unleash your creativity via audience participation. (The Bitter Suite, Sunday lunchtime)



Our resident storyteller for 2017, Ian Douglas has been telling stories at festivals, schools, libraries and street corners for over 15 years.  Originally a street theatre performer, fire breather and stilt walker, Ian has also worked as a theatre practitioner in residence for organisations across the North including Northern Stage and Live Theatre in Newcastle and most recently, Theatre by the Lake in Keswick and has been an apprentice to the Grasmere-based storyteller Taffy Thomas. Supported by the Northern Festivals Network, using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. (Various locations Saturday and Sunday)


Teenage Hideaway

Imagine a place without Mum and Dad.  A place to chill.  A place where you can hang out with other teenagers and take part in youth culture activities such as urban art, beatboxing, DJing and other youth-club based happenings  but still be in a festival setting.  Our Hideaway in the woods is just for you.  Full programme and details to follow. Suitable for age 13+ (Cabin in the Woods – Saturday 10am-4pm)


We Are Family…..Disco!”

After an electrifying performance with full-on audience participation we are pleased to welcome back We Are Family.  The joint adventure of Axial Dance and South Manchester’s suburban disco outfit, Home on the Range…..We Are Family is a disco with a dancing difference for kids and their adults.

Get-down at the main stage, Saturday 12.30pm

Whilst HotR DJ Matt plays classic disco tunes like Frantique’s Strut your Funky Stuff, Ruth and Clare from Axial Dance lead the moves that everyone can join in with.  It’s a stomping fun workout from start to finish so join us to feel the We Are Family experience.  (Main Stage, Saturday 12.30pm)


Yoga with Natalie Ward

Suitable for everyone, yoga is a powerful tool to use for our physical and mental well-being.  Returning from an extensive 6-month trip in India, Natalie’s sessions will restore energy and strength leaving you rejuvenated and at peace to enjoy the festival weekend. (Enchanted Forest Yurt: Friday 5pm / Saturday 11am and 12.15pm) 



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