Dad of seven turned festival director Simon Goldman tells Access why the time is right to launch his family festival Geronimo in the south


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Unsatisfied with what was on offer to entertain his brood of seven children, Simon Goldman quit his successful job in import and exports to establish a weekend festival specifically for kids.

“As a family we always tried to look for days out that delivered to a varied age group and offered value for money as well as being unique. We visited many festivals with our children, but we always felt the kids field was an additional provision for festival-goers who now have children and was a secondary item to the music,” he recalls.

It was during a day out at the Cheshire Country Fair six years ago that Goldman had the idea of turning the concept on its head and delivering a festival, which was built entirely from a child’s perspective. With no experience in event production whatsoever, planning started at the kitchen table.

“In the businesses I’ve been involved in we’ve always made sure we got assistance and help from great teams and Geronimo was going to be no different. So from the start we outsourced a lot of our production requirements to specialists within the industry,” he says.


The first event launched at Tatton Park in Cheshire in 2015 offering hundreds of hands-on activities for children and special guest appearances from a host of CBeebies stars including Mr Bloom and Cook and Line from Swashbuckle. It attracted 8,000 visitors. It relocated from Tatton Park to Arley Hall in 2017. This year, for the festival’s fourth outing, Simon is anticipating 55,000 people to attend, with around 7,000 of those camping, making it the largest children’s event in Europe.

“There is a huge appetite for what we do because we are unique, nobody else does what we do. I think people really love what we offer, because we offer a bit of everything,” he says.

Such is the appetite for Geronimo’s unique model, a second event will be rolled out at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire this summer.

“We were getting contacted by the public on a daily basis to say there is nothing like Geronimo that takes place in the south of the country, so we decided the time was right to deliver a Geronimo in the south. We were always looking for an iconic venue that would be the perfect place to launch in the south and Knebworth with its heritage fitted right into that bracket,” explains Goldman.

Geronimo at Knebworth will be a day visit festival for 2018, with a view to extending it into a camping and music event next year if the public enjoy it as much as anticipated. “Ticket sales for Knebworth to date are actually ahead of Arley, so there has been a lot of interest and we are anticipating in excess of 25,000 visitors,” reveals Goldman.

The content at both festivals will be almost identical, with a programme incorporating interactive elements like den building and musical workshops, motorcycle and jousting displays, a Victorian-style funfair and two circuses. For the little ones there will be a three foot and under section with donkey rides, a beach, Tumble Tots and character meet-and-greets with the likes of Peppa Pig and PJ Masks. On the main stage there will be appearances from CBeebies favourites like Justin Fletcher and Andy and the Odd Socks.

“Our children are the guinea pigs, so before any new activation is programmed we sit round the table and discuss its merits. If they say they want to be first in the queue or they want to make sure they get that done we book it,” says Goldman. He also ropes in his wife as a sounding board.

“She comes up with some great suggestions, which I then claim as my own at a later date,” he laughs.

New features for 2018 include a Highland Games, sock wrestling and a little something for the adults.

“For Arley this year we’ve brought in premium outdoor spa provider Bathing Under the Sky to allow parents to have a little ‘me time’ while they put their children in the creche, which is also a new feature for 2018,” explains Goldman.

“We spend the whole season travelling within the UK and Europe attending other festivals looking for unique attractions which we can programme into Geronimo, so that returning visitors can find there is a host of new activities at every event,” he adds.


Visitor feedback has a huge influence in steering future content and facilities.

“We carry out exit surveys and we post on social media to ask our visitors for suggestions. Visitor feedback is really important to us,” says Simon.

Better signage for toilets and baby changing facilities and more toilets within the campsite will be introduced this year as a result of last year’s feedback.

With thousands of children in attendance, it’s no surprise Goldman’s number one priority is safety.

“The welfare and security of our visitors is our biggest worry. Our second biggest concern is traffic management. It is imperative to us that cars are able to get on site within 25 minutes, with rolling queues rather that stationary traffic.

“We have ten queue lanes for wristband exchange as we know visitors with young children and buggies are eager to get inside the event. We place special emphasis on speedy accreditation, but at the same time carrying out bag searches. We also have sniffer dogs in attendance,” he says. 

If the Geronimo offshoot at Knebworth goes well this summer, there are talks of a third event being launched in the north next year, with Glasgow and Edinburgh both in the running.

“For us an ideal scenario would be deliver Geronimo in Manchester, London and Scotland,” says Goldman. Negotiations are also underway to bring a Geronimo Winter Wonderland concept to one of the biggest venues in the UK, details of which remain under wraps for now.

“The vision is to deliver across the two events annually, so we are hosting around 100,000 people in the winter and around 60,000 in the summer. That way the Geronimo brand is synonymous with amazing children’s festivals all year round,” says Simon.

We say watch this space.

Geronimo Festival at Arley Hall takes place from 25-28 May 2018 AAA