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The Ulti-mutt Dog Festival Review!

2021 was the year of the Dog Festival for me and my pooch Pepperoni.

With the world slowly re-opening after lockdown we were excited to get out and experience as many as possible.  We managed to visit 5 of the well-known Dog Festivals in the UK. It was our first visit to all of them except Dogstival (which was our 2nd time).

I’ve decided to review my experience at the various Dog Festivals to help you decide which ones to attend for a tail wagging good time in 2022.

All About Dogs, Hylands Park (1st May 2021)

Overall: 3/5

Venue: 3/5

Activities: 4/5

Shopping: 4/5

Food & Drink: 2/5

Value: 3/5

What got our tails wagging about this dog festival:

  • Easy to reach from London for the day 
  • Free parking
  • Quick, contactless entry (show ticket on phone)
  • Show guide was free and downloadable to your smart phone 
  • Lots of fun dog shows (4 arenas), which were cheap to enter with proceeds going to charity
  • Lots of shopping opportunities, especially a lot of yummy dog treat stalls
  • Free water stations to fill up your own bottles, bowls of water for dogs provided at almost every stall and also paddling pools for dogs 
  • Could enjoy the rest of the Hylands Park grounds afterwards

What we sniffed our noses up at:

  • Lack of shaded areas on a very hot sunny day
  • Lack of seating, we just had to sit on the grass
  • Not much variety in human food, standard burger vans, coffee trucks, slushies and cakes
  • Had to pay for every have-a-go activity (although money went to charity/ organisation running the activity) 
  • Some random, non-dog related shopping stalls which seemed a bit out of place
  • Lack of Instagrammable photo opportunities 

For 2022 event details see here

Dogstival, Burley (5th June 2021)

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Overall: 4/5

Venue: 4/5

Activities: 4/5

Shopping: 4/5

Food & Drink: 4/5

Value: 5/5

What got our tails wagging about this dog festival:

  • Contactless entry 
  • Lots of Instagrammable photo opportunities 
  • All have a go activities are free (barkour, scent work, flyball, agility, gun dog village)
  • Lots of seating (hay bales/ picnic benches)
  • Good variety of street food (tapas, hog roast, seafood, bbq, toasties, churros, ice cream etc) and bars available (bootlegger bus, plush slush) 
  • Stunning grounds – gorgeous backdrop of Burley Manor and this year we got to see deer grazing in the field next to it 
  • Lots of shopping opportunities (with most places accepting card this year)
  • The New Forest is such a dog friendly area so it makes a pawfect excuse for a mini break

What we sniffed our noses up at:

  • Parking is £3 – exact change needed
  • Very busy -long queue to get in and some very long queues for food around lunch time and for activities  
  • Food is mostly in one area which got very crowded
  • Lack of shaded areas (we missed the chill on out zone from last year) 
  • Only 2 water points at the entrance for filling up your bottles, couldn’t find any in the rest of the field though there were lots of water bowls dotted around the stalls (for those dogs that would use them) 
  • Dog show is limited – 15 entries per class, £5 per entry (encouraged to book these online prior to arrival), lack of variety for classes 
  • There is NO signal at the venue so couldn’t contact anyone, made it hard to meet up with Insta friends that we knew were going 
  • Too long a drive for a day trip from London so recommend doing it as a weekend trip in the area  

For our first-timers guide see here

For 2022 event details see here

DogFest South, Knebworth House (11th-12th September 2021)

Overall: 3/5

Venue: 5/5

Activities: 2/5

Shopping: 3/5

Food & Drink: 4/5

Value: 3/5

What got our tails wagging about this dog festival:

  • Easy to reach from London 
  • Quick, contactless entry 
  • Free downloadable show guide 
  • The beautiful grounds 
  • Doing the Big Dog Walk around Knebworth House
  • Lots of shaded areas provided to sit
  • Lots of water bowls/ pools & water stations 
  • Good selection of food and drink available for humans (Greek, jerk, pie/quiche/salads, philly cheese steaks, burgers, pizzas, toasties, ice creams, cocktails, coffee) – food split out into 2 main areas so wasn’t overcrowded 
  • Lots of rounds available for the fun dog show
  • The breed hangouts, we loved meeting up with the other daxies!
  • Lots of shopping stalls 

What we sniffed our noses up at:

  • Parking charges were expensive and had to be booked in advance (with a card admin fee) 
  • Fun dog show was expensive to enter, with large classes so judging took a long time 
  • Not many have a go activities- agility (had to pay), obedience challenge (only at certain times), dogstacle course & hay bale racing  (not well suited to small dogs)
  • There was a flyball stand but no have a go– which was a shame as it is Pepper’s favourite activity!
  • Lack of variety in the shopping, there was lots of charity stands and dog food stands as well as non-dog related stands  
  • Lack of Instagrammable photo opportunities for the event, although there were some at individual stalls
  • Not in a very dog friendly area for making a weekend trip out of- limited dog friendly accommodation & dining options nearby 

For 2022 event details see here

Paws in the Park, Kent (18th September 2021)

Overall: 4/5

Venue: 4/5

Activities: 4/5

Shopping: 5/5

Food & Drink: 3/5

Value: 4/5

What got our tails wagging about this dog festival:

  • Free parking 
  • Easy to reach on the A2
  • Quick contactless entry 
  • Free show guide, virtual and hard copy at the entrance
  • Huge- 2 big fields, the biggest venue of all the shows we went to!
  • Several classes for fun dog shows, indoor show ring away from heat 
  • Lots of shopping opportunities with good variety
  • Lots of doggy bars (water bowls) around 
  • Some seating by food areas
  • Event had indoor (with air con) and outdoor spaces and also several opportunities for shaded places by trees 
  • Some variety in the food on offer (burgers, Chinese, Greek, pizza, pasties etc) 
  • Enclosed off lead exercise areas provided 
  • Good variety in have-a-go activities (flyball, agility, hoopers, scent work, canicross, search and rescue, and some activities for small dogs/ puppies) 

What we sniffed our noses up at:

  • No exact timings for fun dog show classes so you had to wait around in either the AM/ PM slot for your class
  • A lot of stalls and have a go activities only took cash but there was no cash machine on site. (However we were able to get cashback at the entrance ticket office, only this wasn’t well advertised so we wasted time finding the main show office only to be told we had to go back to the entrance)
  • Couldn’t find anywhere to refill my water bottle
  • Had to pay for each have a go activity (went to charity or business running it) – however some were good value e.g. £2.50 for 4 runs at flyball, £1.50 for scent work, £3 for hoopers & agility 
  • Lack of Instagrammable photo opportunities

For 2022 event details see here

Big Dog Walk, Hylands Park (18th October 2021)

Overall: 2/5

Venue: 4/5

Activities: 1/5

Shopping: 1/5

Food & Drink: 1/5

Value: 2/5

What got our tails wagging about this dog festival:

  • Free parking 
  • Walk was well sign posted 
  • Bandana and rosette for taking part
  • Raising money for charity

What we sniffed our noses up at:

  • No temptation alley as promised 
  • Held on same day as Hylands House open day and farmers market so venue was very busy 
  • Route wasn’t exclusive – lots of non-event dog walkers who let their dogs off lead, joining route at random places or walking in the opposite direction (which made handling Pepper’s reactivity around trigger dogs very challenging and unpredictable at what we thought would be a controlled on-lead event)
  • No distance markers, would have been nice to know how far we had left along the route. They could have easily been added to the directional signage on route 
  • Dogstacale course was very small, consisting of just a few obstacles that weren’t well suited to small dogs 
  • Poor choice of food and drink. Only one bar/ coffee stand, an ice cream van and 2 burger vans. 
  • Only 4 “dog” stalls and a fudge stall for shopping so they easily got very crowded which made it hard to browse 
  • Lack of variety in classes for the dog show
  • Was advertised as having walk leaders and pit stops on the route for drinks/ rest but we didn’t see any of these on the day 
  • Parking and entry to Hylands Park estate for walking is normally free anyway so the event didn’t feel good value. We were aware some Big Dog Walk locations were held on exclusive estates that aren’t normally open to the public, so that would have felt better value. 

For 2022 you can join in the Big Dog Walk at one of the seven DogFest locations, find them here

The Final Woof…

We had a pawsome time at all the dog festivals we attended, but for us there were 2 stand out events that we thought were furtastic! They were Dogstival and Paws in the Park Kent.

We love Dogstival because we feel it is really good value as all the activities, apart from shopping and eating, are included in your entry ticket. Plus they have some super tasty food options for both humans and dogs. It’s the place to be for all the Instagram dogs with plenty of photo opportunities to capture memories. It is becoming our yearly highlight to take a mini break in the pawfect dog friendly New Forest to attend it!

Paws in the Park Kent is our closest dog festival, which makes it a perfect option for a tail-wagging fun local day out! It had the best range of shopping with a huge variety of stalls and have-a-go activities!

Do you have any favourite festivals?

Are there any stand-out events for you to enjoy with your pooch? Let us know in the comments below.

Also check out the gallery of all the fun that Pepperoni had at the festivals!

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  1. Thanks Pepper 🐾! Lovely to hear your feedback about Paws in the Park! We are glad you had fun.
    We’ll work on making sure people know to bring cash or they can get cash back. Cash machines at events are usually really expensive for customers!
    And we’ll look into signage for the taps to fill up bottles.
    Hope you come again soon!
    Paws 🐾

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