photo of children on the beachHESFES (or the Home Educators Seaside Festival) is the largest gathering of home educators from around the world. It is held annually in June/July on Mersea Island near Colchester. The ticket price includes the week's camping, use of the swimming pool, and all activities and workshops. These include wood-turning, weaving, metal-working, dance, music, yoga, singing, drama, circus skills, labyrinth-building, film-making, archery, live music…and more! We have been going to HESFES for the last 6 years, and it is the highlight of our children's year! Here's what the various members of our family feel about HESFES….


I really look forward to HESFES. I enjoy going into the marquees when there's music, and dancing with my friends. We like having an audience! I like the workshops- I've done weaving, clay-casting, screen-printing and last year I made a bandana. I love hanging out with my friends without my parents, and having some "alone time". Last year we had a stall and sold things that we had made and some cuddly toys. It went really well.


HESFES is fantastic! I like being able to see my friends all week and going to the park. I like the marquee where the bands play, and it's nice that you can do workshops if you want to, and not if you don't. I like going to the shop to buy sweets, going to the beach and the place to walk your dog. It's fun and exciting to be in the Children’s Cabaret. I did some jazz dancing on stage with my friend. There's lots of space to run around in! I don't like it if it gets muddy.


I love HESFES because I can go swimming every day! It's quite a big pool, and I can use it as often as I like. I enjoy camping and spending a lot of time with my friends. And dogs can come too!!! I like the fact that you're free and can go wherever you want. I like the bands, but it can be quite noisy at night! This year I’m hoping to have some sleepovers with my friends at HESFES.


HESFES is usually the only holiday we get, and I can't imagine a better one! I like the sense of freedom that the children have. They can run around with their friends and no one seems to get left out. We camp with friends, so there's always someone to keep an eye on the kids if I want to go off and do an activity or go swimming with just one of them. I like it when we're in a marquee and it’s really busy, and everyone's having a great time. HESFES is a chance for me to see the children, even if they are just popping into the tent!


I must admit, I found our first HESFES quite difficult! Willow was only 2, Dandy had to go back to work and leave me there with the 3 children, and there was so much going on; it was all a bit much! Now the children are older I find it much easier to relax. They can go off and join in with any workshops they fancy, or go to the park with their friends, and I can sit and enjoy a glass of wine with mine! It's very sociable. We camp with friends, but always make new ones too. I like to join in with the workshops; it’s usually the arty crafty ones that appeal to me, but this year I intend to do some singing!

One of my favourite things at HESFES is the solar-powered Groovy Movies tent. Everyone piles in and we watch films or listen to Hattie Hatstar (HESFES legend!). The children can fall asleep if they get tired, and it’s a very warm and accepting atmosphere - a lovely end to the day. Grab a hot chocolate on the way back to the tent...perfect! We've not been too lucky with the weather at HESFES. Festival + rain = mud. Urgghhh! My favourite year so far was 2006, mainly because the sun shone which meant we could lounge about in the sunshine! I think we must be due another sunny one - fingers crossed!

You can now read our review of HESFES 2008!

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