A couple of weekends ago, we went to Dorset with friends for Tankfest which is all about….you guessed it Tanks!! The boys have been obsessed with tanks since last year and whilst Mr H was researching, he came across an actual museum dedicated to tanks so we duly bought tickets and had Tankfest booked in the diary for months. They’ve been super excited about it and M had been asking almost on a daily basis how many days we had left until it was time.
What is Tankfest?
Tankfest is set inside the grounds of the Tank Museum in Bovington and is the world’s biggest live display of historic armour, bringing to life a huge variety of tanks and army vehicles as well as battle reenactments.
We drove to Bournemouth on Friday night where we stayed in a Premier Inn (or the Moony Hotel, as M likes to call it) We really rate Premier Inns. Having stayed in a fair few now we’ve found them to be very clean and the beds are also super comfy. This time, the boys didn’t have to share a pull out bed and had one each which was great. The only downside was that this particular Premier Inn didn’t have air-con so our room was really hot.
The hotel is conveniently located next to a Beefeater which is where we dined on Friday evening and also where we had breakfast the following morning. We were a half hour drive away from Bovington, where the Tank Museum is based so after we filled our bellies with breakfast we set off for Day 1 of Tankfest.
The weather was scorching hot on Saturday so we made sure we were well-protected with suncream, hats and sunglasses. There was a short queue to go through security where our bags were checked but before long we were in!
The boys were in absolute tank heaven, there were stalls filled with model tanks and army gear and that was before we’d even made it to the main arena where the displays were taking place and that’s not even including the tank park where you could walk around to see different models of tanks from different countries the main Tank Museum itself.
We were initially concerned that there wouldn’t be enough to do to fill the two days but we were so very wrong. Even after two days, we didn’t get to see everything.
What can you expect to see at Tankfest?
You’ll see an abundance of tanks, armoured and tracked vehicles in action as well as live reenactments in the main arena. Expect it to be noisy as pyrotechnics are used in the mock battles. The Tank Park is well worth visiting as you’ll get to see the vehicles up close and you’re even able to go in some of them too.
What is included in the cost of the ticket?
We bought a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) for both Saturday and Sunday and this includes standard parking. The ticket also gives you an annual pass to The Tank museum for a year which I think is fantastic. As I mentioned above, we didn’t get the chance to see everything so being able to go back at a later date is great. Other than the main museum shop, most stalls take cash. There is a cash machine inside the museum but I’d recommend making sure you have enough on you at the start of the day. Aside from food and drink, you’ll probably need spending money for merchandise, books, model tanks.
Is Tankfest family-friendly?
Most definitely! Although the main arena may be a little noisy for babies and young children. We found the event catered well for children aged 3+. There was a family viewing area where you could enjoy the live-action outside in the main arena. However, as it was baking hot on Saturday and there was no cover, we did find that we couldn’t sit in the sun for too long. I’d recommend bringing blankets and umbrellas so you can ward off the sun a little. Toilets were well located across the site and they even had taps where you could refill your water bottles.
There were lots of stalls selling a variety of foods and activities for children such as wall climbing, a bouncy castle slide, monster truck rides and some fairground type stalls like hook-a-duck. Inside the Tank Museum is a soft play area which we went to cool off from the heat. It’s right next to the coffee shop so we could take a breather and have a drink! The site also has a small playground area outside with swings and a mini zip line.
We loved our first experience of Tankfest. The boys were in there element going around spouting out what models the tanks were. E was literally like a walking Tank encyclopaedia for the whole weekend. We are already looking at booking again for 2019!
If you have tank enthusiasts (big or small) Tankfest, or even just The Tank Museum itself, is well worth considering. I guarantee you they will have a blast! (see what I did there?)
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*We paid for our family ticket to Tankfest ourselves but wanted to share what a great time we had