“Let’s do a festival for dogs!” Those were the words that came out of Heather Nesbitt-Bayley’s mouth when she and her wife, Carol, decided to create Woofstock. Fast forward six festivals and three awards later, Woofstock is preparing for its next event, welcoming families and their furry friends across the UK to join in a weekend of canine-themed fun.
We caught up with organisers and founders Heather and Carol to discover the story behind Woofstock and why you’d be barking mad to miss it.
Q: Why did you decide to launch Woofstock?
Heather: Back in 2012, our dog Harry saved my life. It was a Saturday morning and I felt fine, if a little groggy, but then Harry walked in staring intensely at me instead of his usually lively greeting — and that’s when I knew something was wrong. It was his reaction that led me to realising I had bruises all over my body and was declining rapidly.
Thankfully, I recovered, but it was during my time in hospital that I started to think about how we could repay Harry for all that he did and celebrate dogs for the amazing beings that they are. Then, Woofstock was born over a pint in Dorset!
Carol: It was intended to be a one-off event, but it took on a life of its own. People now come from all over the UK and abroad each year to join us for a weekend of fun. It’s really a true celebration of dogs and all other animals too.
Q: Has the festival changed since its launch in 2014?
Heather: We started off with a 9-acre field in Dorset to now over 30 acres of fun in Devon. And it turned from a one-day event to a full weekend festival where people can camp (and glamp!). It’s been a pawsome journey.
Carol: Another recent addition is Woofstock music nights. To make sure the humans don’t get bored, the Friday and Saturday nights now turn into an amazing music festival. But, of course, dogs are always at the forefront of our minds, so we have a safe space for humans and their dogs to sit back from the stage and enjoy the music without the pups feeling overwhelmed.
Q: What can festival go-ers expect this year?
Heather: We’ve got an array of exciting new events, including a doggy beach area with a a huge swimming pool for the dogs to swim and jump into. Another unique new activity is our Pawcasso tent where, for a small fee, families can paint their dog on a canvas. It can get messy, but it’s a lovely, personal souvenir you can take home with you. We also have inflatable bungee runs and zorb ball wars to keep the humans entertained too.
Carol: As always, we have our brilliant displays from the Police dogs, as well as agility and flyball displays, which dogs can get involved in too.
Q: Do you have to take a dog with you to the event?
Heather: No, of course not! We welcome people with or without dogs, but the number one rule is you have to be a dog lover, of course. It’s a really popular weekend with families who are looking for a staycation with a difference.
Carol: There is plenty of fun activities for humans to enjoy, too. We’ve just announced our music line-up for the weekend, including rock and roll band Pretty Criminal, classic country singer Definitely Dolly and jazz trio The Liberty Sisters. Plus, there’s a shopping village and lots of yummy food and drink.
Q: We spotted there will be a panel with advice and tips for dog owners. Who are the guest speakers?
Heather: Across the weekend, we’ve got a line-up of expert speakers that will touch on a variety of important topics. Hannah Molloy, animal behavioural specialist who presented Channel 4’s Puppy School, will be delving into dog behaviour. Karen Corbett, animal communicator — who really can talk and listen to animals — will be talking all about how she discovered her gift and how she uses it to help bond humans and their animals.
Carol: We’ll also have vet Dr Lennon Foo sharing his top health tips for dogs, in addition to Kara Burrows discussing how Bowen therapy promotes pain relief in both animals and humans. We’ve also just recently announced that we’ll have Medical Detection Dogs on a trade stand, who will also be doing talks on the main panel.
Q: And lastly, what are you most looking forward to at Woofstock 2021?
Heather: We love EVERYTHING about Woofstock – it’s hard to say! However, something I am particularly excited about — as I am every year — is seeing everyone come together and celebrate the joy dogs bring to our lives. Plus, I can’t wait to meet lots of new furry faces!
Carol: It’s such a fun and relaxing place to be. I’m looking forward to feeling the joyful energy of all the attendees — seeing them chill out on a sun lounger while their dogs lap up some doggy ice cream or tapping their feet (and paws) to all the great music.
Woofstock 2021 is happening from Friday 6th August – Sunday 8th August. Book your tickets for Woofstock 2021 now: www.woofstockuk.co.uk/tickets/. Advance sale only.
Your Dog member will get 10% off ALL tickets by visiting www.yourdog.co.uk/dog-friendly-attractions.