Our experience at Dog Fest 2021
If you’re as obsessed with dogs as we are, the idea of a festival for dogs will sound like your idea of HEAVEN! We were honoured to receive an invitation to Dog Fest as ambassadors for Borrow My Doggy, who gifted us tickets to Dog Fest North at Tatton Park, Cheshire. At the time of the event, we were at a repeat house sit caring for Chihuhua/German Spitz cross Jessie. After asking permission from her owners, we took her along to the festival for a doggo-filled day out – and oh WOW did she have a good time! While Dog Fest is over for this year – they hold three events in different locations across the U.K. each year – Dog Fest Christmas is coming up! This festive version of the event will be held at Crystal Palace Park, London, later this month, so with that in mind here’s an overview of our experience and what to expect when attending Dog Fest! *Disclaimer – while we were kindly gifted Dog Fest tickets, we have chosen to write this blog post of our own volition and all opinions are our own.*
LOTS of doggos
This one’s an obvious one, but even for pet sitting dog lovers like us who are used to being around lots of dogs, this was another level! We must’ve seen every breed of dog under the sun, from Chihuahuas and Labradors to Borzois and Great Danes, and everything in between! We saw Cockapoo puppies excitably playing in a paddling pool ball pit, a pack of Poodles with brightly coloured hair styles, and a trio of Italian Greyhounds dressed in their finest Parisienne-style outfits. The festival site was well-laid out to allow visitors and their dogs to move around with ease, and dog water bowls were strategically placed every few feet, as well as many stall owners placing bowls outside their pitches. Chihuahua Jessie’s little snoot was twitching every which way as she sniffed out hundreds of new furry pals! We couldn’t stop taking photos and it was fantastic to chat to so many dog owners throughout the day, as well as meeting some Instagram-famous pups at the Hound Hangout area.
When we saw the activity list for Dog Fest North, we couldn’t fathom how we were going to fit it all in! There was an extensive variety of have-a-go activities for dogs to enjoy, most of which were completely free to try. Activities such as Dog Diving and the Agility Courses had a small fee on the day, as these included expert handlers helping attendees and their dogs to navigate the diving board or agility obstacles. Initially we found ourselves wishing there were more activities for little dogs, as we watched a Border Collie smash the record time for completing a hay bale race in a little over two seconds. That was until we put ourselves at either end of the course – Chris calling Jessie from the end while I leapt over the bales with her – and she absolutely bounded over them with ease! Not quite as quickly as the Border Collie (Jessie’s time was twelve seconds) but we were very impressed! For Dog Fest Christmas, hay bale racing is one of the returning events but under the new name of Santa Dash.
Jessie also had a go at the ‘Dogstacle’ course, where she wove in and out of poles and jumped over more hay bales, though she didn’t fancy going through the tunnel or under the camouflage net. To be fair to her, the obstacle course was full of owners cooing and encouraging their pooches to complete the obstacles, all with varying results! Later in the day we joined the afternoon Big Dog Walk to go for walkies with hundreds of other owners and their dogs. Owners could choose either the 2km loop or 5km (we chose 2km seeing as Jessie only has little legs!) There were three Big Dog Walks throughout the day – one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one Puppy Walk. On each day of Dog Fest a celebrity has the honour of announcing and leading the Walks, and on the day we attended Michaela Strachan read from a sweet children’s book about dogs making friends, before she took the lead on the Big Walk. We’ve heard there will be a Big Dog Walk at Dog Fest Christmas – though this one is called the Santa Paws Walk!
Lining the perimeter of Dog Fest North, over a hundred different stalls were set up for shopping for you and your pooch. From dog treats, homewares and bedding, to accessories, travel essentials and clothing for humans and dogs alike, we were spoilt for choice and spent a good amount of time perusing all the wonderful different businesses on display. While we recognised some brands like Dicky Bag and DogFuriendly, it was a great opportunity to discover new companies. It was lovely to visit some of the charity stalls too, as we spent some time in the Dogs Trust village at their shopping stalls and activities, as well as taking part in tombolas and competitions at other stalls. Brands like Edgard and Cooper had a fun spin-the-wheel game where we won some yummy treats for Jessie, and Wild Hearts Doggies were giving away a free puppuccino to every passing dog (Jessie lapped it up!)
After so much walking around the edge of the festival, we headed to the food village where aromas from stalls selling just about every type of cuisine imaginable greeted us. Queues can get pretty long around lunch time – we waited almost half an hour in a queue for some delicious Greek food – but it was worth the wait as we ate our lunch on the edge of the Main Arena…
…Which brings us to the shows! As we’ve said, the schedule for the day at Dog Fest is jam-PACKED full of so many activities and shows that it truly is an all-day event. We mostly spent our time wandering around the site, though we managed to catch an incredible display from the Cheshire Police Dogs who were being put through their paces by their handlers. Over at the Live Stage, dog grooming experts performed a demonstration, TikTok influencers showed off tricks with their dogs, and live bands played for the crowds and kept the atmosphere buzzing all day.
The two events we wish we’d managed to catch were The Fun Dog Show, sponsored by pet insurance company Bought By Many, which featured cute categories like Most Fabulous Fella, Golden Oldie, Waggiest Tail and Best Rescue. We also managed to miss all of the Breed Meet-Ups happening at the Hound Hangout, where they had meets throughout the day for specific breeds such as Dachshunds, Cockapoos, and German Shepherds, as well as a dedicated meet up for LGBTQ+ owners.
A day at Dog Fest is an incredibly full-on day indeed, and it wasn’t just Jessie who was excitedly running around the site! We arrived home that evening completely exhausted – from all the shows, being on our feet all day, as well as how stimulating all the sights and sounds (mostly barking) was for the senses! It’s truly a one-of-a-kind event with such a fabulous atmosphere. Everyone we met on the day was happy and having a fantastic time, and all the staff and volunteers at the event were super friendly and helpful. If you’re thinking about booking tickets to Dog Fest Christmas in London on the 27th November, whether you own a doggo or just care for them, our advice is to DO IT! Even though we are pet sitters with no dogs of our own, and don’t have use for things like dog collars or pet insurance, we had an amazing day out at Dog Fest North and already can’t wait for next year!
A big thank you to Borrow My Doggy for gifting us Dog Fest tickets. You can see more photos from our day out at Dog Fest with Jessie on our Instagram – give us a follow and let us know if you’re attending Dog Fest Christmas this year! You can also find out more information on the Dog Fest website. Head to our blog for more reviews and information about our full-time pet sitting lifestyle!