What to Expect at VW Festival, Leeds

Updated on July 4, 2019
beagrie profile image

John is a fervent writer, gamer, and guitar lover. Former automatic-transmission repairer, welder and hobbyist game developer.

VW Festival is the largest family Volkswagen show in the UK.
VW Festival is the largest family Volkswagen show in the UK. | Source

Volkswagen has become the source of perhaps one of the most vibrant enthusiast scenes in the automotive world. With classic Volkswagens being coveted collectors items, and in particular their range of camper vans, a number of festivals have sprung up around the brand.

As a regular attendee at VW Festival, Leeds, I thought I’d give you a run down of what to expect from this particular event. But this article is not aimed mainly at Volkswagen enthusiasts; there is a legitimate case to be made for VW Festival as a general fun-for-all-the-family event, whether you like the cars or not.

So let’s get into it.

VW Festival 2018 Show Video

What is VW Festival

Taking place on the grounds of Leeds’ historic Harewood House in West Yorkshire, England, the self-proclaimed “UK’s largest family friendly VW show” is a three day event that can be attended with either a one-day pass or a full weekend camping pass. The fun starts Friday and ends Sunday.

The festival itself contains a great deal of entertainment. There are fairground rides, live music acts, children’s entertainers, and often other forms of entertainment, such stunt bike shows and cinema tents, though these vary from year to year.

On the Volkswagen side, there are a huge range of classic, modern, modified, and quirky vehicles on display, with a number of prizes up for grabs. Though I maintain VW Festival is great fun regardless of whether you’re a Volkswagen enthusiast, you certainly won’t be disappointed if you are there for the cars.

There is a huge range of stalls selling a wide range of products. Obviously there is a strong lean towards automotive and/or Volkswagen related products, but there is plenty on offer. From garden fire pits to second hand guitars, there’s a good chance you’ll find something of interest.

On the catering side, VW Festival always has a wide range of food and drink stalls to choose from. In the past they’ve had everything from gourmet burgers to fish finger sandwich stalls.


Camping at VW Festival is much like camping at any festival. The campsites are split into two areas; regular and family. The main difference being that there is an earlier curfew on excessive noise in the family campsite, as well as a general expectation that behaviour will be more… family friendly.

Both campsites are situated right next to the festival grounds, and have toilet, shower, and water facilities. The toilet set up (in previous year, at least) is a typical festival porta-loo affair. If you’re not a seasoned festival goer, I would advise you to bring your own toilet paper. It’s not a fault of VW Festivals really, just a reality of festival life.

On arrival you are given a wristband that will allow you to enter and leave the festival grounds as you please, so if you’d rather make your own dinner, or pop back to the tent for a nap before the evening’s entertainment, it’s no fuss.

The campsite’s close proximity to the festival grounds, while convenient, has some drawbacks. If you are a light sleeper and you want an early night, you should pitch up at the opposite end of the campsite to the festival entrance. The live entertainment tents are right near the entrance and it can be near-midnight before the noise dies down. Obviously, if you’re not in the family camping area, you shouldn’t expect peace and quiet until quite late on.

Camping for VW Festival is situated right next to the festival grounds themselves.
Camping for VW Festival is situated right next to the festival grounds themselves. | Source


It’s my personal opinion that VW Festival is only a few big name performers away from being as much a music festival as it is a car festival. In the recent years I have been attending, there have been two music stages, both of which command an increasingly packed and lively audience as the evening wears on. The acoustic stage provides an intimate setting for people to enjoy some music sat on the grass with a cider or ice cream in hand, while the main music tent provides a more traditional live music setting for the rest of the evening.

As the festival winds down at the end of each day and the stalls close, it’s the main tent that most festival goers will gravitate, and the scenes in there as the Sun goes down wouldn’t look out of place at any music festival in the country.

There is also a children’s entertainment tent for the younger festival goers. There are typically some music acts on here as well, however a lot of the entertainment put on here is more variety in nature. In the past I’ve seen puppeteers, gymnasts, comedy acts that use giant inflatable props, jugglers, interactive story tellers, and much more. Many of these acts tend to involve the audience so it’s often a great show for children.

The acoustic stage provides live music throughout the day.
The acoustic stage provides live music throughout the day. | Source

Away from the music side of things, there are the vehicles, of course. A huge selection of cars are on show for festival goers to look around, take photos of, and generally admire. From souped up race cars to luxury campers to immaculately restored vintage models, and a host of other themes. There is also a raffle to win one such immaculately restored vintage model, a beetle to be precise. The winner of the raffle is picked at the end of the weekend when the awards are handed out for the best vehicles in various categories.

In previous years there have also been stunt bike shows, a graffiti display tent, wandering entertainers, and of course the aforementioned fairground rides. And if that wasn’t enough, the festival takes place in the grounds of Harewood House; a tourist attraction in its own right.

The main tent provides live music well into the evening.
The main tent provides live music well into the evening. | Source

Stalls and Catering

In the vein of more traditional trade shows, there are a huge number of market stalls on display at VW Festival. As mentioned above, they are not simply limited to automotive or Volkswagen products (though there is a definite bias towards that). In addition to things like clothes, confectioneries, toys, and many other types of things to buy, there is also the Auto Jumble, which is essentially a corner of the festival turned into a jumble, or car boot sale. Perfect for those who like to hunt for a bargain. Of course if you are looking for automotive or Volkswagen related products, there’s plenty on offer. From generic accessories to entire VW Camper internals.

Food and drink can be found at a number of appropriately themed stalls.
Food and drink can be found at a number of appropriately themed stalls. | Source

On the catering side of things, there are a huge range of options on offer. If you haven’t had breakfast, or you don’t fancy heading back to the tent to make yourself a snack, you have plenty of options in the festival grounds themselves.

An entire section of the festival is dedicated to food and drink, so you won’t have to wander all over to find the stall you want. Many food styles are covered, whether you’re looking for pizzas, burgers, kebabs, pancakes, hog roasts, and, as mentioned, even fish finger sandwiches or cheese toasties. Drinks-wise, there are a number of places you can buy alcohol, and (in previous years at least) you are allowed to bring up to two of your own drinks into the festival grounds, though you have to empty them into a plastic cup before taking them in. The catering area also contains seating, as well as plenty of space to sit on the grass if the weather allows, which it has more often than not in the years I have attended.

Family Fun

On top of everything mentioned above, each year comes with a theme (toys, Halloween, movies, etc), with “Best Costume” bragging rights on offer. The costumes tend to come out in the evening, more so on the Saturday night, making for an entertaining, if somewhat surreal, night.

The festival is dog friendly, so you can bring your little furry friends as well as your (probably) less furry children. There are around 20,000 people attending VW Festival on average, and around 6,000 of them camping, so be sure your dog is okay with crowds before bringing them.

Each festival comes with a theme (such as "movies", as pictured) with fancy dress encouraged.
Each festival comes with a theme (such as "movies", as pictured) with fancy dress encouraged. | Source

Obviously it’s difficult to properly encapsulate the experience of a three day event in written words, but VW Festival is a great day and/or weekend for the whole family, whether you’re into Volkswagens or not. There is plenty to keep the children entertained, and the experience of camping at a festival is fun in and of itself. I thoroughly recommend it.

Image Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Clique53 - VW Festival 2017

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 John Bullock


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, axleaddict.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)