Shell Holden: Festival Director of Playstival with The Happy Pear

Posted 11 months ago in Festival Features

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This month’s inaugural Playstival aims to provide families with an opportunity to celebrate simple play, fun and imagination. Shell Holden, Festival Director tells us more.


How did Playstival come into being?

Play is an integral and important part of children’s lives and the focus of Playstival is to ‘go back to basics’ and experience a more innocent approach to games and play. It will feature a range of hands-on, fun imaginative games and themed ‘play universes’, with no fancy technology or screens to be found!

Playstival with the Happy Pear is an antithesis of how the world is moving (mobile phones, games consoles etc.). It is the antithesis of too much screen time, which increasingly proves to have a detrimental effect on kids’ cognitive and social development.

Playstival was created, and is presented, by myself and my team at Laya Healthcare City Spectacular, which is Ireland’s largest summer family festival. We are working with happy and healthy lifestyle advocates, The Happy Pear, to create this brand new festival for children and their parents, that celebrates play, fun and imagination.

What do you anticipate will be the highlight of Playstival this year?

Everything will be interactive. Everywhere you go at Playstival, you will encounter hands-on children’s games that nurture curiosity, imagination and exploration.

There will be over 600 hands-on games and 8 themed ‘play universes’ for children to immerse themselves in and let their imaginations run free. The creatively-themed play universes vary in age-range suitability from 18 months to 12 years and include a construction site for kids, an architects office focused on team-skills, a pedal-powered park train service, a kid-sized food market, the animal farm, toddler-rific children’s island, a magical wonderland tea party for all the family to discover, and even a visit to the wild wild west.

The ‘play universes’ comprise of beautifully made wooden games, which have been designed by Festijeux, the world-renowned French games company who are passionate about positive play. Festijeux’s wooden games have featured at many popular family events across Europe.

In addition to the play universes, families can enjoy free activities at Playstival such as Lego brick building, laughter yoga, storytelling, drama classes, science shows and mindfulness.

Included in your Playstival ticket, festival goers will also have the wonderful opportunity to enjoy all of what Airfield Estate has to offer including egg collection, Jersey herd milking and tasting, calf feeding, heritage house tours, play areas, vintage cars, animal feeding and much more.


What do you feel the involvement of The Happy Pear brings to the festival?

The Happy Pear’s Dave and Steve Flynn are self-confessed devotees of outdoor play and believe that spending time with their children, being in nature, and moving is fundamental to their overall happiness.  We hope to encourage togetherness and hope all the families who come will experience that and will have a great fun filled fun day out, packed with lots of activities designed to stimulate young imaginations.

Additionally, delicious and nourishing Happy Pear food will be on offer throughout the weekend – from healthy wraps and salads, to hot dishes, as well as their smoothies, hand-roasted coffees, and a selection of healthier cakes and treats.


Playstival is a family event; how important is it for parents to be involved in their children’s play?

This new festival event has been created to allow children and families to come together, spend time together and where the child leads and the parents follow. It focuses on self-initiated, open-ended and non-judgemental play. By this we mean there’s no right or wrong way to play and the kids can imagine and interact as they wish.

At Playstival, parents will have the opportunity to play with their children, or to let them interact with others and the games and engage their imaginations. Each play universe will have trained supervisors.


Playstival focuses on getting ‘back to basics’ and detoxing from technology. Why do you feel this is particularly important for children?

Playstival is the antithesis of too much screen time. We are now looking at the first generation in our society that will never get to say “before the internet”. This is a generation growing up while being “switched on 24/7”, amid increasing concerns about the potential negative effects on their cognitive and social development. Thus, Playstival’s objective is to provide families with an opportunity to celebrate simple play, fun and imagination, which is central to sustained physical and mental wellbeing.

Playstival with The Happy Pear will take place in Dundrum’s Airfield Estate on Saturday August 11 & Sunday August 12.  Standard individual tickets are €12.42 (€10 ticket price + €1.39 booking fee + €1.03 VAT). Event information and tickets available at

Images: Marc O’Sullivan



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