A Guide to Family Friendly Festivals
For some people looking back at past Summers from when they were younger often involves festivals being an annual summer tradition to let loose and have fun with friends in the (hopefully) glorious British sunshine. Well we believe just because you’ve multiplied and got little ones it doesn’t mean your festival fun has to end! Bringing your children along for the ride is a great way to have family fun with a twist and make memories that last forever.
A festival trip with children will be very different and involve a slightly amended itinerary to your 20-year-old festival adventures, it won't quite be like "the good old days". But with a bit of pre-planning and a promise to throw routine out the window and to go with the flow, the good far outweighs the bad and everyone will end up having a weekend to remember!
Pack the essentials, pop your little one in a sling, get that glitter on and get ready to dance the Summer days and nights away.
Pick the right festival
This is a very important point. Whilst you may have that 1 festival that you had the BEST time at or that one you went to every single year without fail, this may not be child friendly. Not all festivals are suitable for children or are family focused. When you start to do your research, you will be pleasantly surprised just how many festivals are out there that are catered to families and children especially. When doing your research, a good indication that the festival is family friendly is if there is a family camping area or specific facilities for babies and small children. Festivals that are designed with children in mind will often have a section on their website that clearly states extra information for little ones and what they offer. It’s always a good idea to check whether the festival you have your eye on has a good mix of entertainment and facilities that cater to both you and your children's needs.
At the bottom of this blog post we have posted our top picks of UK family friendly festivals to help you get started on the search!
Are your children little festival-ers?
No one knows your children better than you, their parents. So only you can answer the next question, are your children festival ready? We don’t mean is their music knowledge up to scratch and do they have their festival glitter and glow sticks at the ready. What we mean is are they the type of personalities that would enjoy the experience. Do they like camping? Are they ok with large crowds and loud music? And most importantly, are they happy to “rough” it a little bit? If your kids hate outdoor activities, get easily overstimulated in big crowds, or don't enjoy loud music, a family trip to a festival may not be the best idea this year. You could always pop along to a single day festival nearby that has similar festival vibes to test the waters, if you aren’t too sure how they will react before diving in the deep end and commit to a weekend long camping festival extravaganza.
As a parent you will already know just how much stuff your little one needs to simply leave the house for the day, so packing for a festival can be a little daunting. A check list will be your best friend for the packing planning process. Think about what you use for everyday life from getting ready to their favourite comforter and food, then think of those extra necessities like sunblock, first aid kits and anti-bacteria gel.
You will also need to think about packing for all seasons just in case the weather ends up being traditionally British. Think wellies, waterproofs, sun hats and sunglasses. Music at a festival can be very loud and children’s ears are very sensitive and prolonged exposure to loud music can cause damage. So, investing in a good quality set of ear defenders for kids is an absolute must.
When creating your list and packing, think is this essential? Do you really need a tent this big or do you really need that extra big gazebo "just in case"? You will be the one carrying everything the whole way so choose everything wisely. We suggest purchasing a pull along trolley on wheels to help carry everything. Or for that extra easy life choose a festival package where the tent is already included and built to save everyone hassle like glamping or even a campervan. You will thank yourself later!
Be ready to move
Festivals are often vast areas of space with everything very spread out. It is common that once you leave your camping area to go check out the main area of the festival, you may not return to your tent until the evening. With this in mind, you have to think about how are you going to carry everything you will need throughout the day as well as carry children with tired little legs. Whilst a multi-terrain pushchair is perfect for carrying your children in and giving them a place for an afternoon power nap, it may not have enough space to carry all those essentials. Think about bringing along a big enough bag you can chuck everything in and pop on your back.
What has been increasing in popularity are pull along wagon trolleys. I mentioned this previously to help you carry things into the festival, but they are also super handy to use whilst moving around the festival to carry everything. They bump and roll over grass with no trouble at all and are big enough to carry everything! Fleets of these off-road trolleys have descended on family festivals over the past few years and are festival pro’s saviours. You can also put your toddlers in the trolley for a fun ride around the festival or use it as a bench for them to sit on whilst you relax listening to music and taking in the scenes around you.
Go with the flow
Like most adventures with children in tow, it can often be unpredictable and go a little off plan. We think the best approach is to just go with the flow and steer away from trying to plan every little detail. Whereas before you could plan your day based on the performance schedule of your favourite bands, unfortunately they aren’t going to wait for you to finish changing your little ones nappy or wait for you to tear your little one away from the face paint tent. You may end up swapping your favourite bands for a live performance of Peppa Pig, but it’s all about having family fun and getting involved in the festival spirit with your children. Much of the time will be spent looking after your children and making sure they are happy, but you will create lifelong memories.
Normal routines will also go out the window. Part of the fun of being at a festival is the freedom from the usual routines, so it makes sense to come with a more relaxed attitude to napping and bedtime. But do make sure you do take the time to allow them a rest and some nap time – if you don't take the time out to allow them to nap and rest you will have 1 very tired grumpy festival crew.
This really is key. Whilst choosing a family friendly festival will go a long way to help keeping everyone safe and in a secure environment, festivals are big places with big crowds. Little ones love wandering off and exploring this world in their own independent way, so it can be tricky to keep track of them. Our top tip is to dress your kids in brightly coloured clothes or even fancy dress, not only will they look super cool, you will be able to spot them in a crowd if they try to wander off. We have also been known to pop a little lanyard on our little one with our contact details on them, you can also buy bracelets that let you add all these details.
Embrace the family festival vibes!
It might not be the kind of festival experience the pre-baby you is used to but having your kids in tow at a festival can create memories all of you will treasure forever and make you look at festivals in a whole new way and reignite your love for them. Sharing these moments with your family and seeing the enjoyment on their faces will make all the extra prep work all the more rewarding. There will be many magical moments to capture so don’t leave your camera at home!
Top family friendly festivals in the UK
Camp Bestival – Dorset
In our opinion this is the ultimate family friendly festival that has something for every age and every member of the family. Not to be confused with more grown up sister-festival Bestival, Camp Bestival is more child-friendly with activities like bouncy castles, go-carts, fairgrounds, face painting, sandpits and glitter – the list goes on. In fact, most of the festival is dedicated to little party people with massive music act headliners to make those parents happy too.
The Great Wonderfest – The Isle of White
Children’s TV and family festival favourites Dick & Dom are launching their very own music festival for kids, The Great Wonderfest. There really is no better festival to go to this year with your little ones considering this one has VIP guests Peppa Pig, Flawless and comedy acts.
Boomtown – Hampshire
Boomtown is always a sell out and with it’s dedicated “Kidstown” it’s perfect for the whole family with The Sandcastle Stage hosting child-friendly acts all weekend.
Lattitude Festival – Suffolk
Lattitude is an award-winning family-friendly festival Latitude has activities for kids, teens and families spread across three areas. There’s even a dedicated schools programme to allow teachers to bring along their class for some festival fun. This one really has thought of it all!
Green Man Festival – Brecon Beacons
Green Man festival is an interactive heaven for your family. They offer impressively immersive areas for kids and teens include the fabulous Einstein's Garden, for playful experiences inspired by science and nature.
Wilderness – Oxford
Food, music, films, family activities, tick tick and tick!! Wilderness festival is a pick and mix of all the good stuff festivals are all about and offer buckets loads of different entertainment and activities from Yoga to yummy food and children entertainment and games. You won’t be bored and your children will love it!