The Best Family Friendly Festivals
There was a time when you wouldn’t dream of bringing a child to a festival. They were solely for you, your glo-sticks and UV paint, and, of course, the obligatory crate of flavoured cider. Now, these annual events are opening their tent flaps to festival goers of all ages.
Most of the raves we attend these days are to the thumping sounds of The Wiggles or CBeebies’ Bedtime Song, so it’s nice to see that some of the big festivals welcome children. And if low-key is your sort of thing, then there are a number of smaller festivals to choose from too. We’ve compiled a list of the best kid-friendly festivals.
When: Late July / early August (This year: 31st July to 3rd August)
Where: Lulworth Castle, Dorset
Pint-sized partiers will find lots to do, with dedicated gardens for mini-boppers, a soft play tent, sandpit, art activities, a circus and the annual fancy dress parade. If it’s celeb-spotting you’re after, you could do a lot worse than Horrible Histories, Mr Tumble and Ben and Holly.
For adults, you can expect the likes of Basement Jaxx, De La Soul and Sinead “Nothing Compares 2 U” O’Connor, with previous performers including Hot Chip, Kool & the Gang and Happy Mondays. Don’t forget to check out the comedy tent, the Bollywood tent, jousting, a food festival and the appropriately titled Knackered Mothers Wine Club.
Just So Festival
When: Third weekend in August (This year: 15th to 17th August)
Where: Scholar Green, Cheshire
This not-for-profit festival is perfectly geared towards families, with baby changing, nappy laundering and breastfeeding facilities. Not to mention the buggy park and onsite midwives, just in case an impending showstopper decides to make their grand entrance.
Why not train to be a pirate, take up acrobatics, build dens, brush up on your clowning and start a campfire sing-a-long. Plus enjoy a variety of musical performances from quirky acts such as The Goat Roper Rodeo Band and Keston Cobblers: the self-declared kings of a new underground genre, ‘tuba-oom-pah folk pop’.
When: Mid-July (This year: 17th to 20th July)
Where: Beccles, Suffolk
A burgeoning festival complete with its own family campsite, Latitude is big on arts and creative crafting. Kids will flock to The Book Nook to hear from authors and illustrators, while The Fairyland Wildlife Hospital, pond-dipping sessions and bug hunts will keep any messy ones happy.
Kids can enjoy discos; a fire show and campfire sing-songs, while parents enjoy The Black Keys’ UK headlining debut and Damon Albarn performing a solo set. If culture is more your bag, then the RSC and The English National Ballet are also there or why not chuckle yourself silly with a humungous bill of top comedy names.
When: Late June (This year: 25th to 29th June)
Where: Pilton, Somerset
Everyone knows Glastonbury, if not from having been there, then from the endless television coverage. But did you know; it’s fun for both you and baby? They don’t show you that on BBC3. The Little Kidz Area has soft play, a sand pit, swingboats and even a library! Kidzfield includes face painters, clowns, magicians, story tellers and play rangers, while the Green Fields offer all manner of eco-friendly and organic fun!
The list of performers is like a who’s who of the music industry. With The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Jay Z and Arctic Monkeys all having performed there, plus numerous tents, huts and marquees all offering the latest in hessian-based produce.
When: Late July (This year: 24th to 27th July)
Where: Malmesbury, Wiltshire
Fancy getting to know the difference between Mongolian throat singers and Cantonese kneecap strummers? This world music festival is just the place, although we admit to making up the ‘kneecap strummers’. WOMAD is geared for families with family camping in the main site, a night service providing chariots for sleepy tots and a huge children’s activity area.
With 100 artists from 40 countries, including the aforementioned throaty boy band, there is a wealth of musical heritage to be explored. They’ve even had Bobby Womack! Music and dance workshops along with markets offering the best ethnic food and gifts complete this magical place.
When: Mid to late August (This year: 21st to 24th August)
Where: Market Harborough, Northamptonshire.
Winners of the ‘Festival Kidz’ Festival of the Year’ award in 2013, Shambala is a family-friendly festival with a wild side. Why not make a monster or build a bridge, design a costume or draw a dragon. There’s hula-hooping, a crazy bike track, trampolines and even circus training, all for your adventurous tykes.
Highlights for 2014 include Adrian Sherwood, A Guy Called Gerald, Babyhead and the Hackney Colliery Band. And once you’ve ditched the tots at the Bees Mobile Crèche you can enjoy some real ales and ciders or snack at the organic market, whilst experiencing the wealth of independent films, circus performers, talks and debates, comedy and art installations.
Well, that might be your summer sorted. Now all you have to do is make sure you get yourself a ticket. And whatever you do, don’t forget your tent!