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Seven simple rules for happy festivals

Magical fairgrounds, open fields to run and play, the chance to dress up and mess up – No wonder children love the new breed of family festivals

Posted: 5 June 2014
by Catherine O'Dolan

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1. Choose your festival
It might have been dubbed as “Three Days of Peace & Music” but turn back time to theWoodstockheyday of 1969 and you’d find the festival spirit steeped in a hazy mist of marijuana and zonked-out grown-ups. Not so the new breed of family festivals that have sprouted up and blossomed in the past decade. Maybe it’s as the punks have grown up and settled down to have little punks of their own and now crave a little more sophistication, but the vibe of many festivals is firmly on family fun. And you are truly spoilt for choice with the number of festivals happily catering for families, so how do you choose? If you’re looking for some serious music and big names, the more established bigger festivals like Camp Bestival in Lulworth Cove, Dorset, Original Cornbury Festival near Banbury, in Oxfordshire and Latitude in Suffolk, will have some big headliners: last year, Camp Bestival had Primal Scream, Mark Ronson and Blondie; Cornbury had James Blunt, Cindi Lauper and the Faces with Mick Hucknall on lead vocals, while Latitude had Suede and Paolo Nutini. Music aside, another consideration is the size of the festival: first-timers might prefer to test the water with a smaller, more bijoux festival, like Blissfields or Larmer Tree. The Just So Festival inCheshire, now in its third year, is definitely one of the best if you’re festivalling with babies and very young children: there’s no big name music, just lively skiffle or folksy bands and magical goings-on in the fields and woodlands. Another great way to have a ‘taster’ of festival life is to buy a one-day ticket rather than camping for the duration, or try a one-day festival like Ben & Jerry’s Double Scoop Sundae, which takes place simultameously on Clapham Common in London and Manchester – where the free ice-cream is bound to go down well.

2. Eliminate stress factors
The festival vibe, of course, is all about peace, love and understanding, and the idea is that you get to chill out and relax too, in the delightful company of your happy brood. That moment will come, hopefully, when you’re all languishing comfortably on a big blanket, on a hazy sunshiny afternoon, listening to some great music, sipping a little libation, as your child merrily scampers and skips, catching bubbles in the air. Before then, however, you have the journey to your destination with all your clobber in tow (a consideration when choosing your festival); the queuing to get into the camp site (hence, it’s a good idea to arrive the day before, really early, or late to avoid peak times); and the joys of setting up camp (which can be fun if that’s your thing; if not, consider taking advantage of the many offerings of ready-made boutique camping from stylish yurts to pods, Airsteam motorhomes to campervans). Another option is to book a B+B in this vicinity, but bear in mind, these are likely to get booked up early, and it can be tricky organizing transportation to and from the festival site. 

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Discuss this story

Great article - lots of helpful tips!

If you're thinking of going to a festival this year be sure to pop over to and check out the reviews from other parents so you know what to expect from a family perspective.

We also have an active Facebook page if you want to have a chat with other like-minded parents.

See you in a sunny field soon?
Romany x
Festival Kidz

Posted: 16/05/2012 at 15:52

You forgot one vital piece of camping equipment...the bucket...otherwise known as the portable festival toilet! Vital if you have young kids and don't want several trips to the portaloos in the middle of the night!

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