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The Family Festival Guide 2012

Junior's pick of the most fabulous family-friendly festivals around

Posted: 4 May 2012
by Catherine O'Dolan

Photography by David Handley shot on location at Burning Man
Join in with the music at the Vintage Festival

Off The Tracks Festival, Donington Park, Derbyshire
May 25–27
Small is beautiful is the mantra of this twice-yearly affair with a mix of world music, roots, folk, dance and trance set across three stages. There’s also plenty of arts, crafts and activities for children, as well as circus skills workshops and jazzy light shows. A highlight for children is the fancy-dress night on Saturday.

Meadowlands,Glynde Place, East Sussex
June 1–3 
A weekend of cultural carnivalesque celebrations, jam-packed with great music, comedy, and family fun. Set in the idyllic grounds of an Elizabethan manor house, Meadowlands features over 80 bands on four stages including Mercury Prize winner Speech Debelle, six club nights, spoken word and comedy, a charity casino, an enchanted woodland area and campfire, entertainment and workshops for children, and the promise of a secret Victorian lido for a revitalizing dip.

PlayFest, New Eccles Hall School, Quidenham, Norfolk
June 1-3 
Shortlisted for Best New Festival 2011, PlayFest is a small but soulful festival in a wonderful grounds of the New Eccles Hall School, now in its second year, that promotes local talent with its mix of top acts, local artists, DJs and family activities. This year's headliners include poppy Irish rockers Ash, hip-hop meastro Roots Manuva and indie darlings The Pigeon Detectives. The site also boasts family-friendly amenities (which means nice clean toilets). 

Wychwood Festival,Cheltenham Racecourse
June 8-10 
Nominated Best Family Festival for every year since its launch, this is a leading boutique family festival with the emphasis on music and fun with some big-name musical headliners including James and The Cuban Brothers, as well as performances for children and a Comedy Club.

Eden Festival Raehills Meadows, Muffat, Dumfries & Galloway
15–17 June
A welcoming and atmospheric family-friendly festival, located in the stunning Raehills Meadows, set across eight stages with a celebration of music, dance, colour, culture and community built on an ecologically sound and carbon-friendly set of principles.

Africa Oye, Sefton Park, Liverpool
June 23, 24
The UK’s largest free celebration of African music and culture, now celebrating its 20th anniversary, hosting artists and music from across the globe, as well as a plethora of delicious cuisine and exciting dance demonstrations and workshops.

Blissfields, The Park, Vicarage Farm, Woodmancott,Winchester, Hampshire
June 29–July 1 
With over a decade of experience, Blissfields has always had family fun at its heart. This year, there will be an extended family area, Angel Gardens, with face painting, story-telling and tons of arty stuff, plus a brand new Little Big Top full of amazing circus tricks, science labs, painting labs, water zorbing, robotic dancing, Djing classes, illustration and writing workshops, and a whole host of fairies, trolls and funny folks to make you jig.

The Original Cornbury Festival, Great Tew Estate, Oxfordshire
June 29–July 1 
An eclectic and rather eccentric musical carnival with a dynamic festival-meets-English-country fayre feel, with plenty of impressive musical interludes, as well as showcases for local talents, and a fun and funky children’s areas with crafts and activities. This years varied line-up will include Elvis Costello And The Imposters, James Morrison, Pixie Lott and Seasick Steve.

Hop Farm Festival, Paddock Wood, Kent
June 29–July 1 
Billing itself as “the festival for real music lovers and avid festival go-ers with no sponsorship, no branding and no VIPs” and now in its fifth years, Hop Farm has boasted big names in the past, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young and, last year, Prince. There’s also a funfair, celebrity football, plus great food and ales.

Larmer Tree Festival, Wiltshire
July 11–15
A veritable stalwart of the festival scene, now in its 22 year, Larmer Tree has a laid-back get-away-from-it-all vibe, featuring around 80 acts in a melting pot of acoustic folk, world music, roots. Blues, jazz and more, plus an adventure playground set in the spacious grounds (amid the resident peacocks and macaws), circus skills workshops, and movie clubs for all-round family entertainment.  This year look out for piano playing comedian Tim Minchin plus Jools Holland, his Blues Orchestra and some very special guests.

Latitude, HenhamPark, Southwold,Suffolk
July 12–15 
One of the big boys, now in its seventh year, that promises an impressive musical and comedy line-up, set amid a glorious countrified backdrop featuring the famous coloured sheep (real live sheep dip-died in rainbow hues) and enormous giant flowers, as well as brilliant dedicated areas for children and, new for last year, tweens and teenagers. The 2012 line-up has a distinctly folky feel with Laura Marling and Bon Iver at the top of the bill and pouty pop princess Lana Del Ray certain to steal the limelight.

Vintage Festival, Boughton House, Northamptonshire
July 13–15
Promising to be a most grand affair, and rather appropriately set in the elegant setting of an English stately home, Vintage Festival celebrates design, glamour and the Best of British from the fine vintage era of the 1920s to the1980s. Curated by designer Wayne Hemingway expect kitsch glamour and heaps of nostalgia where your children can enjoy the simple childhood pleasures that you did, including a good old British holiday camp atmosphere. Live music will be appropriately retro with performances from the soulful Aloe Blacc and 1950's razzamatazz from Swing Out Sister Big Band.

Deer Shed, BaldersbyPark, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire
July 20–22
Still relatively new (it's their third year), Deer Shed Festival exudes relaxed charms and is most definitely geared up for family enjoyment with a mix of music, arts and delicious locally sourced foods, plus a wide range of family workshops with junk modeling, frolics on an artificial beach and ukelele jamming sessions. Mercury Music Prize nominees, Villagers are top of the bill this year with Friday nights headlining slot being filled by intelligent pop peddlers Saint Etienne.

WOMAD, Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire
July 26–29 
World of Music, Arts and Dance, founded by Peter Gabriel is celebrating its twentieth anniversary, with performers from as far afield as Ethiopia, India and New Zealand. It also has a dedicated children’s zone, the World Of Kids, bursting with things to see and do from music workshops to painting your own T-shirt and even cooking classes, and the Children’s Parade will be one of the festival highlights. And if the music and vibe isn’t enough to get you in a chilling zone, there’s even an on-site Womad Spa.

Kendal Calling, Lowther Deer Park, Hackthorope, Cumbria
July 27-29
Voted Best Small Festival for the past two years, Kendal Calling is a weekend of music, fun and frolics. The family activities take place at Ladybird, an area dedicated to children from tinies to teens, where you’ll find “the most dazzling, most silly, most creative, biggest dollop of fun-filled activities, workshops, games and family-focused entertainment ever seen in the wonderful fields of Lowther Deer Park!” A highlight is the Ladybird's Fantastic Family-Friendly Cabaret. For a small festival, Kendal Calling manages to pull in some big names including Dizzee Rascal, Maximo Park and Feeder.

Camp Bestival, LulworthCastle, Dorset
July 26–29 
The big daddy of family festivals,Camp Bestival takes the rockin’ heritage of Bestival and magically transforms it into a child-friendly affair. There’s always a great line-up of big name music acts – this year’s ranging from Happy Monday and Kool & The Gang to Rolf Harris – plus the likes of Mr Tumble, The Gruffalo and two areas of childish pursuits from play areas to arts and crafts. Highlights include the Saturday fancy-dress parade and a fabulous fireworks finale.

Boomtown, Matterly Estate,Winchester
August 9-12 
The premise of this festival is that BoomTown is “a mock-up city of complete and utter mentalism”, with hidden gems scattered around the town in tiny nooks and crannies, eccentric side streets and secret alleyways. Children will enjoy spectacular circus performances and cabaret, adventure play areas and horse-and-cart rides amid a musical soundtrack of jump-up ska, gypsy, reggae, rockabilly, swing, disco, and folk.

Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park Estate, Oxfordshire
August 10–12 
A relative newby on the festival scene (last year was their first), Wilderness Festival is a celebration of the arts and outdoors in the wild meadows, lakes and trees of the ancient Wychwood Forest. Curated by the trendy creators of Lovebox and Secret Garden Party, Wildnerness brings together music, fireside banquets, debate and talks, late night parties, outdoor pursuits and theatre spectaculars, alongside a selection of hearty outdoor pursuits from boating and fly fishing to nature trails and star-gazing.

Beautiful Days Festival, Escot Park, Devon
17–19 August 
Winner of Best Family Festival 2011, Beautiful Days is the Levellers festival. Celebrating its 10 anniversary, this is a family music festival with six stages, site art, a huge children’s area in the centre of the festival, co-ordinated by Majical Youth Theatre with hands-on workshops, crafts, theatre, dressing-up, circus, rides, story-telling, comedy, face painting and more.

Just So Festival, Rode Hall Parkland,Cheshire
August 17–19 
A boutique weekend-long festival of creativity for families, with tons of magical goings-on for toddlers and preschoolers. Moving to a new location this year, expect a mix of puppetry and theatre, magical trails through woodland and pirates escapades, all well as plenty of calm oasis to chill and relax.

See Junior's seven rules for happy family festivals


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Discuss this story

Great Festival Parenting Guide on FestivalKidz - I would add JerseyLive to this; make a holiday of it!

Posted: 16/05/2012 at 16:45

Thanks for helping me to find the best day out the plane for my family my printer is not printing . You are making it simpler for me. I don’t need to research more. Most of the details are provided here. Not only has a single festival you give me detailed of all those festivals.

Posted: 12/02/2019 at 12:05

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