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Festival fun

Take in a child-friendly festival this summer

Posted: 8 April 2011
by Kate Donoughue


Donington Park Farmhouse, Castle Donington, Derbyshire (www.offthetracks.co.uk

Capacity 1,500

What’s the vibe Small is beautiful is the mantra of this intimate twice-yearly affair. Musical interludes Headliners for the spring festival include The Christians and Los Pacominos featuring Paul Young. There’s also an expansive musical offering that blends world, roots, folk, dance, trance and fusion set around three stages in and around the pretty courtyard of the Donington Park Farmhouse. 

For the kids A good mix of arts, crafts, activities and entertainment, plus circus workshops and funky light shows; don’t forget to pack jazzy outfits for the fancy-dress night too. Nice flat terrain with no steep hills also makes it buggy-friendly. 

Added extras Healing workshops in The Orchard offer enticing therapies such as meditation, and chanting and voice work. 

Where to stay As the venue is ordinarily a camping and caravan site, the facilities are great so pitch your own. For the glamping option, stay in a beautiful, pre-erected nomadic tent at Camel Camp in an exclusive area of the campsite. £300 per tent (sleeps four), plus entry

What does it cost Adult weekend tickets with camping cost £65; 12–16s, £32.50; under-12s are free. 

Extend your stay The stunning five-star Stapleford Park country house hotel is less than 30 miles away from the festival site, and is family-friendly. Activities available include falconry and horse riding, as well as outdoor games like croquet. The spa will also provide parental pampering after the rigours of festival life; babysitting is available. Prices from £160 B&B per night. Tel: 01572 787000.


Cheltenham Racecourse (www.wychwoodfestival.com)

Capacity 10,000 

What’s the vibe Nominated Best Family Festival for every year since its launch, this is a leading boutique family festival with the emphasis on music and fun. 

Musical interludes A strong line-up includes The Charlatans, Robyn Hitchcock, Ian Anderson, Cornershop, The Waterboys, and, er, The Wurzels. 

For the kids CBeebies favourite and seasoned festivaller Justin Fletcher will be performing, alongside all manner of workshops and activities, music, dance and arts and crafts sessions, plus circus and performance skills. The Roald Dahl Museum will also be providing activities. 

Added extras Try out the Headphone Disco from 11pm–3am in the Big Top while your babies snooze in the quiet background, giggle at the Comedy Club, or chill out in the Healing Gardens with reflexology, holistic palmistry and reiki. 

Where to stay There’s a family camping area on-site, or try the tipis and yurts. We love the sound of the SoulPad Village, where you can rent a SoulPad sleeping up to five for £219. 

What does it cost Adult weekend tickets £115 plus £20 camping; 10–15 years £55; 5–9 years, £15; under-fives are free. Day tickets also available. 

Extend your stay The charming Regency town of Cheltenham Spa is home to the new Montpellier Chapter hotel, where children can stay free when sharing their parents’ Deluxe Room with breakfast from £159. Further afield in the Cotswolds, Calcot Manor is the perfect surroundings for R&R. B&B for a family of four is priced at £375.


The Park, Vicarage Farm, Woodmancott, Winchester, Hampshire (www.blissfields.co.uk)

Capacity 2,200 

What’s the vibe Awarded 2007 Best Small Festival accolade, this year’s theme promises to be a sci-fi-tastic “Out Of This World” experience. 

Musical interludes Frank Turner (nominated Best Solo Artist in the NME Awards) headlines, with former Razorlight member Andy Burrows and SixNationState also on the bill. 

For the kids Katy Ashworth from CBeebies’ I Can Cook will be performing songs and storytelling, alongside lots of family arts and crafts, juggling and circus skills workshops, puppet shows and hula-hooping. Not to mention the chance to dress up as an alien or spaceman. 

Added extras The Blisscotheque will showcase local DJ talents, or strut your stuff at the Future Disco. Family activities also include It’s A Knockout, plus open-mic and campfire jamming sessions. 

Where to stay Pitch your tent in the family area that is situated furthest from the noise of the stage (further to walk, yes, but much more conducive to sleep, plus being a small-scale venue nowhere at Blissfields is too far to walk). 

What does it cost £69.95 for adults; £46.95 for 6–15 years; under-fives are free (nominal 1p charge). 

Extend your stay You’re within close proximity of the leafy confines of the New Forest with picturesque walks where you can get close to nature. If you fancy a country house hotel, try Balmer Lawn from £229 B&B for a family of four, or for old-style charm, try Cottage Lodge B&B in Brockenhurst, £200 per night for a family of four.


The Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire (www.cornburyfestival.com

Capacity 20,000 

What’s the vibe An eclectic and rather eccentric musical carnival with a dynamic festival-meets-English-country fayre feel.

Musical interludes The impressive line-up includes James Blunt, Cyndi Lauper, Eliza Doolittle, The Faces (featuring Mick Hucknall), Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Status Quo, Olly Murs, The Saw Doctors and more. 

For the kids With a promise of a “bigger and better children’s zone than ever”, there’s storytelling by The Yarnsmith, Bollywood dance, family singing sessions with Tin Pan Annie, and children’s yoga. 

Added extras Roaming entertainers, a fun-filled fairground, relaxing therapy and massage zone, a farmer’s market, the fabulous Disco Shed and a VIP area. 

Where to stay A range of on-site options from pitch-your-own to ready-erected luxury tents at Tangerine Fields  or try the quirky luxury of a podpad or the rainbow-coloured beaupads. There are also yurts and their miniature equivalent, squrts

What it costs  £160 for adult weekend camping; 13–16 years £90; two under-12s free per adult. 

Extend your stay After the excess, perhaps a little rehab at the Priory? Well, the Priory Inn at nearby Tetbury offers a very relaxed and family-friendly vibe and great food. Children under 12 stay free if sharing parents’ room. B&B prices start from £69 a night.


Larmer Tree Gardens, Tollard Royal, near Salisbury, Wiltshire (www.larmertreefestival.co.uk)

Capacity 4,000 

What’s the vibe Celebrating its coming of age (the first festival was in 1990), Larmer Tree is a laid-back escape-from-it-all fest. 

Musical interludes Billed as “a festival of acoustic folk and world music, but also roots, blues, jazz, Americana, and reggae”, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra open the festival, followed over 80 acts across six stages. 

For the kids Hands On! workshops and fun craft activities, plus circus skills. There’s also 11 acres of gardens to explore – look out for the resident peacocks and macaws –  and an adventure playground. 

Added extras Take part in the carnival procession, 150 free workshops, theatre and talks, and a dedicated children’s zone, or take in a movie at the Mark Kermode Film Club. Dance and music classes and a Youth Zone for teens aged 11–17 years. 

Where to stay Pitch your own or go for the “comfy camping” option at Wigwam Sam’s majestic tipi village (info@wigwamsam.co.uk), or book into a Hotel Bell Tent

What does it cost Adult tickets £197 for five days; 11–17 years £158; 5–10 years £127; under-fives free. (Three- and four-day, and daily tickets also available). 

Extend your stay Stay at family-friendly Woolley Grange near Bath with activities for the children and babysitting and pampering for you. One night’s B&B for a family of four costs from £225. 


Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, Yorkshire (www.deershedfestival.com)

Capacity 5,000 

What’s the vibe Nominated in its inaugural year as Best New Festival, this is a family-friendly music and arts festival set in beautiful North Yorkshire parkland. 

Musical interludes Three stages feature a mix of indie rock, folk and country. Mancs favourites I Am Kloot and Nashville starlet Caitlin Rose headline while other bands include “kick-ass audio adventurists” The Go! Team, and The Leisure Society. 

For the kids A range of free musical, artistic and energetic pursuits, including seaside fun on an artificial beach, junk modelling and badge-making and, for the musically minded, ukelele workshops. 

Added extras Greentop Circus Cabaret in the Big Top, a Saturday night comedy show (with no swearing!), comedy workshops plus James Campbell, the children’s stand-up comedian du choix. 

Where to stay On-site camping in tent or camper van (£15). Or stay just down the road at the very swish Crab Manor hotel in a luxury room or, a bit more rock ‘n’ roll, a log cabin. 

What does it cost Adult weekend ticket £59; £15 for child six-plus; under-fives are free. Camping is free. 

Extend your stay Head towards the seaside town of Scarborough, and stay at The Lodge, a luxury self-catering two-bed property in the grounds of Folkton Hall, visit North Yorkshire Moors, York Railway Museum or indulge in sandy pursuits on Scarborough’s famous beach. About £675 for four nights. 


Lulworth Castle, Dorset (www.campbestival.net

Capacity 50,000 

What’s the vibe The king of family festivals, having won the Best Family Festival prize from 2009–10, the little sister of Bestival is a rocking affair.

Musical interludes Blondie, ABC, Mark Ronson, Eliza Doolittle, The Wonder Stuff, Miss Dynamite and more. 

For the kids The Kids Gardens host storytelling and fun workshops, and the Circus Field has performances by Mr Tumble (again) and Zing Zillas. Children love the parade on Dress Up Saturday, and the English National Ballet is also appearing with workshops for budding ballerinas of all ages and abilities. 

Added extras There’s a plethora of delicious food on offer from sushi to Thai, fish and chips to Greek kebabs and everything in between, as well as the River Cottage Café. There’s also Boutique Babysitting (book early so you can catch the late-night bands) and a Heavenly Healing and Pamper Lounge for chillin’. 

Where to stay Pitch your own or choose from a variety of ready-erected luxury tents and gypsy caravans, yurts and tipis, and Podpads and cute Bellepods. What does it cost Adult weekend camping £170; 11–17 years, £85; under-10s free. 

Extend your stay With stunning views over Studland Bay on the Jurassic Coast, The Knoll House hotel  has lots to do nearby. From £3,207 full-board for a week for a family of four.


Near Leek, Staffs (www.justsofestival.org)

Capacity 6,000 

What’s the vibe A boutique, weekend-long festival of creativity for families. 

Musical interludes There’s music, dance and street theatre, plus the chance for your family to take part in the inaugural performance of the Just So Festival choir or join in with the participatory opera of The Emperor’s New Clothes. 

For the kids Theatre and puppetry, trails through the woods to find the fairy queen, a jolly Famous Five picnic and donkey rides at the beach. There’s also the chance to meet children’s authors, including David Lucas, or dance in the woods to Polly and the Billets Doux. 

Added extras Set amid 65 acres of ancient English woodland in Staffordshire, festival families can immerse themselves in music, art, cinema and dance in the beautiful natural landscape full of enticing discoveries. Around every corner, you might find an amazing light installation, some acoustic jazz or meet a Gruffalo. 

Where to stay Weekend tickets include three nights’ camping, either in intimate woodland glades or in adjacent fields overlooking the gorgeous moorlands.

What does it cost £80 for adults; £35 for children; under-threes free. 

Extend your stay Stay at Rowan House, a four-star holiday cottage in the heart of the Staffordshire Peak District in the village of Alton (and yes, if your children want still more fun take a day out at Alton Towers). From £264 for three nights.

HARVEST AT JIMMY'S September 9–12

Jimmy’s Farm, Pannington Hall Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk (www. harvestatjimmys.com)

Capacity 20,000 

What’s the vibe An end-of-summer celebration showcasing the very best of British food, live performers and bands. 

Musical interludes Eliza Doolittle will be performing, alongside Huw Stephens, Gilles Peterson and more. 

For the kids Plenty of real-life animals to see, including the cutest little Guinea Pig Village. There’s also an adventure play area, complete with pink tractor, and a dedicated programme of children’s entertainment, including The Gruffalo, den-building in the woods, face painting, animal tours, cooking lessons, craft workshops, and a butterfly house. 

Added extras Plenty of fine foods and foodie chefs demonstrating their talents including Mary Berry, Richard Corrigan, Paul Hollywood and Yotam Ottolenghi. 

Where to stay Pitch-your-own or glamp it from £350. New for this year is the very civilised option of the Harvest Hotel, with luxurious camping in tipis, yurts and bell tents where you can get breakfast in bed. 

What it costs Adult weekend with camping £97.50; children 6–17 years £36; under-fives free. Day tickets also available. 

Extend your stay If you’re festivalling with friends, continue the party at the Old Rectory, a ten-bed house near the village of Tattingstone and close to Felixstowe with all mod cons, including a games room. From £3,150.

Read more about Family Festivals, Joe's blog from Harvest At Jimmy's and cool kit to take with you. 

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