What could be further removed from the daily routine than the chance to let your hair down at a family festival?
Stay for the whole weekend and, if you feel like getting down and dirty, you can pitch-your-own in true camper style. However, most festivals now offer glamping alternatives, so you can sojourn in the boutique area in anything from a yurt, gypsy tent or tipi to a ready-erected family tent with your own shower and toilet facilities. Cool festival fashion and Hunter wellies are still de rigueur, as are the must-have Peltor Kid ear defenders – à la the Apple of Gwynnie’s eye – to protect your toddler’s hearing.
Festival tickets sell out quickly, so make the most of early-bird offers, and secure your camping spot in good time. Top of the pile for family-friendliness has to be Camp Bestival (July 29–31, 2011) held in the delightful setting of Dorset’s Lulworth Cove. The ambiance is anything goes, with the Saturday highlight of a fancy-dress parade. Of course, there’s the extensive programme of bands on various stages, but there’s also an amazing array of fun stuff for children too, including arts and crafts, shows (this year it was The Gruffalo and Mr Tumble), as well as a fairground and Zippos Circus. Its seaside setting also slots into a perfect start – or finish – to a West Country holiday.
One of the most popular – and increasingly child-friendly – music festivals is Glastonbury (June 22-26, 2011). Strong contenders for 2011 are Kylie and U2, with Beyoncé, Madonna, Coldplay and Radiohead also being touted. For children, there’s Kidzfield filled with theatre, songs, puppetry and inspired nonsense, at no extra cost.
Womad (22-24 July, 2011) in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, founded by Peter Gabriel, has been going since 1982 and is a celebration of world music, with performers from as far afield as Ethiopia, India and New Zealand. Its dedicated children’s zone, the World Of Kids, is bursting with things to see and do from participating in music workshops to painting your own T-shirt and cooking classes, and the Children’s Parade will be a highlight. If the music and vibe isn’t enough to get you into the chilling zone, there’s even an on-site Womad Spa. One of the newest kids on the block is Vintage at Goodwood (August 12–14, 2011). The brainchild of designers Geraldine and Wayne Hemingway of Red Or Dead fame, it’s a music- and fashion-led extravaganza of creative British cool from five decades – from the Forties to the Eighties – with the leading DJs, bands, collectors, purveyors of vintage clothing and vintage vinyl from each decade. The family-friendly vibe comes with the plethora of classic toys and games on display, lots of hands-on creative activities, and a few blast-from-the-past favourites like Space Hoppers and Space Invaders. Plus – and how kitsch is this? – there’s actually a Butlins holiday camp with Red Coats on hand to serve up campsite fun from its heyday! There’s babysitting, too.
On-site accommodation includes proper posh options, complete with chefs cooking you breakfast with organic produce from The Goodwood Estate. Choose from the Hotel Bell Tent, luxury tipis in the Indian Reservation, a new-age Geodome within the sanctuary of the woodland or your very own gypsy caravan.
For a feast of foodie delights alongside plenty of great music, Harvest At Jimmy’s (September 10-11, 2011) in Suffolk is a family fave. The brainchild of Jimmy Doherty, from televison show Jimmy’s Farm, there are food demos by top chefs while past performers have included KT Tunstall and Scouting For Girls. There are art activities, pirates adventures and hands-on den- and treehouse-building workshops, not to mention all the fun of being on a working farm with animals to feed, the cutest little Guinea Pig Village, and a brilliant adventure playground. Take advantage of the on-site babysitting, or you’re in danger of spending all your time in the children’s Playpen area.
Finally, if books are your thing, head to the Bath Children’s Literature Festival (September 23-October 3, 2011), where there will be a host of goings-on with the brightest and best authors in the world of children’s books. Stay in luxury at the nearby Lucknam Park, a beautiful country abode set amid lush countryside worthy of an Austen heroine.
Look at our UK section for lots of brilliant travel ideas.