Just because you’ve got children doesn’t mean you have to hang up your mud-caked wellies just yet. This year there are more family-friendly festivals to visit than ever. Here are some of our favourites whether you are looking to camp, taking toddlers or just want a bargain weekend away.
Big is not always best. In general smaller festivals are good for families even if there isn’t as much children’s entertainment on offer. They’re often in one field so you’ll be able to keep an eye on the family as they aren’t as crowded. Also, less people means less queuing for the loos and a speedy exit out of the car park. Deer Shed in North Yorkshire is on the smaller side and prides itself on being a safe environment for all the family.
You’re not a proper festival goer until you’ve camped. Even if you have to buy a tent you can use it again for low-cost breaks when the sun shines. Plus it’s cheaper than hotels who hike up their prices around the festival season. Shambala near Market Harborough isn’t cheap but it has a family only field and dedicated veteran festival families to help first timers settle in.
There are plenty of free festivals too. Godiva Festival in Coventry and Bristol Harbour Festival are good for families because of the range of activities on offer. But try to find one near to where you live, that way you won’t need to pay for accommodation. Some like Caerphilly’s Big Cheese even have free shuttle buses to and from the event cutting down on travel costs.
With kids in tow, volunteering can be tricky. But if one of you can volunteer (or you can share the volunteering) the whole family can come at a reduced cost. You’ll need to put in an agreed number of hours but you will have plenty of free time too. A good place to start is Oxfam's festival volunteer programme. They attend plenty of festivals, including Dorset’s Camp Bestival which is dubbed the festival where “kids are king”.
If you are really up for a challenge then taking a toddler to a festival can be interesting but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it! Wychwood Festival in Cheltenham allows you to drive onto the campsite to unload, which is useful if you have half of Mothercare in the boot. The crowd are music loving types and there’s a toilet block with flushing loos and hot running water for giving little ones a good wash. Under-five’s go free.
Festivals don’t need to mean music. For budding entertainers the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has loads of free children’s workshops including Ceilidhkids, where kids under eight learn Scottish country dance. If you have a bookworm in the family Linton Children’s Book Festival is a good choice and free. Accommodation for festivals like these can be really pricey so it’s worth making a day trip instead. Book far enough in advance and you can get some bargain priced train tickets.
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