115 Weeks | Family Friendly Festivals

As a seasoned festival goer the ‘child friendly’ aspect of a festival really wasn’t on my radar before we had the boys.

But nowadays, with my two little tinies in tow, family friendly festivals are something that I’ve been looking into more and more. Especially as festivals are so much a part of our summer — and our lives — that they’re definitely something that we will continue to do, as the boys grow up.

Aged 1 and a bit, they went to their first 3 day festival last year (read all about that here) and we’ll be taking them to their 2nd this year.

I thought it would be nice to compile a little list of great family friendly festivals and give a few insights, as to why I think they’re a good option for both big — grown up kids — and little kids alike.

Family Friendly Festivals
Family Friendly Festivals |My boys at Shambala

 

Here are my top 5 family friendly festivals for 2015.

Just So Festival
This is one of the (not so) best  kept secrets in the festival calendar! This little family friendly festival is in it’s 7th year now. Held over a long weekend, it’s set in the grounds of the beautiful estate of Rode Hall in Cheshire.

Just So is supported by the Arts Council so there’s lots of lovely installations — theatre and storytelling — plus workshops, for kids to get involved with making and doing.

Whilst you probably won’t recognise any of the headline acts, this kind of festival is all about the atmosphere and the experience. If you’re wanting to introduce your kiddos to a festival — or just fancy a lovely camping weekend with benefits — this is the one for you. It’s a lovely, magical way to spend a  long weekend.

Family Friendly Festivals
Family Friendly Festivals | Dolly The Caravan

Shambala
An assault on the senses. This amazing little festival is an absolute winner for adults and children alike. A huge group of us went last year and it was a sell out — disappointed faces from those that weren’t lucky enough to bag a ticket. We took the twins from the Thursday though to the Sunday and it was fab. It feels as though you’ve just dropped into a weird dream — the calibre of fancy dress  was incredible. I’m so looking forward to seeing what people come up with this year — the theme is ‘Cosmic Carnival’ so there’s bound to be some amazing costumes.

As a parent, a highlight for me was ‘Rub-A-Dub-Tub’.  A simple and absolutely genius idea, that consisted of a tented area to bathe your babies. We were given a (free) trug full of hot soapy water and the boys spent a lovely 40 minutes splashing about, whilst we sat and chatted to the other parents.

The other things I loved about Shambala was it’s fab free eco-loos — most festivals charge you the earth for the privilege of using these — and their genuine ‘leave no trace’ ethic. When you buy a drink, you’re given a reusable cup, that you fill up again and again. I can say — hand on heart — I have never seen so little litter on a festival site. They should be applauded for it, it was lovely to see. Particularly as we had two little toddlers with us. You don’t want your tiny revellers knee deep in cans or paper cups do you?

Family Friendly Festivals
Family Friendly Festivals |Festival Flowers

The Big Feastival
A relative newcomer to the festival scene, Feastival is the brainchild of Jamie Oliver and Alex James from Blur (who’s turned from rock-star to cheesemaker).

Held on the James family farm in the Cotswolds, Feastival is a foodie’s dream. Lots of cheffy demonstrations and cookery workshops for the adults, tempered with music and  things to do for littlies. They have a decent music line up, with some well known headline acts, markets selling lovely clobber — Joules and Mio Skincare to name a couple.

This event isn’t totally geared up for children, as some of the other festivals are, but it’s a lovely gentle introduction to the festival scene if you were thinking of dipping your toe in.

big_chill_horse
Family Friendly Festivals | A Mechanical Horse

Wilderness
The name suggests ‘a natural environment that has not been significantly modified by civilised human activity’ and this festival is set in the most beautiful location.

Nestled in the  gorgeous surroundings of Cornbury park in Oxfordshire, I found Wilderness to be one of the most family orientated of the festivals I’ve been to. Whilst it’s not geared up to littlies in quite the same way as, say, Just So or Camp Bestival, it felt very safe and the pace was very relaxed and gentle. It wasn’t as hectic as some of the others, it’s set on a much smaller scale and it felt very, very laid back. More like an enormous village fete, than a festival.

Highlights for me were the Wilderness cricket match, complete with a streaker (yes, totally naked), the Lakeside Spa (what’s not to love about sitting in a hot-tub overlooking a beautiful lake?) and the banquets. These are fabulous — expensive but worth — it if you’re after something a little out of the ordinary. This year they’ve got none other than Raymond Blanc and Angela Hartnett! Pretty special festival food, I’d say.

Family Friendly Festivals
Family Friendly Festivals | The Wilderness Cricket Match

Camp Bestival
Probably the most well known of the family friendly festivals. This is the daddy of them all.

A spin off of the ever popular Bestival — held on the Isle Of Wight (and the biggest fancy dress party I’ve ever been to). Camp Bestival has been going since 2008 and was probably launched to appease all of the die-hard festival lovers, who now have children but couldn’t face the ferry journey across the channel with the kids in tow! Hence, Camp Bestival was born!

Held in the amazing grounds of Lulworth castle, it’s a 4 day extravaganza with probably the best music  line-up of all the child friendly festivals. More kids entertainment than you can shake a stick at, Camp Bestival offers the likes of Dick and Dom and Mr Tumble.

Camp Bestival is really geared up for kids but there’s so much other stuff going on too that the ‘big kids’ amongst us won’t get bored easily. A wild weekend of revelry to be had, come rain or shine.

Family Friendly Festivals
Family Friendly Festivals | My Tiny Reveller

Are you going to any family friendly festivals this year? Are there any that you particularly like that I’ve not mentioned? I’m always open to suggestions and it’s always lovely to have recommendations from people in ‘the know’!

Get in touch — caro@thetwinklediaries.co.uk — I’d love to hear from you!

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About The Twinkle Diaries

Big eyes & a happy heart. Festival goer, gin lover. Lives in a haphazard state of chaotic bliss with a lovely husband, twin toddler boys, three cats & four chickens.

86 thoughts on “115 Weeks | Family Friendly Festivals

    1. Honestly Katie — Dolly has revolutionised our whole life! We used to rent motorhomes for festivals (SO expensive) but with Dolly we can go to more and more places. These festies are FAB for littlies — you should go. Festivals are such a lovely experience for kids (and adults) ;) X

    1. Aah I would have LOVED to have gone to that Karen. If my friend’s hadn’t been having their birthday camping party on that same weekend, we would have come along. I always love a new festival to try :) x

  1. We have been camping with kids but have yet to go to a festival. Thanks for sharing this list. While I probably won’t get to the UK for one, I will be on the look out for similar type of festivals in Germany, France (just a short spin down the road from us) and Ireland.
    That mechanical horse is amazing. My boys would be fascinated. I must show them the photo.
    Fionnuala from http://www.threesonslater.blogspot.com
    Fionnuala recently posted…Happy Campers?My Profile

    1. We’ve never been to Green Man because it invariably falls the week before Shambala!! I love festivals but I’m not sure I’d cope with doing two weekends back to back!! :) One year, maybe we’ll forego Shambala and trek to Wales to check it out. It’s supposed to be fabulous. Let me know if you go! Would love to hear your thoughts!! :)

    1. I loved Wilderness and have been a couple of times but it is fairly expensive for what you get. Camp Bestival is not a great deal more expensive and you get a LOT for your money. That said, Wilderness has given us a couple of lovely, happy weekends with lots of fab memories, and that’s well worth the money :)

  2. I’m bookmarking this! What a fab post! I adore going to festivals & it’s really great to know there are so many family friendly ones :-D xxx

    1. Aah thanks so much Chloe! There are loads more, smaller festivals, that are popping up here there and everywhere plus some bigger ones that I’ve not mentioned — Green Man, Latitude, Womad.

      These 5 are ones that my friends or I go to regularly so can give a personal recommendation xx

  3. A lovely round up and many I recognise from here from Country Kids features over the years. We’ve never tried a festival but do enjoy country fairs and shows so I’m sure we would enjoy festivals too. thank you for sharing your round up on Country Kids.

  4. This is brilliant. I have been banging on about wanting to take the girls to a festival but I had NO idea where! Thanks beautiful, how exciting. I think next year will be my year for child friendly festivals. xxxx

    1. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s the most lovely way to spend a weekend. Granted, it’s not so much fun if it’s tipping down with rain but often the kids fields — and entertainment — are mostly covered! We’ll have to all go together ;)

  5. This is just what I would love to do with my boys when they are a little older (we aren’t quite brave enough for it yet) also I would love a Dolly to do it all in, such a great adventure for you and your boys! Just realised Just So isn’t too far from me too, love this post Caro, fantastic introduction to family festivals xx
    Hayley (@hayleyfromhome) recently posted…Rufford Old Hall – Woollen WoodsMy Profile

    1. It’s such a lovely environment for littlies — SO much to do and see. Although, I’m sure we wouldn’t have *quite* so much fun without Dolly!! I’m not really keen on camping under canvas!! ;) #cheating

    1. Caravans are allowed to all of the festivals I mentioned! To be honest, I don’t think we’d enjoy our experience quite as much without Dolly as I’m not a fan of camping in tents!! ;) But we always go with a huge group of people and our friends camp in both tents and live-in vehicles.

      If you take your van, as well as your weekend pass, you’ll need to purchase a ‘live-in vehicle ticket’ too. There is always an allocated area for campervans and caravans — but friends with a tent are generally allowed to camp next to you.

      Festivals with Dolly are an absolute JOY. The boys still get to have their naps and we can sit outside — with a G&T — and soak up the atmosphere whilst they’re sleeping. It’s fabulous. Can’t recommend it enough :)

  6. Good list, though my own opinion of Wilderness is that it’s better for older kids, and the after dark parties will be missed if you have littlies… And you need to check out Elderflower Fields :) it’s a super small festival totally aimed at kids with great food!
    Tentsniffer recently posted…Red KitesMy Profile

    1. Aaah none of our friends have older kids! We always go to festivals in a huge group and rarely miss out on the after-dark parties! :) When we last went to Wilderness, we took turns to stay back at the camp. Whilst some are off partying in the forest, the others stay at the van and drink cocktails and have a gossip! :) It works so well!

      Admittedly, it would be trickier if we were to go on our own ;)

  7. We attended a child friendly festival last year at Chew Magna called Mini V Festival. I can say that its really kid friendly too and the vibe is so relax. I wish we can attend more this year. Thanks for sharing this list =) #countrykids
    Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) recently posted…UphillMy Profile

    1. There are little festivals popping up all over the place aren’t there? It’s so lovely! :) My absolute favourite festival was one called Haselstock — which has sadly now finished — but that was the best family friendly festival I’ve ever been to!

    1. Aaah keep on at him!!! It is the most fantastic way to spend a weekend — particularly if there’s a huge group of you going. It definitely helps if there are other friends with kids to camp with — hanging out at our camp is one of my favourite parts! ;)

  8. I’ve been reading a lot about family festivals on various blogs this last month, but as far as I can see there aren’t any taking part in the North East yet. Maybe next year! x

    #twinklytuesday

    1. I’d dip your toe in with a smaller one — or even go to one just for the day! Most of the festivals offer day passes. It’s not so much fun as camping for the whole weekend but enough to see if you like it or not! :)

    1. To be honest, the only REALLY muddy festivals I’ve been to over the years have been Glastonbury and Bestival on the IOW. All of the others have been fairly lucky with the weather. We had a little bit of rain last year at Shambala but not enough to make the field all muddy. Get a day pass if you’re not feeling brave enough to go for the full weekend, Sabrina, you may just find you LOVE it!! :) x

    1. Don’t write it off Linda!! There are some amazing ‘glamping’ options — yurts, tee-pees and bell-tents — or you could always (as we did for the first few years) hire a motorhome!!! LOL! Expensive but oh so worth it!! ;)

        1. Gosh you can hire them from all over the country! It’s best to search for one local to you, so you can literally pop over — pick it up and leave your car there — and then drive it home to stock up. We’ve picked them up near to the festival we’re going to too, which means we have to cart all our stuff with us from home!! Much easier to pack whilst it’s outside the house!!

  9. I was talking with friends over half-term about us all taking our kids to a festival so perfect timing. Off to do some more research. Thank you. #TwinklyTuesday

    1. DO it! You won’t regret it!! Unless (of course) it’s raining for the entire weekend. Although these days, even the rain hasn’t put us off! The babies don’t seem to mind it, thanks to the likes of Peppa Pig!! ;)

    1. I think they were created for people just like me!! Big kids who can’t stop going, even though they have an entourage of littlies! At least now, the whole family can go and have a lovely time, as they’re totally geared up for children! :)

  10. Ooo this is fab! I love festivals and I’ve never taken my son to one. I think he’d really enjoy it now as he’s 9. I think Bestival sounds brilliant. I love the Jamie Oliver one too. Great post and lovely to link up for the first time :) xx

    1. Aaah thanks so much Tor — you should definitely take him — he’d absolutely love it!! It’s such a fab experience for the kids — I wish they’d had them when I was little!! x

  11. Oh how I wish that we had such wonderful festival here in my small little town. There are so many things that I miss about living in Las Vegas, NV. However I don’t miss tons of people and traffic. Thanks for hosting the lovely #TwinklyTuesdays.
    Trista recently posted…Favorite Quote #4My Profile

    1. Thanks so much lovely! Yes — we travel up and down the country to go to festivals but the UK is tiny in comparison to the US!! You’d have to fly to get to some of your festivals!! :)

    1. You may be right Toni — festivals are a complete assault on the senses — even without autism. Not sure what Archie would make of it all. Possibly get a day pass and see how he gets on? It would be worth a go — he may absolutely love it! :)

  12. I love festivals and went to V while breast feeding – felt a bit wide finding places to secretly express! I would love to take Monkey to one, this is a great list many of them I’ve not heard of before……now to try and convince Hubby!! #TwinklyTuesday x
    Mudpie Fridays recently posted…Easy DIY Fathers Day GiftMy Profile

    1. V would be a hectic one with a baby! Well done you!! :)

      Some of the kids festivals I’ve mentioned even have areas especially for breastfeeding mothers. They’re so geared up for families — on so many levels x

    1. Aah they’re SO much fun :) And, I’m not a fan of tents either! We’ve got a festival caravan called Dolly — a little hotel on wheels — and she means that we have no need for a tent!! ;)

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