When you think of summer festivals, which is the first festival which springs to mind? I’m sure it must be one of the high profile ones such as Glastonbury, Reading or the V Festival. However, since having a child, music festivals have become a distant memory and I now have to settle with watching the highlights on TV.
All is not lost because I have since been introduced to the world of children’s festivals. My first experience was when I took my son to the ‘Little Legs’ preschoolers festival when he had just turned 3 years old. I really didn’t know what to expect (Images of babies high on Formula rocking out to Nursery Rhymes immediately pictured to my mind!). It turned out to be a very relaxed affair and not too claustrophobic as the organisers limited the number of tickets available for the event. It proved to be a fun filled day of meeting farmyard animals, playing in a giant sandpit, Arts and Crafts activities, a Children’s Party Entertainer, Face Painting and Bouncy Castles galore. It was a way of local child-orientated businesses promoting their services with taster sessions all covered within the ticket price of £5.
We followed this up with the ‘3 Foot People’ preschooler festival in Chelmsford which has a maximum capacity of 14,000 people over three days. This event is very popular and tickets sell out fast. Also, each family were issued with wristbands with a secret password in case you got separated from your toddler. Everything here was of a much larger scale as you needed to refer to a map to find out where everything was, making it impossible to do all of the activities in one day. You very much needed to have a plan of action and prioritize what you wanted to do. Also, some of the events ran to a timetable so you needed to know the times they commence. Thankfully, our son made it clear that he wanted to see many of the theatre productions which were taking place along with a visit to the Mad Science tent.
We also couldn’t miss him having his face painted as a Scarecrow, going on the fairground rides, playing in Cardboard City and on the Play Bus. Despite there being lots of people, we never experienced any long queues or felt any of the activities were too over-crowded. A definite bonus of having so many things to do! Thankfully, we never once lost sight of our son – we took the extra precaution of making sure that he was wearing a bright coloured distinctive T-Shirt and Shorts.
When the festival drew to an end, many of the toddlers were being dragged out in tears as tiredness crept in from what had been a very fun but tiring day. We were fortunate that our son came away happy – it was always the following day when the excitement would catch up on him!
So which type of festival do I prefer? Definitely the kid’s festivals – the look on my sons face filled with excitement and wonderment is definitely worth it. Also, it was a proud moment when he overcame his shyness and volunteered to take part in one of the interactive theatre productions.
I have to admit that when my son started school, I missed going to these festivals. So much so, that I decided to look into whether there were festivals geared up for school aged children and much to my delight, there were many of them but just located further afield.
Here is the line up of the best Children/Family orientated festivals that I could find. Admittedly, festivals such as Glastonbury do offer a kids section but I was only looking at the festivals which are primarily targeting families with babies, toddlers, kids & teenagers. Ideally, a festival for kids where parents are allowed to tag along (but still have lots of fun!)
4-7 August 2016
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
Set in a private nature reserve, this is a festival which combines nature, music and music with great food. Although there are some great music acts taking the main stage, they have plenty of family orientated activities such as Theatre Productions, Interactive Storytelling, Puppet Making, Clowns, Magicians and an Insect Circus.
Rode Hall, Cheshire
This festival places an emphasis on combining art, music and literature for all ages (including babies). The list of activities are endless but highlights include Pillow Fights, Samba Drumming Workshop, Campfire Stories, Outdoor Cinema, Tribal Craft, Wild Rumpus Parade and a chance to meet the Gruffalo.
26 – 28 August
The Big Feastival
Kingham, The Cotswolds
As the name suggest, The Big Feastival is a food and music extravaganza. Dick and Dom and Justin Fletcher will be appearing on the stage for the kids. Other highlights include Circus Skills, Family Olympics, Vintage Funfair, Farm Animals, Acrobats and Face Painting.
28 – 31 July 2016
Lulworth Castle, Dorset
There are some great music acts taking the stage but for the kids, there will be Mr Tumble, Clangers, Dick & Dom, LazyTown and many more. Also, there are other fun activities such as the Science Tent, Arts and Crafts, Insect Circus, Fairground Rides, and the Kids Catwalk. There is also a section dedicated to 13-17 years old so there will be no unhappy teenagers declaring that the activities are too babyish for them.
Personally, I was very drawn to the ‘Just So’ festival but we have opted to go to ‘The Big Feastival’. Purely for the fact that neither myself or my husband drive and the festival is only a 3 minute walk from Kingham train station.
I must remember to make sure that the whole family are kitted out in their wellies. After all, it will be the school holidays so I can’t expect the weather to be sunny! However, I will remain optimistic and put my pair of Havaianas flip flops into my backpack just in case!