Family-friendly festivals

Taking your children along can make the festival experience even more rewarding, says David Taylor

One of the highlights of last summer was watching my three-year-old son Krishan's rapt expression as the children's procession wound its way around the Womad festival site on the Sunday. The rainbow-coloured ribbon of smiling toddlers and teens, parents and helpers was accompanied on its twisting tour of the festival by a variety of musicians, oversized puppets and cheering crowds.

Every child who had made something in the myriad of free workshops over the weekend was invited to join in the parade with their artwork. And you couldn't help but get caught up in the moment. It's a real celebration of the festival – and childhood – and perfectly illustrates why a festival can be the ideal place for a family holiday.

Sadly, there are always going to be bitter naysayers and armchair critics out there who criticise parents for daring to take their family to a festival. Even a cursory internet search for "festivals and children" reveals a surprising amount of vitriol aimed at anyone who has the temerity to suggest that summer festivals and children can go together like strawberries and cream.

It all depends on the festival, of course, – and indeed the parents themselves. Cautionary tales of children being abandoned in the dance tent while their so-called guardians consume copious amounts of scrumpy (and worse) are legion. But surely this is a problem with the parents? If you are – let's face it – a bad parent for 362 days in the year, you're hardly likely to magically transform into Mary Poppins when you skip through those festival turnstiles.

Likewise, if you choose to take your brood along to a festival that's well-known for all-night hedonism rather than hula hoop classes, then really you've only yourself to blame.

With more than 20 years of festival experience, I've been on both sides of the children-festival fence. As a stumbling 20-something, I no doubt tutted at buggy-pushing parents who had the cheek to be in my way as I stormed off to catch another band. But now, with a toddler in tow and another on the way, I can appreciate a different, and in many ways much more rewarding, side to festival life. Of course you have to radically change your approach. The days of sticking to a rigid itinerary and catching as many hip acts as possible are long gone. But there's a lot to be found away from the main stages and in the kids' areas – not least an inspiring way to spend quality time with your family, free from the stresses of modern city life.

And if a few like-minded parents choose to join you, all the better. Unfortunately, all those big-hearted offers of babysitting from your single friends are likely to be quickly forgotten after a few hours soaking up the sun. And I don't blame them – it's their holiday too.

But don't despair – even if you end up camping on you own, the chances are you'll meet other families either in the family camping area or at the dedicated kids' play areas.

We were at a festival when it was Krishan's first birthday and met some warm and welcoming families. On the day of his birthday the four children who were camping with their father in the adjacent tent came over and gave him a present. We still have the juggling ball – and have bumped into them at other festivals since.

The secret is, like most things in life, preparation. Before you think about packing your car, make a list – and then another. Ensure sure you take everything you'd normally take on a weekend away to keep your children happy – from sterilisers to favourite toys, books and balls. Just don't forget to pack everyone's waterproofs, a sense of humour, and an open mind. I'll see you in a field somewhere soon.



Five family-friendly festivals

BEST FOR TINY TOTS

Lollibop, 5-7 August, Regent’s Park, London ( www.lollibopfestival.co.uk), is dedicated to the under-10s. Toddlers can bust their moves at Baby Loves Disco, take in a spot of theatre with Charlie & Lola - and then catch everyone’s favourite, crime-fighting rodent Rastamouse. Irie!

BEST FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

Womad, 28-31 July, Charlton Park, Wiltshire ( womad.org), is a great place to start (if only for that Sunday procession). It’s very child-friendly, has a relaxed, easy-going atmosphere, stunning music (and food) from all over the globe - plus a well-stocked real ale bar and even a spa for mum to retire to for some deserved R&R.

BEST FOR GREEN PARENTS

Sunrise Celebration, 2-5 June, Bruton, Somerset ( www.sunrisecelebration.com), has just been awarded the Best Green Festival Award by The Green Parent magazine. With an emphasis on sustainability, families can feast on locally sourced organic food and drink while the little ’uns enjoy the LATE Club Kids area from 8am-7pm.

BEST FOR MUSIC

Camp Bestival, 28-31 July, Lulworth Castle, Dorset ( www.campbestival.net). Winner of the UK Awards Best Family Festival for the past two years, Rob da Bank’s baby gets better every year. Mr Tumble and ZingZillas for the little kids, Primal Scream andMark Ronson for the big kids.

BEST FOR TEENAGERS

The Underage Festival, 5 August, Victoria Park, London ( www.underagefestivals.com) is strictly for those aged 13 to 17. With parents banned and a line-up including Janelle Monae and Labrinth it makes me wish I was a teen too!

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all