Music festivals can be awesome opportunities to create memories as a family. With our ultimate family music festival guide, you can make sure they're good ones...
We are lucky. We’ve been to Glastonbury Festival, the biggest music festival in the world. We’ve been to Latitude Festival, one of the best family music festival in the UK. In fact we’ve been to lots festivals, including ones abroad like Sziget Festival in Budapest.
Music festivals are incredible places where for a few days you can leave the normal world behind and all the problems, stresses and hassles that it brings.
That’s great, but if you are going as a family, you still have to ensure that as well as having fun, everyone is kept safe too.
Ultimate family music festival guide ... Tip #1 Choose the right music festival
Firstly look for festivals with suitable music genres for the family. Is it music that you will all enjoy? Does it attract the type of people that you would be comfortable surrounding yourselves with 24 hours a day … for several days.
Some music festivals attract ‘certain crowds’ that may be more prone to excessive drinking, drug taking and aggressive behavior. Talk to other people who have been before and get their inside knowledge to see if that music festival is suitable for you and your family.
Ultimate family music festival guide ... Tip #2 Plan and prepare in advance
- Purchase your festival tickets and then book accommodation in advance to secure the best options for you. Are you going to camp (you don’t have too!) If you do camp, what sort of camping are you planning? Campervan? Tent? Glamping?
- Pack daily essentials: Create a festival checklist of essential items such as sunscreen, hats, comfortable clothing, blankets, insect repellent, wet wipes, portable phone chargers and charger leads. Don’t forget reusable water bottles. Most festivals will let you take these in now. Reusable bottles are …
- Better for the environment – less plastic waste
- Better for your wallet – drinks at festivals are always expensive
- First aid kit: Carry a small first aid kit with plasters, antiseptic cream, pain relief and any prescription medication. There is a lot of walking and you may get blisters. Liquid skin is very useful at a festival for sorting minor cuts, especially for flip flop feet!
- Take a travel cool bag rucksack. These can be more convenient than taking a cool bag and a rucksack.
- Festival schedule: Familiarise yourself with the festival schedule and plan which artists and activities you’d like to attend as a family. Clashfinder is a useful online resource for working out what bands are on when and where at major UK festivals. Be realistic about how many acts you will get to see. Over planning can kill the vibe and require a lot of walking around.
Ultimate family music festival guide ... Tip #3 - Plan what to take when camping at a music festival
Here’s our festival camping checklist…
- Your tent. As a rule we’d say that a two man tent is good for one person and all your gear. As a family, you’ll need to go bigger and you might want to invest in a festival trolley to cart everything around. Get a tent with a fixed groundsheet. This stops water getting in (and beasties too!).
- If you do get a trolley, they are great places for little ones to have a nap. Get one with a sun shade and also put LED fairy lights around it for when it gets dark so people don’t walk into it.
- Your sleeping bag. Even during the summer, nights can get cool. A good quality sleeping bag is essential. Quality and durability will depend on your budget. As we camp (a lot) we’ve purchased RAB down sleeping bags. They are expensive, but they are brilliant and pack down to very little. Looked after, they will last a lifetime.
- Sleeping Liner. If it is hot, you could opt for a sleeping liner bag. We use Craghoppers NosiLife liners. They are very comfortable and also repel biting insects such as midges and mosquitoes.
- A sleeping mat. Don’t bother with an inflatable mattress. They are heavy and you will also need a pump. Festival grounds are usually fields, which are uneven and surprisingly cold. We like Sea to Summit mats. We even have a special one for our VW California campervan that has a surprisingly hard downstairs bed!
- Toilet roll – It always runs out in the portable toilets. Take off a days worth of sheets, roll them up and keep them in your pocket. Use a plastic zip bag if its raining (and do this for the kids too).You don’t want a pocket full of papier mâché after you waited for the loo! Cheeky Panda make handy packs of biodegradable wipes that are good for wiping hands, seats, door handles and flush handles too.
- A torch (unless you have a smart phone).
- A decent capacity power bank charger and charging leads.
- A camping pillow. We like the Wise Owl Snoozy camping pillow. It goes with us on lots of travel too. If you don’t want to spend a lot, you could just get an inflatable pillow.
- A lightweight camping chair can be a gamechanger, especially when it is wet and you can’t sit on the floor. Music festivals don’t have a lot of seating. You will be surprised how much you will appreciate being able to use a camping chair.
- Waterproof picnic blanket. You can always use your rain jacket or poncho, but a lightweight waterproof mat is very handy to flop on when you are tired.
Ultimate family music festival guide ... Tip #4 Know how to keep your family safe
- Agree meeting point: Choose a location (e.g. the CND sculptures near the cider bus at Glastonbury, the bridge at Latitude etc) as a meeting point in case anyone gets separated. Teach your children to find festival staff or security personnel if they can’t locate you. If they’re old enough to have mobile phones, make sure they have a charger & charging lead (their batteries always run out!)
- When our kids were young we made up a £1 challenge where they memorised our mobile numbers (through a little tune). If after a week they could still recite it back, they got a pound. 10+ years later they still know that little tune!!
- Get some Apple AirTags and some AirTag holders. These can be clipped onto your child or kept in their festival bag. You can then track them on your iPhone.
- Identification wristbands: Write your contact information on wristbands worn by younger children, ensuring they have your name and phone number in case they wander off. We’ve also seen parents that write their mobile numbers on their kids festival t-shirts (and even on their arms with sharpies) in case they lose their wristbands.
- Establish boundaries for older children: Discuss where they can and cannot go within the festival grounds. Festivals inevitably have people who are intoxicated. Make sure they are streetwise.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water: Festivals can be physically demanding. Drink water regularly to stay hydrated. Take advantage of free water refill stations (or most festival bars will now fill up your bottle). If you’re worried about water quality, use a filter water bottle like the one made by Brita.
Ultimate family music festival guide ... Tip #5 - Don't have all the gear and no idea!
- Be prepared for all weather conditions:
- Sun protection: Apply sunscreen before leaving your tent and reapply it throughout the day. Wear hats (we love the Tilley hat as it’s great in rain too), sunglasses, and lightweight, long-sleeved clothing for added sun protection. Craghoppers make clothing that has high SPF rating and can protect against biting insects.
- Rain gear: Watch the weather forecast and be prepared for unexpected rain by packing rain ponchos or small umbrellas. If you have a good waterproof jacket, take it. Consider other festival goers though if you take a brolly as you don’t want to block their view (unless you’re watching Rihanna and she’s playing Umbrella!)
- Appropriate footwear: Wellies are useful and have that ‘Kate Moss at Glasto vibe‘ … they are not comfortable though. All of our festival friends opt for a good pair of walking shoes or boots. Even in terrible mud, walking boots are better. You can always wipe your legs down. Lost wellies in a mud-bath though and its game over.
One year at Glastonbury my FitBit logged over 50 miles of walking. There was no way my feet could have survived that in wellies!
Embrace ear protection:
Earplugs: Music festivals can be very loud, especially close to the stages. Invest in high-quality earplugs to protect your hearing. You don’t want to develop tinnitus. Young children might not have ears that can take earplugs. Zohan make some funky designed ear defenders for younger kids.
Noise-canceling headphones: If you are very sensitive to noise, you may want to take noise-canceling headphones to provide extra protection or, if you just want to tone it down for a while. Apple AirPods Pro 2 are great.
Ultimate family music festival guide ... Tip #6 - Remember this is meant to be fun!
If surviving a music festival as a family is your main concern, you may need to ask the question, “why are we going to a music festival as a family?” Family festivals are great experiences. You can have so much fun if you have done your festival planning properly in advance.
There are a few ways though that you can get the best family experience…
- Pace yourselves:
- Find restful areas away from the main stages where you can relax and recharge away from the crowds and noise.
- If you have young children, make sure that you plan for naptime during the day to prevent them from becoming overly tired or mardy. You don’t want to miss your favourite acts because of an early bedtime.
- It’s not just about the music at festivals.
- Enjoy kids zones: Most music festivals offer dedicated kids areas with activities such as face painting, arts and crafts, storytelling, and games. Take advantage of these opportunities to keep the children entertained whilst you have a break too. All adults should embrace face painting with their kids. It’s the law at music festivals!!
- Family friendly acts: Watch performances by artists who cater to a family audience. These may also be more interactive shows with sing-alongs. They are also less likely to drop the F BOMB!
- Be considerate of others:
- Music festivals can get crowded, so be considerate of others around you and their personal space. Keep an eye on your children to ensure they don’t spoil other peoples fun.
- Noise levels at the camping area: Be mindful of how much noise your family is creating. You may have energetic children that like to start playing at the crack of dawn. Your neighbouring festivalgoers may have only just gone to bed though.
- If you can, book yourself into a family camping zone. You are more likely to be camping with other kids around you (though these could be older kids and teens who may be night owls).
Enjoy your family music festival experience. We'll see you at the cider bus 😉
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