Those of us who have young families and still like to party know how amazing and knackering a festival can be with the little ones. When a festival gets it right, it can mean the difference between an amazing weekend and a complete ordeal. Events vary massively in what they provide for families. So, what are you looking for when choosing a family friendly campsite and general services at a festival?
Look for camping near to car parking! Plus the option to have quiet camping is always good – being awake in the tent all night with the thud of distant bass-lines and a wired kid(s) just isn’t fun. Most festivals now have dedicated family camping areas (some with noise curfews) which often mean being spared wild neighbours – and it spares wild neighbours from screaming kids at the crack of dawn too. It’s lovely to have loads of other families nearby – one of the many joys of a festival is the kids feeling free and playing with new friends.
The other thing to find out is whether family camping will be crowded, as it’s good to know you can navigate through the tents with buggies, and avoid hitting the deck when walking back to camp a little pished. Most events are required to have vans and tents in separate camp areas for fire safety, but they usually let you have a tent for each vehicle – do check this in advance. Some festivals allow a plot to be booked at extra cost, so you can mix vans and tents, and make sure everyone is together.
One thing we REALLY want to have is a fire. Few festivals seem allow this apart from Sunrise and Shambala. Let us know if you come across any others.
Showers, and toilets close by are more important with kids. In an ideal world there are plentiful water taps and washing-up basins too – with a little step so everyone can reach. Although the little dance to avoid the muddiest bits feels part of the experience, it wouldn’t be terrible if there was decent drainage. There’s no excuse for mud if it’s hot weather.
We all want to feel safe – let our kids roam a bit without going too far. Small campsite fields really help this, and knowing stewards are keeping a friendly eye on gates to stop unaccompanied kids going into the festival is reassuring. Many events now have campsite teams, and some have a space/info point.
On the wish list is a campsite tent/covered space, with soft play, drying space for the classic British festival experience, and even bedtime stories close to your camp!
In the wider festival it’s always handy to have a baby-friendly pit stop, somewhere you can change a nappy, breastfeed or warm a bottle without traipsing back to camp is tranquillity.
Contact the festival organisers and ask them about the above criteria before you make a booking. Family friendly festivals should be only too keen to answer your questions and it pays to find out before you arrive with a van-load of kids to a soggy site without any of the amenities you were hoping for! With a bit of preparation, you can have a wonderful family festival experience.