Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Family-friendly festival guide

kids' area at Summer Sundae festival
The festival season is fast approaching, so I thought I'd put together a guide to surviving (and enjoying) family-friendly festivals with kids.

Mr O and I have been going to music festivals since we were 18 (and that's a long time ago!). Once Miss Ony came along, we decided that festival camping with a baby was a step too far, but we still went for a day at the V festival when she was about 6 months old - we even got featured in the local paper, as she was one of the 
youngest festival goers there. We had a bit of a break from 'proper' festivals for a few years after we had Miss Kahonie, as the thought of taking a baby and a toddler to a festival (and all the stuff they needed) seemed just a bit too much effort.
main arena at Bearded Theory festival

Once Miss Kahonie was toilet trained and dry at night, we started festival-ing again.The girls love going to festivals now and delight in assembling their festival outfits and accessories before we go each year. One of their favourite festival activities is crazy dancing, which believe me, raises a smile from even the most hardened festival goers!

We always choose family-friendly festivals, generally within a couple of hours' drive. I do a bit of research beforehand to make sure that they have decent toilet facilities, showers and kids' activities. If you can, try and arrive reasonably early to get a decent pitch in the family-camping area (if there is one). We've found to our cost that trudging around a festival site with a tent and two kids, is no fun when you can't find a space to pitch.

My top tips are: 
Take a bucket and some loo rolls for night time situations! You can empty the bucket down the loo (or down the chemical disposal point if there is one, in the morning). A bucket with a lid such as a nappy bucket is best! 
If you take a light fleece blanket for each child, you can roll them up and take them out in the evenings to wrap the kids up in if they are tired (and use as an extra layer over their sleeping bags at night). A waterproof picnic mat is also useful as a make-shift bed for your little ones to lay or sleep on if they're tired in the's amazing how they can sleep through the music, noise and flashing lights! 

You might want to invest in a pair of ear protectors for young or noise-sensitive children (including those on the autistic spectrum). I can recommend Peltor Kids Ear Defenders which come in a very funky bright pink and lime green. I bought a pair of them for Miss Kahonie when she was little, as she was sensitive to loud noises. She used to get loads of compliments when she wore them (which she couldn't hear of course!). 

Essential equipment

  • A tent - make sure you're able to put it up before you go!
  • A fold up trolley/wheelbarrow etc to transport stuff and/or some big IKEA type bags 
  • Air beds/sleeping mats/campbeds - with battery powered pump if needed
  • Sleeping bags
  • Fleece blankets
  • Pillows (we always take one proper pillow each, as inflatable pillows just aren't the same!)
  • Waterproof picnic mats and/or fold up chairs
  • A battery powered light and a torch, plus extra batteries
  • Basic first aid kit with kids' paracetamol, plasters, anti-septic wipes, bite-cream etc.
  • A pack of baby wipes (always useful no matter how old your kids are).
  • Toiletries - small bottles/tubes of shampoo, anti-bacterial handwash, washing up liquid, tooth paste, tooth brushes, sun cream etc.
  • Light-weight towels
  • Toilet bucket and toilet rolls
  • Washing up sponge scourer/cloth
  • A few pegs, to peg out damp towels on the guy ropes
  • Fully-charged mobile phones
  • Good warm PJs and a vest/thermals each
  • Clothes which can be layered up, as even on hot, sunny days, it can get really cold at night.
  • Warm fleece jacket or hoodie each
  • Wellies/walking boots, plus some light shoes (pumps, sandals or trainers)
  • Waterproof jacket each
  • Festival wear (optional!) - colourful clothes, fluorescent leg warmers, socks, tutus, laces and, of course, a festival hat.
  • Dressing up clothes for the whole family -  check if there's a dressing up theme for one of the days.
Festival catering
Most festivals cater well for vegetarian and vegan guests. Festival food is generally very tasty, but it does tend to be pretty expensive, so you might want to think about taking some of your own food, especially if your kids eat non-stop. Chill or freeze all perishable items and pack into the coolbox just before you leave. My vegetarian and vegan camping food and kids' camping food pages will give you an idea of simple meal ideas...


main arena at The Big Session festival
  • Coolbox (no ice packs- freeze any milk/juice cartons/water bottles you're taking and use them as ice packs). 
  • A refillable water bottle each
  • Camping stove plus gas canisters
  • Camping kettle and small frying pan/saucepan
  • Spatula or spoon
  • Small fold up camping table.
  • Paper or plastic plates and cups 
  • Plastic cutlery
Food and drink
  • Small cartons of juice
  • Portable but filling snacks - biscuits, crackers, cereal bars, dried fruit etc.
  • Breakfast foods - bread, cereal, eggs, veggie bacon/sausages, pain au chocolat etc.
  • Tinned foods such as soup, baked beans and spaghetti with ring-pull lids.
  • Packet foods such as dried veggie burger/sausage mix, rice, noodles etc.
  • Small bottle of vegetable oil.
  • Alcoholic drinks in plastic bottles or cans (optional!) - most festivals don't allow glass bottles onto their sites.
  • Basic ingredients for simple meals: camping recipes.
Fun extras
  • Glo-sticks (pound shop)
  • Light-up balls/toys (pound shop again)
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Spray in hair-colour
  • Drawing/colouring books and pens/pencils/crayons
  • Top trumps cards
  • Walkie talkies
  • Solar fairy lights and a flag to decorate your tent!
If you have any further festival tips or recommendations, please add them in a comment below. Try sites such as Festival KidzeFestivals and Virtual Festivals to find festival dates and information.

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  1. Following your blog. @missielizzieb

  2. We've never camped at a festival before, but for day-long events I'd say pack plenty of pashmina type shawls. Useful for wrapping up if littlies get cold or to shield from the sun if too hot.

  3. I've liked on Facebook too (Missie Lizzie over there).

    I'd love the pink ones if I was the lucky winner. x

  4. I follow your blog as chelseamamma and would love the pink ones (although I one of each and he would want the green)

  5. I have liked on Facebook as Kara guppy

  6. Lovely prize - following on gfc. @ericahughes

  7. My best camping tip is to take extra blankets for nighttime. It gets alot colder than you think - and fully expected the littlest ones to want to snuggle with you in your sleeping bags!!

  8. Liked on fb (Erica Price) @ericahughes

  9. following your blog @MummyFever

  10. have liked the FB as well @MummyFever

  11. Thanks for the giveaway
    I am following your blog via GFC as kasza

  12. Mini bottles of hand gel for the children to carry in their pockets

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. My best camping/ festival going tip is to take plenty of toilet roll with you not just for the toilets but to wipe stuff of you that really shoulnt be there ;)

  15. I follow hear for life on fb

  16. Following you via GFC



  17. Camping tip - take plenty of baby/wet wipes. Can be used for everything from cleaning, bum wiping & face wiping (not the same wipe I hope)


  18. Liked and commented on FB - Sarah Littleboo Anguish


  19. liked and shared on facebook

  20. my tip is get some of those portable disposable cardboard wee wee catchers for when the loos get too gross. or just go in the hedge.

  21. Great tips, love your family-friendly ideas. I've liked you on Facebook, looking forward to your future updates. :)

    Catering Danvers MA


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