The best of family friendly festivals, Little London
Embracing outdoor party vibes this summer has never been so easy. Holly Tuppen rounds up the best family-friendly festivals for this season Festival-going with little ones in tow is never going to be the most relaxing of trips, but gone are the days when it’s the reserve of the fearless. With glamping options aplenty, hot showers, compost toilets and even cosy storytime yurts and crèches, festivals are more guaranteed than ever to provide a whole lot of family fun. Here’s a selection of the best offering creature comforts and entertainment for even the smallest members.
First published in Little London Magazine, May 2016
Latitude With an emphasis on performance of all kinds, each year Latitude provides stacks of entertainment for the family, without being overwhelmed by little ones. Bursting with comedy, theatre and music acts, including Russell Howard, the Young Vic and Royal Court, New Order and The Maccabees,adults will be more than catered for in 2016.
In the meantime, the family area is a festival in its own right. The Enchanted Garden camping site will run its own events from 9am (well before the rest of the festival wakes up). Alice in Wonderland themed events, including flamingo cricket, will celebrate the novel’s 150th anniversary, while the likes of The Fairyland Trust and Woodcraft Folk will take care of all things nature. There’s even a resident astro expert for mini Brian Coxes. Henham Park, Suffolk. 14th-17th July latitudefestival.com
The Larmer Tree Gardens are set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Larmer Tree Festival This intimate and eccentric festival, set in stunning Victorian gardens, returns with an absorbing programme of music, comedy, poetry and theatre for festival-goers of all generations. The much-anticipated line-up for 2016 includes Jamie Cullum and Tom Odell, plus preview acts from the Edinburgh Fringe. For the very first time, all children under 10 years go free and will enjoy a packed schedule of events from puppetry to disco, and sensory play for under-fives. The dedicated Family Lawn will provide a welcoming hub to kick back and relax, too. Larmer Tree Gardens, Wiltshire. 13th-17th July larmertreefestival.co.uk
A large section of the Camp Bestival site is dedicated to little ones
Camp Bestival As anyone who has been to Bestival will testify, DJ Rob da Bank certainly knows how to put on a party, and the family orientated Camp Bestival, on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, is no exception. The theme for 2016 is Outer Space and ‘out of this world’ acts, activities and shows promise an action-packed weekend. If you tire of space, there will be a Tudor themed area, talent shows, soft play, Bollywood shows and more. When it comes to music, headliners include Fatboy Slim and Turin Brakes as well as Junior Jungle Rave and the Royal Albert Hall’s Space Symphony. Lulworth Castle, Dorset. 28th-31st July campbestival.net
Wilderness Wilderness is about as chilled-out as a festival gets. With an emphasis on gastronomical delights, outdoor revelry and relaxation, an on-site babysitting service means parents can enjoy a little of everything. This year, banquets will be served up by Raymond Blanc, and catering by Hix, Duck & Waffle and the Mae Deli by Deliciously Ella will ensure there’s not a dodgy kebab van in sight. Wellness is also high on the agenda, with meditation and yoga. The on-site lake will become home to wood-fired hot tubs, a Neal’s Yard spa and swimming. If that all sounds too serious, acts by The Flaming Lips, Goldie and David Bowie tributes will help to get the party started. Meanwhile, kids will love the V&A creative sessions and nature trails. Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. 4th-7th August wildernessfestival.com
A laid back family-friendly festival in a beautiful location
Taking over a secret country estate in Northamptonshire for a long weekend, Shambala is all about ‘discovering the beauty of being alive’ – which, as cheesy as it sounds, seems like a good antidote to city life. More than 200 musical acts make this family festival one of the most eclectic out there.
Nightmares on Wax, Barrio Africa and masters of afrobeat are just a few of the world-music acts that will grace the stages. Kids are more than catered for, too, from a woodland play area, family yurt for cocoa and bedtime stories and heaps of mind-expanding activities from circus skills to crazy bike tracks. There is even a crèche for two to seven year olds, and an off-site bush camp for eight to 12 year olds where they can enjoy a night under the stars. Northamptonshire. 25th-28th August shambalafestival.org
Let the kids run riot at the base of the beautiful Black Mountains
Starry Skies In a quest to ‘bring back free-range kids’ Starry Skies is less about the glitz and more about good old-fashioned outdoor fun. The organisers pride themselves on creating a safe place where kids can run wild and, situated at the foot of the remote and breathtaking Black Mountains, there’s no better place to do that.
Besides basking in the outdoors, little ones will enjoy singing sessions, storytelling and drama tents. A family sports day, den making and tree climbing will provide more nostalgia than the adults will know what to do with. Throw in some local bands and plenty of beer tents and you’ve got a lot of happy campers. Monnow Valley, Wales. 27th-31st July starry-skies.net
Little ones will enjoy getting into the festival spirit in the Kids Zone, Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight Festival Recently named Family Festival Of The Year at the UK Festival Awards, this is the place to head if you don’t want to sacrifice a stellar line-up. This year should live up to expectations with Stereophonics, Faithless, Queen, The Who, Iggy Pop and Jess Glynne.
The Kids Zone will provide entertainment, from comedians to magicians, and hands-on activities like clay modelling and costume making. Secret paths leading to off-beat performances in the woods will fire imaginations of all ages. And, if it all gets too much, the many seaside attractions of the Isle of Wight are just a hop, skip and jump away. Isle of Wight. 9th-12th June isleofwightfestival.com
THE BEST OF THE REST
Elderflower Fields, 27th-30th May Day tickets are available for this family festival in East Sussex, with beach rugby, dance classes and foraging, as well as reggae acts. elderflowerfields.co.uk
On Blackheath, 10th-11th September The South-East London festivities bring musical talents Belle & Sebastian and Primal Scream, celebrity chefs, street performers and the new Puffin Books ‘World of Stories’ stage. Under-12s go free. onblackheath.com
Green Man, 18th-21st August This intimate festival in the idyllic Brecon Beacons will play host to the likes of James Blake and Wild Beasts. Kids will especially love the jungle-themed family area. greenman.net
The Big Feastival, 26th-28th August Alex James and Jamie Oliver are back with an amazing line-up of music and foodie feats in the Cotswolds, with banquets, classes and celeb chefs galore. thebigfeastival.com