Our guide to the UK’s best family-friendly festivals

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With a growing presence and popularity across the UK, it’s not surprising that many festivals now cater to families, as well as young party-goers - visitors of all kinds expect more than just a music stage and a field these days, so it’s unlikely you’ll find a festival that doesn’t have a range of activities on offer.

Indeed, the creative mood that’s synonymous with festivals is one reason why they’ve become so popular with families - they’re a great way to broaden your child’s experiences whilst you all enjoy quality time together. Plus, the relative ease of travelling for a day or weekend means a festival is a good option for a mini-break without having to journey abroad - swot up ahead of time with our checklist on what to pack for a day trip with your baby.

Still not convinced? Our family-friendly festival guide for 2018 might just sway you . . .

Bearded Theory

24 - 27th May 2018

Catton Park, Derbyshire

Set in the heart of the national forest, Bearded Theory has been widely praised for its kid-centric ethos. The festival boasts its own Children’s Village - a free-of-charge family hotspot that offers everything from arts and craft activities, to puppet shows and family yoga sessions. There’s even a fun, yet national curriculum-supporting ‘school’ for children to attend on the Monday.

Meanwhile, this year pre-schoolers can enjoy activities based around Jill Tomlinson’s book The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark. Tinier tots are invited to play in the festival’s Baby Boo care tent - a certified pit-stop for parents and babies that’s kitted out with all the essentials. It’s got a baby shop, a microwave for feeding and a chill-out space to ‘knit and natter.’ It’s even got a pamper salon for busy caregivers, with face paints for the little ones.

Geronimo Festival

25 - 28th May 2018 – Arley Hall, Cheshire

30th June - 1st July 2018 – Knebworth House, Hertfordshire

Heralded as ‘Glastonbury for kids,’ Geronimo festival is designed for children under 13 and aims ‘to encourage families to play, learn and create magical memories together.’ Its focus on family togetherness and imaginative play makes it one of the UK’s leading family festivals, and this year’s theme (princesses, knights and dragons) is a fitting tribute to its fairytale spirit.

Activities span the creative and performing arts, sciences and sports, meaning that there really is something for everyone. Highlights include a Mess Around sensory play party, daily circus skills workshops (with 2 operational circuses on-site) and a ‘Big Fish Little Fish’ family rave. The main stage features a host of tot-friendly favourites, including performances by CBeebies’ Justin Fletcher on the 26th (Arley Hall) and 1st (Knebworth). There are 4 baby-changing tents dotted around both sites, as well as breastfeeding areas, offering baby food, formula milk, nappies and baby wipes at no extra cost.

Just So Festival

17 - 19th August 2018

Rode Hall, Cheshire

Located in the scenic parklands of Rode Hall Estate, Just So is an intimate, weekend-long arts festival specifically aimed at children and their families. With ‘a love of stories and childhood escapades at its heart,’ it’s a celebration of creative performance in all its various forms. On the Sunday, the festival’s annual ‘Tribal Tournament’ takes place, where revellers of all ages are encouraged to compete in a series of joyously wacky games on the Village Green.

The littlest festival-goers are also perfectly catered to, with a Peekaboo Garden area offering a range of performances, activities and facilities for 0-4-year olds. Interactive story sessions and messy play workshops are bound to inspire their imagination, whilst baby bath time and lullabies in the evenings will help them to drift off after a busy day. Nappy-changing tents are fully equipped with mats, nappies and wipes, meaning you can pack a little lighter for the trip. There’s even a ‘baby-feeding boudoir’ (kitted out with bottles and food warmers), to make mealtimes easier for both you and baby.

Deer Shed Festival

20 - 22nd July 2018

Baldersby Park, North Yorkshire

Deer Shed is a family-friendly festival that aims to make kids part of the main event, though with a 2018 line-up that includes Goldfrapp and Gaz Coombes, it still manages to provide plenty of entertainment for the grown-ups too. Bringing together music, comedy, spoken word and sports (Quidditch anyone?), it’s been hailed as ‘a wonderous box of delights for young, middle and old alike.’

Set in picturesque North Yorkshire parkland, Deer Shed festival offers families a chance to create magical memories in the great outdoors. For under 5s there are arts and craft activities, music and language workshops, and storytelling sessions; while the Meadow Sensory Tent is designed to help infants unwind and refocus amidst the hustle and bustle of the festival. With bottle-sterilising facilities, high chairs and microwaves on-site, mealtimes are well and truly taken care of. Easily accessible baths, changing areas and nappies to hand also mean keeping your tot clean and happy throughout the weekend is guaranteed to be fuss-free!

The Big Feastival

24th - 26th August 2018

Alex James’ Farm, The Cotswolds

This foodie festival brings together great tastes and live music for a fun weekend in the Cotswolds! Top chefs will be demonstrating their culinary talents in the NEFF Big Kitchen, whilst a host of huge names, including Basement Jaxx and Paloma Faith, are headlining the music stage this year.

Families are at the heart of the festival though - craft and cookery workshops, a festival farm and the ‘Little Dudes’ Den’ make things as child-friendly as they get. The Allotment Project offers a sensory outdoor experience by allowing children to pick their own fresh produce, before heading over to the Little Kitchen to cook up a feast. Tiny tots are sure to love the appearance of Peppa Pig, Paddington and Justin Fletcher at this year’s festival, whilst an under 5s’ area provided by Nipperbout includes babysitting services - meaning caregivers can continue to soak up the festival experience after their baby’s bedtime . . .

Camp Bestival

26 - 29th July 2018

Lulworth Estate, Dorset

Firmly established as Bestival’s ‘little sister,’ Camp Bestival is a forerunner of the family festival - talk to anyone and they’ll tell you all about its kid-friendly notoriety. With a music line-up curated by DJ and co-founder Rob da Bank, you can always expect top names on their roster, as well as comedy, theatre performances and spoken word.

A dedicated (and expansive) Kids’ Garden ensures little ones will be entertained for the duration of the festival. With circus skills workshops, arts and crafts sessions, fairground rides, kids’ discos and the world’s (yes, the world’s!) biggest bouncy castle on offer all weekend, dull moments just don’t exist here! Under 5s will love the sensory fun of the Soft Play Tent, which also includes baby-friendly music and dance activities. Plus, there’s a performance from every tot’s favourite, Mr Tumble (aka Justin Fletcher – whose festival circuit this year is evidently chock-a-block!). Baby-changing facilities are available on-site, along with a ‘baby chill out tent’ that’s perfect for feeding your little one in peace.

If camping isn’t your bag (baby or no baby), the great thing is that most UK festivals either offer day-only passes for short-term visits, or are located in areas that offer local accommodation for stopovers. For details on tickets, travel and accommodation, please visit the website of your chosen festival.

Posted 15th May 2018   Tags

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