15 of the best family-friendly festivals

2nd Apr 2013 | 07:00

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Welcome

In the last decade an increasing number of ‘boutique’ festivals have sprung up in a concerted move by festival organisers, pro-active fans, promoters and entrepreneurs to create a more intimate, relaxed and ‘human’ festival experience.

Many of these smaller festivals are aimed squarely at 30-40 and 50-plus music fans; those who know their Midlake from their Mary J Blige but for whom loathsome toilets, colossal crowds, impenetrable mud, driving rain and flagons of dodgy cider has ceased to hold much allure.

Such festivals can now offer a diverse range of activities and entertainment, making them far more enticing for parents and their children.

The first thing to note about these smaller festivals is the abundance of personal space. At family-friendly festivals, it is possible to travel relatively unencumbered from point A to point B. Comfort too is a noticeable factor for the more affluent - and let’s be frank here, almost exclusively middle-class - family festival goer.

Clean toilets, salubrious showers, gourmet food and a whole vista of conspicuous highbrow consumption abound at boutique family festivals.

In many ways, we are witnessing the first generation of parents who genuinely want to take their children to festivals. These events are now family getaways, offering all the choice and comforts of home. And for those who like the outdoor music experience but crave some luxuries in the process, there are numerous attractive options to choose from…

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Wychwood Festival, 31 May-2 June
Hit the racecourse.

What/where is it?

Cheltenham Racecourse is the location for Wychwood Festival, an extremely family-friendly, intimate and inclusive three-day event. Blending world, roots and contemporary music, the Wychwood Festival also encompasses poetry, comedy and workshops for all ages. It was recently described by The Independent as a ‘bijou Glastonbury’.

How much does it cost?

  • Weekend ticket for adults: £120
  • Weekend 2-for-1 disabled ticket: £120
  • Weekend youth concession: £95
  • Weekend 10-15-year-old: £55
  • Admission is free for under-10s

Who's playing?

Artists performing across the festival’s four stages include The Human League, the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, Bill Bailey, Public Service Broadcasting and The Other Tribe.

Why will the family love it?

The site is compact, intimate and very safe, and the organisers pride themselves on the cleanliness of the facilities. Wychwood also provides a wide range of activities for toddlers to teenagers and beyond. There are workshops for children, a special toddlers’ area and a Children’s Literature Festival. Overall, the atmosphere is very laid-back.

Wychwood Festival

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Green Man Festival, 15-18 August
Music in the mountains.

What/where is it?

If you can contend with the possibility of rain whipping off the Brecon Beacons - although to be fair, no festival in the UK is immune to such elements - this intimate and charming ten-year-old Welsh festival in the Black Mountains offers arguably the most beautiful festival site in the UK, and some wonderfully eclectic acts to boot.

How much does it cost?

  • Adults: £152 for festival admission and camping
  • Students: £131
  • Teens: £79
  • Five to 12-year-olds: £6
  • Admission for infants four years and under is free

Who's playing?

Artists include Band Of Horses, Midlake, Ben Howard, The Horrors, Jon Hopkins, Swans, John Cale and James Yorkston

Why will the family love it?

As Green Man Festival goer Katie Smith puts it: “It's a really lovely festival for families, quite mellow with a big kids’ area. It's small and enclosed, so you don't feel like they could disappear off. It's set in really beautiful grounds, so you can escape and sit under a tree with the kids if they need to run around a bit. Food is great too.

“Also, they have a dedicated family camping area so it feels quite supportive and you haven't got drunken teenagers trying to get into your tent by mistake at three in the morning.”

Green Man Festival

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
The Shambala Festival, 22-25 August
Eco-friendliness in Northamptonshire.

What/where is it?

Shambala is a small, tranquil, family-friendly festival based in Northamptonshire and one of the most diverse and imaginative festival weekends in the calendar. Described as the “festival goers’ festival”, it is committed to promoting renewable, sustainable energy, recycling and low carbon offsetting at every opportunity. Shambala is free of corporate involvement and all the better for it.

How much does it cost?

  • Adult tickets: £134 for the whole weekend
  • ‘Early bird’ bookings: £114.99
  • 15 to 17-year-olds: £83.99
  • Five to 14-year-olds: £38.50
  • Admission is free for children under five

Who's playing?

Vieux Farka Toure (dubbed “the Hendrix of the Sahara”), UK hip-hop artist Roots Manuva and underground dubstep heavyweight Shackleton.

Why will the family love it?

Shambala boasts hundreds of inspiring activities for children and the organisers are apparently working flat out to bring a “blinding” programme of workshops to this summer’s event.

As one parent says: “Shambala appeals to us because it’s a really good balance between, fun, partying, family and random activities. It’s brilliantly set up for children and adults.”

The Shambala Festival

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Larmer Tree Festival, 17-21 July
Van's the man in the South West.

What/where is it?

An intimate five-day festival held in the lush Larmer Tree Gardens on the Wiltshire/Dorset border near Salisbury. It attracts 4,000 people daily and features a diverse bill of music and comedy.

How much does it cost?

  • Adult tickets for whole event, plus camping: £195
  • Adult tickets for whole event, plus camping in Comfy Camping field: £215
  • 11- to 17-year-olds tickets for whole event plus camping: £130
  • Children aged five-to-10-years-old for whole event plus camping: £75

Who's playing?

Artists include Van Morrison, Dexys, Seasick Steve, Bellowhead, KT Tunstall, The Beat, Three Cane Whale and Marc O’Reilly. (Saturday night headliners were still to be confirmed at the time of writing).

Why will the family love it?

Larmer Tree boasts a programme of over 150 free workshops, shows and activities, quirky street theatre, storytelling, poetry and much more to amuse the family. There is a themed YouthZone for 11-17-yearr-olds, a kids’ area and under-fives are given free admission.

Larmer Tree Festival

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Camp Bestival, 1-4 August
Dorset castle magic.

What/where is it?

Lulworth Castle on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast forms the dramatic setting for this festival, which offers an eclectic mix of music, comedy and literature.

How much does it cost?

  • Adult weekend ticket: £180, or £190 if camping from Thursday
  • Weekend ticket for 15–17 yr-olds: £113
  • Weekend ticket for 11–14 yr-olds: £98
  • Admission is free for under-11s

Who's playing?

Artists include Richard Hawley, Levellers, Ash, DJ Fresh, Toots & The Maytals, The Polyphonic Spree, I Am Kloot and Kid Creole & The Coconuts. Alan Davies is one of the comedy performers at the event.

Why will the family love it?

In many ways, Camp Bestival is suited far more to those with families than those without. The festival is all about resurrecting the British holiday camp, a place where Hi-de-Hi! camping capers meet with the spirit of early festivals. There is a massive kids’ area and many of the children’s activities are included in the price of the weekend ticket.

Camp Bestival

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Cornbury Festival, 5-7 July
The civilised option.

What/where is it?

This year is the 10th anniversary of the Cornbury Festival, which is held in the rural enclave of Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire. It’s been described as one of the “cleanest, coolest and most civilised” of the boutique festivals. It’s also one of the most well-heeled – it’s been dubbed “poshstock” by one wit - and exudes a slightly eccentric, country fayre-style charm.

How much does it cost?

  • Adults: £190 with camping
  • VIP: £265 with camping
  • 13-16-yearr-olds: £110 with camping
  • Three to 12-year-olds: £30 with camping
  • Over-70s: £110 with camping
  • Admission for under two-year-olds is free

Who's playing?

Artists include Squeeze, Imelda May, Van Morrison, Keane, Bellowhead, Echo & The Bunnymen, Amy Macdonald and Beverly Knight.

Why will the family love it?

Cornbury is a nicely-organised and comfortable event with many useful and enjoyable add-ons. It’s also a good-natured and inclusive event that puts children at the forefront. The Children’s Zone at Cornbury 2013 will include attractions such as a circus tent offering circus skills, a magician’s card trick class, an eco-music workshop and a ‘Dream Drum & Soundscapes’ workshop for families.

Cornbury Festival

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Latitude, 18-21 July
Music and more.

What/where is it?

First held in 2006, Latitude is said to be closer in style to continental festivals and features a comprehensive bill of artists across four stages. The festival is staged at Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk, and also comprises elements of theatre, art, comedy, cabaret, poetry, politics, dance and literature.

How much does it cost?

  • Weekend standard tickets: £183
  • Disabled: 2-for-1 tickets
  • Admission for four-year-olds and under is free

Who's playing?

Artists include Kraftwerk, Bloc Party, Maccabees, Hot Chip, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and James Blake.

Why will the family love it?

You’re promised a laidback and friendly atmosphere with minimal leery or beery behaviour. Wooded slopes strung with fairy lights lend the site a magical quality. The wealth of events and activities for children at Latitude’s children’s arena is pretty much guaranteed to wear out the toughest of infants.

Latitude

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Into The Great Wide Open, 6-8 September
The island "dream festival".

What/where is it?

Into The Great Wide Open is a pop festival on Vlieland, a small island on the coast of The Netherlands. It prides itself on being a “dream festival” for all ages, one that offers good music, visual arts and film, all in beautiful rural environs.

How much does it cost?

  • Adults: €35
  • Four to 15-year-olds: €7
  • Admission free for under-fours

Who's playing?

Artists include The Leisure Society, Jacco Gardner, Ebo Taylor and The Silhouettes as well as hip-hop artists Stick Bukowski and The Coup.

Why will the family love it?

This festival is a stylish event but with a nice, slow pace. It is very much rooted in the outdoor experience, so attendees can lap up the music on offer while also gathering around campfires eating oysters from the surrounding flats and freshly-caught sea bass.

Into The Great Wide Open

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Primavera Sound, 23-25 May
See Blur in Barcelona.

What/where is it?

Primavera Sound takes place at the Parc del Forum, Barcelona. The festival collaborates closely with All Tomorrow's Parties, which curates one of the four big stages. ATP takes place one week earlier and many of the acts on that festival also perform at this festival.

How much does it cost?

  • Adults and children: €195

Who’s playing?

Artists include Blur, My Bloody Valentine, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Wu-Tang Clan, Hot Chip, James Blake, Rodriguez, Dexys, Fiona Apple, Band Of Horses and The Vaccines.

Why will the family love it?

Primavera Sound is a fun way to introduce children into the world of music. While there are no family-friendly campsites, many of the activities are geared towards young attendees. There is an event called minimusica which involves special acts geared towards young children.

Primavera Sound

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Festival Country Rendez-Vous de Craponne, 26-28 July
The Pine Leaf Boys hit the French mountains.

What/where is it?

Approximately 35,000 people attend this annual festival, which is staged in a natural amphitheatre in the mountains of central France. According to organisers the event offers “New Country, Bluegrass, Americana, Honky Tonk, Western Swing, Cajun, Tex-Mex, Old Time, Rockabilly, Alternative, Insurgent, Red Dirt, Hillbilly, Texas Swing and a whole lot more."

How much does it cost?

  • Adults: €57 for ‘Early Birds’; €67 if booking after 30 June
  • Twelve to 18-year-olds: €40

Who's playing?

The Mavericks, Audie Blaylock, John David Kent, Stephanie Urbina Jones and The Pine Leaf Boys

Why will the family love it?

Family-friendly activities are high on its agenda.

Festival Country Rendez-Vous de Craponne

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Hove Festival, 2-5 July
Scandinavian seclusion.

What/where is it?

Hove Festival is one of Norway’s biggest and best festivals and takes place on the island of Tromoy, outside Arendal, in the south of the country. Like a growing number of festivals, environmental awareness is key to its operation and it prides itself on being the first carbon-neutral festival in Scandinavia. Its idyllic surroundings, on-site camping and beaches make for a rich festival experience.

How much does it cost?

  • Adult Festival Pass: NOK 2650
  • Child Daily Ticket: NOK 380

Who's playing?

Kings Of Leon, Bullet For My Valentine, Calvin Harris, Jake Bugg, Palma Violets, The Lumineers and Aluna George.

Why will the family love it?

Families can camp in the specially designated Hove camping site which will be quieter than the main camping area and have more bathrooms. There are non-smoking areas as well as alcohol-free areas so that parents feel safe bringing their children to the event.

Hove Festival

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, 13-16 June 2013
D'Angelo takes part in Questlove's Superjam at Bonnaroo 2012.

What/where is it?

Bonnaroo is a highly respected four-day music and arts festival that takes place annually in a 700-acre rural setting in Manchester, Tennessee. The festival prides itself on having an altruistic ‘code’ which harks back to the ethos of the Woodstock generation.

“Bonnaroo is the antidote to the common life,” states the festival’s website, “a real community built on helping each other.”

How much does it cost?

Bonnaroo has a four-tiered pricing system, ranging from $224.50 for 4-day admission plus parking and camping for one car, to $269.50. At the time of writing only the tier 4 $269.50 tickets are available.

Admission is free for six-year-olds or under.

Who's playing?

Artists include Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The XX, Bjork, Wilco, The National, R Kelly, Wu-Tang Clan, Calexico, Grizzly Bear, Tama Impala, David Byrne & St Vincent and ZZ Top.

Why will the family love it?

For starters, children are free up to the age of six, which will please most parents. In addition to heaps of space, the atmosphere is responsible and mellow. The festival also features Kidz Jam, a children’s group that runs from midday to 6pm, with the principal aim of keeping kids entertained, hydrated and sheltered from the sun. Other features include Splash-A-Roo, a colossal waterslide.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Appel Farm Arts & Music Festival, 1 June 2013
A great day out in New Jersey.

What/where is it?

This one-day outdoor festival specialises in folk, blues, alt country, roots, Celtic and acoustic rock. The event takes place in the beautiful rural setting of Appel Farm's 176-acre home in southern New Jersey, just 40 minutes from Philadelphia.

How much does it cost?

Admission for children aged from three- to 12-years-old is $5. Childrenaged two and under are admitted for free.

Adult tickets are $40 for bookings in May, rising to $50 for bookings made in July. Tickets for seniors, students and military families in May is $35, rising to $45 when booking in July.

Who's playing?

Artists include singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, Colin Hay (of Men At Work),Delta Rae, Iris DeMent, John Gorka,Brother Joscephus and The Love Revolution and Caravan of Thieves.

Why will the family love it?

The festival is a laidback, well-organised event with something for all ages. A highlight of the event is the Children's Village where patrons can enjoy performances of puppet theatre, magicians, jugglers and storytellers. The arts and crafts area includes activities such as beading, hat-making, mini murals and a "Little Kids Area" for toddlers!

Appel Farm Arts & Music Festival

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, 21-23 June

What/where is it?

Children and families are at the forefront of this three-day festival, which boldly aims to “transcend the divisions of race and culture”. The festival specialises in roots and world music, and is held at Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Boonville, California.

How much does it cost?

  • Adults: $75 for a three-day ticket
  • Admission is free for 12-year-olds or under when accompanied by an adult

Who's playing?

Artists include Damian Marley, Alpha Blondy & The Solar System, Marcia Griffiths, Max Romeo and U Roy.

Why will the family love it?

The festival offers a Family Camp area and an extensive programme of children's activities throughout the weekend, including dance and music workshops, songfests, storytelling, arts and crafts, sports and other entertainment.

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival

15 of the best family-friendly festivals
Oregan Jamboree Music Festival, 2-4 August
Dwight Yoakam leads this country celebration.

What/where is it?

A family-style country music festival in Sweet Home, Oregon, that has been running since 1992. Nestled between the Cascade Mountains and the Santiam River, it makes for an enviable festival setting, as long as you like country music that is. RV and tent campsites are close to the stages and there are four ‘jumbo’ screens if you’d rather watch the bands from the comfort of your sleeping bag.

How much does it cost?

$135 for three-day passes, $35 for three-day child passes, $100 for camping. Admission is free for children of six and under.

Who's playing?

Artists include Dwight Yoakam, Toby Keith and Luke Bryan.

Why will the family love it?

There are children’s activities and special displays in the Kids Zone and numerous opportunities for outdoor activities.

Oregan Jamboree Music Festival

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