Festival season is upon us again for another summer packed full of music, costumes and high jinks. But does the party really have to end when you have kids to think about? I've spent many a sunny festival, watching children dance around and run free, discussing exactly this and it's a conversation which seems to really divide opinion amongst the festival going public.
From my experience, people are quick to say no; a festival is no place for a child; too many crowds, too much debauchery. Yet whether you're swinging from a tree at Secret Garden Party or Hullahooping at Glastonbury, one thing is obvious, we're all just big kids ourselves. Big kids who pay upwards of £100 to release the child we thought we'd lost (for a weekend at least!).
Is this in fact the reason why people don't want children at their festivals; on their turf as it were? The constant reminder that we're all playing at being kids while they experience it for real; their whole lives still in front of them (and another 20 years of parties!)?
On the other hand, festivals are a great place for kids. The space, the music, the energy and a chance for them to see adults out of context, with smiles on their faces. Maybe this is the naive opinion of twenty something perfectionist who still doesn't want to see the full impact of a kid in your life. The girl who dreams that all summers will be packed full of festival fields and friendly faces...
Luckily I don't seem to be totally alone in this opinion and wish for the future. In fact the ever expanding UK festival industry is tapping into the twenty something student in every parent, with a growth in 'child friendly' events.
Here are our recommendations for the best places to party with the brood:
Blissfields (30th June - 2nd July 2016) - Vicarage Farm, Hampshire. Tickets: Children under 10 Year FREE, Weekend Adult £95
Not only is the music line up at this boutique festival top notch, with acts including Everything Everything, Dizzee Rascal, Shy FX and Norman Jay; the Angel Gardens at Blissfields is recognised as an education centre in it's own right, meaning kids can get out of traditional school for fun in the fields with no guilt or punishment for parents. Angel Gardens have produced an absence request letter to hand to your school or educational body to allow off site education of your child during the running of the festival! Not only great for music, Blissfields is also packed full of delicious food, comedy shows and art installations, all set in the stunning Hampshire countryside.
Wilderness (4th August - 7th August 2016) - Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. Tickets: Children £6.25, Weekend Adult £177
There is something on offer for every type of child at this year's Wilderness Festival. From the Rave-a-Roo disco, pumping out tunes for all the family to the Pachamama Crafts workshops, which look to inspire a love of the environment in our kids. And the pièce de résistance? The festival offers up a premium childcare service! The Nanny Network are a private creche and babysitting service who along with looking after children across London, also work with hotels from the Soho House Group to provide the best possible childcare solutions for their residents.
There are three amazing services available to book which will help you really let lose at the festival:
– The ‘Nanny Network Daycare Tent’ holds 25 children max with a full team to supervise all the fun and games.
– You can book the exclusive evening babysitting service and have your sitter come to your tent, tipi or caravan.
– There is also a ‘lie-in’ service, allowing your kids to be collected from you as early as 7am and taken out for breakfast or activities in the kids area so you can take it easy and search for the paracetamol!
Camp Bestival (28th July - 31st July 2016) - Lulworth Castle, Dorset. Tickets: Children from £15, Weekend Adult £197.50
For the ex-ravers among you, Camp Bestival hosts the best mix of Ibiza DJ's, from Fatboy Slim to DJ Yoda; not that surprising when you learn that the festival's creator is Rob Da Bank of Radio 1 fame.
As well as lots of beats for the kids to dance around to, there is a huge amount of fun to be had fort little ones including fairground rides, circus acts and face painting. For babies too young to enjoy the activities, the festival as a pioneering 'Breastival' feeding area for mums and babies to hide away from the crowds.
Notting Hill Carnival (28th August 2016) - Children and Adults Free
If you're looking for a fun and completely diverse experience for your kids to soak up, look no further than the world famous Notting Hill Carnival. With the vibrant and flamboyant costumes and lots of toe tapping beats, no child (or adult) can help but fall in love with the music, food and atmosphere of the children's day at London's biggest party. If you're already in the capital there's no excuse not to pop down for this incredible free event!