Should you take children to a festival?

By Francesca Baker

Festivals are some of my favourite – favourite things, places, feelings, events, experiences. As well as a vast array of art and entertainment, the chance to see the bands who soundtrack your days up close and discover new ones who will soundtrack days to come, they are brimming with creativity and bursting with the freeing feeling of dizzy excitement and escapism, where all are friends together. If I become a parent surely I will want to share this experience with my children? Or more selfishly, if I become a parent will I be prepared to forgo one of life’s greatest pleasures?

Whenever I see a dad at a festival with a little girl in her straw hat on his shoulders clapping her hands with glee, whilst he and his wife hold hands I get all misty eyed. Most children I see love the adventure of camping, falling asleep and waking up under the canvas. I love music and hope my children will to. This includes festivals.

But consider the practicalities. Muddy fields, drunken revellers, and paranoid parents do not a good combo make. Whilst 98% of the festival will be raving until 5am (minimum) you and your little ones will be considering this more the time to start waking. A seventy minute queue for the toilet is difficult to cope with for most people, let alone a little child. And all but the most avid fans start to get a bit twitchy after the seventh song of a set, so try being your average kid with the attention span of a peanut.

Not having children, and therefore having never taken them to a festival, I don’t know what the experience of taking your little ones must be like. I know I hate camping, get grouchy when I haven’t been fed, and often want to wander off and end up losing friends, so can not imagine what it is like for parents and children. Some people get angry at parents bringing their kids, but I think deep down they get more angry at parents not taking responsibility. If you think that your children will love all the things you love about festivals AND you are prepared to be responsible for them, by all means bring them, but consider a few things.

  1. You wouldn’t let your children run wild around a small town filled with thousands of people you don’t know, so don’t do the same at a festival. It is a place with all the dangers of a normal group of people, and all the benefits – both heightened.
  2. You can’t go raving until 5am off your face on legal or otherwise highs. It isn’t fair to your children or other revellers.
  3. Bring ear defenders and make your children wear them. Religiously. The average level of noise exposed to across a festival is 95-110dB, where 85dB is the highest safe level.
  4. Bring cereal bars and snacks. At an average £7 for a dodgy burger and a 45 minute queue, you don’t want to be buying food at all hours.
  5. Sleep in a family area to minimise the chances of a ‘happy reveller’ stumbling into your tent in the middle of the night.
  6. Bring hand sanitiser. Festivals are grubby.
  7. On this note, relax. They ARE grubby, and you can’t avoid this.
  8. Embrace all the other things at festivals, the dancing, theatre, comedy and creativity taht you usually eschew for finding the hot the band or sleeping off your hangover. This is the year to sack of the schedule (and the alcohol) and discover.
  9. There is plenty of family friendly festivals you can choose from – you can be sure your children will be safe there! Standon Calling, Green Man, Wilderness, Camp Bestival and Larmer have all won awards, or you can investigate Festival Kidz.

For more ideas about family festivals, check out our post!

Comments (5)

  • A field somewhere says:

    Absolute nonsense! I’ve been going to festivals most of my life and taken my kids from just a few months old.

    Festivals are one of the safest places to let kids run free. Yes there are drunk people, yes there are dangers but I truly believe that if you choose a festival wisely and go with friends with kids you can’t fail but have a fabulous time.

    Agreed, if your kids don’t enjoy it then don’t do it but kids are resilient and they basically feed off their parents enjoyment. If you are having fun they will. And festivals are full of fun.

    If you have done festivals prior to having kids then you can’t expect to have the same carefree experience but you will have an all together new experience. Seeing a festival through the eyes of a child.

    Chill out and get your family to a field somewhere!

    (Here’s some tips if you are still freaking out… )

  • Romany at Festival Kidz says:

    Thanks so much for the mention!

    Our whole website is dedicated to arming families with as much information as they need to decide whether taking their children to a festival is the right thing for them (and hopefully they come to the conclusion that it is!

    Most families have such an amazing time together if they know what to expect and have chosen one that meets all their expectations and needs.

    Hope to see you all in a sunny field next summer?

    Romany x

    Editor –

  • Pingback: Acitivities and Events for Kids
  • Anna says:

    As the article says – you don’t have kids so have never taken them to a festival. I used be up all week for glastonbury never stopping the party, but once you’re a parent you discover different sides of festivals. Admittedly there are some I wouldnt take my kids to, but there are a lot with amazing kids fields, green fields, healing areas, acoustic zones, and other families to hang out with. I also object to the general perpetuation of the myth that parents at festivals act exactly as people who don’t have kids or have left them at home – I can assure you I don’t even have more than a few sips of cider! There are many sides to festivals, you just have to llok outside the box.

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