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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sleep in a family area to minimise the chances of a ‘happy reveller’ stumbling into your tent in the middle of the night.
- Bring hand sanitiser. Festivals are grubby.
- On this note, relax. They ARE grubby, and you can’t avoid this.
- 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.
- 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!