Calling all Festival Goers - what makes a good Family Friendly Festival?

(67 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 05-Mar-12 17:22:03

I'm talking at a Festival organiser's event on Thursday, on a panel of two with the chap from the Lollibop festival.

They've asked me to talk about:

What is the difference between family audiences and other festival audiences? (to include discussion on entertainment, facilities, spending habits/ability, etc)
What are the most important things to include at a family festival (and what?s important NOT to have)?
What challenges are there associated with a family festival?

We go to Latitude every year so have a bit to say on distance of family camping from car park and access to decent loos shock. I also went to Harvest Festival last year so have something to compare with, but would be great if any folks who were festival goers could give me some feedback on your experiences. Where do you go, what attracts you to a festival, what puts you off? Which ones would you recommend and is there something you'd like to see, or something that would definitely make you go - whether it's Charlie and Lola on tap or babysitting services, phone charging or family loos grin

Thanks in advance for your help.
Carrie

VivaLeBeaver Tue 06-Mar-12 07:06:35

Separate family camping. Ideally able to drive car up to tent to unpack but if not then hire facility of those little pull along trucks.
Kids entertainment other than music. Wychwood is good for this. Mosaic making, other crafty stuff, story telling, circus skills, etc.
Good toilets. Dd refused to use the toilets at bliss fields due to towers of poo poking above seat level.
Just a general feeling of safety is important. I know others are going to be wasted at a festival. As long as they're not rampaging about drunkenly scari g kids then fair enough.

TheFowlAndThePussycat Tue 06-Mar-12 07:42:26

We did our first family festival last year, Camp Bestival. Our DDs were 2 & 3.5. In general, it was great, what made it so was the friendly atmosphere, the masses of stuff to do, the great kids acts - (the Zingzillas in particular!) and the (largely) quiet family camping. Oh and the composting toilets, which were so much nicer than the chemical ones and which the children were really happy to use.

Improvements -

cheaper food, or far more space for cooking your own.

More showers, by a factor of 10! The dds were small enough to wash them down in a big plastic tub, but there was no way they would have waited the 90 min queue for the shower.

More 'chill out for toddlers' type activities. CB showed Labyrinth last year at (sort of) bedtime which eldest DD loved (despite my misgivings!) but more story times, or maybe singing sessions or a little (calm) play would have been lovely!

Programmes which are easier for parents to navigate. All of the above might well have been on! But I found the programme a bit difficult to decipher what was on when, and what was appropriate for which age groups. I'm prepared to concede I might be a bit thick though!

We used the babysitting service on the Sunday morning to get a quiet bacon butty and the chance to read the paper! It was great, the staff were lovely and our children loved it, I would highly recommend it. Only problem is, of course, that it was eye-wateringly expensive for the evenings, so DH & I had to take it in turns to see the stuff we wanted to see. But I don't really know how you would get around that.

chocolatebiscuits Tue 06-Mar-12 15:06:37

Being small enough that you can let your kids wander round on their own from quite a young age. That's lovely. They enjoy the freedom, make friends, and you get to watch some music, sit and chat to your own friends, etc. I'm talking really small festivals here (under 3000 people) - definitely wouldn't do anything like Glastonbury with my kids. And so you can even put them to bed in the tent and stay up, knowing they can come and find you if they need you.

Also where there's not too much of a boozy/druggy atmosphere - so it feels safe.

mum47 Tue 06-Mar-12 17:09:27

The Wicker Man festival near Dumfries is meant to be really family friendly - might be worth looking on their website.

TheresASpareChairOverThere Tue 06-Mar-12 17:59:08

Hi, I've been to loads of festivals myself but as a family only a couple.

IMO the most important things for me are interesting and time-filling activities - some of the best I have experienced are junk modelling, instrument-making workshops, craft workshops, food making workshops or children's dance/meditation/drama things.

I hate it when every single extra thing costs a fortune, as I just have to say no all the time. I have seen loads of examples of great things provided by local enthusiasts/artists for free so this is possible.

Also children's storytelling acts or drama things are welcomed by me.

I like to be in a specific family camping area, I hate being mixed in with the late-nighters.

A place to leave buggies or equipment when you get to the festival - secure left luggage if possible.

mummeeee Tue 06-Mar-12 18:34:03

Just wanted to put on a comment for disabled facilities for children, as it's not been mentioned yet. We went to wychwood last year with dd (2) and ds(1) and they loved it. We also went to lollibop, but just for the day. Justin fletcher was performing at wychwood, so lots of something special fans were there. We found access good for disabled children.

I emailed before booking tickets with our requirements (electric hook-up for our motor home to power medication fridge and infusion pump) and they committed to providing it; which meant we could buy tickets with confidence.

Toilets were good. Site is a racecourse, so there were brick built disabled toilets which dd could use.

Otherwise, I second all of the comments re range of craft activities, dance workshops, etc for kids, as well as covered areas for child sleeping in buggy whilst parents nearby etc.

Enraha Tue 06-Mar-12 18:48:39

Family toilets/changing facilities and camping zone.

Agree, "kid-ghetto" activities can be a bit boring and you miss out on main festival atmos and acts. A mixture of safe areas and some appropriate integrated activity would be perfect.

Food options other than burger-van style, including child sized portions, fresh fruit, yoghurts, healthy snacks/drinks. 3-4 days is too long for junk food for toddlers. We don't have the kit to keep that kind of food fresh for the whole stay.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 06-Mar-12 20:17:51

Brilliant feedback - thanks so much - do keep it coming.

TheSecondComing Tue 06-Mar-12 20:52:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CakeMixture Tue 06-Mar-12 22:05:24

Croissant Neuf Summer Party is our festival of choice - they have a field at Glasto but imho CNSP near Usk is a better option.
Glasto (for me) is too huge, too noisy, too expensive etc.
CNSP is really good for families - really fab activities (mostly crafty/circus skills) many of which are free, or not too expensive.
They have a childrens area, with a toddler/baby play area. Next to that is a childrens circus tent with lots of shows (free)
Two music stages - music is quieter after 12 and stops at 1:30 but is never TOO loud.
Whole festival is solar powered. The pub 'tent' is seperate from the music tent so most of the drinking drinkers stay there (away from the children iyswim)
The only negative (for me) was the constant smell of 'weed'.
I cant rave about it enough smile

CakeMixture Tue 06-Mar-12 22:07:07

Also mostly clean toilets, the showers are fab (but cost £3)

joydevivre Tue 06-Mar-12 22:21:26

Been to a fair few and must say the really diddy Moseley folk festival is me fave with kids. Am not even especially arsed about folk music. They just get it right there. Lovely grounds for kids to play n explore but all within sight, sensory stories n music stuff, couple of old free fair rides., last year there was a pirate school workshop which mine all loved. Think you just need some creative folk with a genuine like for kids involved. And cheap ice cream!

frankie76 Tue 06-Mar-12 22:27:44

Oooh I have never been and it makes me wanna go
Where is the nearest one to Manchester?

mrsmcv Tue 06-Mar-12 23:31:34

Loved Big Chill last year - nice weather, nice atmosphere, loads for my dd 5 to do and Jessie J on the bill was a major hit with her. I'm a single parent and I thought it was a brilliant single parent holiday option: I met loads of other parents on their own with kids and felt really comfortable with the level of drinking/ drugs/ swearing that was about - didn't feel like people were tiptoeing round kids particularly but was easy to get away from. There was plenty of space between the family end and the not-so-family orientated end which was a positive for me. Security on family field and family camping was extremely strict and I liked that, esp as single parent. Felt v. safe. Fantastic music, djs and bands providing first-class sound track to circus skills and clay modelling workshops with dd - what's not to love?

supersalstrawberry Tue 06-Mar-12 23:36:23

toilets toilets toilets

can't have to many toilets

I've been going to Womad for the last few years with my sister, we take our dd's with us now aged 10 and 13

last years la di da loos, didn't mind paying a bit to use them but there weren't enough of them. We take a porta potty and put it in the tent porch fro night time wee's

kids area should cater for pre teens not just little ones, more childrens activities around the main site as others have said, not just in the childrens area

can't complain about the food choice at Womad, it's part of the reason we go, dd is given a food budget and is able to choose anything she wants within her budget, she likes to try lots of different things and quite likes spicy food, my neice has a nut allergy so it's not as easy for her, chips/crepes once a day for 3 days isn't the end of the world, whole point of festival is to relax and have fun imo

Love the money back on plastic cups idea, dd and dn spend hours collecting cups then use the money to go to the fun fair, great idea to reduce the amount of rubbish

Stalls selling things - why so many? why so many selling the same tat stuff?

Family camping area is quieter than most normal campsites I've been to, we have even been tempted to camp in the non family area as we have good intentions to stay up late and make the most of our festival time, but we don't have the stamina these days and find all 4 of us are tucked up in bed and thankful for the peace by 11pm blush.

Being able to drive to (or near) camping area, drop off stuff and then park would be great, Trolley hire is good as well.

Signposts - can't have enough signposts

toilets - did I mention toilets

CappyHunt Tue 06-Mar-12 23:38:16

Marking to remind me to come back tomorrow and post... grin

supersalstrawberry Tue 06-Mar-12 23:48:15

can we have a Mumsnet festival goers discount then? smile

can Mumsnet provide a Mumsnet festival corner with internet access, free pens, bags and valium?

CakeMixture Wed 07-Mar-12 00:00:46

Supersal (or anyone who fancies answering!) - Nosey Q from me!
What do you consider to be a reasonable daily food budget for your dd?

Last year we went to two festivals and took all our food with us! Big plastic box with all sorts of snacks in and easy to prepare meals (small stove). DH went out half way through and got some fresh bread, veggies, fruit etc. So we didnt actually buy any snacks on site at all! - took one look at the £6 portion of pizza etc and thought hmm
Buying snacks on site would obviously be a lot easier though (especially with free ranging teens) - Id love to know what peeps consider reasonable..........?

Money back on plastic cups is a genius idea smile

supersalstrawberry Wed 07-Mar-12 00:23:10

Cakemixture we take snacks and drinks with us, we have a big breakfast/brunch (and loads of coffee and a couple of paracetamol) at the tent before we go to watch bands, we get up late and so don't get going till about mid day, so dd usually only has 1 meal while we are out, I just let her eat when she wants rather than sticking to meal times, her food budget is about £10 a day, but she often spends less, usually about £5, we take water bottles and she fills hers up so we don't buy soft drinks as that can cost a fortune.
We take a cool box and fruit with us (kept at the tent), my sis and I took wine (in a plastic water bottle) grapes, cheese and crackers with us for when we were sitting around watching bands, we just graze tbh, we find a nice spot in front of a stage put our go anywhere chairs down, give the dd's a landmark so they can find us again and agree how far and where they can go.
Dd often has a hot chocolate on the way back to the tent in the night and a snack when we get back before bed (can't recommend the porta potty enough!).

supersalstrawberry Wed 07-Mar-12 00:25:31

lugging food and drink around a festival site is not fun, thats why we fill up before we leave the tent

CakeMixture Wed 07-Mar-12 00:33:22

I like your chairs we have these - they were much admired last year.........

£10 a day - thats something to consider......... obviously if all family members had that every day the total festival cost would really go up!!

We (adults) got kept awake till gone 12/1 then woken by wailing kids at 7....... so we kept to normalish meal times. Im hoping this year to be a bit freer (being more of a pro).
Filling up plastic water bottles is definately the way to go with drinks I think

Stalkerish thought - I was thinking about you recently (havent seen you around on MN for a while - I have had a name change so you wont know who I am though :O ) I hope all is well (not that I 'know' you!)

CakeMixture Wed 07-Mar-12 00:38:15

We saw families last year who bought all their meals every day on site and I have to admit to being shock at the expense!
Filling up on food at the tent is the way to go.............

We need an awning this year so we can stake out more space for our family. We love our 4m belltent but at a festival it didnt stake enough claim to the land around us!!!!!

supersalstrawberry Wed 07-Mar-12 00:44:34

oooh I like your chairs! grin

do you play the - slightly drunken pushing each other over game, whilst sitting in your chairs- game, or is that just me and my sis wink

If I had to take dh and ds then a food budget just wouldn't be possible, I don't tend to buy food for myself so it keeps the cost down - hence the cheese and biscuits, last year my sis and I did incorporate a beer budget though winkgrin

supersalstrawberry Wed 07-Mar-12 00:48:26

we take a day tent with us, it's nice just to chill out for a while away from the crowds

we only buy our tickets on the day we get there, although we run the risk of tickets being sold out (this hasn't happened yet, although we always go a day early on the thurs and leave on the sunday), but I don't do wet muddy festivals so will only go if the weather is mainly dry

supersalstrawberry Wed 07-Mar-12 00:52:56

I've had a bit of an mn break, just popping in and out occasionally smile rl is very very busy these days, nice that you noticed though thankyou smile MN seems like a different place now, I don't recognise many names, although any threads to do with camping or whats for dinner are always friendly grin

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