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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.

Fullyswindonian Wed 23-Apr-14 10:54:14

Bump for 2014 updates.

HumpDeBump Tue 29-May-12 11:02:01

This might be a little too late for your talk but if you are interested..... I went to a brilliant new festival last weekend called Elderflower fields. One of the really great things about the kids 'stuff to do' was that they had a patch of woodland where kids could run around and get involved in stuff like parkour, tight-rope walking, skateboard, scooting on a half pipe - all these were called 'urban woods activities'. This was great and a little different to the usual circus skills/drama/craft type activities. Great also for kids (mine!) who can't sit still for 5 minutes to make something or listen to a story! So a festival with woodland would attract me more so than one without in future. Also good for shade.
Also, oddly, they loved getting up on the stage (when it wasn't being used) and pretending to perform. Any opportunity when we passed the stage they did this and so did lots of other children. Perhaps introducing some mini stage dress up tent could be an idea for future festivals.

chimchar Thu 08-Mar-12 06:54:17

thanks boatto...will get reading up and may well pick your brains at a later date! grin

Lucyannieamy Wed 07-Mar-12 22:18:15

We took DD 3 months old to Green Man, 2 years ago. It rained a lot, so would have loved more sunshine, can that be arranged grin

Loved Green man and there seemed to be plenty for kids to do, not that we used, would have liked more disabled toilets - with bubba in her sling using a tiny portaloo was hard so usually had to unhitch her unless we were near the only disable one. Maybe a block of toilets near the kids activities for kids would be good. If we go this summer she be potty trained, so thinking about queuing

MirandaGoshawk Wed 07-Mar-12 21:13:56

We go to Beautiful Days & really enjoy it. It's not too big, teens chill-out tent, lots of child-friendly activities. Nice quality stalls. Some great food at around £5 per head but it does add up over the weekend. I agree witht eh comment about swearing from the stage - always makes me cringe when there are dch around. Hate the bloody Levellers grin.

TeenyLeek Wed 07-Mar-12 20:06:34

I haven't been with children as yet as mine are still very little, but we went to Shambala a few years ago with friends who had kids (then around 6ish I think) and everyone had a great time. It's nice and small, not commercial, lovely atmosphere and at that time the kids area was very central to the main festival with loads of stuff for them to make and do. Circus tent was fab and did lovely workshops in the day time. I think they have bedtime stories too.
We were going to try it last year with our 2 yo but I decided I was too pg. probably a bit ambitious this year too with a baby and toddler but would like to maybe try next year. Would also like to check out some of the others mentioned here. Will have to keep some of these great tips handy for when we brave it with children for the first time smile

BoattoBolivia Wed 07-Mar-12 19:23:49

chimchar I have only been to Larmer Tree with kids, but it is fantastic, as I said above. Haven't tried the teenage stuff yet, as dd is only 9, but there is a whole separate area for them. In the family area, there is lots of junk modelling aimed at all the family and there are always lots of young teens there. There are also lots of 'general' workshops, such as wood crafts and knitting noras. Pm me if you want any more info.

chimchar Wed 07-Mar-12 18:44:51

Loads of these festivals sound fab...have got them all open on my browser thingies to compare!

All of the above, but please, something...ANYTHING for the pre teens and young teens. My eldest is now 11. At camp bestival last year he really enjoyed the house of fairy tales....the riddles and puzzles etc were great. The only other other thing he wanted to do was to carve his own wand...the slots were booked up within the first hour or so. Most other things he felt were aimed at smallies...

Which is the best family festi do you think? Have only been to camp bestival. Can't go this year I don't think due to the dates..want to try something else.

BoattoBolivia Wed 07-Mar-12 18:14:13

Now, you see, a lot of what you are all asking for happens alreay at Larmer Tree. They even have 'the zone' for 11-17 yr olds- lots of teenage aimed crafty/ music workshops. The tickets cost a lot but you pay for nothing but food and drink and therapies once you are in. All the workshops are free.

sairygamp Wed 07-Mar-12 17:08:17

The Folk festival in Cambridge is lovely - kid friendly and good music, but the way they treat the residents when it's on is appalling - we're supposed to be 'grateful' that we're 'allowed' to go in on a Thursday night for a tenner or whatever but would still be expected to pay upwards of £400 for a weekend ticket, oh and if you live nearby you're not actually allowed to complain at morons vomiting in your garden. parking outside your house (theretically uou are but....) or screeching all night, and you're expected to be ok about buses revving up constantly for four days. Rant over.

PresidentFranklinJAwesome Wed 07-Mar-12 16:40:35

Ticket prices which don't involve you selling an organ to get one.

guanosoup Wed 07-Mar-12 15:31:54

we did Camp bestival 2 years ago with our then 9 and 11 year olds, whilst they had a great time, a lot of the entertainment was for much younger children (although my 11yr old son sat all the way through the gruffalo with a big grin on his face... grin ) and there was not a lot aimed at the pre-teens/older children.
There does seem to be a gap for this age group, too old to watch 'kids' entertainment, but not yet into DJ's doing thier stuff. That said, they were able to pootle about freely, enjoyed a lot of the bands, and did enjoy the comedy aimed at kids, but some comedians did seem to forget that at a family orientated festival, there might be children who then ask thier parents to explain the more blue jokes to them! grin
We always take food to cook/eat at the tent as feeding a family of four from stalls through the day would cost too much, and finding something that everyone likes to eat, (apart from endless burgers) can be tedious.
my idea of heaven is sitting in a field, watching a band, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper (even if its the only one avaliable as they are sponsering the festival) and knowing my kids are enjoying themselves doing something.

paulapantsdown Wed 07-Mar-12 13:47:32

I agree with squiffy too - non poncey food! Simple but tasty and not £8 for a zebra burger or such like.

paulapantsdown Wed 07-Mar-12 13:45:09

no kids area - just incorporate the kids stuff into the rest of the festival, so families don't have to be separate from the 'action' for hours on end

kids activities for kids over the age of 4 - so not just boring kiddy stuff

a family 'mosh pit' for kids who actually want to hear music and not just go on bouncy castle!

kitbit Wed 07-Mar-12 08:26:43

Deershed last year was superb. Big area with 200-odd swingballs in it next to family camping kept the dc amused while we pitched and when we left, and they could run in and play within sight of the tents.

They also had bookable scheduled kid activities and some performances just for kids which went down well.

We were able to take a gazebo which did as the kitchen for all of us, and pitch sizes weren't restricted.

Improvements : mobile charging, simpler kid food (although the food was v good),ore loos (always) but they were regularly cleaned which was a relief (literally)

StillSquiffy Wed 07-Mar-12 04:28:06

Big plus at camp bestival is being able to pre-book sites as I tend to go with a large group of families (we all worry though whether camp b are shoe-horning too many people in now, given they have halved the size of pitches this year)

Things that would be great-
1 better phone charging facilities
2 a proper pop-up shop. We don't want fags and crisps, we want grapes and salad bags and butter and similar stuff
3 simpler food choices. I might love six types of mushroom in my pasta but would rather not pay £8 for it to be spat out by my 5yo. The only chocolate cookies on site last year had beetroot in them. Show me a van selling child sized plain pasta for £2 a pop plus 50p for cheese or tomato sauce, and I will show you a 5 mile queue for it and a very rich man.
4 ice blocks for sale
5 larger area for bouncy castle, soft-play type stuff. Even better if it could be roped off with picnic tables and a cafe/bar near entrance.
6 a 'wet' play area would be great. When weather is hot a few hoses and some water balls would keep most kids entertained for hours.
7 given that half the parents I know are dukan or atkin devotees, any chance we could get better bar b q options? I don't want river cottage pulled pork belly stuff, but a burger, salad and couple of sardines would go down a treat. The kind of stuff you'd see your local pub put on on fete day, not stuff to impress.
8 a choice of Sunday papers.

CakeMixture Wed 07-Mar-12 01:04:01

MN is definately different (despite what folks say otherwise) - hence I lurk more and post less.
Yes we play chair pushing over without alcohol as an excuse - tis great fun (child that I am)

Ill pm you with a local campsite........ smile

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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!!!!!

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!)

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

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