If you’re making plans for your holiday, why not factor in the chance to attend a music festival? These days they’re much more of a family affair, and our guide will show you the best ones for ‘The Boys of Summer’ as well as for those ‘Girls (who) Just Wanna Have Fun’…
Love music and music festivals but think they’re just a distant memory now you’ve got children? Think again - a growing number of festivals cater to families and children, with many making that aspect just as important as the music on offer.
The UK is renowned for hosting a wide array of festivals. It seems the entire world tries to get tickets to Glastonbury but events take place across Europe and beyond, and more and more people are travelling to experience them. And with good reason - turning a music festival into a holiday means you’ll get to see some great bands, enjoy time in a wonderful location, and spend the daylight hours enjoying new and exciting destinations with your family.
To help you choose, here’s a selection of some the best family-friendly festivals in the UK and further afield which offer great entertainment, with many being in locations worth visiting in their own right.
Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham
31 May - 2 June, 2019
Often referred to as Wychwood Family Festival, it’s instantly clear that this popular annual event, which is now in its 15th year, is one for kids as well as their music-loving parents. The latter are catered for by acts for the older generation with the likes of The Stranglers, T’Pau and Toyah all on the bill this year, while the additional entertainment includes everything from arts workshops and a circus school, to a kitchen disco and dance classes. One of this year’s highlights is the chance to make clay models with Aardman, the creators of Wallace and Gromit.
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Estate, Dorset
25-28 July, 2019
Idyllically located near Dorset’s iconic Jurassic Coast, the family-friendly version of sister festival, Bestival, combines big-name music acts with a host of activities and performances for younger visitors. The big draws this year include Nile Rogers & Chic, Jess Glynne, The Human League and Black Grape, but the children might be more excited to hear that the event plays host to the world’s biggest bouncy castle. There are also soft play areas, live theatre performances, musical workshops, as well as slapstick comedy from Cbeebies star Mr Tumble.
Kendal Calling, Lowther Deer Park, Cumbria
25-28 July, 2019
As if you needed another reason to visit the glorious Lake District, “the best small festival anywhere” - according to musician, Seasick Steve - gets better every year, with a friendly vibe and plenty of quality entertainment for music lovers and their families. The former are especially well catered this year - Manic Street Preachers, Doves, Nile Rogers & Chic, Courteeners and Tom Jones are among the star turns. The children, meanwhile, will have a ball and may even be balancing on one learning circus skills and how to make tutus and kazoos. And when the four-day party is over, you can always head off to explore the many attractions of Windermere, Ambleside, Keswick et al.
Deer Shed Festival, Baldersby Park, North Yorkshire
26-28 July, 2019
Organisers claim Deer Shed is a festival that makes children the main event, backing it up with child-friendly music, comedy, sporting activities, science, workshops, cinema, food offerings and more. Whether you’ll get the youngsters to sing along with this year’s indie-kid headliners, Ezra Furman, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Anna Calvi is a moot point, as there’s plenty of other stuff to do, including spas and hot tubs in the forest, and the chance to learn (at last) how to solve Rubik’s Cube.
Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons, Powys, Wales
15-18 August, 2019
Long lauded for its family-friendly vibe, this year’s Green Man Festival maintains its traditions by offering 10 children's areas with activities for everyone, from tots to teens. That means film-making classes, fire shows, kids’ yoga sessions, a Cinedrone cinema, science shows in Einstein’s Garden and Little Folk workshops that give under-12s the chance to create something fantastic to show off at the Sunday children’s parade. Oh, and if you’ve got time, the musical line-up is pretty good too, featuring the likes of Four Tet, Eels, Father John Misty, Sharon Van Etten and Idles.
Just So Festival, Rode Hall, Cheshire
16-18 August, 2019
This laid-back festival, set in the parkland around Rode Hall, is apparently designed ‘for children and their families’ and the attractions on offer back up the claims. Art, music and theatre are the order of the day(s), with immersive and whimsical activities, performances and installations presented in natural landscapes. And if that all sounds a bit hippy then you need to chill out (man!), go with the flow and join in, whether that’s with the circus skills workshops, ‘wacky’ sports day, boating on the lake, campfire talks, silent disco, or watching the lantern parade or exciting pyrotechnics show. Music is of secondary importance here, and the line-up largely consists of lesser-known acts, although the Hallé Children’s Choir will be familiar to some.
Joshua Tree Music Festival, California, USA
16-19 May and 10-13 October, 2019
You may well find what you’re looking for at this homely festival, whose name is inspired by its National Park location rather than the U2 album of the same name. Set in the California desert, it features a community atmosphere and musical acts that come from the local area rather than the international charts. Described as “a family-friendly global music experience”, the event hosts a Kidsville district that’s home to all manner of activities, from slacklining (tightrope walking to you and me) and clay creations, to instrument making, clown shows, nature walks and more. There’s also a peaceful family camping area for when the little angels need to rest their weary heads.
Primavera Sound, Barcelona, Spain
30 May - 1 June, 2019
Held in the somewhat unlikely setting of an industrial park by the sea, Primavera is widely regarded as Spain’s best festival - some feat given the popularity of the likes of Sónar and Benicassim. The Barcelona location is undoubtedly a big draw. You can explore the fantastic city or laze on the beach during the day before the festival gets under way in the late afternoon, but it also pulls in big names. This year’s line-up features Neneh Cherry, Róisín Murphy, Suede, Primal Scream and James Blake to match the 70,000-strong crowd over the course of its three days, and there are free concerts on the Wednesday and Sunday either side. The children’s minimúsica area in the Parc del Fòrum is designed to give children the chance to enjoy a “live interactive experience with artists from the line-up” and there’s also a play area staffed by qualified monitors.
Festival Beauregard, Normandy, France
4-7 July, 2019
Instantly impressive, courtesy of the backdrop of a 19th century château, this lively event matches its location with a mix of French and international music acts, mostly of the indie rock variety. This year’s line-up features the likes of Fatboy Slim, Tears For Fears and Snow Patrol, with an entertaining Kids Space that gives youngsters the chance to try their hand at arts, crafts, face-painting, juggling and even building instruments to make some music of their own.
Calgary Folk Music Festival, Calgary, Canada
25-28 July, 2019
Held in the grassy meadows of Prince’s Island Park in Calgary, this laid-back “family-friendly cultural and musical extravaganza” celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The countryside park is the ideal place to lay out the picnic blanket or give the children the chance to run around and let off some steam, while the music is rather more eclectic (and electric) than the folk moniker might suggest, with bands covering a wide range of genres and musical eras. If the little ones need more than music to keep them entertained, then the Family Zone has bouncy castles, skateboard ramps, a cardboard box city and an array of shows and spectacles to pick up the slack.
Positivus, Salacgriva, Latvia
26-27 July, 2019
This aptly-named festival is the largest arts and culture event in the Baltics, mixing a wide range of music acts with The 1975, Underworld and Cut Copy being the big names so far revealed for this year in a stunning setting, surrounded by pine forests and beaches. The natural beauty lends itself to all manner of family fun away from the festival, although there might not be time, given all that’s on offer. An Arts and Nature stage hosts theatre, dance and literary performances and readings, the cinema tent has movies, and you can also let the youngsters cut loose at Kids' Island to enjoy games, craft projects and other activities under the watchful gaze of supervising staff.
Flow Festival, Helsinki, Finland
9-11 August, 2019
The “leading music and art boutique festival in Europe, according to the publicity, Flow is held in a disused power station, an easy walk from the centre of Helsinki. The location is definitely part of the allure - one of the stages is a giant pressurised balloon, and all the stunning architecture is brought to life by a kaleidoscope of lighting effects. This year’s headline acts include The Cure, Tame Impala and Robyn, and while the festival is largely for adults, there are activities for children on Family Sunday, which runs from 13:00 to 17:00.
Ypsigrock Festival, Castelbuono, Italy
8-11 August, 2019
Realistically the least family-friendly of this selection, but the location is arguably the best of any summer music festival. The unlikely venue is the beautiful Sicilian hill-top town of Castelbuono, which is flanked by mountains in one direction and the Mediterranean in the other. The main stage is located in a stunning breathtaking square overlooked by the town’s castle, and some performances even take place inside the castle with spectators watching from the balconies above. Throw cobbled streets, historic buildings, delicious foods and world-class wines into the indie music mix (this year’s headliners are The National), and you’ve got a near perfect holiday plan.
Top tips for attending festivals with the family
• Make sure any young child has your phone number with them in case they get lost. It’s a good idea to write them on a tag or band you can attach to their wrist, or you could even write it on their arm.
• Carry lots of snacks and drinks with you - the children are sure to get hungry and thirsty when you’re walking around, and the food prices at festivals can be eye-watering.
• Bottle it - speaking of water, take an empty bottle or flask with you and you’ll be able to take advantage of free water fill ups. More and more festivals are banning single-use plastic, so check before you go.
• Get a wiggle on - the best children's activities fill up fast, so make sure you don’t miss out. It also really helps to explore the site with the children so they know where everything is.
• Manage your expectations - going to a festival with the little ones is a very different experience to doing it with adults. They’ll want to wake up/fall asleep at different times to you, and there’s every chance you might miss the band you most wanted to see.
• Don’t force it - your children will never like your favourite band, just because you do. Be prepared for a bit of give and take, and let them do their own thing.
RCI members enjoy great value holidays by using their RCI Holiday Exchange membership to access spacious and comfortable accommodation in more than 4,000 resorts worldwide some perfectly located for a festival visit. To see where RCI membership could be taking you, click on the Resort Directory link below.
If you own timeshare and don't feel you are getting the best value from your purchase because you are returning to the same place each year, then you should think about joining RCI where, as a member, you will have the widest choice of timeshare holiday swaps anywhere. You can click on the Join RCI button below and become an RCI member in just a few simple steps...