Just because you’ve become a parent doesn’t mean you can’t dust off your wellies and enjoy festivals. Here are some tips for festival fun as a family…
While Glastonbury’s muddy fields have well and truly dried out, summer festival season in the UK is in full swing.
If you’re heading to a festival this summer with kids in tow, check out our top tips to help you make the most out of your experience.
1. Pick the right festival
Many UK festivals cater for kids too making them a good choice for families during the summer. But it’s always a good idea to check whether the festival you have your eye on has a good mix of entertainment and facilities that cater to both you and your children's needs.
You could even check out billboards or your local council website if you don't want to travel far. There's always something going on in the summer (Skiddle, 2019).
2. Get mobile (in the non-tech way)
Festivals are typically very spread out and little legs can make manoeuvring between campsites to stages and everywhere else in between even trickier. A little pull-along cart or wheelbarrow is great for moving both kids and your stuff around easily. You can even get a foldable carts that are cheap and portable (The Festivals, 2019).
Using a sling for small babies or a backpack-style carrier for smaller children will allow them to see what’s going on even in a crowd of people. And keep your hands free to play some air guitar.
3. Protect those ears
Music at a festival can be very loud, even when you are far away from the stage. Children’s ears are very sensitive and prolonged exposure to loud music can cause damage. So, investing in a good quality set of ear defenders or over-the-ear noise reduction headphones for kids is an absolute must (Hear.com, 2019).
The only tricky part can be convincing your child to actually wear them so it is best to try them out a few times at home before you head off.
Other ways to protect yourselves on the day include regular breaks and getting to the site early for a good spot. Having a hearing detox day before the festival and visiting a hearing specialist before and after the festival could also help protect your ears (Hear.com, 2019).
4. Check out the feeding and changing facilities
Many local NCT branches have baby feeding and changing tents set up at festival sites across the UK to provide families with some welcome home comforts and needed respite. These tents try to provide everything you might need to take care of your baby or small child throughout the festival, from nappies to a space to feed.
Many are equipped with microwaves for sterilising bottles and warming food and they also have a chill out area which is ideal if it is wet or hot and your little one has been stuck in a pram or carrier all day. Get in touch with your local NCT branch before heading to a festival to see whether they will be there.
5. Prepare for four seasons in one day
Waterproofs and wellies, sun hats and sunscreen, warm jumpers and t-shirts … we all know British weather can be unpredictable. Even the smallest downpour has the potential to turn a festival site into a mud bath so wellies are always a good idea and waterproofs allow kids to sit where they like and run around while still keeping dry and warm underneath (Paam, 2011).
For those sunny days, stick to the shady areas and don’t forget to slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat (NICE, 2016). We’ve got some great tips on how to keep kids cool in the summer heat.
6. Here one minute, gone the next
Dressing your kids in brightly coloured clothes or fancy dress will help you spot them in a crowd if they try to wander off. It's especially easy to lose kids after dark so glow sticks are not only fun, but can also help you keep an important eye on their whereabouts (Festival Kidz, 2016).
You could even invest in a child locator device if your child often dashes off. Child locator devices have a unit each for you and your child. You press a button on your device so it makes a loud noise on your child's unit and, hey presto, you've found your child (Festival Kidz, 2016).
If you’re worried about your kids getting lost, it’s definitely worth writing your mobile phone number on your child’s arm. It's also a good idea to spend a few minutes showing your older kids what to do if they get lost.
Festival staff often wear brightly coloured t-shirts so let them know these people are safe people to turn to if they can’t find you.
7. Location, location, location
If you have younger children, opt for a family-friendly or quiet camping area as you’re less likely to be disturbed by the all-night party crowd. You are also more likely to be camped next to some willing playmates for your little ones (Cath and Math go Camping, 2011).
8. Prepare for bumps and cuts
Of course, all festivals will have a first aid tent of some sort. It's good to make sure you know where it is and don’t be afraid to go and ask their advice if you are worried about any medical problems.
With the excitement of the festival, there is bound to be some (hopefully minor) cuts, grazes and blisters. Pack enough plasters, anti-bacterial gel, paracetamol, sting cream, and any regular medication to last you and the kids the whole festival (Glastonbury Festivals, 2019).
Dehydration is the top reason for needing medical treatment during festivals. So try to encourage your children to drink plenty of water as the excitement of the festival might make them forget. Also watch for signs of dehydration like thirst or tiredness, headaches, dark or strong wee, dizziness or light headedness, peeing little, a dry mouth, lips and eyes and collapsing (First Aid for Life, 2018).
9. Pack the snacks
It is important for the whole family to be well-hydrated and full bellied. The last thing you need when you sit down to watch your favourite band is a hungry child.
The lines for festival food are often ridiculous and the food expensive. So make sure you plan what you're bringing and pack lots of healthy snacks like nuts, bread-sticks, dried fruit, and muesli bars for the whole festival (Festicket, 2019).
Bringing some frozen water that will melt throughout the festival will help keep you and your kids cool and well-hydrated. You could also bring bread, instant noodles, pasta pots, salads, canned foods and soups. Bringing a stove will of course open up your options even further (Festicket, 2019).
10. Don’t miss the magic
It might not be the kind of festival experience the pre-baby you is used to but having your kids in tow at a festival can create lifelong family memories.
Seeing the enjoyment on their faces will make all the extra prep work all the more rewarding. There will be many magical moments to capture so don’t leave your camera at home!
Our quick festival packing checklist
- Warm blankets and sleepsuits – it really does get very cold at night
- Kiddie-friendly transport (with rain cover!)
- Yummy snacks for the whole family
- Biodegradable wet wipes
- Anti-bacterial hand gels
- Hats and suncream
- Waterproofs – wellies, jackets and trousers
- Shower curtain or plastic-backed picnic blanket to sit on
- Bucket/travel potty – for midnight wees and must-go moments
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby. To find out when an NCT nearly new sale is happening near you, search here.
You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.
Cath and Math go Camping. (2011) The art of camping. Glastonbury – 10 things to consider when taking children to a festival. Available at: http://www.cathandmathcamping.com/glastonbury-2009-10-things-to-conside… [Accessed 28th July 2019]
Festicket. (2019) The best food to take to a festival. Available at: https://www.festicket.com/magazine/features/best-food-take-festival/ [A… 28th July 2019]
Festival Kidz. (2016) Keeping children safe at festivals. Available at: https://www.festivalkidz.com/advice/keeping-children-safe-at-festivals/… 28th July 2019]
First Aid for Life. (2018) Festivals – the surprising most common cause of collapse. Available at: https://firstaidforlife.org.uk/festivals-common-cause-collapse/ [Access… 28th July 2019]
Glastonbury festivals. (2019) Medical and first aid. Available at: https://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/information/advice/medical-and-f… 28th July 2019]
Hear.com. (2019) How to protect your ears during outdoor concerts? Available at: https://www.hear.com/useful-knowledge/festival-season/ [Accessed 28th July 2019]
NICE. (2016) Sunlight exposure: risks and benefits. NICE guidelines [NG34]. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng34/chapter/2-Supporting-information-… 28th July 2019]
Paam. (2019) The festival survival guide – what to take, what to see, and what to wear? Available at: https://www.paamapplication.co.uk/blog/2011/05/14/the-festival-survival… 28th July 2019]
Skiddle. (2019) UK festivals. Available at: https://www.skiddle.com/festivals/uk-festivals.htm
The Festivals. (2019) Where can you get a decent festival trolley? Available at: https://thefestivals.uk/best-festival-trolley/ [Accessed 28th July 2019]