10 tips to survive festivals with kids in tow

Released on: 02 August 2016

While Glastonbury’s muddy fields have well and truly dried out, summer festival season in the UK is in full swing. And just because you’ve become a parent doesn’t mean you can’t dust off your wellies and enjoy your favourite festival pastimes.

Toddler stares down at camera with her parents standing behind her

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 childrens’ needs.

2. Get mobile (in the non-tech way)

Festivals are typically very spread out and with little legs to consider it can be even trickier to manoeuvre between campsites to stages and everywhere else in between. A little pull along cart or wheelbarrow is great for moving both kids and your stuff around easily. For babies a sling or for smaller children a backpack-style baby carrier will allow them to see what is 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 for kids is an absolute must. 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. 

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. 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. NCT’s website also has 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 is 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.

If you’re worried about your kids getting lost, it’s definitely worth writing your mobile phone number on your child’s arm. It is 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. 

8. Prepare for bumps and cuts

With the excitement of the festival, there is bound to be some (hopefully minor) cuts, grazes and blisters. Pack some plasters, anti-bacterial gel, paracetamol for you and the kids, sting cream, and any regular medication. Of course, all festivals will have a First Aid tent of some sort. 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.

9. Pack the snacks

It is important for the whole family to be well-hydrated and full bellied and the last thing you need when you sit down to watch your favourite band is a hungry child. The lines for festival food can often be ridiculous and the food expensive so make sure to pack lots of healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, and muesli bars. Bringing some frozen water that will melt throughout the festival will help keep you and your kids cool and well-hydrated.

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!

NCT’s 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 sun cream
  • 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
  • Torch