While we may associate festivals with all-night partying and lively atmospheres, there are also a great variety of family-friendly options for those looking to have some fun with their little ones. Of course, when bringing babies and toddlers along for the adventure, some extra planning and preparation does have to be done in advance. But, if you’re well prepared and have everything you need for the event beforehand, you can make sure the festival is unforgettable for the whole family.
So, how exactly do you plan for a festival with little ones in tow? Here, Hannah Rose-Wynter from luxury camping expert Boutique Camping shares her advice on preparing for your family adventure, from finding the right festival to top tips for setting up.
Choosing the perfect festival
The first step to planning any festival trip is, of course, finding the festival that appeals to you the most! The line-up will no doubt be one of your main priorities when making your decision, but when travelling with the whole family, it’s a good idea to take other practicalities into account too. The most important practical considerations include:
· Facilities: The experience will be much more comfortable and hassle-free for you and your family if the festival is well equipped with facilities for babies and young children, like changing facilities and quiet areas for feeding.
· Activities: If you’re attending a festival with toddlers and young children, it’s important that they have plenty to enjoy at the event too. So, opt for a festival with plenty of activities available for little ones.
· Atmosphere: It’s a good idea to research the general atmosphere of the festival beforehand. While many festivals offer quiet areas and family camping zones, some are more catered to families than others.
· Size: Smaller festivals are often more popular amongst those attending with their children, as they can feel less busy and overwhelming for little ones.
· Location: It’s a good idea to opt for a festival in a medium-sized town that’s easy to reach via public transport, in case you need to purchase essentials which can’t be found on-site, such as baby formula.
The good news is that there are plenty of family-friendly festivals in the UK and beyond that tick all of these boxes, so you shouldn’t find yourself short of options to choose from.
Finding the perfect tent
Having the perfect tent can really elevate your festival experience, especially when attending with the whole family. Not only does choosing the right tent make getting a decent night’s sleep much more likely, but having a spacious and comfortable base for relaxing after a jam-packed day can really make the world of difference.
Internal space is no doubt one of your main priorities when camping with the kids. A 4m to 5m tent will provide ample space for those looking to accommodate a double bed and a travel cot, while those camping with two or more young children will be well suited to a larger 6m, 7m, or 8m variety. The height of your tent can also make the experience much more comfortable too: high walls that allow for maximum floor-to-head space will really help when it comes to feeding, changing, and late-night soothing.
Don’t forget about the importance of material when it comes to choosing the right tent. Cotton and canvas tents are both breathable and insulating, meaning they’re ideal for keeping your family at a comfortable temperature both on chilly nights and hot summer mornings. If you plan on installing a wood-burning stove into the walls of your tent, this will effectively increase heat, provide a light source and enable you to cook, but for maximum safety, you should ensure the material is fire retardant.
Remember your packing essentials
Once you’ve chosen your festival and found your perfect tent, the next step is making a thorough packing list. You’ll likely already know the main camping gear you’re taking with you, as well as all the clothing, first aid products, and childcare essentials you’ll need. But there are a number of extras you may not have considered which can make a huge difference to your little one’s overall comfort and experience. Here are some easily forgotten additions you’ll want to add to your festival packing list:
· Ear defenders: Exposure to loud noise over a long period of time can be damaging for your little one’s sensitive ears, so these are an absolute must.
· Baby bouncer: If you want to keep your baby comfortable while you’re busy getting ready for the day or cooking on your camping stove, a baby bouncer can be a really useful addition.
· Soft furnishings: While not an essential, additional soft furnishings like rugs, throws, and cushions can make your tent more comfortable and inviting. Plus, extra throws and cushions can be especially useful if you or your little one is struggling to get comfortable at night.
· Sugar-free squash: Although it may not seem likely in the British summer, festivals can get very hot, very quickly. If you struggle to encourage your child to stay hydrated, adding a splash of sugar-free squash to their water will likely do the trick.
· ID tags: If the worst happens and you lose your toddler in the crowd, it’s important to be prepared. Before you set off, make a bracelet with an ID tag for your toddler or young child to wear at all times, with your name and contact number.
· Batteries: From torches to toys, spare batteries can be the lifesaver you didn’t even know you needed.
Unloading and setting up
After all the planning, preparation, and the drive to the festival ground, you’re almost there and ready to enjoy yourself! But the last task can often feel like the most daunting one — emptying the car and setting up your home for the next few days. When it comes to getting to your camping ground, many festivals offer a festival trolley service for a small fee. With this service, you can either hire a trolley yourself, making it easier to lug your camping essentials or hire someone with a trolley to help you. If this service isn’t offered, you may want to invest in a collapsible cart to make the journey a little easier.
Once you’ve decided where to pitch up and you’re fully unloaded, find a way to keep your little one entertained while setting up. Keep your baby in their travel cot with their favourite toy, or if you have a toddler, you may want to bring a portable playpen for them to stay in with their toys while you put the tent up. Once the tent is up, young children may want to get involved in the rest of the set-up, so give them small jobs like deciding where to put the rug and choosing where to set up the camping chairs.