Ah, Festivals. I’ve spent many a year with nothing more than my sleeping bag, a slab of lager under my arm and a pot noodle in my bag in anticipation of a weekend of fun, music and friendship in the middle of a field under the sun, listening to some of my favourite bands. And then we become parents and maybe assume that our festival days are behind us, confined to our youth in the same way as hotpants, bag free eyes and our teenage hips. But no! The festival has changed too over recent years, and we feel it is our duty to bring you the definitive guide to the BEST, most family friendly festivals there are – with some recommendation from The Motherload® group, naturally.
We’ve been to Latitude for the last three years and every year, it doesn’t disappoint. Set in beautiful Southwold, the site offers a huge variety of activities for children in the dedicated children’s area – denoted by the vintage helter-skelter on site. From a reading tent, to bubble making, crafting in the open and puppet shows, there is something for every age group here. And for you, the line-up is strong in 2018 with The Killers, Solange and alt-J headlining, and Rag n Bone man, Belle and Sebastian and The Vaccines playing across the weekend. Comedy from Harry Hill, Bridget Christie and Alan Davies will keep you on your toes and Latitude will be the first festival this year to totally do away with ‘fast food’ and instead, bring you Street Feast; an incredible array of colour and taste. And don’t forget your cozzie; lake swimming, right in the centre of the festival, is a major highlight every year!
Note of warning: Beware getting lost in the woods late at night – the cocktail bar tucked away in there is lethal for those ‘off duty!’.
Laura says: “I love latitude festival – it’s a festival for everyone of any age! There’s so much to do and the site is amazing with the lake in the middle – we always go for a morning swim! Don’t forget to get a pic with the pink sheep!”
12 – 15 July. Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk. Tickets https://www.latitudefestival.com/ Adult weekend camping tickets from £197.50pp children aged 5 – 12 £10pp
Isle of Wight festival returns this year with an incredible line up spanning 50 years of music to celebrate their 50th festival but you need to know that this is also THE best Family Festival – officially, for the last two years! Not only that, but kids under 12 go ABSOLUTELY FREE when accompanied with a paying adult. With a dedicated KidZone offering an incredible line up of activities and shows; from Shadow Puppeting to Circus workshops, The Space Hopper Disco and the craft tent (a favourite with my children) where they can while away the weekend clay modelling, costume making with the New Carnival Company and the Forest Schools will be back with a stack natural materials to experiment with.
For you, bands include Soul II Soul, Camila Cabello, Manic Street Preachers, Chase & Status and Haçienda Classical and The Professionals, with headliners Kasabian, Depeche Mode, The Killers and Liam Gallagher. Van Morrison is also making an appearance alongside The Script and James Bay. Does it get any better?
Hannah says: “Isle of Wight Fest – it’s the BEST. Hands down. We LOVE it, and it feels like you are going abroad as you have to get the ferry to get there! There’s SO much to do for kids and they always have a brilliant line up as well. We are going again this year and taking our one and three year olds and I can’t wait!”
21 – 24 June 2018. Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight. Tickets: www.isleofwightfestival.com. Adult Weekend camping tickets from £209 pp, kids under 12 go FREE.
Rob da Bank’s Camp Bestival returns to the beautiful Lulworth Castle this year with a brilliant array of music, food, comedy and so much more. Bestival festivals are well reknowned for being an explosion of colour and their family friendly version is exactly that. Headliners include Simple Minds, Rick Astley, Clean Bandit and Orbital, and Sara Cox will be presenting ‘Just Can’t Get Enough 80’s’ to fuel the party vibe. Sean Lock heads up the laughs over on the comedy stage this year and will be accompanied by the brilliant Dave Johns and Andrew Maxwell. Kids entertainment never disappoints at Camp Bestival and 2018 sees the return of all their favourites – Mr Tumble, Mister Maker & the Shapes, Dick and Dom, Andy and the Odd Socks; and ZSL London Zoo will be hosting an exciting show – Gruesome Nature Live! Kids are King at Camp Bestival, and that means that everywhere you go there are activities and thrills for them but in the devoted area, you’ll find The World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle, Big Top Mania, Insect Circus, Art Town (for that glitter and glue fix!) and even a Soft Play Tent and Sandpit.
Janet says: “Camp Bestival! Unfailingly brilliant every year and so kiddie safe and has a whole kids field, Nickelodeon tents, kids dress up, Sunday morning cartoons on a giant screen, family field for camping , prebook tent sites, enclosed, set number max of people every year, easy to pop out and go to the beach for the day, everything is very well run, kids all have special bracelets, there’s an on-site zoo, after midnight the music is switched off and there is a silent disco for grown ups , loads of great food and organic stuff too … it’s an endless list!”
26th – 29 July, Lulworth Castle, Dorset. Tickets: http://www.campbestival.net/. Adult weekend (inc. camping) ticket from £197.50, Kids weekend tickets from £125, but pricing is according to age; under 4’s are only £15 for the whole weekend.
Geronimo is ALL about the kids and nothing more; a weekend jam-packed with their favourites Cbeebies stars, music, shows and activities. Set across two sites a month apart; Arley Hall hosts the first weekend (with camping available) Knebworth House (day tickets only) and Arley Hall (camping offered), Geronimo promises a weekend of magic as they present Mr Bloom & his band, Andy & the Odd Socks, Cook & Line, Mr Tumble, Katy Ashworth and Sid & Rebecca amongst many more. You’ll find activities galore around the site and the Sock Wrestling Federation will be hosting tournaments across the weekend – what more do you need?
Don’t fret; there is some relief from the kids bands for you: Clint Boon and Norman Jay head up the adults entertainment, and don’t miss the Baghdaddies – great fun! And at Arley Hall, if you are staying for the weekend, you can book into ‘Bathing under the Sky’ hot tubs, and holistic treatments.
Ruth says: “We’re going too! We went last year and really loved it! I haven’t been to any others, but family came with us and even they enjoyed it. We can’t wait to see Mr Bloom on Sunday this year. TOP TIP: There’s not an awful lot of shade, don’t do what I did and forget the sun cream!”
25-28 May, Arley Hall, Northwich, Cheshire and 30 June – 1 July, Knebworth House, Old Knebworth Lane, Knebworth. Tickets: https://www.geronimofest.com/ Four day tickets from £60pp plus £85 for a camping pass.
Just So family arts festival has been providing a curious and spellbinding mix of poetry, world class literature, dance, music and comedy for nearly a decade and without a doubt, they are absolute leaders in family entertainment. This year, the festival returns to Cheshire entertaining the whole family; from bumps to grandparents, there is something for everybody here! Check out the Spellbound Forest, and don’t miss the Bullzini family workshops providing the most incredible tightrope workshops! Headliners on the Footlights stage are Honeyfeet and Gary Stewart will be recreating Paul Simon’s legendary Graceland album with his 7-piece band. And for the tiniest of patter of festival feet, Just So has a dedicated area for babies – Peekaboo – with it’s own programme of activities including a baby book club, Baby yoga, lullabies and interactive sensory sessions.
Roxanne said: “We go every year and camp – lots of music, workshops, theatre, storytelling; giant pillow fight, lantern parade and Tribal Tournament where you join a tribe and compete for points throughout the weekend and in the final night the winning tribe is crowned! The kids love it and it’s busy enough but small enough that it feels safe and exciting for them.”
17-19 August. Rode Hall, Cheshire. Tickets http://www.justsofestival.org.uk/tickets/. Weekend adult camping tickets from £140pp and £50pp for children.
Situated on Jimmy’s Farm, this annual celebration of music and food brings headliners Paul Young and festival stalwarts, Happy Mondays to the idyllic Suffolk countryside. The kids area is better than ever; with activities available between 12 and 6pm every day. Flying Seagulls will be providing a gloriously colourful and enchanting mix of circus skills, comedy and so much more, and don’t miss the Butterfly House;Jimmy’s own passion project since he was very young. And of course, as this is a farm, animal petting is available throughout the whole weekend! There’s also den building in the Wonderwood and absolutely don’t miss the Words & Verses Festival stage tucked away, in the woods; an eclectic mix of storytelling, poetry, workshops and open mic sessions.
As you’d expect on Jimmy’s farm the celebration is all about food as well and it doesn’t disappoint here with street food galore and workshops throughout the weekend held by Thomas Ridley Foodservice. There’s even a butchery masterclass!
With only 20,000 tickets up for sale in 2018, this lovely, intimate festival is perfect for families.
Bianca said: “Jimmys Farm Festival! Love this! it’s so child friendly. Real family feel. Something for everyone from the animal encounters, to the tree den building, the circus or a spot of fishing, along with all kinds of music and children’s entertainment and great food stalls. We personally like the camping part.”
21 – 22 July. Tickets http://www.jimmysfestival.co.uk/ Jimmy’s Farm, Ipswich, Suffolk. Adult weekend tickets £70pp, child weekend tickets aged 6-16 £30pp, child weekend tickets aged 2-5 £10. Under 2s free.
Let us know where you are headed off to this year, or the festivals that you would recommend below!