Beat the chill

Keeping warm at festivals

by Lisa Mills

One of the issues that comes up time and time again when I speak to parents considering a first festival with a child or baby is the fear of whether they’ll be able to keep them warm.

This is not a problem confined to small people. I can’t tell you the number of times even pre-children that I was laughed at at Glastonbury by my friends who were scrambling into a sleeping bag in just their PJ’s.

Meanwhile I would be going through an impressive routine of long johns, thermal top, PJ’s, dressing gown, hat, fluffy socks, hot water bottle…

Even as a seasoned festival-goer, I still worry about being cold at night in a tent. After speaking to many others with the same concern, we decided to collate our own Festival Kidz definitive guide to keeping the whole family warm at a festival.


Layers are key here. It’s worth spending some time in advance of the festival working out the best combinations of clothing that allow you to layer up to the max.

Thin, good quality layers always work best. Thermal baselayers are a great start and are really handy to wear underneath clothing, layer on top or both. It’s not unusual for me to cram two or three on myself in the evening.

thermal top base layer Women's baselayer Men's baselayer
Children Women Men

Fleece for a childCounter-intuitively, children often seem to feel the cold less than us adults, but will still need extra layers in the evenings. A short-sleeved top, long-sleeved top, thin zip-up and a thicker hoody or fleece usually is plenty when out and about. Leggings or jeans are great to cover up legs that may have been exposed during the day.

Wooly hatWooly hats, scarves and gloves can seem a bit OTT, but I’d never go camping without them. They can be a blessing when the sun goes down. And anyway, who doesn’t love a funky hat?

Waterproof coatSensible wet weather clothes are a must too, as once you’re wet, you can forget being warm!

The key is not to allow any of you to get too cold as evening sets in as it’s then very hard to warm up.

Day to Night Transition

Here at Festival Kidz, we are all fans of getting our younger children into their jammies before going out for the evening.

It’s a good idea to try to head back to the tent around 5 or 6 p.m., get the kids into their PJ’s and then add layers over them. This means when you get back late, when the children may already be asleep, all you have to do is strip them back to their nightclothes and pop them into bed.

Even if they are awake, it saves them having to take everything off to get ready for bed at the coldest and probably their most fractious time of the day.

If you have a lovely festival wagon, you can load it up with cosy blankets to keep little ones warm. And even if you don’t, you can get kids snuggled in a safe spot on a picnic rug or chair with a few blankets.

Just remember to keep some blankets in the tent for sleeping, so they don’t get damp out and about.

Sleeping Soundly

Does anyone get their best nights’ sleep at a festival? I doubt it. But if you or the children are cold, it will make it so much harder.

Make your sleeping area as warm and cosy as possible. I am known for throwing in as many blankets as I can cram into the car, because they are so versatile.

sleeping with blankets

You can add them over the top of sleeping bags for extra warmth, but they are also great for putting underneath camping mattresses.

Most of the cold you feel in a tent comes up from the ground, so anything you can put between you (or your children) and the ground, will help.

We always take some thermal insulation foil as well, which we have roughly cut and stuck together to fit under our beds (try the building merchants’ section of large DIY stores for this).

Invest in the best sleeping bags you can afford and do some research into which type you need, depending on how much you feel the cold.

Sleeping in the tent

Snuggly onesies are brilliant for layering over pyjamas.

Just remember they can be a faff to remove for overnight wees. A twosie could solve that problem!

I never go camping without several hot water bottles. Our top tip is to boil the kettle when you go back to the tent around tea time.

Fill a large flask and then when you go to bed, use the flask to fill the hot water bottles and take them to bed with you and the children.

Little ones will love having something warm and fluffy to snuggle up to on a chilly night. Having something that can actually bring warmth into the tent rather than just retain the heat already there is invaluable.

Other Tips

A hot shower before bed can be a brilliant way to warm up. The showers will be queue-free at that time, which is another appealing factor.

Keep some kind of portable toilet or bucket in the tent, so you don’t have to drag the children out into the cold (and maybe wet) to go to the loo in the night. This is particularly useful when you are looking after more than one child so may not want to leave the other on their own. You can line them with a bag and in the morning you just tie the top of the bag and throw it away. If you use a compostable bag you can put it into the compost toilets.

Make use of the festival camp fire if there is one.

Just So 2017

Or, if you’re allowed to, take a fire pit so you can make your own fire to sit around before bed.

Camping with a Baby – Important

If you have a young baby with you, remember they can over-heat as well as get too cold. This can be dangerous as they can’t regulate their body temperature.

It’s sensible to take a small thermometer with you so you can test the temperature of the tent. Baby sleeping bags usually give you information on what to dress your baby in according to the temperature.

Just be aware that while the tent might be very cold at night, it could also end up a sauna in the early morning sun.


Enjoy! Festivals are a great chance to spend quality time as a family, engaging in new and wonderful experiences. Children generally love sleeping in a tent and are usually more adaptable than adults and miss home comforts less.

And if you have any amazing tips of your own on staying warm in a tent, do let us know in the comments below.