South England: Best Family Festivals 2018

These are our writers’ favourite festivals in South England. Festival-goers down south have lots to choose from ranging from small and laid back to exciting and busy – it depends what you’re into!

For more festivals please see our special family friendly festival map.


Blisscamp (usually known as Blissfields)

Hampshire, SO21 3BL

5th – 7th July 2018

Blissfields is a small boutique festival that has managed to provide a fantastic vibe and varied lineup year after year. Each year there is always something new – a new venue or interactive artwork that keeps the festival fresh. In 2016 they added a beach, in 2017 there were hot air balloon rides so who knows what will happen in 2018!

WHAT MAKES BLISSFIELDS UNIQUE?

This year Blissfields is going back to its roots. It has become Blisscamp – much smaller in size but running for 3 days this year instead of 2. Blissfields has the balance of size exactly right – it is big enough to have some great music and yet small enough to give that feeling of a small festival – you will bump into the same people year after year!

Read our reviews: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

Accessibility: Accessible toilets and parking

Tickets: Adults £110, 10-17 years £95, 0-9 £15, Thursday pass £15.


Boomtown Fair

Hampshire, SO21 1HW

9th – 12th August 2018

One huge and crazy immersive playground for all generations. At the forefront of creativity, this ever-growing pop-up city is an assault on all your senses and simply has to be experienced. This is its 10th year, the Gorillaz are playing, and they have spent a lot of time and love on their kids’ area – so this may be the best time to explore Boomtown!

WHAT MAKES BOOMTOWN UNIQUE?

Nothing beats it in terms of creativity and epic scale. Rather than feeling like you are in a field, you feel like you are stepping on to a movie set. One moment you are immersed in a glamorous ballroom with chandeliers, showgirls and rich bankers; the next you’re transported back in time to Wild West surrounded by gun-slinging cowboys and real horses. Nothing is as it seems and behind every door is a new adventure. Boomtown is not for those that want to sit back quietly and observe. It’s crazy and hectic and can be overwhelming so is best for families who are up for adventure.

There isn’t anything else like this in the UK. A sprawling city full of characters, creative performance and adventure.

Read our reviews: 2017, 2016, 2014

Accessibility: Accessible parking, wheelchair charging, accessible toilets and showers, personal assistant tickets, refrigeration, viewing platforms, hospital on site

Tickets: SOLD OUT for 2018 – check the website for resale.


Camp Bestival

Dorset, BH20 5QS

26th – 29th July 2018

WIN TICKETS to Camp Bestival!

The sister to the great Bestival and curated by Rob Da Bank, Camp Bestival have set the standard that other family festivals need to reach. A perfect combination of festival fun and a little indulgence and possibly every form of culinary delight. It’s not just family friendly, but designed specifically with young families in mind. Read more about their packed program in our preview here.

WHAT MAKES CAMP BESTIVAL UNIQUE?

Camp Bestival has won so many awards and is on the top of so many people’s family friendly festival lists for a reason. A great deal of thought always goes into both the family entertainment and the music lineup, that it is exciting for adults and children alike. There are a huge amount of glamping options to choose from if you need a bit of luxury, and all ages of children are catered for with everything from Mr Maker to interactive theatre in the belly of a giant inflatable whale.

Read our reviews: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

Accessibility: Personal assistant ticket, accessible parking, camping, showers, toilets, charging points, assistance dog passes, viewing platforms, medication fridge

Tickets: Adult weekend £187.50, 13-17 £119, 10-12 £95.25, 3-9 £33, 1-4 £11, 0-1 FREE. See the website for further information.


Chilled in a Field

East Sussex, BN8 5AF

3rd – 5th August 2018

Win tickets to Chilled in a Field!

Chilled in a Field returns to its best venue at the Bentley Motor and Wildfowl museum. As well as some fantastic DJs, a gloriously laid back vibe and lots of fun activities for kids you also have a miniature steam train!

WHAT MAKES CHILLED IN A FIELD UNIQUE?

Not-for-profit and run by ‘grown up’ party people, this is a place to go and dance and relax with friendly ravers. As it is all in one field and all activities are free (even the inflatable slide), it is a festival where the older children can safely go off and brush up on their social skills with the other children while you can catch some music and properly chill. And for those with toddlers – you can see the main stage from the sand pit.

Read our reviews: 2015, 2014, 2013

Accessibility: Free personal assistant tickets, accessible camping, toilets and showers, medical storage, charging point.

Tickets: Adult weekend £99, 13-18 £30, 4-12 £25, 0-3 £3. More information available on the website.


Elderflower Fields

Sussex, TN22 3HW

25th – 28th May 2018

Elderflower Fields is a weekend of wild adventure, eclectic music & great local food, designed especially for families with children in mind. Escape to an enchanting Sussex wilderness and discover your wild side exploring nature, sports, arts, science, cookery, spoken word, music and more.

WHAT MAKES ELDERFLOWER FIELDS UNIQUE?

Children love Elderflower Fields as they get to experience the freedom we had as kids. There are hundreds of activities for them to get involved in and pretty much everything is included in your ticket so no need for them to carry money. There are no crowds and no shops so it really is a chance to get back to basics and relax in the magical natural surroundings.

Read our reviews: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014

Accessibility: Accessible camping pitches, free carer tickets, accessible parking, viewing platforms, golf buggy service from car to pitch, assistance dog passes

Tickets: Adult weekend £85-£130, 6-16 £72.50, 3-5 £20, 0-3 £1. See website for further information.


England’s Medieval Festival

Sussex, BN27 1RN

24th – 27th August 2018

England’s Medieval Festival return to the fairytale location of Herstmonceux Castle each August Bank Holiday. This hugely popular event is a uniquely immersive experience where families can step back in time and experience the grim and the glory or the past.

Kids love to live entertainment from jousting, falconry, archery and theatre to a full battle siege in front of a real castle. The site is huge and although the event attracts thousands of guests over the weekend it doesn’t feel crowded and there is too much to do to fit into one day.

WHAT MAKES ENGLAND’S MEDIEVAL FESTIVAL UNIQUE?

Where else can you pitch up overlooking a full-size castle with a real-life knight in shining armor or a musical minstrel from the past as a neighbour? The feeling that you have stepped back in time starts from the moment you arrive and camping at this festival is an unforgettably unique experience at any age.

Read our reviews: 2017, 2016

Accessibility: Reduced rate carers tickets. Accessible camping and parking, toilets, medical storage, charging point, dogs welcome. 50% of site is paved and flat. B&B accessible rooms. Day tickets also available.

Tickets: Adult weekend £97, 13-18 £87, 5-12 £47, 0-5 and dogs free. Family tickets and day tickets also available. See website for further information.


Folk by the Oak

Hertfordshire, AL9 5NQ

15th July 2018

A one day festival devoted to folk, Folk by the Oak makes an excellent family day out.

WHAT MAKES FOLK BY THE OAK UNIQUE?

The laid back vibe and lack of camping makes this a very good festival for families (everything ends at 10:30pm). They let you bring in your own food and drink and hold a massive communal picnic at the front of the main stage. There is a family area with loads to do but within earshot of the stages so adults can enjoy the music while the children are entertained.

Read our reviews: 2017

Accessibility: Personal assistant tickets, accessible parking, accessible toilets, assistance dogs permitted

Tickets: Adult £33.50-£45, 5-15 £18, family ticket £95-£107. See website for further information.


Larmer Tree

Dorset, 

Larmer Tree Festival is one of the UK’s most loved and long-standing festivals – this will be the 27th year! The winning combination of its breathtaking location, eclectic music and comedy line-ups and huge array of activities for all ages has earned it a well-deserved place in our Favourite Family Festivals list year on year.

Headliners are First Aid Kit, Jake Bugg and Tune-Yards, and with many more incredible artists and a whole programme of workshops still to be announced, 2018 looks set to be an outstanding year for LTF.

WHAT MAKES LARMER TREE UNIQUE?

Larmer Tree Festival never feels overcrowded and the friendly stewards and considerate festival-goers make it a very safe environment. My kids are hoping to get right up to the barrier to watch Jake Bugg’s headline set – it’s a relatively intimate place to let them have their first tastes of big gig experiences.

Set in gorgeous Victorian Pleasure Gardens, there are lots of little areas to explore and chill out in, an eclectic music line up and a plethora of workshops to enchant every age group.  This festival is as quirky as it is beautiful, and absolutely perfect for multi-age families.

Read our reviews: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

Accessibility: Free personal assistant ticket, accessible camping, parking, toilets and showers, viewing platforms, medicine fridge, assistance dogs welcome

Tickets: Adult weekend £179, 11-17 £122, 0-10 free. See website for full details.


Standon Calling

Hertfordshire, SG11 1EE

26th – 29th July 2018

It’s a cliche but Standon Calling really does have something for everyone and families with even very young kids seem to get along brilliantly with groups of teens and twenty-somethings. A highlight for us was a kids v hen party dance off, I’m not sure which team won, or which enjoyed it the most! But there were also special kids areas mixed into the main festival site, an area for teens and a separate family camping field away from the main late night revellers.

WHAT MAKES STANDON CALLING UNIQUE?

Standon Calling has a swimming pool! So it is a truly weather proof festival for kids. It also
makes a real effort with its theme, the year we went there was a wild west set and of course plenty of dressing up.

Read our reviews: 2015, 2013, 2011

Accessibility: Free personal assistant ticket, accessible parking, campsite, showers, toilets, charging point, buggy from car park, viewing platform, medication fridge, hearing induction loop, dog friendly

Tickets: Adult weekend £107-159, 16-17 £149, 13-15 £139, 4-12 £45, 0-3 £5. Full details available on the website.


WOMAD

Wiltshire, SN16 9LL

26th – 29th July 2018

WOMAD stands for World of Music and Dance, and it combined the very best of World music. Dance to all sorts of global and tribal beats, with an enormous amount of other creative arts. Not to mention all that lovely food!

WHAT MAKES WOMAD UNIQUE?

World class music and spoken word from 27 countries, world food and science, makes this festival a cultural delight. Add to that a huge children’s area and it’s not hard to see why this festival has been running for more than 35 years.

Read our reviews: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011

Accessibility: Carer’s ticket, accessible camping, accessible toilets and shower, viewing platforms, large print and braille timetables, medicine refridgeration, battery charging

Tickets: Adult weekend £125-£225, 14-17 £90-£125, 0-13 free. See the website for more detailed ticket information.


Have a look at our recommended festivals in North England, the Midlands and Wales and Welsh border!

We know there are other amazing festivals that we are missing out – and we’re attempting to get our reviewers around as many festivals as we can. The festivals above are our tried and tested choices, ones our writers go back to year after year. Please do comment below on the festivals you think we have missed…


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