The toddler stage is possibly the most difficult age to do festivals, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done!
For really young kids we recommend small festivals, particularly if you are not an experienced festival-goer or camper. For a successful festival experience with toddlers you need space to run around or relax, less crowds, smaller distances between campsite, arena and carpark, a good selection of child-friendly food and a willingness to take things at your toddler’s pace (see also Naomi’s Top Tips for doing Festivals with Toddlers).
After much debate, we think this year’s best festivals for Under 5’s are:
1. Just So Festival – Cheshire, 15-17 August 2014
This festival is a chance for adults and kids to immerse themselves in a beautiful world of creativity, arts, stories and children’s fantasies. Super friendly and set in beautiful woodlands, this festival is ‘just so’ gorgeous. Fabulous food offerings, and lots of provision for babies too. No commercialism or TV characters in sight, just plenty of activities, exploring, dressing up and adventure to inspire the imagination. Under 3’s go free.
2. Chilled in a Field – Kent/Sussex borders, 1-3 August 2014
A tiny and very safe festival. This is a really good one if you have never been to a festival before – no overwhelming crowds, plenty of green space, and a very pretty site. Located in the grounds of the Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum, which has hobbit houses in the trees and a miniature railway – perfect for toddlers! Under 5’s are £1.
3. Elderflower Fields – 23-26 May 2014
Elderflower Fields has a real ‘back to nature’ feel and is small enough for toddlers to explore. There is a supervised play & arts area for under 5s, plus specific under 5 sports camp sessions and dance workshops.
4. WOOD Festival – Oxfordshire, 16-18 May 2014
A really small festival where toddlers can run around safely in the grass. Tiny, intimate, folky, mellow and very friendly festival with lots of hands-on workshops for all the family. Breastfeeding tent, and all-day play tent. Powered by green-energy, the sound levels from the stage are more child-friendly than average. Great compost loos too! Under 12’s are free.
5. Shambala – Northamptonshire, 21-24 August 2014
Family Yurt (for shelter, chilling out and bedtimes stories with cocoa), a fantastic crèche (The Bee Crèche), toddler play spaces, and sandpits near the lake where you can relax with a pint on a sunny afternoon! Dedicated early years tent in the main festival with puppet shows, dance classes, workshops, and stay and play sessions. This is the largest festival in this list, but it is easier to manage than some of the other larger festivals because of its fantastic dedicated children’s area and the fact that it has a creche! Under 5’s go free.
6. Three Wishes Faery Fest – Devon, 20-22 June 2014
The setting for this festival just couldn’t get much more magical. Really stunning views and gardens on this beautiful hillside haven of tranquillity. You will be surrounded by visions of mythical loveliness in a this fantasy world. Little fairies and imps are warmly welcomed to come and play with the faery folk and join in the workshops. Great for little ones who love to dress up! Under 7’s are free.
7. Blissfields – Near Winchester, 4-5 July 2014
The site is very small, which means you can sit with your toddler in the children’s field while also watching the main stage – this is brilliant and allows you to actually catch some music (often a difficult thing to do when you have a toddler!). The children’s area is run by Angel Gardens with ‘children only’ clean toilets and a lovely child friendly cafe. We recommend you also buy a ‘posh wash’ pass which gives access to hot showers and flushing toilets all weekend (children can accompany you for free!)
And if camping is really not your thing but you’d like a taste of the festival atmosphere then you could try:
Fairyland Trust Fairy Fair – Norfolk, 25 and 26 May 2014
Designed for children between 3-8 years, this magical charity non-camping event features a range of bookable activities including making fairy crowns, gardens and elves. Children can also visit the Fairy Queen, create a mud pie for the Cooking for Trolls competition, or post a card at the Pixie Post Office.
LolliBop – a day-festival in Hatfield House, Hertfordshire on 15th, 16th and 17th August 2014. Aimed squarely at under-10s, it’s a full-on frenzied feast of kiddies characters and big brands.
For more family-friendly festivals near you check out our interactive Family Festival Map.
Tell us your favourite festivals for toddlers by commenting below!
Other useful articles include:
Choosing the right Festival for your Family
Festival Transport – Buggies and Wagons
Ultimate Family Festival Survival Guide