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 reckon this year’s best festivals for Under 5’s are:
1. Just So Festival – Cheshire, 16-18 August 2013
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. Shambala – Northamptonshire, 22-25 August 2013
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 a festival that maintains a bit of edge in its slightly hippy alternative vibe. Under 5’s go free.
3. Larmer Tree Festival – Wilts/Dorset borders, 17-21 July 2013
Smallish pretty site with plenty of shady areas to put your picnic blankets. You’ll find lots of activities for little ones at the Larmer Lawns, such as storytelling, crafts, puppets, playsongs and a babychange tent. There are peacocks wandering free and lots of quieter woodland areas if you need a break from the main action. Under 5’s go free.
4. WOOD Festival – Oxfordshire, 17-19 May 2013
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. *Chilled* in a Field – Kent/Sussex borders, 1-4 August 2013
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. Under 5’s are £1!
6. Wychwood Festival – Cheltenham, 31 May to 2 June 2013
You can drive onto the campsite to unload, which really helps if you have half of Mothercare packed in your boot. Atmosphere is pretty calm and gentle with a genuine music loving audience and lots of workshops. The Children’s Literature Festival is great if your little ones like listening to stories. There’s a toilet block with flushing loos and hot running water for giving those grubby little mitts a good wash! Under 10’s are free.
7. Wilderness – Oxfordshire, 9-11 August 2013
Stunning naturally beautiful site with masses of on-site art and a whole host of inspiring activities and entertainment for all ages. Nanny Service and Lakeside Spa available if you need a break. Under 10’s are free.
8. Three Wishes Faery Fest – Devon, 21-23 June 2013
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 12’s are 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, 26 and 27 May 2013
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 Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London on 16th, 17th and 18th August 2013. 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 and browse our Festival Factsheets for Families.
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
Top Family Festivals (general) – 2013