Destination Festivals – ever thought about festivaling further afield?

Since the arrival of my beautiful boy Noah in 2010, my husband and I have been keen to take him to a festival, partly because we are still festival kids at heart, but mainly because I want to introduce him to the wonderful experiences that festivaling can bring. I have had some of the best times of my life in a muddy field with 60,000 other people (admittedly there may have been a few cheeky pints involved) and festivals have always struck me as one big playground – what kid wouldn’t enjoy being able to run around in the great outdoors with sensory, creative and musical opportunities at every turn? We have always incorporated the music we love into Noah’s life – he had already been to several concerts before even being born (including a particularly riotous Dizzee Rascal gig at 30 weeks!) and he’s the only newborn I have heard of calming down to Hot Chip on the iPod rather than Baby Mozart.

However, the festival experience can now cost a fair bit more than my first Reading Festival ticket bought 13 years ago for £60. With the average cost of a weekend ticket now set at way over £100 taking your kids to a festival can be a costly business. Plus, living in Norfolk as we do, you have a fairly lengthy journey to a lot of the main festival choices so with the added travel costs festivaling starts to become as costly an option as a foreign holiday.

Now I love the festival vibe, and I am a real music head, however, I also really value our family holiday time. So making a choice between the two, if the budget only dictated one, would be pretty hard.  So this year we have decided to incorporate the two – a week’s holiday with a cheeky festival tagged on! And it appears we are not alone… I speak to more and more people who are looking at the festival experience as a viable holiday option, and it’s no surprise that out of these people, the majority of those seeking more than the standard three days in a field are families.

So-called ‘Destination’ festivals have really come into their own in recent years. In the current economic climate people are keen to get more for their money and festivals do not seem to be immune from this way of thinking. Many families are having to be more creative with their holiday funds and want more than just the standardised two weeks on a beach.  And in the same vein, many festival goers are looking at incorporating a more cosmopolitan flavour to their festival experience. And why not…?

Festivaling abroad is a great way to incorporate a more creative, outdoor vibe to a trip. What better addition to the family hols than great music, creativity and surroundings, and what better an addition to the festival experience than good weather (hopefully!), different cultural experiences and the opportunity to make lots of precious family memories.

There are an abundance of European and international festivals taking place across the year from Benicassim in Spain to Coachella in the USA, with most countries having at least one large event each year. However, with a fidgety two year old in tow a long haul flight was not really that appealing. So we started to research options that were closer to home yet still offered that holiday feel.

Jersey in the Channel Islands seemed a fair bet, being a short hop from the UK, easily accessible by air with flights from over twenty five regional airports, and by sea (Condor Ferries operates a ferry service from Poole, Weymouth and Portsmouth for those with strong sea legs or wishing to take a vehicle). Enjoying more sunshine than any other part of Britain and situated just 15 miles from the coast of France, Jersey is famed for its stunning beaches, lush countryside and uniquely Anglo-Gallic culture – and of course for the iconic 80s TV detective, Bergerac.  So imagine our delight to find that Jersey also plays host to its own music festival!

Cue Jersey Live, a boutique festival set in the Parish of Trinity in the rural heart of Jersey, and one of the two most southerly festivals in the British Isles. 2012 sees the 9th edition of the festival with acts such as Rizzle Kicks, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Chase & Status, Primal Scream, Professor Green, Jaguar Skills, Maverick Sabre, Friends and a whole host of DJs gracing its five stages. The site also boasts a food village and its own funfair yet with a capacity of 10,000 still promises to keep the intimacy that boutique festival goers (including me!) look for. The site seems pretty child friendly too, with on site face painting, a stage with a fancy dress area and giant games galore, a chill out area for quiet time with a large screen that shows all the action from the main stage so the adults don’t miss out, and plenty of genuine Jersey ice cream, which will greatly impress the youngest member of our group!

The festival takes place on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd September so is ideal for those looking to get in a break before the kids return to school. There is no on site camping facility but as we are looking at the festival incorporated into our summer holiday and therefore need a place to stay for a week or so this is not a concern for us, particularly as Jersey offers such a range of different accommodation options, including budget friendly campsites, VW campervan hire and the usual holiday hotels and guesthouses, along with some more unusual accommodation options including Durrell Wildlife Park’s hostels and Jersey Heritage sites which include fully furnished forts and castles, perfect for any budding ‘Mike The Knight’! The festival organisers put on travel to and from the site from the island capital St Helier, so personally I’m looking forward to getting back at night into a nice bed and having a lovely warm shower the next morning (can you tell I am not really a camper?!?).

Plemont Beach, Jersey

Tickets range from £92 for a standard weekend ticket for adults, £77 for a youth weekend ticket (ages 13-15) and £20 for a child ticket (12 and under), with children 2years and below free. The last couple of years have been a sell out and with many more acts to be announced, plus some great reviews, it’s anticipated this year will follow suit.

So that’s us set for our first family ‘destination festival’ adventure. OK so it’s not Coachella (maybe next year?!) but we are all very excited all the same.

Festivals are one of those rare events that both kids and parents can enjoy in equal measures and we are hoping it will add a great dimension to our holiday. We are looking forward to rock pooling alongside the rock music, building castles as well as possibly staying in one, soaking up the local culture and exploring what surrounds the festival instead of just seeing it from a looooooong queue of traffic waiting to enter or exit the festival site (we’ve all been there!).

And we may even sample a few local ciders along the way… 😉

For more information on Jersey Live, check out our Jersey Live Factsheet

Still not sure why you should do a festival as a summer holiday?  Read Naomi’s Top 10 reasons her her family thinks Fests are Best!


3 thoughts on “Destination Festivals – ever thought about festivaling further afield?

  1. Very jealous Heather, this is definitely on our to do list but as we had already booked quite a few festivals for 2012 it will have to wait! (we checked out the ferry crossing prices…ouch)Last year we incorporated Camp Bestival with a mini break at http://www.lulworth.com/holiday/holiday_park.htm and we are doing the same again this year. Being that we have now discovered so many festivals that we can’t seem to pass up means that something somewhere has to give! That reminds me must check my euro millions lottery tickets…you never know might see you there, but I doubt it!

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