Top Festivals for Babies and Toddlers 2012 (for 2013 – click HERE!)
For really young kids we tend to recommend smaller festivals, particularly if you are not an experienced festival-goer. Smaller festivals have the dual advantage of not being so vast that a trip back to the tent for a forgotten dummy takes half the morning, and the stage areas are usually less crowded meaning you can get closer to the bands without fearing your little one getting accidentally trampled on or lost. That said, smaller festivals often don’t have as much budget for children’s activities, so your choice will also depend a little on the level of laid-on entertainment that your family need.
It really is very hard to choose from all the festivals that take place in the UK each year. But if we have to narrow it down, our short-list of the best festivals to take your really little ones to goes a little like this:
1. Just So Festival – Staffs, 17-19 August 2012
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 a site of true beauty, this festival is ‘just so’ gorgeous. Breastfeeding tents for relaxing feeding, baby bath times and electricity points for sterilisers. There is no commercialism or TV characters in sight, just plenty of activities and creative adventures to explore and capture the imagination.
2. Larmer Tree Festival – Wilts / Dorset borders, 11-15 July 2012
Smallish pretty site with lots of shady areas to put your picnic blankets. Larmer Lawns has lots of activities for little ones such as storytelling, crafts, puppets, playsongs and a dedicated babychange tent. The vibe is very relaxed, safe and friendly. There’s a wooden play park on site and peacocks wandering free. Music, comedy, theatre, literature, film, dance, art, crafts, massage and healing – expensive, but worth it.
3. Shambala – Northamptonshire, 23-27 Aug 2012
Lots of provision for tiny ones: Family Yurt (for shelter, chilling out and bedtimes stories with cocoa), toddler play spaces, 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.
4. Wychwood Festival – Cheltenham, 8-10 June 2012
Wychwood is very welcoming to families. You can drive onto campsite to unload, which really helps if you have a lot of stuff. Genuine music loving audience, tons of workshops, and there is also a very special Children’s Literature Festival with lots of top kids authors. There’s a real toilet block with hot water too if you know where to look! Atmosphere is pretty calm and gentle.
5. Penn Festival – Bucks, 7-8 July 2012
A small boutique festival with a laid-back atmosphere. Baby Chill Out area provided in a bell tent. Kid-friendly cafe with story-telling courtesy of Lisa Igo at the Kindred Cafe and Tatty Bumpkins Kid’s Yoga. There will also be loads of circus skills and some craft activities on offer.
6. Nova – Sussex, 5-8 July 2012
A new boutique festival from the original Big Chill creators. Little ones can get involved in all sorts of fun and creative activities in the Land of the Bumbley Boo.
7. Fairland Trust Fairy Fair – Norfolk, 3 and 4 June 2012
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.
8. Solfest – West Cumbria, 24-26 August 2012
A warm and welcoming little festival with a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Almost all of the workshops are suitable for the whole family to enjoy together. And you can have real campfires
9. Deer Shed – North Yorks, 20-22 July 2012
The organisers of Deer Shed put loads of thought put into children and families as many of them are parents themselves. Children are as catered for as adults in a very inclusive way. There are nice touches to be found here such as highchairs in eating areas and kids activities in the camping field so they are entertained while you pitch the tent (one of which is a giant pile of cardboard boxes, now what little kid doesn’t love that?!)
10. Cornbury – Oxfordshire, 29 June – 1 July 2012
Affectionately nicknamed Poshstock, Cornbury historically attracts a rather genteel crowd – think picnic hampers and plenty of Pimms! The Children’s Zone includes circus skills, yoga, storytelling, dance, messy art, and singing. Fairly sophisticated and calm vibe so anything likely to cause much offence generally just doesn’t go on!
11. Camp Bestival – Dorset, 26-29 July 2012
Camp Bestival is completely geared up for families. Your festival experience will feel like a cross between an entertainment-filled summer holiday at Butlins and all the wacky eccentricity of a major music festival. There is something here for all ages and some well chosen big name acts courtesy of Rob da Bank. Bear in mind though that this festival is a BIG one, busy, crowded and the party goes on all night. Great for when you have a mix of ages to entertain rather than just a toddler.
12. Three Wishes Faery Fest – Devon, 15-17 June 2012
The setting for this festival just couldn’t get much more magical. Really stunning views and gardens on this beautiful hillside haven of tranquility. 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.
13. Elderflower Fields – Sussex, 25-27 May 2012
A new festival for 2012. There are numerous workshops and activities, and is a creche provided if you want a bit of time to play with your older children, or just get a little nourishing child-free time.
14. Beautiful Days – Devon, 17-19 August 2012
A really nice family-friendly festival with a strong and warm hippy vibe. Expect the atmosphere to be laid-back and friendly and expect the site to be colourful and arty. Winners of the 2011 ‘Best Family Festival’ Award.
15. WOMAD – Wiltshire, 27-29 July 2012
WOMAD’s World of Kids is full of exciting workshops and cultural activities. WOMAD offers Park and Camp tickets to a small supplement so you can park almost next to your tent – great when you have car car full of baby paraphernalia.
If camping at a music festival is really not your thing but you want get a taste of the festival atmosphere then how about:
LolliBop – London, 17, 18, 19 August 2012
Held in Regent’s Park, this day festival is aimed purely at little ones. The place is teeming with colourful children’s brands, walkabouts and stage performances from your toddler’s favourite TV shows. There are also all sorts of other free activities to keep little ones excited and entertained all day, but there can be long queues for the more popular ones.