Tips For Taking Kids To Festivals

Mr ATWWAH and I met at a Charlatans gig at Brixton Academy and going to see bands always featured a lot in our relationship before we had kids.  We were determined that wouldn’t change and at a few weeks old we took Master ATWWAH to the Ben and Jerry’s Festival on Clapham Common as I really wanted to see the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, one of my favourite bands.  It was hardly a weekend at a mud-soaked Glastonbury but it was a taster of festivals with kids.  We’ve since taken him to Big Feastival twice, the first time being a bit of a nightmare and the second was more of a success as he had turned three and saw it more as an adventure.

But we’re definitely not experts when it comes to kids and festivals, unlike Hannah Saunders from Big Fish Little Fish Events.  So, I kindly asked her if she’d mind sharing some of her tips for taking kids to festivals and luckily she agreed.

For those not in the know Big Fish Little Fish is led by Hannah and the BFLF Crew, made up of seasoned clubbers who are now also parents with a desire to create anarchic, social, daft fun for all ages.  Their events run each month, during the day, at weekends in London venues and they also host one off events around the country.  We went to their inaugural south west London event and they are something to behold.  We’ve done kid discos before, like Monski Mouse, but these are different, definitely aimed at parents too with tunes which you’ll remember from your clubbing days.  Bona fide DJ’s play at the events and they are all themed differently with lots of activities for kids too including crafts and music workshops.

A Big Fish Little Fish rave (image courtesy of Big Fish Little Fish)

A Big Fish Little Fish rave (image courtesy of Big Fish Little Fish)

Hannah set up BFLF after a 20 year career in the civil service.  She knew she wanted to set up her own business and loved taking her kids to festivals but outside of the festival space she felt there was nowhere they could enjoy themselves together in the same way so ta da….the family rave was conceived.  The first rave took place in Brixton a couple of months later.  BFLF won the National Arts Festival Best Family Event 2014 award, a huge accolade competing against 4500 events.  Roisin Murphy from Moloko has even performed at one of the events with one of Hannah’s highlights being the crowd doing Sing It Back with her.

I love something that Hannah told me in an email about her change of career, ‘In some ways I think it was a by product of having children so late on (I was 41 and 42 when I had my two) – they taught me that it’s never too late to fundamentally re-write what your life is about.  Doing something so different makes me feel in my 20s again – when anything is possible’.  Quite frankly who wouldn’t want to feel like they were in their 20’s again???  Anyway, on to Hannah’s great festival tips:

Take Spare Clothes

You can leave them in the car in case you need them.  My 2 year old lost his wellies last year at Glastonbury and if it wasn’t for the women at the NCT tent and their spares we would have had a very sorry time of it.

Hire A Kids Trailer

Sort the kids’ transport so it’s comfy enough for them to sleep in and waterproof if it rains.  My two stay out to see the headliners because they can always curl up in their trailer if necessary.

Trolley

Kids love their own trailers at festivals

Take ‘Long Life’ Snacks

Have snacks in the tent for breakfast as soon as the kids wake up e.g. apples, satsumas but also Pringles, cereal bars etc.  It’ll be much easier dishing out those in the tent than trying to go out in the rain or mud to buy a bacon butty with a hangover first thing (yours, not theirs)

Check The Loos

We go in and clean them up before taking the children in to prevent them being put off.  Last year my partner carried our 4 year old daughter into a long drop loo but put her down briefly as the cleanup job needed extra input.  Our daughter bolted out the door screaming, causing much laughter in the queue, and one man to say “yeah, I feel like that when I see in there too”

Wipes

Perfect festival bag size

Make Time For Kid Based Fun

We do loads of things through the morning and early afternoon that are entirely child focussed – leaving mid-afternoon onwards for more music based fun.  The kids seem to go for it and will happily dance about for hours.

Be Prepared

Take a first aid kit, wipes, plasters, antiseptic, anti sting stuff and Calpol

Hannah’s Favourite Festival?

I’ve taken them to festivals in holiday camps, one dayers in London and lots of other long camping festivals including those specifically for families but Glastonbury will always win my vote for best festival – for all ages, always.  There is nothing else like it and having children with me means that I now go and explore parts I never did before. Always something fresh and new.  Last year we watched Sing-A-Longa Frozen on Sunday morning in a tent full of families and over-emotional 20 somethings still up from the night before.  It was ace.  My daughter still talks about Glastonbury like some magical place she can’t quite believe exists.  Me neither darlin’.

I’m happy camping and my kids love it – but it would be nice to be able to shower just once over a weekend to freshen up a bit.  Though the kids don’t care.  They’re natural urchins my two.  I do like festivals on hills and it’s lovely if there’s a feature like the castle at Camp Bestival or the lake at Latitude.  Adds to the surreality. I don’t really have an ideal line-up as I think it’s just good to have a mixture across genres, new and old, well known and unknown.  I was really impressed by Camp Bestival last year with the breadth and quality of performers for old and young.  Also a big fan of the Women’s Institute tea tent (shout out to my Mum there!)

Hannah’s Ultimate Festival Tune?

Tricky….there are songs that at certain festival moments have lifted my spirits above humdrum existence or connected me to my friends or family in a communal experience that I will never forget.  However the one I often hark back to was actually heard when I was by myself wending my way back about 5am to my tent after an extraordinary day/night of merriment and joy.  An early morning “Wine Bar” was playing I Can See Clearly Now.  The dawn was already warm and even though I was exhausted everything just seemed so hopeful and lovely.  That sums up the perfect “holiday from life” feeling a festival gives to me – and apparently my children too.

Hannah’s Favourite Festival Band?

I love Orbital at festivals.  They just have everything you need – great tunes, crowd dancing like loons, amazing light show.  My daughter was 4 months old when she saw them headline the Other Stage at Glastonbury 2010 and she slept through the whole thing in a sling.  I have some great memories of watching them with friends.

Thanks to Hannah at BFLF for the great tips and festival memories.  Find out more about BFLF at their website where you can book tickets for their upcoming events and even download mixes of some of the tunes from their recent raves.

I’d love to hear your festival experiences with kids so feel free to add comments to the post.  I’ll never forget Master ATWWAH’s slightly bemused face when he was watching Rizzle Kicks at Big Feastival at the age of two on Mr ATWWAH’s shoulders.

If you liked this post why not take a look at:

Review of Big Feastival

Shlomo’s Family BeatBox Adventure

Monski Mouse Baby Disco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments
  1. Thank you for this – having missed out on Glastonbury tickets this morning this gives some great inspiration, I think we’ll try Camp Bestival next year instead!

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