The great summer outdoors: Festival fun

The great summer outdoors: Festival fun

2015-07-30 - The festival season is well underway with a kaleidoscopic array of festivals large and small on offer this summer. Whether you prefer a genteel cultural event - or a loud three-day camping-fest with potential mud in the offering - we have the ultimate guide for enjoying the magic and surviving the pitfalls.

Enjoy the fun!
First of all, why would you want to take young children to a festival anyway? Surely we’re talking loud music, unpredictable weather, drunken cavorting - and what about naps and feeding? For some parents it’s a total no-no, others get addicted. More often than not, children love the atmosphere and the sense of freedom (or is it anarchy?) that you only get at a good summer festival. And seeing as kids under four almost always get in for free, everyone’s a winner. Right?

images by Jenn Sunsetta

Choose wisely
The diehards might disagree, but an all-night techno-fest, or the mosh pit at a hardcore rock show, are probably not the best places for young children. Most events make it clear whether they’re family friendly and have the right facilities. Plus, lots festivals have caught on to the idea of embracing the whole family.

Take the UK’s Camp Bestival (31 July - 2 August), for example, which will entertain both young at heart parents and children of all ages with a mix of music, arts and a programme encouraging children to enjoy the great outdoors.  DJ and founder of Camp Bestival, Rob da Bank says: "Getting back to nature is something that we're really passionate about. With technology and modern distractions it's easy to forget just how incredible wildlife is. So this year at Camp Bestival we've got giant tree climbing, den building and exploring.” Underworld, 808 State, Soul II Soul, and the legendary Norman Jay’s ‘Good Times’ are playing - so it’s guaranteed to keep parents happy too.

Images by Jenn Sunsetta

Lollapalooza (31 July - 2 August) in Chicago, USA, began as an alternative rock festival, but has turned into a family friendly event. This year’s line-up includes Paul McCartney, FKA Twigs, A$AP Rocky, Flying Lotus and Florence + the Machine. Children get their very own section for rocking out: Kidzapalooza, which has its own stage and different activities like karaoke, photo shoots, arts and crafts.

Holland’s Into the Great Wide Open – or ITGWO for those in the know - makes the most of the natural elements as it takes place on Vlieland, a small island on the Dutch coast. The three-day festival (4 - 6 September) features music, visual arts, film and a remarkable programme for children designed to spark their imagination with an Art Lab, a festival newspaper created by the kids, a surf school and exciting fairy tales in the woods. Jacob Hagelaars says: Children are the future. Taking them to a festival is a way to interest, educate, coach and inspire them from day one.”

Images clockwise from top left: Jessica Hartley, Carola Disiot, Jessica Hartley, Jenn Sunsetta

It’s all about preparation

To really enjoy the sense of freedom, get properly organised before you leave. If you are camping, check your tent is big enough for the whole family and remind yourself how to set it up. Being stuck with a tent that won’t go up and hungry children is not a great start to the festivities.

Whatever the weather, a festival will always be a messy business. That’s part of the fun! Have the right kit with you, even if the weather forecasts look good. Apart from the essential wellies/bottles/torches/favourite teddy/wipes, take earplugs or special noise reducing headphones to protect tender young ears. And any parent who has experienced the horror of losing a toddler in a crowd for even a few seconds will take ID bracelets. Or even easier, just write your number onto little arms in marker pen.

Many families go together to share the load and to get a chance to enjoy at least some of the (grown-up) acts. But stay realistic: It’s never going to be quite the same as going on your own…

So why not have at least one festival adventure in the great outdoors this summer? Chill the routine, tear up your timetable and embrace the madness.


Share your festival photos with us on Instagram using #bugaboo.

Camp Bestival
Into The Great Wide Open



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