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The Best Family Festivals 2018- The Lowdown

Which are the best family-friendly Festivals for 2018 ?
 
In recent years we have been merely spectators of the Family Festival Scene as the thought of huge crowds with tiny children somehow didn’t seem to gel but as the newspapers start to fill with colourful scenes of families under starlight skies, we find ourselves tempted to investigate just exactly what does happen at one of these events.


Glastonbury is taking a year off but rest assured, other festivals are providing more than enough fun to go around.  


   
     Elderflower Fields, held at Pippingford Park in East Sussex- 25-28th May 2018

Set up in 2013 intentionally for Families as a way of getting children into the beautiful countryside, the focus is on ‘sport, music, the environment, food and enjoyment of the country’. Deliberately kept around 2000 attendees, tickets unsurprisingly have nearly sold out. The ultimate boutique country festival with an incredible array of activities for families.

What's in it for the Children: Bubble shows, skateboard classes, storytelling, science experiments. A special Wildlife area including nightjar walks, bird walks, mud play, campfires, foraging advice, tree-climbing & zipwires as well as kayaks, canoe and paddleboard hire along the beautiful Sussex Downs. Trapeze workshops, campfire cooking, pond-dipping, a climbing wall, beach rugby, cricket, archery, disc golf, kids yoga, music and story-telling.
Adult Line Up- Musicians confirmed are: Swing Zazou, Soul Grenades, Huw Eddy & The Carnival, Lakuta, Al Start & The Beastie Band, Two Man Ting &  John Crampton (Soul, Jazz, Blues, Funk). There is a fabulous Woodland Spa, as well as adult yoga, wild running, canoe/paddleboard hire, foraging walks.
Last Chance Weekend Ticket Price: Adult Ticket £130, Children 6-16yrs £72.50, 3-5yrs £20 and U3yrs £1. Tickets include 1 free car parking space and camping in the main camping area. Boutique camping options available at an extra cost. Pay separately for the ‘Sunday Picnic’.

Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham 1-3rd June 2018

Much bigger than Elderflower Fields, this award-winning festival for the family takes place at Cheltenham Racecourse. It is consistently well-reviewed and popular but it looks a significantly larger scale affair. With the inclusion of the silent disco (headphone disco), we are reckoning on this being more targeted at families with older children.

Headline Acts: Baxter Dury (Friday), The Gypsy Kings (Saturday) and Shed Seven (Sunday).
Comedy from Matt Richardson, Patrick Monahan, other Stand Up & Cabaret.
What's in it for the Children: Carnival Parade, Silly Sports Day, Circus Skills & Workshops, Storytelling, Music & Dance Classes, Lyric Writing, Silent/Headphone Disco for the teens.
Adult Entertainment: Apart from the fabulous music, there is a mindfulness & meditation area including yoga classes as well as fashion shops, glitter boutique, circus skills, street-food (burgers, pizzas, Chinese street food so far.) Massages and treatments are also available in the Well-Being Area.
Weekend Tickets: £137.50 Adults, 10-15yrs £72.50, 5-9yrs £27.50, U5’s Free. Day passes also available. Weekend Tickets include car parking and camping in the main areas (boutique options available for an additional fee).

Isle of Wight Festival, Isle of Wight 21-24th June

Arguably our longest running festival, the Isle of Wight Festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Historically, it was known as Europe’s answer to Woodstock and has played host to Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and more recently the likes of Cold Play & Amy Winehouse. This year is no exception the line-up is what presumably draws the crowds by the bus-load. There isn’t much information on their website yet other than the impressive line-up of musicians but we sense from other reviews that this is still very much a MUSIC Festival and not as family-focused as some of the smaller ones.

isle of wightHowever, there is boutique camping, amazing food and this year Kids Go Free so they are clearly hoping for a younger audience.
Children’s Entertainment: tbc
Adult Line-Up: An awesome line up of international music stars including Kasabian, Rita Ora, Feeder, Depeche Mode, Liam Gallagher, James Bay, Jessie J, The Killers, Sheryl Crow, Van Morrison, Manic Street Preachers.
Weekend Ticket: £209 (includes camping and parking) Teens £150, Kids go free.  Day Price- £65-75.
Make the most of your weekend and read our IOW favourite family days out here.
 


British Summer Time Festival, Hyde Park 6th-15th July

Worth a mention for the Londoners because although this isn’t the typical, camping family-fun of our other festivals, there is a fabulous line up of artists over the 2 weeks of Live Music and a day ticket price is not too exorbitant at £62.95. More than 60,000 people attend so it’s probably worth considering ‘babysitting’ and going without the children this time.

Line Up: Roger Walters, The Cure, Santana, Eric Clapton, Michael Buble, Bruno Mars, Paul Simon and James Taylor to name a few…

Staxtenbury 2018, Manor Farm, Staxten, N.Yorkshire 6-8th July

Very much a local affair, Staxtenbury Festival showcases local bands on 5 stages, 50 bands ranging from folk to hard rock including a family stage with entertainers, punch and judy show and a magic show. There are plenty of free activities for families such as a climbing wall, a bungee run, bouncy castle as well as few ticketed fairground rides.  There is a popular line-up of local and international cuisine with farmers market type stalls as well as pizza, burgers, Mexican, thai food, ice cream vans and crepe stalls. If you’re holidaying in Yorkshire, this is a very accessible friendly festival that has developed a loyal, growing following over its ten years.
Ticket Price; Adult Weekend £50, U18 £27, U10 £10.
Look out for Deer Shed 9 Festival, later in July, also a small family-friendly highlight in the Yorkshire calendar.


Latitude Festival, Henham, Suffolk – 13th-15th July


Not just a cracking musical line up here, this award-winning festival in beautiful Southwold, Suffolk is very heavily family focused. There is an ‘enchanted garden’ area with a daily program of activities from family-friendly music, drama and workshops focused on art & craft as well as circus skills. There is a teenage section which offers virtual reality trips to the Amazon as well as tree-climbing, bushcraft skills sessions and a teen culture area with industry leaders. There is yoga for all, treatments for the adults and wild swimming in the lake to boot.

What's in it for the Children:  Art, Crafts, Drama, Music, poetry, magic, circus skills, wildlife, science workshops and live experiment, storytelling, poetry. Films, circus shows and west end music & dance workshops. Pizza making for all ages around the campfire too.
latitude
Adult Line up: Music headliners include The Killers, Solange, alt-j, RagnBoneMan, The Vaccines, The Charlatans and Mogwai. Comedy from Harry Hill and hundereds of other up and coming talent. There is poetry, the spoken word as well as performances from Sadlers Wells, Lyric Hammersmith and an award-winning Circus. In the woodland sanctuary, Latitude have created a spiritual area where the treatments are held, art installations, ambient music & slow motion visuals.
Weekend Price: Adult £197.50, Children Under 13- £15.

Nozstock, Herefordshire 20-22 July

Set around a rambling Tudor farmhouse, barns are full of drumn’bass  and various amalgamations of old fashioned acoustic guitar strumming to modern electro jazz and funk. A boutique festival with approx. 5000 attendees and a family area with the usual arts, crafts, music, storytelling and outdoor fun.
Weekend Adult Ticket: £125 (but nearly sold out)

Blue Dot, Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire 19-22nd July


Feat. Chemical Brothers & the Blue Planet Orchestra. There is a small ‘family encounters’ area with arts & crafts, science experiments.
Weekend Adult Ticket: £159

Womad, Charlton Park (Nr Cirencester) 26th-29th July

A festival to celebrate music from around the world and to encourage global mobility on the music scene. Around 5000 festival goers gravitate, so one of the smaller ones with plenty for all the family to enjoy.
A children’s area includes music, craft, bushcraft and den making, family zumba, circus skills open until 7pm.
4 day Adult Ticket: £225, 3 day £145 includes basic camping. Kids go free.
 

Bestival, Lulworth Estate, Dorset- 26th-29th July


Most likely, this is one of the ones you have heard of on the ‘family-festival’ scene. Do not be confused however, Bestival is the BIG ONE, there is also CAMP BESTIVAL, the sister festival (reviewed below & although significantly smaller does boast Sara Cox, Fearne Cotton & River Cottage; Camp Bestival is THE FAMILY ONE). Bestival started out on the Isle of Wight and relocated to Lulworth last year. It is organised into different areas depending on what music you are interested in; from the soothing, meditative soundscape, paint-partying ‘release your creative self’ in Ambientland, there is also an area for super healthy; offering yoga in every possible form, experimental and ayurvedic therapies, Finnish saunas and a beautifying section for nails, hair, glitter boutiques as well as wild & foraged, plant-based food. There is a soul, funk & disco area including the world’s largest disco ball. There is an area which celebrates all form of dance from Bollywood to Rave featuring the world’s largest confetti canon and jaw-dropping pyrotechnic displays.
This is a multi award-winning festival, known for its wild fancy dress; breaking a world record for the largest number of people in fancy dress (55,000). It is fundamentally ‘green’ and supports countless charities. It is known for piloting wild and whacky schemes such as ‘breastival’, an area for breastfeeding mothers and offering an inflatable church where people can actually get married.
What's in it for the Children: Run largely by Big Top Mania, the circus performers, there is a bouncy castle & soft play area, a lego tent, face painting and magic.
Adult Line-Up: Chakka Khan, Mark Ronson, Silk City, Grace Jones, Chakka Demus & Pliers amongst hundreds of others across the musical spectrum.
Weekend Ticket Price: £160, 13-17yrs- £106.50, U12-free (but must buy a ticket). As with the others, includes mainstream camping and parking.
Verdict: More than 50,000 people attend this…?

Camp Bestival (Sister Festival to Bestival, also in Lulworth, Dorset) 26th-29th July


Still a substantially-sized festival with 30,000 attendees, Camp Bestival is located at Lulworth Castle in Dorset. Like its sister, it also boasts some record-breaking highlights including the largest disco ball in the world. With an impressive line-up of internationally acclaimed acts such as Simple Minds, Rick Astley, Clean Bandit, Orbital and Basement Jaxx as well as DJ Sets from Sara Cox and Fearne Cotton and headline acts for children of Mr Tumble, Dick & Dom & Mister Maker, it’s hardly a wonder this is the most talked about family festival on the scene.

What's in it for the Children: As well as the above entertainers from CBeebies & CBBC, there will be a flying trapeze school, live nature show, kids circus, music, storytelling, poetry and theatre. In the woodland area, there is den making, bushcraft, tie-dye & a fancy dress tent. Look out for the world’s largest bouncy castle, a kids disco, a science tent and an insect circus. You may remember from our blog last summer, we are huge fans of the beautiful Dorset coast which hardly needs a festival to attract visitors, have a read of all our suggested day trips you could add in to a Dorset holiday.
Adult Ticket Price: £187.50, 13-17 years £119, 10-12yrs £93.75, 5-9yrs £33, U4yrs £11.
 

Port Elliot, St Germans, Cornwall- 26th-29th July


It is not just Cornwall that lures people to Port Elliot every year, the stunning location and facilities partnered with top foodie names makes for a feast of the senses. Superb music, an interesting array of authors (children’s too) as well as comedy, performing arts, and outdoor fun make this one of the best family festivals on the scene.
What's in it for the Children: Survival skills with Teri Hatcher (!), Archery, Circus School, Astronomy, Wild Swimming, Flamenco dancing, magic, dance performances, jugglers, theatre, storytelling, a Viking camp and much more!
Adult Line Up; Alongside the eclectic, jam packed musical performances, adults can try their hand at axe-throwing, aerial yoga, archery as well as baking with Teri Hatcher (I know!) Authors, comedians, DJ’s and artists across all mediums and not forgetting the ‘well-being area’ with outdoor hot tubs, massage therapies, mindfulness and gut therapy workshops all come together in this top holiday spot for a fabulous family weekend.
Adult Weekend Ticket Price: 170, 14-17rs £105, 8-13yrs £75, 0-7yrs Free.
 

Wickham Festival, Fareham, Hampshire 2nd-5th August

The focus is on local musicians playing on 4 stages over 4 days. Families are catered for (cartoon cinema, comedy & craft, a funfair, bouncy castles, bubble shows) but isn’t the focus. Price: Adult Weekend Ticket: £130 (+ £30 for camping), U16yrs £65.
 
Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire 2nd-5th August

With nature and the ‘wilderness’ as their backdrop, the team at Wilderness have been dreaming on festival-goers behalves. This festival celebrates art in every possible form. The music line up is eclectic with a few sort after names but the variation is what is astonishing. There is also theatre, live art, debating, live podcasts, clowns, ballet, tap dancing, choirs and group hip hop karaoke. Outdoors there is fly fishing, archery, athletics, wild running, wild singing, horse riding, swimming and generally connecting with nature in any way possible. Its Wellbeing area is known for its impressive array of yoga techniques, massage treatments as well as other fitness classes.
Food is available with Petersham Nurseries, Café Murano as well as popular street food vans, Chef’s Table and long banqueting tables; the idea being that Wilderness inspires people to join as a community and share the memories of this unique weekend long after it’s finished.
Weekend Ticket: £179.50 includes general camping. £15 car parking pass.

Valley Fest, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset 3rd-5th August


Originally started to honour the spirit of his parents, Luke Hasell set up Valley Fest to celebrate their zest for life and their passion for good food. Very much at the heart of the farming community, the farm has a shared ownership of 500 members and as such the festival embodies this strong sense of community. There is no ‘kids area’ because everything can be enjoyed by all the family. There is a farming area where you can meet the animals, learn farming techniques children can learn everything about growing to pickling. There is falconry as well as storytelling, poetry and plenty of music. Main stage acts haven’t been announced yet but they plan to surprise and last year included a club night and a fancy dress hoe down. Food is ALL organic this year and a special area has been allocated for picnics with a view. The weekend looks set to be a mini holiday with its ‘lakeside camping’, top notch food and rural endeavours.
Weekend Ticket: £110 and includes camping.

The Good Life Experience, 10 mins outside Chester, 14th-16th September

Appropriately named, The Good Life Experience does exactly that- set out to celebrate the good things in life. This festival is for those of us who are searching for the simple pleasures, done with passion and for a life that is fulfilled and considered; family, friends and a real connection with the outdoors. ‘Books, proper food and drink, discovery, music that comes from the soul, great books, craft- things that don’t cost a great deal but make life richer and more rewarding, better  fun’

What's in it for the Children: There is a vintage fairground, a play fort, archery, yoga and thai chi as well as all the woodland wonders which children will love along with all the arts, crafts and campfire cooking. 

Adult Line Up: Music that feeds the soul, played with passion, authors, talks including adventurer Ben Fogle. There is a packed schedule of campfire cooking including BBQ, bread-making, kids cooking, fermenting, and demonstrations from ‘Nose to Tail’, Gill Meller, Valentine Warner, Thomasina Miers and Anna Jones. Arts & Crafts are celebrated ad infinitum and include ironwork displays, woodwork, printing and ceramic workshops, pottery, weaving, mosaics, bow & arrow making, botanical illustrations and knitting. Wild Swimming, canoeing, tree climbing and bushcraft is on offer in the woodland area.
Adult Weekend Ticket Price (inc camping)- £139, Youth £72, £11 Car Parking.
 
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