Im just back from a great weekend at Latitude Festival – I was there with family and friends. In total we had 9 children with us aged between 4 and 14.
We had an amazing time, the kids have had so much fun and experienced new things every day. But whilst we were there we got talking about some folk who don’t believe festivals are for kids and it got me thinking… are festivals appropriate for kids?
The husband and I have always gone to festivals and music events, partly because he worked in the music business and partly because we enjoy it. So when we had children we didn’t want to stop and so took them along with us. They have been going to festivals since they were in nappies and now totally embrace the whole experience and look forward to them.
Going to a festival with kids definitely changes the experience for the adults, when we go without there is more partying, more drinking, more music. With kids it becomes a more family focussed affair, arts, crafts, playing and maybe a glass of wine or two (or three).
This weekend I took my eldest son, Charlie who is 11 to see a spoken word poetry reading by Scroobius Pip – some would say this wasn’t appropriate, but he loves Pip and we’ve had chats about not repeating any songs in front of his nan… Anyhooo he LOVED it, was absolutely blown away and an 11 year old boy is now excited by poetry. How cool is that? Afterwards the lovely fella met my son and had a chat and a photo and Charlie is still buzzing. Scroobius Pip said to him that his first festival was at 17 and was impressed to see kids around.
The reasoning behind festivals not being for kids are that the atmosphere is an adult one, there are people around drinking, smoking and swearing, but the same can be said for households around the world. You can’t control what your kids see and hear unless you are going to live in the woods with no outside communication so isn’t it better that they experience the world with you right by them, talking about the stuff they see and hear and letting them learn?
I’d never put my child in a deliberately dangerous situation, but in my eyes festivals are a safe, fun, light hearted place for them to enjoy. Our kids spent the weekend playing in the woods, building dens, learning woodcraft, learning circus skills, watching comedy, listening to authors and poets, balancing stones, listening to music, seeing and interacting with art works, laughing, playing and generally having a blast. In a world where many parents fear letting their kids play out, how much better does childhood get??
They have met so many creative, interesting people – have learnt new skills, developed independence and laughed till their bellies hurt. I have had an amazing weekend with good friends and some real quality family time. We all have fabulous memories to last a lifetime.
I do think there are some festivals that are so much more family friendly than others. Latitude is possible one of the most family based of all the big festivals but Glastonbury, Cornbury, Wilderness and Bestival rank high in the kid friendly status too.
Some festival musts if you are taking kids…
Baby Wipes – a MUST – clean hands, faces, bums, everything…
OCD Juice (AKA Antibacterial hand sanitizer) – for a teensy bit of piece of mind
Plenty of bottles of water or juice and snacks – festivals are expensive. Feeding and watering kids all day at festivals can mean a second mortgage.
A camera – to catch some of those magical moments
A discussion about safety – ok a boring one, but a chat about boundaries, strangers, who to talk to if you get lost, meeting points and making sure they have mobile numbers (little ones can wear wristbands with your number on them) allows them and you to feel a bit easier throughout the weekend.
Ear defenders – Im a massive advocate of these. The music can be LOUD and it’s not cool to let the kids into loud areas with no protection, they’re not expensive and are in my opinion, pretty vital.
Get the attitude for festivals – they are going to get filthy, they are going to stay up later than at home and will probably eat more sweeties than usual. Don’t sweat the small stuff – what goes on in the festival stays in the festival…
So what do you think? Do you, or would you take yours to festivals? If not, why not? What are your musts for festying with kids?