sat 24/06/2017

Listed: The Best UK Summer Music Festivals For Families | reviews, news & interviews

Listed: The Best UK Summer Music Festivals For Families

Listed: The Best UK Summer Music Festivals For Families

Family fun features as strongly as grown-up revels at many summer music festivals

The big top in the children's area at Latitude festival

While you give your tent an airing in anticipation of festival season, think about the imaginative adventures your teenyboppers might enjoy – from colourful creative activities to bushcraft workshops and babysitting services, there’s much on offer for burgeoning revelers as well as their party-hardy-folks to enjoy. 

1. Cornbury, July 4-6, Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire

The kids area at CornburyAffectionately nicknamed "Poshstock" for its middle-class blend of old school headliners, sub-swanky bars and a glamping section, Cornbury has a range of creative and exciting areas for kids aged six months to five years. So in between stomping around to Celtic fusion band Peatbog Faeries and getting down with Mr Wendal at the Arrested Development gig, head over to the children’s zone just beyond the fairground to learn some circus skills, bhangra dancing, make a bit of bunting or contribute to the clay-made Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

2. Larmer Tree, July 16-20, nr Salisbury, Wiltshire

Children's entertainment at the Larmer Tree FestivalFor a peaceful, English-holiday vibe, Larmer Tree – which won Family Festival of the Year in 2008 – has a parlour and lawns featuring kids' theatre shows such as Gobbledegook’s The Sea Sisters, discos, African drumming workshops for 0-10 years, and a parent-free youth zone for 11-17 year-olds. The little ones aren’t likely to notice the beautiful Victorian gardens in which events are set, but those wanting to escape the music scene will be able to enjoy comedy and a yoga class, as well as top acts such as Tom Jones and Public Service Broadcasting, alongside a wandering peacock or two.

3. Latitude, July 17-20, Henham Park, Southwold

The helter skelter at Latitude festivalLatitude is as much a kids' playground as it is a grown-ups' entertainment Eden, and was awarded Best Family Festival in 2012. The pixies and fairies ushering crowds down woodland paths set the tone for magical frolics in forest groves. From whimsical helter-skelters to foraging workshops and Glee-themed dance classes, there’s soft play for the littlest poppets or family yoga for those feeling more active. When you're away from the obelisk arena and the likes of Damon Albarn, take a moment to play didgeridoos, create a funky headdress and put together a forest of pink trees in the festival sticker art encampment.

4. Womad, July 24-27, Charlton Park, Wiltshire

Child in the crowd at WOMAD festivalRunning over 160 festivals in 27 different countries for over 30 years, the Womad Festival mothership here in the UK programmes global music (Bassekou Kouyate, Oliver Mtukudzi, Nitin Sawhney) and activities for children with a global eco vibe. Boasting the UK's largest children's activity area at any festival, there are carnival processions, creative workshops, cookery classes, clay moulding and t-shirt design. Leave your mark on a graffiti wall, learn how to beatbox and try your hand at circus skills. For some downtime, head to the teepee story tent or take a trip through a musical maze. 

5. Camp Bestival, July 31-August 3, Lulworth Castle, Dorset

Family fun at Camp BestivalThe Isle of Wight Festival’s kid sister, Camp Bestival, was crowned Best Family Festival at the UK Festival Awards 2013. The castle campsite by the sea has dance floor smashers and indie greats for the oldies (Basement Jaxx, James, Sinéad O'Connor, De La Soul) and a teen arena while the kids can roll up for a jamboree of joy at the numerous children’s shows, including Horrible Histories and Mr Tumble - hosted by Ben and Holly themselves - and a celebration of 50 years of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

6. Kendal Calling, August 1-3, Lowther Deer Park, Hackthorpe

Children at Kendal Calling festivalKendal Calling welcomes independent spirits large and small for a summer shindig of dance tents, tunes, teepees, real ale and fancy dress. Within the beautiful surrounds, aged ravers can get busy in the glow tent or listen to Suede, Example, Happy Mondays and Goldie, while little ones can enjoy the ladybird children's area, family workshop tent and the toddlers' tent - a space equipped with bottle warmers and picnic areas. Then soak up some site art or take part in a dreamcatcher-making workshop before a family-friendly cabaret and a carnival.

7. Boomtown Fair August 6-7, Winchester, Hampshire

Kids at Boomtown FestivalThe Matterly-Bowl Estate takes the festival thing that little bit further by turning the natural amphitheatre into a town, complete with themed districts. There are bad-ass beats in Barrio Loco, polka-punk in Chinatown and electro-swing on Mayfair Avenue. But the smallest rockers are invited to the mecca of mischief, Kids' Town, where a mini-festival takes place on the Sandcastle Stage, with the likes of Disney Rascal, Pyrates, Woohoo Revue and Beatbox Collective. Mini-boomers can enjoy carnival arts workshops and a parade, take Chota yoga or ride in a horse and cart. There's even a magic carpet ride.

8. Wilderness, August 7-10, Cornbury Park, Charlbury, Oxfordshire

Children enjoying Wilderness FestivalThe focus on late-night revelry and bewitching grown-up treats might make you think the kids aren't invited to Wilderness Festival. But rest assured you can take them to this pastoral paradise in Oxfordshire for a spot of Storystock, Hullabaloo Arts and the Discover Children's Storycentre, and then when it's bedtime, hand them over to the Mortimer Nannies and have a listen to London Grammar, Jessie Ware, Sam Smith and Zero 7. Tucker out the kids at the myriad shows and workshops on offer, enjoy watching dad take part in the Chap Olympics, build a den together with the Eden project, and enjoy the swimming and boating lakes.

9. Beacons Festival, August 7-10, Heslaker Farm, Skipton, North Yorkshire

A baby at Beacons festivalBeacons is focused slightly more on school-aged kids – and their seriously cool hipster-type parents who like to listen to Daughter, British Sea Power, East India Youth and Darkside – although Bob the Builder Café is on hand for the littler ones. The kids' area has doubled in size this year and there's now a youth cinema, a workshop tent and an improved entertainment programme for teens. There are plenty of things to make and do with a young people’s cabaret and make-n-take craft, which has as much focus on play for the olds as their offspring. 

10. Green Man, August 14-18, Glanusk Park, Black Mountains (Brecon Beacons)

Green Man FestivalWhere better than the Black Mountains to treat your ears to Anna Calvi, First Aid Kit or Mercury Rev in an environment not usually open to the public? You can even get a settler’s pass to camp three days prior to the festival before activities begin at the Mountain’s Foot, in Einstein’s Garden, or Fortune Falls. Family playtime is provided via the medium of folk traditions, structured games and eco-activities for children with hedgerow walks, pom-pom making, storytelling and falconry. Plus there’s a parent-free teen zone, Somewhere, with music industry experts offering advice and workshops on media/arts projects.

There’s plenty to choose from for children of all ages – just pick your favourite kind of fun and head off to the wonderful, wild world of festivaldom this summer.

The pixies and fairies ushering crowds down woodland paths set the tone for magical frolics amongst forest groves

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