Taking kids to festivals can be great fun. Here are a few tips on how to manage the festivals with children this summer:
1. Make sure you really do want to take your child/children with you. Remember that you are going to miss out on a few things if they go with you and there is no point in going to all the trouble of taking them if you are simply going to feel frustrated at the end of the day. You'd be better off trying to arrange a babysitter (even if it means going for less time) and having a blast on your own. The idea that you can do everything you want to with children in tow is a misnomer, unless you are prepared to let your kids suffer. One of my worst child experiences was at a Whirl-y-Gig at WOMAD many years ago where some poor kids had been laid down to sleep at the edge of the tent where loads of barmy ravers were dancing and prancing to some hard house music. The poor kids got trodden on and whacked by the crowd while their parents partied on. If you've got the sort of children who are able to stay up really late and party, then great. But remember, they are still only kids (even young teenagers) and are therefore more vulnerable to all the dodgy aspects of a festival site: big crowds, loud noise, drugs, alcohol, drunks and weirdo's.
2. Pick the right festival. On eFestivals we cover all sorts of festival occasions, but only some of them are suitable for kids to attend. The best festivals for kids are those which include more than bands alone - so look for events that are more rounded with arts and crafts or world music. Often these events will have specific stuff for kids laid on - see the WOMAD, Guildford and Glastonbury kids reviews.
3. Be prepared. Take anything to the festival that your child is unhappy without. Most babies through to 13 year olds are pretty flexible, but if there is a dummy, teddy, pillow or toy that your child relies upon, then take it to ensure plenty of relaxing times. Having said this, you should never take anything to a festival that you are not prepared to lose (unfortunately there are thefts on sites).
4. Chill out - remember that you are on holiday, having a break, trying to relax, and so are your kids, so let the kids have a good time. Forget about those normal rules and planned days and let the festival and your kids guide you. Children will lead you into spaces that you have never dreamed of visiting before which is great - it makes the festival experience fresh.
5. Take a potty - the loos can be too much for kids of all ages to cope with, so a potty can be invaluable.
6. A young child is best transported in a ruc-sac baby carrier as a pram is tricky to push over fields and rough roads. Also the baby can see from this vantage point.
7. It's a good idea to play some of the music your child will hear at the festival before going. Then they will recognise it and enjoy it all the more - we realised this when our one year old was manically waving his arms at Morcheeba at Glastonbury, clearly recognising the music and enjoying the whole experience.
8. When seeing bands with smaller kids don't go too near the front of the stage as they will be put off by the loudness of the music. If you stand a bit further back the kids will enjoy it all the more. Also be aware of the fact that kids can't see whats going on on the stage and they have little patience with listening alone. So, be prepared to lug even bigger kids up onto your shoulders for a birds eye view.
9. Make time for your child and they will be much more tolerant of the things that you want to do. E.g an hour in the kids make-it tent followed by a band followed by an ice cream will hopefully mean that your child is fulfilled and so are you.
10. Do all the safety things you would normally do going out, but be aware that there are lots of things to attract your child out of your sight. In case they get lost make sure that you know what they are wearing and have told them what to do if they get lost - find a police officer, steward or a 'mummy with kids'. It's a good idea to put a mobile phone number on the child somewhere (a wrist band, or sticker on t-shirt), so that if they are found you are easily contacted. Contact festival welfare and the police on site if you have lost your child and they will help you get reunited.
11. Take plenty of sun block/hats and light coloured t-shirts for a hot event or wellies/waterproofs and spare clothes for a wet one.
12. ENJOY. Festivals can be great places for kids and adults together, so relax and have a great time.