Taking Kids


published: Sun 2nd Mar 2003

When you make the fateful decision to take your kid/kids to Glastonbury Festival, you will be making a great decision and yet a brave one too! Glastonbury can be a fantastic place for a child of any age (I still love it and I'm 30!).

We have taken our son for the last three years. The first time he was 9 months old and I went mad, taking the whole sterilising kit and kaboodle in a tent that almost got washed away in the mud. It all worked out well when my faithful Mum collected him on the Friday morning. We then proceeded to moon about for the rest of the weekend admiring really 'good parents' who had managed to keep their baby in tow. In hindsight however, I am sooo glad that Mum came, it would have been a slippery hell to have kept him there. I would suggest that a 'backup bad weather plan' is sorted in advance of the festival if at all possible when taking a very small child.

The next year ('98) our lad was big enough to walk about and yet small enough to go in a backpack carrier (a great invention - allowing freedom of movement for you and a great view for a little one). He was also at that perfect age where mud holds a continual fascination, so he was happy even when we were moaning about the good old days when Glasto was sun bathed. We got on fine, despite the mud - nappies are brilliant in this situation - you are at least saved the nightmare of taking a small child into mud, crap and wee drenched toilets. If your kids are over nappy age then it's a good idea to take a potty with you - even when they're upwards of seven they can't face the loos either and are happy to sneak around the corner with a potty.

The next year he was 2 1/2, still in nappies but big enough to start enjoying all the entertainments there are for the kids. The Kidz Field is an amazing place. There are rides for kids of all ages, shows, arts and crafts, music sessions, story telling, circus, etc, etc, etc. The make-it tent is one of my favourites, where there is every type of paper, card, material, glue that you would ever want and happy helpers to encourage and help you make whatever you want. We came away proud owners of a huge gold butterfly covered in pink, silver and white material, a massive green spider with black hairy legs, and a flag, meticulously coloured in. A very happy, face painted boy slept really well each night, not even waking us too early in the morning. Don't forget though that the Kidz Field do not take responsibility for your children.

There is so much to see and do in the Kidz Field that friends who have taken kids aged baby - 14 have all commended it. Older kids are entertained by all the shows and rides and enthusiastic Kidz Field helpers who arrange mad games that take them all over the place. Of course the children's fun does not stop at the Kidz Field, there is also the Green Kids Area on the other side of the site in the Green Fields which has alternative kids entertainment and fun and there's kids stuff in the Tipi Field, the Circus and Theatre Fields. The children enjoy the whole festival experience though, from the markets to the bands. The only problem is that there is so much that both you and your child will want to do. It's often hard to balance things up and ensure everyone has a good time. If you've got a band you particularly want to see at the Pyramid Stage for example, it may be best to leave your children with a friend. The crowds get so immense at times that even the most confident of young teenagers can feel intimidated. Try to avoid the main drag roads through the site by the main stages during the busier times of the Festival - when a really big band is playing for example (normally evening is very hectic).

If you've got smaller children, don't forget how much bigger a large crowd of people will seem to them. When you see a band stay far enough back that it's not too loud and there's enough space for you all to have a good dance. Keep a keen eye on the children as there is so much to tempt them off in an unknown direction. Wrist straps are good for small children - if their hand slips out of yours you've got a safety net (but make sure they haven't worked out how to untie it!). It's a good idea to take a few safety precautions, as you would anywhere really. In case you do lose your child be sure you know what they are wearing and that you've told them to find either a copper, a steward or someone with kids for help. The Kidz Field looks after lost children till 8pm and after that they are taken to Wagonshed Welfare by the farmhouse. You can ask at any information point on site for help if you lose a child. Unfortunately these things happen, but everyone is geared up to help you, so make sure you ask.

When it comes to all those things that you will probably forget - don't panic! You can buy an extraordinary amount of things at Glastonbury. You have a huge choice of foods, from vegan cafes, chinese noodles and mushroom stroganoff to burgers, fish and chips and doughnuts till you're sick. There are also fresh fruit and vegetable stalls and daily supplies of fresh milk. You are going to be carrying your bags from your car to your camp site, which may be a bit of a walk - don't carry anything you really don't need. This walk can be a little tedious. If you want to camp somewhere that is going to be slightly more calm for children, then you need to stay away from the camping fields near the main stages. Try to walk that little bit further, it'll be worth it in the end. Of course, any of the fields are noisy, particularly on Saturday night when everything gets hectic. People singing, shouting, playing loud music and uproariously laughing will be a fact of life throughout the night - your child is most likely to have had such a great time that they'd sleep through a Motorhead concert.

Anyway, back to the point - you really can buy anything at Glastonbury.... except dummies. If your child needs a comforter, then bring a good few spares with you. Otherwise, nappies, babywipes, soap, loo roll, etc. are all available on site - generally through the site shops (huge great yellow things). Of course, they are expensive, but helpful when you realise you've forgotten the nappy bag. You can also deck your children out in any wonderful selection of clothes you want, but don't get carried away shopping - you're there to see so much more and anyway you won't want to carry it back to the car.

We have had a great time taking our son to Glastonbury, at times we wish that we could still lie in our tent till midday and go stomping at the front of the main stage, but overall it's better the children's way. We've seen more of the festival and children have a habit of taking you to places you would never have visited before.

It's a blast - see you there.
festival information by: ZoŽ

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