The 20 Best Family-Friendly Summer Festivals

Photo by Karadza

by Alice Smellie, The Daily Telegraph, June 30, 2016

Festivals used to be about hedonism and staying up all night. Now, the original party people just want their children to be entertained and the option of a comfortable tent. 

And so, as the excitement of Glastonbury infects us all, you may as well enter into the spirit, don the wellies and book yourself and your kids into a family-friendly festival. There are so many nationwide that you can hardly go outside without falling over a bell tent and a band. Here's our round up of the best.

The Just-So Festival

Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire, August 19-21

An arts festival for the family. Every magical area has a different theme: The Spellbound Forest contains woodland theatre by day and bonfires at night. The High Seas includes rowing boats and outdoor showings of Swallows and Amazons. There’s children’s theatre including Around The World in Eighty Notes and a Just-So Bake Off, which invites you to bring your best cakes to the competition. Tiny festival goers will enjoy the Peekaboo area, where they can get their kicks with a bubbly bath time, baby massage and baby yoga.

Adult weekend ticket, £125; children £35; Under 3s free; 


Suffolk, July 14-17

A proper pop festival in the beautiful grounds of Henham Park, Suffolk. This year’s line-up includes New Order and the Maccabees. Arranged around the verdant banks of the Latitude Lake is a stunning Kids Area, where children are entertained with fire shows, pizza-making, traditional woodland crafts and a host of exciting science experiments. Those who have put aside childish things, but aren’t quite old enough for full festival action, will love The Inbetweeners’ Teen Area. Here, teenagers can take part in music, media, fashion and technology workshops, or learn wildlife survival skills.

Weekend ticket, £205.50 for adults, £8 for kids;

Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle

Dorset, July 28-31

Four nights of camping doesn’t seem like enough time. Headliners include Fat Boy Slim. There’s eclectic food for everyone, such as Asian street food, Seadog sustainably sourced seafood and Pimp my Ramen – Britain’s only burger stall selling American inspired ramen burgers with a Filipino twist. Or enjoy such yummy basics as mac and cheese or pesto pasta. 

There’s also the World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle (they believe!). The side turrets are equal in height to the walls of Cardiff Castle, making it taller than the Great Wall of China. Bubble Shows and appearances from CBeebies’ LazyTown and Mr Tumble will keep the youngest happy.

Adult weekend ticket, £197.50, down to £15 for ages 4 and under and free for babies; 

The Big Feastival

Cotswolds, August 26-28

Encourage the children to cook at this mouthwateringly good weekend. Held on ex-Blur bassist Alex James’s Cotswold farm, it’s a guaranteed mix of fabulous food and high-end celebrity spotting. This year the musical line-up includes Mark Ronson, Kaiser Chiefs and Tinie Tempah, along with chefs Raymond Blanc, Tom Kerridge and Jamie Oliver.

Smaller chefs can head to the Neff Kids Kitchen for cookery classes, and the whole family can feast on hot dogs, mac and cheese, Mexican food, crepes, churros, pies, cheese, fish and pizzas. Street stalls are considerately offering child-size portions.

The Little Dudes’ Den includes face painting, jam sessions and giant haystacks.

Adult weekend camping ticket, £174.50; 

48th Stainsby Festival

Derbyshire, July 15-17

A smaller and more intimate festival which is – say fans – better than Glastonbury because you see all your friends there. Great for families, it’s held in vast marquees on a greenfield site in the picturesque hamlet of Stainsby. Enjoy incredible views across the pond to the extraordinarily beautiful Hardwick Hall. There are music workshops, a singing competition, storytelling, theatre, poetry, film and philosophy throughout the weekend with camping thrown in.

Adults, £55; Under 12s go free, youth weekend, £30; 

Curious Arts Festival 

New Forest, July 22-24

A quirky boutique festival held in the lush gardens of Pylewell Park on the south coast.

Attended by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, who will be hosting a children’s reading session as well as writer Deborah Moggach and musician Billy Bragg.

Everything is just a bit curious, as you’d expect. Children can enjoy a Curious Bear Hunt through the Park and budding writers may enjoy The Week Junior Journalism Course or Writing Workshop. There are bedtime stories every evening as well as bat walks and an Alice in Wonderland Party.

All Festival Adult £120, under 13s free; 

Liverpool, July 9-10

A free, family weekend celebration of 20th-century vintage cool at the North West’s most visited tourist attraction. There are vintage vehicles, street performers including jazz dancing and the Beatles Story. Learn to DJ or enjoy a music-themed hairstyle at the Total Eclipse of the Head mobile 

hair salon in a caravan: try the Kate Bush Bush, or 80s Power Mullet Montage. Good news for parents – it finishes at 6pm both days, so you get the evening off.


The Good Life Experience Festival

Hawarden Castle, Flintshire, September 16-18

Take a break from consumer society with this back-to-basics festival curated by Catatonia’s Cerys Matthews. Craftsmen will demonstrate ancient skills such as mosaic-making, knot-tying and blacksmithery. Sit around a campfire with television presenters Ben Fogle and Jeremy Vine and enjoy outdoor cookery demonstrations from top chefs such as Thomasina Miers.

Both family and pet friendly. Kids activities are free: there’s a vintage fairground, axe-throwing for young Vikings, archery for and abseiling for the fearless.

Kids (12-17) camping for the weekend, £64.50, under 11s free; adults £99; 

Dorset, July 9-10

Fish and chips on the seashore. What could be more British? 50,000 celebrants of seafood (and their offspring) descend on Weymouth’s stunning Old Harbour. It’s the ideal opportunity to encourage fussy eaters into expanding their repertoire.

East London’s Billingsgate Seafood Training School and local chefs will educate you and your offspring about cooking (and eating) fish. There are also boat trips and crabbing.

Free entry, but book your b&b or hotel;  

Cornbury Music Festival

Oxfordshire, July 8-10

A high-end open-air party in the heart of Chipping Norton country. David and Samantha Cameron were spotted here a few years ago. 

The supervised Kids Zone is right in the middle of the festival, so you can drop in and out. Activities are all free for children. As well as a circus skills tent and toddler disco, a new addition is the Mayflower Project Teen Tent, also supervised. This is a comfortable setting where young festival-goers can take part in activities and workshops or slump on sofas and roll their eyes at parents enjoying themselves.

Older party goers can enjoy music from All Saints, Bryan Ferry, Seal and Jamie Cullum. 

Adult weekend with camping: £200; Kids from £35; 

Shrewsbury Folk Festival

August 26-29

Here, there is a children’s folk festival within the main event. The theme for the – aptly named – “Pandemonium” is bees and the environment. There is music, dance, song, drama and crafts for children aged up to 11 with a glorious children’s parade at the end. Go family dancing at the inclusive family ceilidh, or 11 to 20 year-olds who don’t want to be with parents can hang out at their own youth festival: Refolkus, with music, song and dance workshops.

Family weekend ticket, no camping, 2 adults and 2 children, £324; 


This article was written by Alice Smellie from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.