Kids have a bad reputation for ruining things but that really doesn’t have to be the case. Glastonbury is a magical place for kids and adults alike.
We have great memories of taking our kids to Glastonbury and other festivals, so I thought I’d share our tips on how best to enjoy festivals like Glastonbury with kids.
Family camping is located on Cockmill meadow and you are allowed to arrive the day before. Remember that you cannot drive onto the camp site and that whatever you take, you MUST carry yourself to set up.
There are obvious pros and cons to camping in a tent but the thought of having no thermal protection, being woken in the night and early morning to somebody else’s kids and having no privacy paralysed me with fear and so we rented a camper van.
The camper van field was pretty quiet and although we didn’t have hook-up electricity, we could turn the engine on and use it sparingly. Having a camper van also meant that we were guaranteed a good night’s sleep, a clean toilet, a fridge, a cooker and mroe importantly privacy to retreat when we’d had enough.
If there is one thing that I can really recommend, it is the ability to have a good night’s sleep without being too interupted and not waking up feeling haggard and grumpy and like you might not make it through the day without snapping at your kids and needing a nap.
Other options include bell tent, scout tents, bunkpads, octopads, yurts and glamping with The PopUp Hotel. What I will say is that in my experience the more you spend on accommodation the better the time you’ll have.
Should you pack everything or pack nothing? To dress-up or not to dress-up?
Waterproofs and wellies or sun hats and sunscreen? British weather can be unpredictable and even a very minor rain shower has the potential to turn Worthy Farm into a mud bath where the potential to lose shoes is high.
One thing is for sure, wellies are a good idea and so are layers. Lots of layers. Gone are my days of wearing skimpy clothes and freezing until I’m blue in the name of fashion. We took plenty of layers; leggings, singlets, short & long sleeved t-shirts & hoodies and a pack-a-mack cagoul as well.
What we didn’t wear either went round our waists or was stashed in a bag underneath the pushchair.
Even if you don’t take a huge amount I do recommend taking a waterproof bag. If it rains or if your bag is under a pushchair or gets dropped in a puddle etc, it’s going to be hard to dry anything and you might be left with soggy and stinky clothes. A dry bag will prevent that.
Strollers and chairs
Slings, buggies, bike trailers, chairs – consider taking the lot?
We took an All Terrain 4 wheeler, double pushchair that reclined, had storage underneath and a hood. It was the best item we took although we also loved our fold up camping chairs that we lay across the hood and tied to the buggy with a bungee rope.
Our kids are now much older but even at the ages of 8 and 10 we’ll still take something on wheels.
I feel it’s really important for kids to understand the expectations on them. I’ve noticed on many parent forums that parents will say to each other
forget expectactions and just deal with what happens
I do not agree with this and I feel that kids’ behaviour is an outward exhibitor of internal feelings. How will they know how to behave if they don’t understand what is happening or what is expected of them?
When I talk about expectations, I am not suggesting that parents implement a ton of unnecessary rules. Far from it, however having a level of expectation should illiminate particularly challening behaviours. In my mind behaviours have consequences and any child over the age of eighteen months can understand that.
I think we went with something like:
We're going to a music festival. There's going to be a lot of people so you must stick close to us and definitely not run away otherwise there's a chance you'll get lost. Sometimes it will be really loud & we'll need to put your ear protectors on. Sometimes you might be really bored but there'll be bands I really want to see, so if you can be patient I'll take you somewhere more fun after. There's going to be no concrete bedtimes and you might be expected to sleep in the pushchair but we'll always have time to listen to you. If you need something just ask.
I’ve always spoken to my kids as the intelligent beings they are and they’ve always had a good level of comprehension. I am a firm believer that behaviours have consequences. “If you do this then this might happen”. In my experience kids do understand and they do respond – especially if they repeat the consequence back to you.
Compromise (aka Chill the fuck out)
You’re not going to be able to do everything you want to do so you either need to accept that or take some sort of babysitter extraordinaire with you. If you can take a babysitter with you who is happy to spend hours entertaining your kid while you go and party, go for it.
Distances at Glastonbury are huge and when you’re dragging kids around with you, it takes much longer to get between stages and areas. I know you didn’t go to Glastonbury to spend all day in the Kidz section but you will need to balance what you see with what they do lol. We would alternate whether we started with more kid friendly activities or whether we’d stretch it out until after lunch..
My kids respond well to bribery. Like most kids. Although to make me feel better we’ll now call it ‘Positive behavioural reinforcement’. If you know that you want to spend three hours watching back to back artists and you can’t make it to something more kid friendly, you’ll need to make the environment you’re in more kid friendly. It goes without saying, so maybe consider taking small toys, colouring pencils and pads, books and a picnic. Nothing keeps a kid quiet like food – especially if a little plastic plate is provided and one small item of food is provided at a time. Elongate the process out and hey presto an entire hour is filled lol. Raisins are an excellent example of this for small children – they take an eternity to eat if separated and given sparingly.
These are not expensive in the grand scheme of things and I definitely suggest buying and taking them. Prolongued exposure to loud noise is damaging for little kids’ ears and plus if you want them to sleep at some point, they’re a good idea.
We went for flurescent pink so we wouldn’t lose them.
We didn’t take lights or torches with us but used the torches on our phones. Silly really because it drained our phone batteries.
What would you use lights for? If you’re camping you’ll definitely need something for inside your tent, if you have a look to grapple with you’ll need to get the key into it.
You might want to consider taking solar lights to wrap around the buggy to make it more visible too.
The first year we went the wheel fell off our all terrain pushchair. Thankfully we had tools with us and a quick pop back to the van meant we found the screwdriver, repaired the buggy and got back on our way again.
Just a mini pack of tools would suffice, I’m not suggesting taking an entire tool box!
The food stalls are good and there’s loads of variation to choose from but it’s expensive and not always that healthy and plus the queues an be horrendous. We were fortunate to have a fridge aboard our van and although it wasn’t on all the time, we turned the engine on once or twice a day to boost it and it kept everything cool.
You know best what your kids eat but for us, snack food worked well. Falafels, sandwiches and wraps, hummus, guacamole, veggie sticks, fruit. Stuff that’s easily accessible and quick to eat. We also took cereal and milk, tea bags, juice, bottled water, pasta & tomato sauces and tins of corn.
Do not underestimate the power of a home-cooked, nutritious meal.
Festival toilets are ok during day one but by evening two they stink! In the heat they become rancid and in the wet they’re clogged with mud. Someone has always had a miss and it’ll sit in a pile on the floor. They never have toilet roll, so definitely take paper and wet-wipes out with you every day.
Can you be arsed to take a potty with you too? Or even your own toilet? There are brands like Boginabag and Kampa that offer you camping style toilets. I had my very first try of a she-pee at Glastonbury so there’s definitely products out there that make festival toilets easier to manage.
There are hot showers at the bottom of the Kidzfield and in the Greenpeace field but you should expect to queue for ages, particularly between about 8am and lunchtime.
In the campervan field we had access to a hose-pipe and freezing cold water. I did manage to wash my hair but BRRrrrr, it was excessively cold and I would not recommend it for kids.
personally I don’t think kids are going to suffer from not washing their entire bodies in such a short space of time. A bottle of water, some eco friendly wipes and a flannel will be fine!
The Kidz Field
NO parent wants to go to a festival and spend their time in the kidz field but sadly it might become a bargaining tool. If you want to see that artist at 10:30pm in some obscure tent, you might have to compromise and spend a morning embracing your inner child!
Actually it’s really not a bad area and the toilets there are really clean!
NCT and R&R tents
The NCT tent where they give out free cups of tea and snacks as well as have change and feed areas.
The R&R tent is open after the Kidz field closes. It offers a place to warm bottles, change bums and chill out. OPen from 19:00-09:00 every night.
Circus & Theatre Tent
The theatre and circus fields are perfect for entertaining kids
The fields are right next to each other and filled with walkabout character actors, incredible acrobats and clowns, daredevils and hilarious stand-up comedians. You don’t have to be at a particular stage area to be entertained, just sitting on the grass and watching the madness unfold around you is just as fun. With the walkabout actors wandering around throughout the day, and the all-day Circus Big Top, you don’t have to wait long to see something amazing and original that will keep kids entertained.
The Green fields
In this extraordinary network of fields (powered entirely by Solar Power) which has stayed very much true to its hippie roots there’s no sound systems or big acts, you’ll find a much quieter and more intimate space.
Kings Meadow and the Stone Circle is a sacred space and also home to the Peace Dome a symbolism of forgiveness, remembrance and positivity
The Peace Garden and the Permaculture Garden offer a labrynthe of lush greenery surrounded by growing veggies whilst in the Tipi Field you can connect with different cultures and traditions. The artisans of the Green Craft Field offer art work and sculptures as well as hands on learning where you can have a go at wood working or silver crafting.
In the Healing Field you’ll find healers and therapists and hot Chai Tea. You can take classes in yoga and Tai Chi, dance, laughter, meditation and massage. All workshops are free and on-going from around 9am to 6pm each day. There’s even AA and Narcotics Anonomous meetings.
There’s also a dedicated Green Kids Field (so that’s two dedicated kids fields). Last year they encouraged everyone to make the field, the first Smoke Free Festival Field in England. All activities in the Green Kids Field are free of charge.
To headline or not?
We have and we haven’t been to see headliners and here’s why; some headliners attract bad crowds. Any band in particular? The Arctic Monkeys!!
I think you just have to play it by ear. We chose to see Public Enemy and had a brilliant time but The Arctic Monkeys crowd was rowdy and quite unfriendly in places but Dizzee Rascal was AMAZING and our kids had a wonderful time seeing him.
If you spend all day waiting and claiming your spot, I’d suggest taking a flag or an inflatable that makes you easily seen because you’ll need the toilet and have to leave. Getting back into a crowd of 50,000 people have be daunting and intimidating. You might also want to take some food lol.
If you have a child who is a wanderer or prone to getting lost you might want to consider security wrist bands that detail your mobile number, wrist straps than link your child to you or the buggy or a backpack with a lead rope, walkie-talkies or a back up plan of where to meet or who to approach etc.
Taking kids to Glastonbury?
Have we convinced you to take your kids to Glastonbury? Or to any other festival?
Our kids had an amazing time at Glastonbury and really loved the whole experience. They adored the music, they had a blast dancing, they relished the kids zones and just generally had an amazing time. They always ask if or when we’re going back and I see that as a really positive sign.
What if the school won’t allow time off?
This is ONE of my biggest bug-bears about British schools. Only one of many though.
So what do you do if your school won’t allow your kids time off?
Do you: Lie? Say they’re sick? Face up to the school and say tough shit. Pay the £60 fine? Write a letter arguing your cause? Move to Norway as Glastonbury falls in the first week of holidays?
Headteacher may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances;
These are NOT exceptional circumstances
- Leave of absence to attend holidays which overlap term time
- Leave of absence to attend ‘important’ family celebrations
- Leave of absence to attend sporting events as a spectator
- Leave of absence to attend festivals
- Leave of absence to gain ‘valuable experience’.
- Leave of absence where the student is or would have if an absence were granted an attendance of below 85%
- Leave of absence where the student is on a contract (sixth form) or behaviour plan (years 7-11).
Examples of exceptional circumstances may include:
- Circumstances precipitated by health issues directly impacting on the family unit
- Recognised religious observances
- Work circumstances restricting annual leave (evidence is required)
Is Glastonbury a religious observance? I’d give it a go!!
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