Summer is officially festival season. But you don’t have to miss out now that you have a little one, because there are plenty of family-friendly festivals out there. Last month, Baby Club member Jon visited Wychwood Festival in Cheltenham with his wife and their two-year-old Harriet. He shares his top tips for first-timers hitting the festival scene with a toddler in tow:
1. Check the line-up
It may sound obvious but some festivals are more geared up for kids than others! It will be clear from the line-up if the entertainment is suitable, and plentiful enough, to keep little ones amused for a long weekend. “There were loads of great activities on offer to try, as well as the live bands and music,” says Jon. “Kids could choose from craft tents, a bubble tent, dancing activities and a literary tent with various children’s authors, plus lots of workshops – Harriet loved the ukulele one.”
2. Stay on track
Squelching through a boggy field in wellies is a standard festival activity – but it’s not ideal terrain when you have a buggy. Family-friendly sites should include hard paths to make it easier for buggies to get around, “Wychwood also had trolleys for hire to help you transport your kids around the site. Some even had mats and covers which meant kids could sleep in them or shelter from the rain,” says Jon.
3. Bring a travel potty
When you have a little one who’s just out of nappies, long queues for Portaloos aren’t ideal. Try taking a familiar potty or toddler toilet seat with you to make the process easier. “Harriet has a Bibs & Stuff travel potette, which doubles as a toilet seat,” explains Jon. “We carried it with us everywhere. She wasn’t too keen on the Portaloos, but there were clean flush toilets up at the main site which she was happy to use with the potty doubling as a toilet seat.” For parents with young children still in nappies, it’s a good idea to find out where the baby change facilities are in advance, so you can head straight there in an emergency!
4. Pack food for fussy eaters
Festival campsites usually allow you to bring your own food, but it’s worth knowing that the main arena can prohibit festival-goers from carrying supplies for adults. Luckily, you can bring food for your children. “We had breakfast with us in the camp and a BBQ on the first night,” says Jon. “Harriet can be fussy so we made her a packed lunch for each day, but she could have had toasties or pizza which were the main finger food options in the arena.”
5. Protect little ears
If you’re worried about your baby or toddler being exposed to a lot of loud sounds, invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones (we like Banz Ear Defenders). “There were quite a few children of all ages wearing these,” says Jon. “I was a bit conscious about the level of noise because Harriet didn’t like it at first. I didn’t take her into any of the music tents as I thought it would be too loud, but we took her to the gigs outside and she was fine. We could park the buggy up next to the bubble stand and listen to the acts on the main stage, and she could chase the bubbles if she got bored.”
6. Write a camping checklist
You still need those camping essentials to guarantee the most comfortable stay possible. “We do a lot of camping and find a pre-holiday checklist invaluable,” says Jon. “We’ve learnt the hard way in the past by forgetting things.” You can usually buy food, camping equipment, nappies and formula. “There was a small shop in the campsite which sold basics,” adds Jon. “They even sold tents, so you could get by if you do forget anything.” Wychwood also had a baby boutique in the main arena where parents could buy bibs, shoes and cute outfits.
7. Be prepared for late nights
Often the last act will start way past your little one’s bedtime. Instead of cutting the night short, plan ahead by nipping back to camp for a quick bedtime change early in the evening. “We got Harriet into her pyjamas and would park up at the side of the main stage,” says Jon. “That way we weren’t in the direct line of the speakers and Harriet could fall asleep in the buggy. She got tired about half nine and would be out for the count. It was a treat for her as usually she goes to bed at seven.” If your little one finds it hard to sleep with everything going on around them, try investing in a SnoozeShade or drape a blanket over the buggy.