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Take the Family › Best Family-Friendly Festivals in 2018

Best Family-Friendly Festivals in 2018

Androcles and the Lion at the Boing! festival in August.Androcles and the Lion at the Boing! festival in August.

The family-friendly festivals scene shows no sign of fizzling out, with events old and new to tempt you to venture the length and breadth of Britain. Glastonbury is taking a break in 2018 and The Secret Garden Party is, alas, no more, but there’s plenty to tempt families with children of all ages.

MAY

Udderbelly Festival Southbank, London, 6 April–30 September 2018

This summer-long event held by the Thames, close to the London Eye, is celebrating its 10th birthday with an even bigger and better program of live circus, comedy, cabaret and family entertainment 2018, alongside alfresco bars and street food to keep you refuelled. Family highlights performances of Alien Love Underpants in The Spiegeltent and Shakespearience, a romp through the Bard’s classics with lots of audience interaction along the way.

Wood Festival, Braziers Park, Oxfordshire, 18–20 May 2018

A Green Festival Award holder focused on music and nature, Wood celebrates its ‘Year of the Watervole’ with fun for everyone from kids to grandparents. Expect woodcraft, yoga, knitting, campfire singalongs and a kids’ tent, as well as the likes of shamanic journeying, teenage mindfulness and skateboard-building.

Yogacamp, Uckfield, East Sussex18–20 May 2018

Somewhere between a festival and a retreat, this gentle event brings yoga lovers of all ages together at Wowo glamping site, for adult and children’s sessions as well as kids’ Wild Wellbeing activities and forest school, fireside live music and more.

Bearded Theory, Catton Hall, Derbyshire24–27 May 2018

This is another great way to start the season, with plenty to please kids and parents alike including a Rogue Hideout for teens, with graffiti and DJ tuition, and the free Bearded School with subjects complementing the National Curriculum (they’ll even send a schedule of activities to your headteacher to encourage them to authorise your child’s absence from real school). Acts include Robert Plant and Jimmy Cliff.

Elderflower Fields Festival, Pippingford Park, East Sussex, 25–28 May 2018

This green-field camping festival – with a fancy dress theme of Robots Versus Animals for 2018 – has a mission to give kids a taste of sports, activities and skills, from fencing to mountain-boarding (note that some need to be booked in advance). Sunday sees a free shared picnic of local produce, and there's the Woodland Spa to which you can flee while your offspring have adventures.

Geronimo Festival, Arley Hall and Gardens, Cheshire, 25–28 May 2018

This children's festival created for ages 0-12 sees a new spa and crèche facilities this year, as well as other novelties including a show by the Tigers Children's Motorcycle Display Team, a Highland Games takeover in the arena and sock-wrestling tournaments. The all-star cast includes Mr Bloom and Justin Fletcher, and there’s glamping or camping (include tent-hire if you don’t bring your own). Read more and book tickets for the Geronimo Festival now. There’s a second Geronimo season later in the season at Knebworth House (see below). Find out more or book tickets for Geronimo Festival.

JUNE

Wychwood, Cheltenham Racecourse, Cotswolds1–3 June 2018

This is a wonderful event for introducing children to the pleasures of festival-going, with bands this year including The Gypsy Kings and The Beat Ft Ranking Roger, and a great comedy line-up. Kids get entertainment from the likes of Dick & Dom and workshops including robotics. Find out more and book tickets for Wychwood. 

Eden Festival, Dumfries, Scotland7–10 June 2018

This boutique festival held in the glorious Raehill Meadows headlines this year with a DJ set by Groove Armada, and there’s also an eco-friendly kids’ tent including forest skills and yoga, and a drive-in cinema with retro vehicles. Read more and book tickets for the Eden Festival.

3 Wishes Faery Festival, Torpoint, Cornwall15–17 June 2018

This is one for those with fairy-mad children, or whose own idea of a perfect weekend is to put on a tutu and wave a wand. Be part of an attempt to set a new record for the largest gathering of people wearing unicorn horns, rent a Middle Earth inspired ‘shire hut’ or bell tent and enjoy a line-up including 3 Daft Monkeys.

3foot People Festival, Chelmsford, Essex, 26–28 June 2018

The UK's largest outdoor festival designed for pre-school children comprises a ‘village’ with tents offering an array of activities, performances and sessions. There’s a Sports Zone with have-a-go sessions, Play, Make & Do exploring creativity, and Theatre & Storytelling, ranging from intimate story-time sessions to big-top spectaculars. Don’t miss the potato puppet playground or the mini petting farm and zoo.

Geronimo Festival, Knebworth Festival, Hertfordshire, 30 June–1 July 2018

See above for information on the Geronimo festivals. Find out more and book tickets for Geronimo Festival.

JULY

Maverick Festival, Easton Farm Park, Suffolk6–8 July 2018

This Americana music festival takes over a family-friendly farm park, and though there aren’t any specific events for kids, there are animals to be visited and lovely riverside walks for when you’re not all listening to the likes of Hank Wangford and Porchlight Smoker. See our feature on the Maverick Festival with Kids

Cornbury Festival, Great Tew Park, Cotswolds, 13–15 July 2018

Dubbed ‘Poshstock’, this gentle affair in stunning surrounding should suit all the family – think Alanis Morrisette and Squeeze on the bill and vast kids' zone including circus skills, pirate puppet pantomimes and giant den-building. But the big news for 2018 is the Hairy Bikers’ Pop Up Wood Fired Restaurant Adventure, with several sittings to enjoy a menu based on The Hairy Bikers Mediterranean Adventure.

Latitude, Henham Park, Suffolk, 12–15 July 2018

This is a big-hitter, with major acts this year including Solange, The Killers and alt-J. The Kids’ Inbetweeners’ areas are second to none, including weird science and crafting for younger kids, and for those 12 and up a hidden woodland with wildlife survival skills, assault courses suspended in the trees, and media and technology workshops. See our feature on the Latitude Festival with Kids or book tickets for Latitude.

Larmer Tree Festival, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, 20–22 July 2018

One of the UK’s longest-running festivals, now in its 27th year, has an intimate, eccentric summer party vibe. This year sees the addition of a spa, a line-up including First Aid Kit and Jake Bugg, and 'family festivalling' antics ranging from writing in the woods to pitta bread workshops.

Deer Shed Festival, Baldersby Park, North Yorkshire, 20–22 July 2018

This blend of music, arts and science in glorious parkland has a Making Waves theme for 2018. Headliners include Goldfrapp and Joan As Police Woman, while the hugely popular children's science program includes the Wrekshop (trashing electrical items to see how they work), and there are sports including BMXing, wild running and ‘wrong pong’.

Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset26–29 July 2018

This enormously popular family festival with something for all ages. The impressive, wide-ranging line-up this year includes Simple Minds, Orbital and Basement Jaxx. Kids will be royally entertained by the varied likes of Mr Tumble and Dick & Dom, while for ages 13–17 there's a new teen area and Rob da Bank’s Music Club with its songwriting workshops and breakdance lessons. See our feature on Camp Bestival with Kids or book tickets now.

Kendal Calling, Lowther Deer Park, Lake District26–29 July 2018

This colourful festival in a lovely setting includes a kids’ area with a family cinema, and a line-up featuring The Libertines, Run DMC and Hacienda Classical. Find out more or book tickets for Kendal Calling.

Standon Calling, Standon Lordship, Hertfordshire, 26–29 July 2018

This scenically located event within easy reach of London has dedicated kids’ and family spaces, a superb line-up including Paloma Faith and Bryan Ferry, and a great choice of on-site glamping options. Find out more or book Standon Calling tickets now.

AUGUST

Chilled in a Field, Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum, East Sussex 3–5 August 2018

This not-for-profit social enterprise run entirely by volunteers includes glitter wrestling, street and hip hop dance workshops for different ages, and fire and glow shows by the London Fire Spinners. It’s also the only festival with its own narrow-gauge ride-on railway and family Wacky Races with old-school sports including wheelbarrow, piggyback and three-legged races.

Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, Cotswolds, 2–5 August 2018

This family-friendly Oxfordshire festival always impresses with its line-up, eccentric art happenings and emphasis on good food. This year's music includes Nile Rogers & Chic, and you can feast with top restaurants including Petersham Nurseries. For kids, there are overnight forest camps, Club House night games and film-making with the British Film Institue, to name just a few events and activities. See our feature on the Wilderness Festival with Kids and book tickets now.

Lakefest, Eastnor Deer Park, Herefordshire, 9–12 August 2018

This is a festival with a very strong line-up that keeps both parents and older kids happy, including Peter Hook & The Light and Miss Moneypenny’s, and some wonderful things for kids to get up to, from mermaid-making to DJ lessons and a kids’ rave.

Shambhala, Northamptonshire, 10–13 August 2018

This four-day extravaganza at a mystery country estate location has impressive green credentials, a busy kids’ area, Playtopia, and bedtime stories in the Family Yurt. The eclectic line-up includes the House Gospel Choir and The Last Poets.

Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons, Wales17–19 August 2018

One of the most environmentally friendly festivals around also has some of the best live acts, including, this year, Fleet Foxes and John Grant. There are also great speakers, interesting comedians and brilliant children’s events, all in the gorgeous surroundings of the Black Mountains. You can camp here for a whole week from 13 August, exploring the region and enjoying barbecues with produce from the local butcher sold daily, pub quizzes, bonfires and outdoor adventures. Find out more or book tickets for Green Man Festival.

Just So Festival, Rode Hall Parkland, Cheshire, 17–19 August 2018

This boutique festival based in lovely park- and woodlands is so family-friendly it even has a 'baby-feeding boudoir'. The site is divided into ‘lands’, including the Spellbound Forest, High Seas and Idlewood, all with magical happenings to chance upon as you wander.

bOing! International Family Festival, Canterbury, Kent, 25 & 26 August 2018

Celebrating its fifth birthday in 2018, this performing arts festival welcomes internationally acclaimed companies from Australia, France, Denmark, Spain and across the UK to perform in indoor and outdoor spaces large and small. Don’t miss Teatret Gruppe 38’s Androcles and the Lion with its gorgeous projections viewed from the comfort of a hammock, or, with tinies, La Petita’s Beatles for Babies. There’s also Architects of Air’s Katena, a maze of tunnels and soaring spaces inspired by Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, and Frozen Light’s performances for audiences with profound and multiple learning difficulties. Workshops including animation, puppetry, bhangra drumming and even crime scene investigations. Uniquely, bOing! is free to enter, with charges only on indoor performances.

SEPTEMBER

Into the Trees, Pippingford Park, East Sussex, 14–16 September 2018

This innovative festival by the people behind Elderflower Fields is all about getting kids outdoors and connecting with nature as a a family, whether that be through foraging walks, wood play, mud monster making, slacklining or mountain-boarding. For the first time this year, it’s offering a limited number of camping tickets.

Loopallu, Ullapool, Scotland, 28 & 29 September 2018

This intimate late-season festival now moved from its once remote setting to Ullapool Pier and hence is non-camping. The line-up includes The View and The Vatersay Boys, and there will be kids’/family activities.

Make sure to check out our festivals with kids tips for expert advice on making the most of events as a family.

By Rhonda Carrier

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