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Take the Family › Best Family-Friendly Festivals in 2017

Best Family-Friendly Festivals in 2017

Tales of Animalia at the Just So Festival.Tales of Animalia at the Just So Festival. © Just So Festival and Ten Eight.

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. Tickets to Glastonbury (21–25 June 2017) sold out in minutes, as ever, while Wiltshire’s Larmer Tree Festival, Kent’s Chilled in a Field, and Buckinghamshire’s Sportfest are all taking a year off and will be back in 2018. But the following are all great bets; most have family campsite areas and glamping options.

MAY

Udderbelly Festival Southbank, London, 28 April–30 September 2017

This summer-long event held by the Thames, close to the London Eye, merges with London Wonderground this year to form one huge festival with shows in two venues, plus alfresco bars and street food, over 15 weeks. Family highlights including circus show Attrape-Moi (Catch Me) by the FlipFabrique troupe, Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall, and Comedy Club 4 Kids.

Wood Festival, Braziers Park, Oxfordshire, 19–21 May 2017

A environmentally sound little ‘festival of music and nature’ to get you in the mood for the rest of the season, in 2017 themed ‘Year of the Hedgehog’, with fun for everyone from kids to grandparents. Workshops include mindfulness for families or for teens, chapati-making, and skateboard building, repair and maintenance, and there’s a children's tent. Acts include The Magic Numbers and CC Smugglers.

Yogacamp, Uckfield, East Sussex19–21 May 2017

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 forest school, fireside live music and more.

Bearded Theory, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 25–28 May 2017

Another great way to start the season, with plenty to please kids and parents alike including a Rogue Hideout for teens 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). Bands include Madness, Seasick Steve and Skunk Anansie & Slaves.

Elderflower Fields Festival, Pippingford Park, East Sussex, 26–29 May 2017

A green-field camping festival focused on giving kids a taste of sports, activities and skills, from parkour to rope-making. 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, 27–29 May 2017

A children's festival created for ages 0-12, this year on a knights, princesses and dragons theme. Expect live shows by the likes of Mr Bloom and Justin Fletcher, vintage fairground rides, ziplining, and graffiti and music workshops. This year also sees, for the first time, the possibility of glamping or camping. Read more and book tickets for the Geronimo Festival now.

JUNE

Wychwood, Cheltenham Racecourse, Cotswolds, 2–4 June 2017

A wonderful way to introduce your children to the pleasures of festival-going, with bands this year including The Buzzcocks, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and The Levellers, and a great comedy line-up. Kids get their own literature festival as part of the fun, with masses of fantastic workshops. Find out more and book tickets for Wychwood

Eden Festival, Dumfries, Scotland, 8–11 June 2017

A boutique festival held in the stunning Raehill Meadows. On the agenda are acts including Boney M and So Solid Crew, circus skills, 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, Cornwall, 16–18 June 2017

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 the most fairies in one setting, rent a ‘shire hut’ or bell tent and enjoy a line-up including 3 Daft Monkeys.

JULY

Maverick Festival, Easton Farm Park, Suffolk, 30 June–2 July 2017

An Americana music festival that takes over family-friendly Easton Farm Park. 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 Police Dog Hogan. See our feature on the Maverick Festival with Kids

Cornbury Festival, Great Tew Park, Cotswolds, 7–9 July 2017

A gentle affair in stunning surroundings, dubbed ‘Poshstock’. The line-up should suit all the family – think Bryan Adams, Kaiser Chiefs and The Pretenders. The vast kids' zone hosts circus skills, pirate puppet pantomimes, and den-building.

Latitude, Henham Park, Suffolk, 13–16 July 2017

A big-hitter, with major acts this year including Goldfrapp, Mumford and Sons, and John Cale. The Kids’ and 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.

The Secret Garden Party, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, 20–23 July 2017

An eclectic festival in landscaped gardens with a river and lake, and a Sweet Dreams theme for this year. There’s a dedicated area for kids, with celebrity cameos, bake-offs and more. The line-up includes Metronomy, Crystal Fighters and Toots & the Metals.

Deer Shed Festival, Baldersby Park, North Yorkshire, 21–23 July 2017

A blend of music, arts and science in glorious parkland, with a Wilderwood theme for 2017. Headliners include Kate Tempest and The Divine Comedy, while the hugely popular children's science program includes forensics, soldering and music production, and there’s sports including BMXing, tree-climbing and ‘wrong pong’.

Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, 27–30 July 2017

An enormously popular family festival with something for all ages. The impressive, wide-ranging line-up this year includes Madness, Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds, and Mark Ronson. Kids will be royally entertained by the varied likes of Mr Tumble and Dick and Dom, while for ages 13–17 there's the parent-free Den, with special guests, the best bits of Rob da Bank’s Music Club, film screenings, open mic sessions and more. See our feature on Camp Bestival with Kids or book tickets now.

Kendal Calling, Lowther Deer Park, Lake District, 27–30 July 2017

A colourful festival in a lovely setting, with a kids’ area including a family cinema, and a line-up featuring Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers and Franz Ferdinand.

Standon Calling, Standon Lordship, Hertfordshire, 27–30 July 2017

A scenically located event within easy reach of London, with dedicated kids’ and family spaces, a superb line-up including Orbital and Grace Jones, and a great choice of on-site glamping options as well as hotel packages everywhere from a Premier Inn to a Georgian manor. Find out more or book Standon Calling tickets now.

AUGUST

Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, Cotswolds, 3–6 August 2017

A family-friendly Oxfordshire festival that always impresses with its line-up, eccentric art happenings and emphasis on good food. This year's music includes Two Door Cinema Club, Grace Jones and Bonobo, and you can feast with top chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Thomasina Miers. For kids, there are overnight camps, goat-cooking classes (yes, really), a Greenpeace trail and macaroon art, 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, 11–13 August 2017

A festival with a very strong line-up to keep both parents and older kids happy, including Feeder, The Charlatans and Imelda May, and some wonderful things for kids to get up to, many on this year’s Hawaiian theme – make trick kites or mini surfboards, for instance. 

Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons, Wales, 17–20 August 2017

One of the most environmentally friendly festivals around, with some of the best live acts, including, this year, PJ Harvey and Ryan Adams. There are also great speakers, interesting comedians and brilliant children’s events, all in the stunning surroundings of the Black Mountains.

Just So Festival, Rode Hall Parkland, Cheshire, 18–20 August 2017

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

Shambhala, Northamptonshire, 24–27 August 2017

A four-day extravanganza at a mystery country estate location, with green credentials and an Adventures in Utopia theme for 2017. There’s a busy kids’ area, Playtopia, and bedtime stories in the Family Yurt. The eclectic line-up includes Stereo MCs, Manu Delago and Laura Gibson.

SEPTEMBER

Into the Trees, Pippingford Park, East Sussex, 9 & 10 September 2017

An innovative festival by the people behind Elderflower Fields, with six woodland zones to discover, each full of activities to watch and/or take part in. There’s no accommodation; it’s day tickets only.

Loppallu, Ullapool, Scotland, 29 & 30 September 2017

This intimate late-season festival has now moved from its once remote setting to Ullapool Pier and hence will be non-camping in 2017. The line-up and kids’/family activities hadn’t been released at the time of writing, but previous headliners have included Franz Ferdinand and Paolo Nutini.

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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