Best family-friendly festivals 2012

From Camp Bestival, Wychwood, LolliBop and Larmer Tree to the smaller boutique delights of Croissant Neuf, North Nibley and The Big Tent, we pick our favourite festival fun for all ages


London and the South East

17-19 Aug, Regents Park
A three-day, non-camping festival in London’s Regents Park, Lollibop is aimed solely at under-10s and their families. With workshops, fun activities and the chance to catch some great kids’ bands and entertainers.
More about LolliBop


29-31 July, Herefordshire
The boutique festival returns for its 7th year, offering a relaxed mix of music, cabaret, comedy, theatre and the unexpected. Children can choose from a slapstick comedy workshop, willow sculpture making, circus skills, hula hooping or being creative with gaffa tape or dress wildly in the Enchanted Glade.
More about Nozstock

Cornbury Festival

29 June – 1 July, Oxfordshire
A summer music festival dressed up like a country fayre, James Morrison, Elvis Costello and Jools Holland top the bill over the three nights. Dedicated children’s area offers a range of entertainment from circus workshops, street theatre, creative workshops, ventriloquist show and parachute games.
More about Cornbury

Penn Festival
7-8 July, Buckinghamshire
Live bands, street theatre, free creative workshops, cinema, local ales, wholesome food, children’s entertainment, arts-based stalls and open-air yoga in this intimate two-day festival in the Chiltern village of Penn.
More about Penn Festival

7 July, Witney
Battstock is a small one-day festival organised by the people behind the Wychwood festival, offering music, inflatables, a treasure hunt, BFG storytelling show and fundraising for a local school.
More about Battstock


South West

Wychwood Festival
8-10 June, Cheltenham
Wychwood offers a wide range of musical, comedy and workshop activities for toddlers, teenagers and adults – but on a compact and safe site at the Cheltenham Racecourse. Sample a multitude of musical genres, from James, The Damned to The Cuban Brothers.
Find out more about Wychwood

North Nibley Festival
7 July, Gloucester
A small, predominantly music festival, with entertainment from many 80s/90s bands including Dodgy, The Christians and The Selecter. Fun for little ones includes laser tag, craft tent and lots of inflatables. More about North Nibley

Larmer Tree
11-15 July, Salisbury
Lasting 5 days, this small, intimate festival (just 4000 tickets) offers a range of family-friendly entertainment, including Bollywood dancing, drumming, yoga, pitta- bread making, tie-dye, belt-making, lavender-bag making, circus skills and knitting plus a host of other carnival workshops where you can make things to show off in the magical parade around the site on the Sunday.
Find out more about Larmer Tree Festival

Camp Bestival
26-29 July, Lulworth Castle, Dorset
Camp Bestival sets the benchmark for family-friendly festivals. Everything is geared around the whole family having a good time. Music highlights include Hot Chip and Rizzle Kicks for teens, Happy Mondays and Adam Ant for nostalgic parents plus disco dancing for all from Chic, Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang. Of course, music is only a small part. Little ones will love the festival exclusive appearance of Shrek, Princess Fiona and Donkey from the Shrek West End musical, Mr Tumble, The Gruffalo live and English National ballet workshops, plus the Insect Circus, fancy dress, stories, singing and dancing plus mums and little babies can enjoy some peace and breastfeeding quiet in the Baby Temple.
More about Camp Bestival

WOMAD Festival
25-29 July, Malmesbury
The World of Music and Dance festival has been running for 30 years, offering a taste of the best of World music, global sounds and tribal beats. The dedicated kids zone offers music and dance workshops plus T-shirt painting. Weekend tickets include free camping and parking.
Find out more about WOMAD

27-28 July, Bruton, Somerset
Set against a beautiful Somerset backdrop, Farmfest is a cosy family festival offering alternative music, local produce, local charity fundraising and a host of activities including children’s assault course, bouncy castle, crazy golf, eco rides, arts and crafts and festival highlight – the Best Hat competition.
More about Farmfest

25-27 August, Poole
Back for its second year over the August Bank Holiday weekend, UpBeat is a music-focused festival with a line-up of mostly tribute bands, including Pick Floyd, Bootleg Blondie and a Robbie Williams impersonator. Giant junk modelling, clay play, instruments, hats and huge inflatables will keep little ones happy.
Find out more about UpBeat


East England

12-15 July, Southwold
Latitude is a well-established summer festival, this year boasting headliners Elbow, Rufus Wainwright and Bon Iver, plus a wealth of stages, those famous coloured sheep and a tranquil boating lake. The children’s area includes the fascinating-sounding Noisy Toys (full participation is encouraged with Noise Scientists on hand to help), theatre workouts plus Doctor Death, who takes a humorous look at medical science. Plus the Fairyland Trust and Woodland Folk are running fun workshops.
More about Latitude

Cambridge Folk Festival
26-29 July, Cambridge
One of the biggest folk festivals (it attracts around 10,000 visitors), The Cambridge Folk Festival is also very family-friendly. This year’s event will offer a free creche, a padding pool and playground, children’s games, poetry sessions, face painting, music, dance, craft and drawing workshops.
More about Cambridge Folk Festival

Broadstairs Folk week
10-17 August, Kent
Another folk fest, this time set in the the seaside town of Broadstairs. With more than 500 events, there’s a full children’s programme for toddlers to teens, from Bollywood dancing to banjo picking and ballad singing. Plus expect your little one to join in Morris Dancing, country dancing and maypole dancing.
More about Broadstairs Folk Week



Croissant Neuf Summer Party
12-14 August, Monmouthshire
Totally solar-powered, this bijou festival has an emphasis on friendliness, community and general green-ness. Highlights include lantern making, rap workshops, didgeridoo playing, windmill making and a children’s sports academy.
More about Criossant Neuf

Green Man
17-19 August, Glanusk Park
The Green Man Festival is set in the Brecon Beacons and offers a relaxed, natural atmosphere. The children’s area has been renamed Future Generations and has six different areas, catering for toddlers to teenagers and look out for the Woodfire sauna and leafy treehouse in the secluded Nature & Nuture area.
More about Green Man



Farmer Phil’s Festival
10-12 August, Shropshire
Now in its 14th year, Farmer Phil’s is genuinely run by a farmer named Phil. Set on his farmland in the Shropshire hills, the festival features 40 live bands and offers campfires, circus tents, storytelling, craft tents, puppet shows, fancy dress, workshops, along with comedy, open-mic events and a wide variety of music.
More about Farmer Phil’s

Towersey Festival
23-27 August, Oxfordshire
Started as a 1-day village event 48 years ago, Towersey Festival has grown into a five-night, four-day mix of music, dance, spoken word, street theatre and film. There are drop-in creative craft sessions, baby reflexology classes, parachute games and a chance for your little one to perform as part of the children’s choir.
More about Towersey

Bridgnorth Children’s Festival
28 August, Shropshire
A festival designed just for children, this event invites little ones to jump from water zorbing to bouncy castles in the high street, rise up the climbing wall and finish off with a disco. One wristband gives you entry to all activities dotted around Bridgnorth.
Find out more about Bridgnorth Festival



Kendal Calling
27-29 July, Lake District
One of the more interestingly-named festivals, Kendal Calling offers music (Dizzee Rascal and Maximo Park headlining) and art alongside traditional rural entertainment (for this read having fun in a big field). Little ones enjoy free music, percussion and crafty workshops plus mask making, storytelling, puppetry and free games in the Kids Area.
More about Kendal Calling

The Magic Loungeabout
27-29 July, Yorkshire
Calling itself A Refined Unwind, Magic Loungeabout caters for music lovers, families, campers and glampers. And guess what? They have kids only loos – a must for toilet sensitive little ones. This is a big festival, with three performance areas, boutique camping with showers, magic spa, play area and fine local food stalls. This year, the festival welcomes a new mini Big Top full of circus experiences, plus there’s more entertainment with science labs, painting labs, water zorbing, robotic dancing, DJ-ing classes, illustration and writing workshops.
Find out more about the Magic Loungeabout

21-23 September, Lincolnshire
Set in a wildlife reserve, this family-friendly festival aims to be non-commercial and offer an old-style festival experience. Planned around the Autumn Equinox, stages have names such as Philosopher’s Stone, Liberty and Mushroom and one is solar powered, the other pedal powered! In the spirit of all things community, prices are kept as close to high street as possible, so no extortionate fees for a veggie burger. There’s a circus area with fire shows, jugglers, plus sculptures, tarot readers and communal fire pits. And every day will be a dress fancy day!
More about Alchemy



The Big Tent
21-22 July, Fife
Held in the grounds of Falkland Estate, this is an environmental festival offering den-building, hutting and forest gardening as well as the more usual music, theatre and entertainment. Children’s activities are dotted around the site, plus there’s a dedicated tree-shaded children’s area with storytelling, craft making and puppet performances.
More about Big Tent


Eden Festival
15-17 July, Dumfries & Galloway
Eden is a chilled-out, atmospheric, family-friendly festival, offering eight stages of eclectic music and entertainment. Big on environment and ecologically-sound activities, expect to learn lots about the land and nature while having fun.
More about Eden Festival

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