Glastonbury sells out in a hot minute. Ben & Jerry’s delicious Sundae on the Common seems to have packed up its tub and spoon for good.
But there are loads more family friendly festivals in London and beyond for kids and parents/carers who like to party outdoors, whatever the weather.
Top 20 Family Friendly Festivals in London and Beyond
1. Hay Festival for Children and Families: Hay Fever, Dairy Meadows, Brecon Road, Hay on Wye, HR3 5PJ (Hereford rail)
The hottest UK festival for word nerds is in full session, and as usual there’s a 10-day event for kids. You can still catch the last weekend with top kids authors giving readings, signings and performances from the likes of Miffy and Friends, plus children’s activities including mess tent and make and take crafts. Festival entry no fee, ticketed events £3-£19, many events are FREE (May 22-Jun 1)
2. Wychwood Festival Cheltenham Racecourse, GL50 4SH (National Rail from Paddington to Cheltenham Spa)
The Boomtown Rats, The Levellers and The Stranglers are three of the headline acts at this popular, multiple award-nominated family friendly festival. Come for Roald Dahl Museum tent, baby-feeding yurt, Kids Literature Festival, rides and stalls. From 9am (Fri), 10am (Sat-Sun). Adult weekend £125 + camping £20-£35/child ages 10-15 £60/ages 5-9 £20/under 5s FREE. Day passes adult from £40-£55/ages 10-15 £20/ages 5-9 £8/under 5s FREE (May 30-Jun 1)
3. Polo in the Park, Hurlingham Park, Fulham, London SW6 3RH (Putney Bridge tube)
The annual showcase of sportsmanship and posh folk on horses features simplified game rules so newcomers can follow the action easily. Sunday is Children’s Day with on-field activities and autograph signings, and all three days have the Club Med Kids zone offering bouncy castles, circus games, foam dodge-ball and more. 12-9pm (Fri), 12-8pm (Sat) and 11.30am-7pm (Sun); adult £30-£50/child £15-£25/family of 4 £70-£90/under 3s FREE (Jun 6-8)
4. Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love at Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE8 7TQ (Waterloo/Embankment tube)
Celebrate all types of love at the Southbank Centre’s two months of events including highlights such as the return of the urban beach, Jeppe Hein’s fountains and Zoo Nation’s Groove on Down the Road, the Big Wedding Weekend and love stories on screen including Singalonga Grease and Singalonga Dirty Dancing. Daily with preview highlights from May. Varying times and prices, many events and activities are FREE (Jun 28-Aug 31)
5. Rivington Street Festival, Shoreditch EC2A 3AY (Old St tube)
Back for summer 2014, the east London shindig for all-comers features two outdoor stages for live music, street theatre, street food, local boutiques and outlets throwing open their doors and more family friendly fun. In keeping with the World Cup in Brazil, this year’s theme is Carnival!12-6.30pm, FREE (Jun 22)
6. Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, various sites around Greenwich (Cutty Sark DLR/Greenwich rail/Canary Wharf tube)
Every year this bubbling part of London is taken over by the GDIF, featuring mind-blowing spectacle of theatre, street arts, dance performances, pop-up installations and family friendly workshops. The full line-up for 2014 has yet to be announced, but keep an eye on the web site. Dates and times vary, FREE (Jun 20-28)
7. British Summer Time Family Day Hyde Park, W2 (Hyde Park Corner tube)
The huge summer concert series hosts a special gig just for families with Tom Jones headlining alongside Little Mix, Boyzone, 10CC and tribute act The Bootleg Beatles. Special appearances from Shaun the Sheep, Horrible Histories and more planned plus carnival area and food outlets. Doors open 11.30am, tickets from £35/under 16s must be accompanied by an adult/under 5s go FREE (Jul 13)
8. Larmer Tree Festival, Larmer Tree Gardens, near Salisbury, Wiltshire/Dorset border, SP5 5WA (Salisbury rail)
The hugely popular festival described as the ‘quirkiest in the land’ has a big line-up including Tom Jones, Frank Turner, Tom Odell and Squeeze; Four Corners of the World fancy dress theme, carnival for kids, parent-free YouthZone, proper loos and hot showers. Adult camping 3-days to holiday (7 days) £160-£240/youth £105-£155/child (age 5-10) £60-£90/under 5s FREE (Jul 16-20)
9. Latitude Festival, Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk (National Express coaches from central London direct to festival)
The most artsy and culture-y of the lot has a massive showcase this year with Damon Albarn headlining, along with Two Door Cinema Club, Editors, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Black Keys, Haim and more. There’s also top comedy acts, theatre and dance from the likes of RSC and Sadlers Wells, live poetry and literature and for families, a special Kids’ Area with pizza making, rides, shows and more all-day fun. Winner of Best Family Festival 2012. Weekend ticket £195.50/accompanied teen ticket ages 13-15 £140.50/child 5-12 £8/under 4s FREE (Jul 17-20)
10. Lovebox Weekender, Victoria Park, Crown Gate, Victoria Park, Grove Road, Bow, London E3 5TB (Mile End tube)
Chase & Status, Nas, MIA, The Horrors, Soul II Soul, Duke Dumont, Kiesza, Katy B along with dozens of stage acts, DJs, installations and weekend partying. As always families are welcome, with kid friendly Lovebox Playbox with magicians, puppets and sandpit for minis, plus roller boogie all weekend. Pack some noise-reducing headphones! No camping, day tickets from £55/weekend tickets from £77.95/under 12s FREE (Jul 18-19)
11. Deer Shed Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, Y07 3PH (Grand Central trains direct from Kings Cross to Thirsk rail station)
There’s a time travelling theme at this year’s family friendly arts, music and science festival starring Johnny Marr, British Sea Power, Steve Mason, tons of fun performances and workshops plus activities including tennis ball on a string, cardboard city and eight tonnes of play sand. Adult full weekend from £109/child £30/child ages 0-5 £1, all + booking fee (Jul 25-27)
12. Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, BH20 5SQ (Wareham or Wool rail/Big Green Coach from London Victoria station direct to Festival)
We can’t wait to go back to Bestival’s sister festival that has a circus theme this year, starring De La Soul, Basement Jaxx, James, Sinead O’Connor and more amazing acts on the main stage. There’s loads of fun for families from Project Wild Thing to Insect Circus, Horrible Histories and Medieval Jousting, Mr Tumble and baby chill zones. Plus top DJ sets from Rob da Bank and friends, comedy acts, fairground rides, street food, it’s all happening down in Dorset. Winner of Best Family Festival 2013. Adult weekend camping £195/ages 15-17 £113/ages 11-14 £88/ages 5-10 £20/under 5s FREE but ticket required. Weekly payment plan available. (Jul 31-Aug 3)
13. Green Man, near Crickhowell, Brecon Beacons, Wales (Abergavenny rail)
Happy hippy festival that comes highly recommended by families. The eclectic line-up features The Waterboys, Beirut, Simian Mobile Disco and loads more acts. The cordoned off children’s area offers puppet making, storytelling, inflatables and other fun stuff. Adult weekend camping £159/teen 13-17 £85/Little Folk ages 5-12 £5/under 5s FREE but ticket required. (Aug 14-17)
14. LolliBop Festival, Hatfield House, Hertfordshire (Hatfield rail, 22 minutes from King’s Cross)
The big bash for little people relocates to the beautiful surroundings of Hatfield House for an enormous line-up: Lazy Town, Bear Grylls, Justin Fletcher, Harry’s Wizard School, Scooby Doo Live, Skylanders, Disney on Ice Silent Disco, Beano Events, Science Museum are just a taste of what’s on. And of course annual faves such as the Lollipaladium, Enchanted Forest, 3ft and Under Tent to keep you and your kids ages 10 and under entertained all day long. Standard advance day tickets single £22/family of 4 £82.60/family of 6 £121/VIP day ticket £60.50 (Aug 15-17)
15. Just So Festival, Rode Hall Estate, Stoke-on-Trent, ST7 3QP (Kidsgrove rail)
This is such a lovely, intimate festival with warm friendly crowd and perfect to dip your toes in if you’re a newbie or you have very little kids. John Hegley, Cut a Shine barn dance, the Spellbound Forest, Peekaboo baby tent and the Tribal Tournament fancy dress finale are just some of the highlights, along with hot showers and some of the cleanest loos we’ve seen at a festival! Adult weekend camping £105/day £35; child (3-15) weekend £45/day £15; campervan/caravan pass £20 under 3s FREE (Aug 15-17)
16. Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire (Charlbury rail/Big Green Coach direct to festival site from Victoria station)
This dreamy, ethereal, multi-arts experience for all comers promises everything from live music with Burt Bacharach, Jesse Ware, Sam Smith and London Grammer to family magic and games with Storystock, Discover Children’s Story Centre and Charles Dickens Museum. Book early for Mortimer Nannies boutique babysitting service! Adult weekend camping £151.50; child (0-10) weekend £5 (Aug 15-17)
17. Notting Hill Carnival, Notting Hill and surrounding areas (Westbourne Park exit only, see TFL web site closer to date for transport advice)
The last weekend in August is always an excuse for a giant party in West London as Europe’s biggest street bash takes over the area. Steel pans, sound systems, floats and costumed dancers keep spirits high and Sunday is traditionally Children’s Day, slightly less hectic and more little ones on parade. Around 9am-7pm, FREE (Aug 24-25)
18. End of the Road Festival, Larmer Tree Gardens (Salisbury rail/Big Green Coach direct from Victoria)
The Horrors, Flaming Lips, Yo la Tengo and many more lead this intimate festival that has a dedicated children’s area and woodlands to rummage around in, as well as comedy, theatre, croquet, crafts and other activities for families. Adult weekend camping £170; child 6-12 £80/child 3-5 £40/under 3s FREE (Aug 29-31)
19. Totally Thames, multiple venues and spaces
The annual Mayor’s Thames Festival has morphed into this month-long spectacular of arts and cultural events to celebrate the river. Highlights include The Great River Race; Handel’s Fireworks Music and Illuminations; The Big Thames Tidy and dozens of river events in Richmond, Kew, Brentford, Hammersmith, Imperial Wharf, Wandsworth, Vauxhall, South Bank, More London, St Katharine Docks and the Isle of Dogs. Dates, times, prices vary, many events FREE (Sep 1-30)
20. On Blackheath Festival, Blackheath Common, SE3 0UA (Lewisham, Blackheath, Greenwich rail/North Greenwich tube)
Brand new for 2014, this tasty sounding two-day party on Blackheath Common brings big acts like Massive Attack, Jo Goddard of Hot Chip, Frank Turner and The Levellers out to play. Listen up for DJ sets, tuck into Gizzi Erskine’s Chef’s Club dishes in the Food Village, pop into Kids World with the kids, enjoy street theatre and walkabout entertainment. Adult day ticket £57.50, weekend £99/child under 16 day ticket £35, weekend £60/disabled day £28.75, weekend £49.50/under 5s FREE but ticket required (Sep 13-14)
10 more Family Friendly Festivals in London and UK
Blissfields (Jul 4-5)
Angel Gardens, home to dreadlock workshops, wand making and bedtime chum Oliver Bear is the main draw for families at this highly rated festival in Hampshire.
Cornbury Festival (Jul 4-6)
Jools Holland, Simple Minds, Arrested Development, and a Kids Zone with Bollywood dancing, circus skills, puppet making and more in a picturesque Oxfordshire setting.
Secret Garden Party (Jul 24-27)
This magical festival looks and sounds amazing, attracting big acts and aimed at an adventurous crowd embracing community and good times. Family camping pass entitles 3 adults and unlimited kids wristbands to the family camping site.
Womad (Jul 24-27)
An oldie but a goodie for big world music names and a relaxed, earthy-crunchy vibe. Lots on for families in the World of Kids zone and under 13s go FREE.
The Levellers’ family music festival lays on a beautiful spread for little folk and their carers with enormous Children’s Area. 2014 has now SOLD OUT, stay tuned for details for 2015.
Chilled in a Field (Aug 1-3)
Live music, great DJs and a warm and buzzy vibe at this small and intimate festival that’s acclaimed for its family friendly nature. And tickets are just £64.50 for 3 days/kids £1!
Kendal Calling (Aug 1-3)
Small but lovely sounding festival with Suede, De La Soul, Example, Happy Mondays headlining this year.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Aug 1-25)
The world’s largest arts festival features lots on for kids, from circus shows and opera for babies to Baby Loves Disco.
Bounce Festival (Aug 16-17)
Action-packed family festival in Richmond’s Old Deer Park with beatboxing for kids, Splat Cooking Show, outdoor games and singer Charlie Law on the menu.
Shambala Festival (Aug 21-24)
Hot acts, magic and mayhem in Northamptonshire with vibrant Kids Field and the Bees creche for ages 2-7!
Family Friendly Festivals in Europe!
Sunsplash Festival, Turkey (Jun 1-8)
This awesome looking event on Aspat Beach in Bodrum brings resident DJ Gilles Peterson alongside Zara McFarlane, Osunlade and other popular DJs. Gorgeous mountain views and beachside setting, yoga zones, outdoor sports and a kid-friendly vibe. Week pass £160 // Day pass £35/£25 + accom & fights
Meadows in the Mountain, Bulgaria (Jun 13-15)
A family and eco-friendly festival inspired by Burning Man. Set against a beautiful backdrop, hosting live acts, DJs and activities ranging from horse riding and zip-lining to a festival finale pool party! Tickets £100 for 3 days.
Weekend Au Bord De L’Eau, Lake Geronde in Sierre (City of Sun), Switzerland (Jun 27-29)
Astonishingly affordable and brilliant sounding festival starring DJ Food, Gramatik, Lack of Afro on the eclectic line-up. Also beach volleyball, water sports, film screenings and a special children’s area. £25 weekend/kids go FREE.
Worldwide Festival, Sete, France (Jun 30-Jul 6)
A unique festival offering co-created by Gilles Peterson and inspired by his Worldwide show, this year’s line-up features Little Dragon, Karol Conka, Anushka, Zara McFarlane and many more diverse players. Tickets from £129 for final weekend, many areas including beach stage FREE.