Festival season seems to come round faster and faster each year. I’ve migrated my Top 25 Family Festivals in London and Beyond guide to its very own page on Babes about Town, with a new format for easy updating as the list of family festivals grows larger and lovelier each year!
The first weekend in May saw the second ever Geronimo Festival take over Harewood House (tickets still available for Geronimo at Tatton Park on May 29-30). And last weekend London celebrated another successful Urban Village Fete in Greenwich.
Rain or shine, flowers in your hair, wellies on your feet and a great big grin on your face… Here’s to an excellent summer of parties x
Top Family Festivals in London and Beyond (2017)
Hay Festival for Children and Families: HayDays
Where: Dairy Meadows, Brecon Road, Hay on Wye, HR3 5PJ (Hereford rail)
The vibe: We’ve billed it as ‘the hottest UK festival for word nerds’ and there’s room for baby bookworms too, as Hay Festival presents a 9 day event just for the kids, titled HayDays!
What’s on: Make and take crafting, mess tent, Starlights Stage, book signings, workshops, readings and special appearances
Who’s in: Jacqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson, Cressida Cowell, Chris Riddell, Francesca Simon, Nick Sharratt and many more!
Entry fees: Festival entry no fee, ticketed events average £5-£7 (max £19), many activities are FREE
Dates and times: Daily from 10am | May 25-Jun 4, 2017
Where: Arley Hall and Gardens, Arley, Northwich, CW9 6NA (London Virgin trains to Stockport, change for Northwich rail)
The vibe: Massive festival for kids ages 13 and under, focused on quality family time and imaginative play. Theme for 2017 is Princesses and Dragons, with glamping and camping available for the first time!
What’s on: Live acts, circus, kiddie discos, workshops, bump, breastfeeding and baby-friendly areas, Tumble Tots, woodland play, crazy golf, caving, Sylvanian Families, literally too many activities to mention!
Don’t miss: Sam Sam Bubbleman, Justin Fletcher, Andy Day, Rajasthan Superstars, Cirque du Hilarious, Katy Ashworth, Moth Wings and much more!
Entry fees: Day tickets £25 (Sat-Sun)-£18.50 (Mon); 2 and 3 day tickets £39 (Sat-Sun) & £55 (Sat-Mon); weekend camping tickets £60/caravan £90/under 2s FREE.
Dates and times: 10am-9pm daily | May 27-29, 2017
Where: Cheltenham Racecourse, GL50 4SH (National Rail from Paddington to Cheltenham Spa)
The vibe: Very popular, multiple award-nominated family friendly festival with an artsy vibe.
What’s on: Circus classes, dance workshops, baby-feeding yurt, Kids Literature Festival, rides and stalls.
Main acts: Buzzcocks, The Levellers, Billy Bragg, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Kanda Bongo Man and many more!
Entry fees: Adult weekend £140 + camping £25-£65/child ages 10-15 £70/ages 5-9 £27.50/under 5s FREE but require ticket. Day passes adult from £47-£61/ages 10-15 £26/ages 5-9 £14/under 5s FREE but require ticket
Dates and times: 9am (Fri), 10am (Sat-Sun) | Jun 2-4, 2017
Summertime at Southbank
Where: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX (Waterloo/Embankment tube)
The vibe: The Southbank Centre’s summertime programme, featuring indoor shows and outdoor fun, urban beach and food pop-ups.
What’s on: Highlights include Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms fountains, the Big Wedding Weekend plus tons of acts in Underbelly and London Wonderground.
Don’t miss: Large-scale sculptures The Gnome King (Jul 5-30) and The Sunbathers (Jul 1-30); Chorus Festival (Jul 1-2); Reggaoke (Aug 5); Urban festival (Aug 26-28)
Entry fees: Event times/dates and prices vary, many activities are FREE
Dates and times: 10am-10pm daily | from May 15-Sep 24, 2017 (official dates Jun 10-Aug 31)
Greenwich + Docklands International Festival
Where: Various sites around Greenwich (Cutty Sark DLR/Greenwich rail/Canary Wharf tube)
The vibe: A 10 day extravaganza of ‘perception-changing’ outdoor art and performance that gets wilder and more wonderful every year.
What’s on: Annual Greenwich Fair weekend for families, plus loads of street theatre, games, dance, workshops and pop-ups!
Don’t miss: Fiers a Cheval (Jun 23); Museum of the Moon (Jun 23-25), Dancing City (Jul 1), Festival Finale: The Colour of Light (Jul 8)
Entry fees: Most events are FREE, a few ticketed events from £7-£15
Dates and times: Dates and times vary | Jun 23-Jul 8, 2017
Where: Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk (National Express coaches from central London direct to festival)
The vibe: Award-winning artsy/cultural festival with a ‘high brow’ reputation and some top names, plus loads of family friendly action.
What’s on: Outdoor swimming in the lakes (for ages 8+), theatre and dance from the likes of Sadler’s Wells and Young Vic, comedy, cookery, poetry, film, Kids’ Area with rides and workshops.
Don’t miss: Goldfrapp, Mumford & Sons, Baaba Maal, Mavis Staples, The 1975, Fleet Foxes…
Entry fees: Weekend adult ticket £197.50 + booking fees/accompanied teen ticket ages 13-15 £132.50 + booking fees/child 5-12 £10/adult day ticket from £77.50 + fees/child day ticket £5/under 4s FREE (all prices subject to booking fees)
Dates and times: 2pm-5pm (Thu-Sun) | Jul 13-16, 2017
Where: Victoria Park, Crown Gate, Victoria Park, Grove Road, Bow, London E3 5TB (Mile End tube)
The vibe: One of the biggest line-ups on the London music calendar in a gorgeous, family friendly setting.
What’s on: Music, bars, stalls, Lovebox Playbox (magic, puppets and sandpit for minis), Aztec Disco Golf, Ping Pong, Hip Hop Karaoke all weekend. Pack noise-reducing headphones for the babies!
Don’t miss: Frank Ocean, Jamie XX, Chase & Status, Solange, Rag n Bone Man, Jess Glynne, Seth Troxler + more hot acts!
Entry fees: No camping; day tickets from £72.25/weekend tickets from £126.25/under 12s FREE
Dates and times: 12pm-10.45pm | Jul 14-15, 2017
Walthamstow Garden Party
Where: Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow E17 5JW (Walthamstow tube)
The vibe: 34,000 people converge in Lloyd Park for two days of live music, culture and family fun.
What’s on: Live music, street theatre, circus acts, street food festivals, Barbican pop-up cinema, Mini Garden Party for under 5s.
Don’t miss: 2017 headliners to be announced; last year featured Asian Dub Foundation, Ana Tijoux and more.
Entry fees: FREE
Dates and times: 12pm-9.30pm (Sat) & 12pm-8pm (Sun) | Jul 15-16, 2017
Where: Victoria Park, Crown Gate, Victoria Park, Grove Road, Bow, London E3 5TB (Mile End tube)
The vibe: A summery session of live gigs, feasting, fashion boutiques and talk from the brains behind Superfly and Wilderness.
What’s on: Top music and loads on for families including Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave, Hackney Playbus, Arcola Theatre hosting sports and games tournaments etc.
Don’t miss: Foals, Bonobo, Laura Marling, Michael Kiwanuka, Oumou Sangare, Robots with Science Museum, Hoop Hop with Charlene the Hoola Queen and more!
Entry fees: Adult or child age 12+ £55.25/child 6-11 £5/under 5s FREE – juniors must buy ticket
Dates and times: 12pm-10.30pm | Jul 16, 2017
Deer Shed Festival
Where: Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, Y07 3PH (Grand Central trains direct from Kings Cross to Thirsk rail station)
The vibe: Friendly event run by parents.
What’s on: Left-field music, cinema, cabaret, graffiti, tech tent; for kids there’s soft play, 8 tons of play sand, sports field, birds of prey, cardboard city etc.
Don’t miss: Teenage Fan Club, Kate Tempest, The Divine Comedy, Ibibio Sound Machine, Edinburgh Festival Fringe kids theatre picks and more!
Entry fees: Adult full weekend camping £145/child 6-11 £45/child 3-5 £10/under 3s FREE but require ticket
Dates and times: 10am (Fri) to 12pm (Mon) | Jul 21-23, 2017
The vibe: Astonishing roster of acts at this fun, friendly festival that’s loved by critics and visitors alike.
What’s on: Wonders of the Ancient World is 2016’s theme, with music, captivating crafts, Little Wonderland kids area, Velveteen Valley and other entertainment.
Don’t miss: Seasick Steve, Happy Mondays, Sugarhill Gang, General Levy, Velveteen Valley Cabaret…
Entry fees: Adult full weekend camping £115-£125/child 13-17 £85-£95 (SOLD OUT for 2017)/child under 12 FREE but require ticket
Dates and times: 5pm-11pm (Thu), 10am-11pm (Fri-Sun), festival ends 12pm (Mon) | Jul 21-23, 2017
Where: Lulworth Castle, Dorset, BH20 5SQ (Wareham or Wool rail/Big Green Coach from London Victoria station direct to Festival)
The vibe: The most awesome of family festivals (our personal favourite), Camp Bestival is little sister to Bestival and puts on a giant festi-holiday for all ages. 2017’s theme is Pop Stars & Rock Stars!
What’s on: Annual highlights include Big Fish Little Fish family raves, Mr Tumble, Insect Circus, Wall of Death, Insect Circus, Horrible Histories and Medieval Jousting, DJ sets from Rob Da Bank and friends and baby chill zones.
Don’t miss: Madness, Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds, Mark Ronson, Holly Johnson, All Saints, Ray BLK, Kate Nash, Right Said Fred and MANY more!
Entry fees: Adult weekend camping £197.50/ages 13-17 £125/ages 10-12 £98.75/ages 5-9 £45/ages 4 and under £15/babes in arms ages 1 and under FREE but ticket required. Weekly payment plan available.
Dates and times: 10am (Thu) to 2pm (Mon) | Jul 27-30, 2017
Where: Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire (Charlbury rail/Big Green Coach direct to festival site from Victoria station)
The vibe: Wonderful and weird, an even more family friendly alternative to Secret Garden Party
What’s on: Theatre and arts, live music, food and drink, well-being; for kids there’s games, storytelling, body painting and more. Book early for Mortimer Nannies boutique babysitting!
Don’t miss: Two Door Cinema Club, Grace Jones, Bonobo, Ray BLK, Toots & the Maytals, An Evening with Ronnie Scott’s, A Sunday of Nina Simone with Laura Mvula and loads more fun.
Entry fees: Weekend camping adult from £189.25 + booking fees/junior age 6-12 £39.75/child (0-5) £6.25 (all tickets subject to booking fees)
Dates and times: 2pm (Thu) to 12pm (Mon) | Aug 3-6, 2017
Disco Loco in the Park
Where: Springfield Park, Upper Clapton Rd, E5 9EF (Clapton overground/Stoke Newington rail/Manor House tube)
The vibe: The East London ‘rave for folk with kids’ presents its pop-up festival in gorgeous Springfield Park, one of our favourite ways to wind down the summer!
What’s on: Eclectic live acts, hot DJ sets, kids’ theatre and installations, street food and surprises.
Don’t miss: Check the web site for the full line-up as it’s yet to be announced.
Entry fees: FREE
Dates and times: 11am-6pm | Aug 12, 2017
Where: Matterley Estate, Alresford rd, Nr Winchester. Hampshire. SO21 1HW (Winchester rail)
The vibe: Anarchic and psychedelic, Boomtown Fair presents as a ‘city’ with its own mythology.
What’s on: Hype acts, funfair rides, dedicated KidzTown with workshops, crafts, circus skills and Sandcastle Stage.
Don’t miss: 2 Bad Mice, Aardvark, Baby Queens, Asian Hawks, 47 Soul, Brinsley Forde of Aswad and many more.
Entry fees: Weekend camping tickets adult (coach traveller) from £170; child 0-12 FREE (other tickets generally available but SOLD OUT for 2017: family from £270/teen 13-17 from £135)
Dates and times: Gates 12pm-10pm (Thu), 10am-10pm (Fri-Sun), festival ends 12pm (Mon) | Aug 10-13, 2017
Where: near Crickhowell, Brecon Beacons, Wales (Abergavenny rail)
The vibe: Atmospheric Green Man has a brilliant reputation with families and features music that appeals to hipsters and hippies alike.
What’s on: Top bands, film, talks, adult workshops and a cordoned off children’s area with live acts, storytelling, arts and crafts etc.
Don’t miss: PJ Harvey, Ryan Adams, Future Islands, Kate Tempest, Irvine Welsh, Michael Kiwanuka, workshops and more!
Entry fees: Various prices for camping from weekend (3 days) to settler’s pass (7 days), adult £180-£225/teen £185-£225/little folk (5-12) £20-£30/child under 5 FREE but require a ticket
Dates and times: 10am (Mon 15) to 10am (Mon 21) | Aug 17-20, 2017
Just So Festival
Where: Rode Hall Estate, Stoke-on-Trent, ST7 3QP (Kidsgrove rail)
The vibe: Lovely, intimate and artsy event, perfect first festival experience for babies, toddlers and younger kids. Also posh showers and some of the cleanest loos we’ve experienced at a festival!
What’s on: Eclectic music acts, Silver Screen outdoor cinema, Away with the Fairies forest installation, Spellbound Forest, Peekaboo baby tent, Pillow Fight, Midnight Feast, Tribal Tournament fancy dress finale.
Don’t miss: Cut a Shine barn dance, Footlights music stage, Charleston Workshops, Retro Discos and much more…
Entry fees: Adult weekend camping £140/day £50; child (3-15) weekend £50/day £20; campervan/caravan pass £50; under 3s FREE (all tickets subject to booking fees)
Dates and times: From 12pm (Fri), main site opens 2pm | Aug 18-20, 2017
Where: Escot Park, Devon, EX11 1LU (National Rail to Feniton station)
The vibe: The Levellers’ multiple award-winning festival has a great setting and a soft spot for families.
What’s on: Brilliant bands, camping and a massive Children’s Area with storytelling, circus, dress-up, crafts, music
Don’t miss: Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, Levellers, Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls, The Sisters of Mercy, Alison Moyet, Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave…
Entry fees: Adult weekend camping £135/child ages 10-15, £65/child ages 5-9, £35/under 5s £5
Dates and times: Gates to car park from 12pm, camp site from 2pm | Aug 18-20, 2017
Where: Alex James’ farm near Kingham, Oxfordshire, OX7 6UJ (Kingham rail)
The vibe: Camping festival for serious foodies, run by Jamie Oliver on his mate Alex James’ farm. Urban grooves with a countryfied twist. Now launched in Canada too!
What’s on: Headline acts, chefs’ tents and stages, workshops and tastings, Little Dudes’ den, Big Top tent, vintage funfair…
Don’t miss: Hacienda Classical, Olly Murs, De La Soul, Norman Jay MBE, Madness, Faithless DJ set and loads more!
Entry fees: Adult camping ticket £189.50/weekend ticket non-camping £159.50/day ticket £69-£84.50; teen 13-17 camping ticket £114.50/weekend ticket non-camping £94.50/day ticket £42.25-£52.25; under 12s camping ticket £47.25; under 12 weekend ticket non-camping £31.15; under 12 day ticket FREE but ticket still required
Dates and times: | Aug 25-27, 2017
Notting Hill Carnival
Where: Notting Hill and surrounding areas (Westbourne Park tube exit only, see TFL web site closer to date for transport advice)
The vibe: Europe’s biggest street party brings a taste of the Caribbean to West London and close to 2 million revellers.
What’s on: Colourful carnival floats, sound systems, steel pans, costumed dancers, delicious street food and multicultural merriment.
Don’t miss: Sunday is traditionally Children’s Day, less hectic and a chance to watch the little cuties in costume strut their stuff!
Entry fees: FREE
Dates and times: From around 9am-7pm | Aug 27-28 (every last August Bank Holiday weekend)
End of the Road Festival
Where: Larmer Tree Gardens, Blandford, Dorset, SP7 0PP (Salisbury rail/Big Green Coach direct from Victoria)
The vibe: Small but critically acclaimed festival in beautiful Dorset, magical end to the family festival season.
What’s on: Music, comedy, film, food, workshops + Children’s Area with games area (table tennis, bowling and more).
Don’t miss: Father John Misty, Band of Horses, Lucinda Williams, the Jesus and Mary Chain…
Entry fees: Adult weekend camping £188/young person 13-17 £145/child 6-12 £70/child 3-5 £40/under 3s FREE
Dates and times: 12pm (Thu)-12pm (Mon) | Aug 31-Sep 3, 2017
Where: Multiple venues and spaces along the river Thames: Richmond, Kew, Brentford, Hammersmith, Imperial Wharf, Wandsworth, Vauxhall, South Bank, More London, St Katharine Docks and the Isle of Dogs
The vibe: The two-day Mayor’s Thames Festival morphed into a month-long spectacular of arts and cultural events to celebrate the river.
What’s on: Past highlights include The Great River Race; Handel’s Fireworks Music and Illuminations; The Big Thames Tidy and dozens more.
Don’t miss: Full programme for 2017 to be released in July.
Entry fees: Prices vary, many activities are FREE
Dates and times: Daily (times vary) | Sep 1-30
On Blackheath Festival
Where: Blackheath Common, London SE3 0UA (Lewisham, Blackheath, Greenwich rail/North Greenwich tube)
The vibe: Fantastic family friendly weekend with relaxed vibe and lots of food and fun on the line-up! Previous acts include Grace Jones, Manic Street Preachers, Madness, Kelis, Massive Attack and other big names.
What’s on: Headliner and curated music stages, Food Village with supper club, kids area with special shows, crafts, dance floor workshops
Don’t miss: Travis, The Libertines, De La Soul, KT Tunstall, The Cuban Brothers, Jake Bugg, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and more…
Entry fees: Adult day ticket from £49.50, weekend £90 (disabled adult tickets same price but includes 1 adult carer)/child 12-16 day ticket £30, weekend £55/child 5-12 day ticket £10, weekend £15 (limited tickets); under 5s FREE but ticket required
Dates and times: 12pm-10.30pm (Sat) & 12pm-10pm (Sun); Sep 9-10, 2017
Festivals We Have Loved and Lost
Somersault Festival (usually in Jul )
Lovely sounding festival created by the team behind Wilderness Festival. On a break for 2016.
LolliBop Festival (usually in Aug)
The big bash for little people has taken a break for the past couple of years, but do keep an eye on the website for further updates.
We also loved: Ben & Jerry’s Sundae in the Park; London Green Fair; Big Chill Festival
More Family Friendly Festivals in London and UK
Brighton Fringe (May 5-Jun 4)
England’s largest arts festival and one of the world’s biggest fringe festivals, more than 900 events including circus, puppet shows, international dance acts, comedy… all by the lovely seaside!
Norfolk and Norwich Festival (May 12-28)
Two weeks of music, arts, circus cabaret and loads of action for kids. £5-£55, some events free. Ticket hotline 44 (0)1603 766400
International Meeting of Styles (May 27-28)
Head to Brick Lane for this festival of live street painting with graffiti artists doing their stuff, kids workshops, pop up food and bar stalls, mini market and live music from Ghosttown, Blabbamouf and more. And it’s FREE entry!
Funk the Format & Funk the Family Festival (Jun 17-18)
Described as the ’Notting Hill Carnival in the Heart of Brighton’, this fun, affordable festival on the last weekend of Brighton Fringe offers 2 days of music and good times with circus, yoga, storytelling and Punch & Judy on the line-up.
The Cally Festival (Jun 18)
Hugely popular FREE street party that takes over Caledonian Rd each summer, with live music, dance workshops, street stalls, pop up poetry performances and a fun neighbourhood vibe.
Glastonbury (Jun 21-25)
The largest UK festival is baby and family friendly, that’s if you don’t mind crowds of 100,000+. Tickets fly faster than you can say Glas… so register early and keep everything crossed for 2018 and beyond!
British Summer Time at Hyde Park
There’s no Family Day for the massive summer concert series in 2016, but there are funfairs, nappy changing facilities and use your discretion for shows featuring Green Day, Phil Collins, The Killers, Kings of Leon, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Justin Bieber and other top names! (Jun 30-Jul 9)
Blissfields (Jul 6-8)
Metronomy and The Cinematic Orchestra top the bill for 2017, plus Angel Gardens for families at this highly rated festival in Hampshire.
Cornbury Festival (Jul 7-9)
A truly mixed musical bag plus a Kids Zone with Bollywood dancing, circus skills, puppet making and more in a picturesque Oxfordshire setting.
Whitecross Street Party (Jul 15)
Another brilliant FREE street party that combines ‘rise of the nonconformists’ theme with a very family friendly feel, offering kids activities and arts, street art to view and to create, music and delicious food from popular Whitecross Street market stalls.
Secret Garden Party (Jul 20-23)
The Secret Garden festival attracts huge acts and is aimed at an adventurous crowd. Family camping pass entitles 3 adults and unlimited kids wristbands to the family camping site.
Womad (Jul 27-30)
An oldie but a goodie for some 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.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Aug 4-28)
The world’s largest arts festival features loads of activities for families, from circus and dance, to puppet theatre and the ever popular Baby Loves Disco.
Shambala Festival (Aug 24-27)
Some fab music acts, a magical feeling and carnival atmosphere in Northamptonshire with an action-packed Kids Field and Bees creche for ages 2-7!
Family Friendly Festivals in Europe!
Meadows in the Mountain, Bulgaria (Jun 9-11)
Inspired by the legendary Burning Man in Nevada, this family friendly and eco-happy festival offers a stunning backdrop, DJs, live acts, and activities ranging from horse riding and ziplining. Don’t miss the festival finale pool party! Tickets from £120 (final release) for 3 days (separate fee for pool party). Keep your eyes on the website for more info.
Weekend Au Bord De L’Eau, Lake Geronde in Sierre (City of Sun), Switzerland (Jun 30-Jul 2)
Surprisingly affordable and delicious sounding festival on the edge of Lake Geronde, with cool mix of DJs and live performances. Go for beach volleyball, water sports, film screenings and an exclusive children’s area. 10th edition in 2016! Very affordable weekend prices and day tickets; kids go FREE.
Worldwide Festival, Sete, France (Jul 3-9)
Co-created by Gilles Peterson and inspired by his Worldwide show, the diverse festival features some massive names from the global DJ-sphere. Tickets from €40 for individual events (7 day and 4 day passes now SOLD OUT); many areas including beach stage, plus entry to all afternoon shows are FREE.
Beglika Festival, Bulgaria (Aug 25-28)
Another cheap but charming sounding festival held in the mountains and forests of Bulgaria, offering day care plus arts and crafts for young kids, DJs, live bands and an eco-friendly attitude. Currently crowd funding for 2016. Tickets from £32 for 4 days.
Photos courtesy: Hay Festival, Greenwich + Docklands Festival, Camp Bestival, Just So Festival, On Blackheath Festival, Sunsplash Festival