Grayson experienced his 3rd “big” festival this year, as we took our annual (well, apart from last year, thanks Covid) pilgrimage to Latitude Festival a couple of weeks ago. We’re a huge fan of Latitude, for a few reasons, but mainly now, because it’s one of the family friendly festival, which means we can safely bring Grayson and he can enjoy all aspects of festival life from an early age. So here are our thoughts on Family Friendly Festivals.
For those that don’t know – me and Ashleigh have a bit of a history with Latitude. It was the first festival we went to together, and more importantly, it was where we got engaged. As the sun was setting over the famous pink sheep, just before Mumford and Sons (one of Ashleighs favourite bands) headlined, I got down on one knee and popped the question.
Little did we know that, at the time, Ashleigh was in the very early stages of pregnancy with Grayson. Fast forward 12 months, and we’re very proud parents organising our first visit to one of the family friendly festivals, with a 3 month old.
It’s really not as daunting as you might think, though.
Latitude is one of the bigger summer “Family friendly festivals”. This means that there is designated family camping, lots of events and activities for kids to enjoy, and extra facilities to accommodate children of all ages. With an average attendance of about 50,000 people, it’s always a great atmosphere, and attracts some great bands and artists.
Having been here in the PG era (Pre-Grayson), we knew what to expect. We knew that there were lots of shaded areas, for example, on hots days. We knew that there was ample first aid around the site. We knew that there was a designated kids area with rides and attractions. The other appeal for Latitude is that it’s really, really, really close to home. We live about 15 minutes drive away from the site, so should the worst happen, we could easily get back to the comfort of our own four walls. I appreciate that’s not possible for everyone, and for Grayson’s first festival, this wasn’t the case as we were living in Liverpool at the time.
Now this is really the key part. If you’re only going to a day, then it’s not so bad, we’ve all planned days out with our kids, so we know the drill. However, if you’re planning to stay the whole weekend at one of the family friendly festivals, and embrace the true festival life, then you’ll need to think a few things through!
- Plan your meals. Yes, there is food there – but the queues are often long, and the cost, well, expensive! We planned to have 2 paid meals a day, (Lunch and Tea, as we’d be in the arena) and the rest would be snacks at the tent. Based on that, you know roughly what you need to bring in advance
- Snacks are your friend! Pre-packaged, sealed snacks. Malt loaf, raisin boxes, crisps. Yes, it’s not the healthy lifestyle we all try to embrace, but you’re in a field, out in the fresh air. A few crisps won’t do any harm in moderation.
- You can never bring too many clothes for your kid(s). Strangely, I was the one who ended up running out of clothes after a cider spill and being covered in bubble liquid!
- Full body wipes are a life saver. There are showers, but if you’re looking to keep fresh and clean without the shower experience, then head to toe body wipe towels do the job.
- Bring wrist bands. Latitude are really good at handing out kids wrist bands that can’t easily be removed – you write your contact details on them and attach them to your child. It’s peace of mind if they do go wandering off. We’re quite lucky with Grayson – he’s never been one to venture far from sight, and would much prefer to hold a hand around busy areas than explore.
- Get a sturdy festival trolley! This was a life saver for us. We got this trolley off Amazon, and it was used to move all the camping gear from the car to the pitch (a good 30 min walk). It was then used every night to carry two toddlers around the festival site, along with our bag. It gave the kids a space to feel safe, and to snuggle up if they got tired. It also offered shelter from the sun, and the rain.
- Purchase some ear defenders / ear plugs. Festivals are loud, really loud. Your young ones might not appreciate that (and also, it could be damaging). You can get them on Amazon for a few quid. We let Grayson have his before we went so he was used to wearing them.
What to expect
Lots of fun, and lots of memory making! We’ve enjoyed every single year – and the older that Grayson gets, the more he can enjoy. It’s amazing to see his face when the music starts and it’s a song he knows (he’s a big music fan, Rick Astley was a hit this year for him!) It can be quite overwhelming for a toddler when you’re amongst to many people, so we always tried to set up towards the back of the main stage, and out of the way of the main footfall.
There is always something to see and do – so if the artist on the main stage isn’t your cup of tea, then you can head to one of the many other areas. A walk in the woods, or around the lake, or head to the children’s areas and do some crafting, fair ground rides. Failing that, head back to the tent and try and get a nap in – we pretty much forced Gracie to nap (he doesn’t normally now) so he could enjoy the main band in the evening without getting grumpy. I put together a reel of our time there, too.
Yes – there are drunk people walking around – but we’ve never felt at risk or threatened by this. It’s a festival, a time for people to let their hair down and relax. Even more so given the past 18 months that we’ve all lived for. We encountered nothing but friendly, happy people who were enjoying themselves.
If you camp – then just ensure you get the family campsite, not the normal campsite. Any of the Family Friendly Festivals will have a family camping area. Latitudes family camping has its own entrance to the arena, so you avoid the big queues there. It also has nicer, more family friendly toilet facilities, and in general, the people around are a bit more respectful of the fact that there are children around!
It’s also good to mention – we went with family – which makes things that little bit easier in terms of hands to carry things, and eyes to watch small people (it did mean we had 3 children between us (4 adults), but it was great!) From an adult point of view – having family with you means it’s easier to escape off and see those acts that you want to see, but the kids might not (or that might not be appropriate). I was extremely grateful for Ashleigh and Kirstie keeping an eye on the sleeping kids whilst I skipped off to watch Hot Chip late at night – something Grayson wouldn’t have enjoyed (very noisy, smokey, and inside a huge dark tent)
Really, if I’m honest – I’d say just go for it. If you don’t try one of the family friendly festivals, then you don’t know if you’ll enjoy it or not! I promise that your kid(s) will have a blast – and once you’ve calmed your own nerves, you’ll enjoy it too! We wouldn’t hesitate to attend any of the family friendly festivals, but Latitude is top of our list every year, and the moment the tickets are released, we snap them up.
It’s a great experience every year – and hopefully as Grayson gets older, he’ll be quite festival savvy – when he’s old enough to go on his own, he’ll be fully prepared to make the most of his time there, safely.
If you’re looking for other family friendly festivals, check out this page. Or if you’re wanting to read more of our reviews and opinions, just click here. You can also read our previous Latitude review, here! If you have any questions about taking your children to a festival, pop them in the comments below and we’ll try our best to help!