GoMunkee’s been checking out the varied family-friendly festivals this summer within striking distance of the South East. Festivals used to be about hedonism and staying up all night. Now, the original party people still want to have fun and ensure that their children have a wonderful time too. The number of festivals in the UK has rocketed in recent years and there’s huge diversity in the offer – music, entertainment, cookery, curiosity, adventure, literary, circus, bushcraft… And loads of fun for children, teens and families, with many festivals just for children or putting family at the centre.
Book early for tickets, as most festivals sell out months ahead.
Camp Bestival at Dreamland 6-22 April 2019 - Margate
Camp Bestival is bringing a taste of its legendary family festival to Margate, taking over Dreamland during the Easter Holidays. As well as all the favourite Dreamland rides, roller disco and arcade fun, there’ll robots, crafts and bouncing on the World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle. Booking required.
Dreamland, Margate CT9 1XS
Award-winning favourites, Big Fish Little Fish, return to The Enchanted Forest at Groombridge Place with a ‘Myth and Magic’ themed family rave (for families with children aged 0-8 – but all ages are welcome). DJ legends, 2 Bad Mice, will be playing a classic mix of acid house, techno and drum ‘n’ bass. Children can frolic under confetti cannons, bubbles and giant balloons. They can enjoy Captain Cookie’s craft tables, a giant colouring-in mural, transfer tattoos and a parachute dance finale. At Big Fish, Little Fish there’s a barbecue, refreshments, ice cream and face-painting stall.
Please note that this is an outdoor event. Fancy dress is encouraged. All unicorns, dragons, fauns, elves and fairies welcome!
The Enchanted Forest, Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells TN3 9QG
Faerie Festival 17-19 May 2019 - East Sussex
Pleasant Rise Farm, Cuckmere Road, Alfriston BN26 5TN
Elderflower Fields - The Family Festival
24-27 May 2019 - East Sussex
Elderflower Fields is a three-day, green field camping festival, designed especially for families with children. A wild weekend adventure, packed full of music, sports, nature and the arts, all set in the heart of the beautiful Sussex countryside. Make giant bubbles and mud pies, find fairy doors, listen to stories, create science experiments, dance to music, relax in hammocks, ride down the hill on skateboards and learn to cook on a campfire. Three stages across the site for all day performances, music and storytelling.
Peppingford Park Manor, Nutley, Uckfield TN22 3HW
Geronimo - The Children's Festival
24-27 May 2019 - Cheshire
Not local to Kent, but for kids, this is the big one. Geronimo has been described by the Daily Mirror as ‘Glastonbury for Kids’. This ‘ultimate family festival in the UK’ has a children’s field like no other and caters solely to the very young, allowing families to connect in a fairytale existence for an amazing, dressing up, fun weekend of wonderful things to see and do. There’s a Pony Grand National, zip wire, fort building, jousting, escape rooms, rifle range, life-size puppets, tree nets, archery, a dog display and more, with performances from Cook & Line, Stink-o-saurus (Mr Yipadee and Rebecca), Rajasthan Superstars, Junior Frood and more. Early bird (discounted) tickets are now on sale, increasing in price the nearer the date looms, so book now.
Arley Hall & Gardens, Arley, Northwich CW9 6NA
With its laid back, family-friendly atmosphere, everywhere you’ll see kids running around, chasing bubbles, trying circus skills and dancing to the live music.
With optional camping and something to satisfy all appetites, there’s no wonder Wychwood has been nominated as ‘Best Family Festival’ each year at the UK Festival awards.
Highlights during the three-day weekend include over 100 artists performing across four stages – plus carnival parades, dance and arts workshops, a circus school and a programme of talks, debates and comedy for all ages. For families there are family sing-a-longs, Tatty Bumpkin pre-school yoga, kids’ literature, poetry and Mr Dill’s World of Wonder, plus lots more.
Headlined this year by The Stranglers.
Cheltenham Racecourse GL50 4SH
Wealden Literary Festival 29-30 June 2019
The Wealden Literary Festival is an enchanting weekend of words and ideas – a celebration of nature, place and creativity through literature, the arts and food.
There’s something for people of all ages, a family-friendly festival with entrance for under 14s free. Author events, baby and toddler fun, creative workshops, magic, music and secret fairy-tale adventures through the woods can all be booked via the website.
Boldshaves Garden, Woodchurch, near Tenterden TN26 3RA
Chilham Chase and Chill 1 July 2019 near Canterbury
Fun-run, fete and all-day music festival. A full day of family fun and activities, games, food and drink including The Chilham Chase – a 2-mile fun obstacle race with prizes for various teams. There’ll be a birds of prey display from The Hawking Centre and classic cars provided by The Morgan Club.
Chilham Castle, Chilham, Canterbury CT4 8DB
Cornbury Music Festival 5-7 July 2019 - Oxfordshire
A high-end, open-air party in the Cotswolds. Apart from the cost of the fairground rides, most of the children’s activities are completely free. The supervised Kids’ Zone is right in the middle of the festival, so parents can drop in and out. Activities are all free for children.
For younger children – In the Craft & Making Venue there’s painting, crafts, messy play, dressing up, printing, felting, pom poms, headdress making, mask making, colouring and more.
In the Circus Tent there are circus skills, juggling, magic tricks and clowning around.
At the Workshops and Shows Venue – Ukulele for Kids, disco party, Baby Bops, Toddle Bops, Punch & Judy, Pirate Puppet, pantomime, samba drumming, kids’ yoga, drum workshops, singing and more.
Outdoors – Giant den building, balloon and clay modelling.
For teenagers – The Mayflower Tent is a unique, bespoke place for them to hang out. This is a comfortable setting where young festival-goers can take part in activities and workshops or slump on sofas and roll their eyes at parents enjoying themselves.
Older party-goers can soak up the atmosphere and enjoy time with (or away from) their family. Initial line-up in 2019 includes music from The Beach Boys, Keane, The Specials and The Hairy Bikers Festival Feast.
A range of different ticket options now on sale.
The Great Tew Park, Great Tew OX7 4AF
Latitude 18-21 July 2019 - Suffolk
With activities and entertainment for kids, teens and families now spread across three exciting areas, it’s no wonder Latitude has previously won Best Family Festival and ‘Best Family Day Out’.
This is an authentic pop festival, set in the beautiful grounds of Henham Park, Suffolk. Arranged around the Latitude Lake is a stunning kids’ area, where children are entertained by fire shows, circus skills and performance, screen printing, wildlife crafts, award-winning authors, archaeology and history, yoga, pizza-making, traditional woodland crafts and a host of exciting science experiments.
Henham Park, Beccles, Suffolk NR34 8AN
From the Canopy Stage there’s a full line-up of family friendly comedy, live music and shows, plus Saturday and Sunday morning family socials. There’s also an Inbetweeners’ Teen Area. Here, teenagers can take part in music, media, fashion and technology workshops, or learn wildlife survival skills.
Headliners on the big stage in 2019 include George Ezra, Snow Patrol and Lana del Rey.
Nozstock - The Hidden Valley 18-21 July 2019 Hertfordshire
Nozstock is the family-run festival with a big heart. Nozstock – The Hidden Valley is an annual, independent arts and music festival hosting ten stages of live music and acoustic stages, DJ stages, a hip-hop stage, a psychedelic trance stage, stage, one theatre and cabaret tent, one comedy tent which becomes an electro swing speakeasy after dark, a cinema tent, as well as a roaming spoken word tent and circus, fire and performance walkabout acts.
The big line-up, includes Rudimental and Soul II Soul.
Rowden Paddocks, Bromyard, Hertfordshire HR7 4LS
Larmer Tree Festival 18-21 July 2019 - Dorset
Larmer Tree Festival is the quintessential summer party, set in the fanciest of pleasure gardens. Larmer Tree Festival has cemented itself as one of the UK’s most loved and long-standing small festivals thanks to the combination of its breath-taking location, extraordinary and creative events with shedloads of fun stuff to delight, entertain and inspire for all the family.
The Festival has been awarded the UK Festival Awards for ‘Best Family Festival’ and ‘Best Toilets’ by festival-goers for the coolest, cleanest loos. Headline acts in 2019 include Jack Savoretti, KT Tunstall and Gomez.
Early Bird tickets are available, but sell out quicky. The good news is that under 10s go free for the weekend.
Cranbourne Chase, Dorset
Camp Bestival 25-28 July 2019 - Dorset
The theme for 2019 is Heroes vs Superheroes, so prepare for departure to the biggest fancy-dress party ever, on a journey of festi-holiday fun fit for all the family. Headliners include Nile Rogers & Chic, Jess Glynne and Lewis Capaldi
As ever, family shows and entertainment are front and centre of the promenade deck, with top billing turns from long-time Camp Bestival legend, Mr Tumble plus Mr Maker and the Shapes. Head to the Pirate Sandpit, the Dingly Dell (featuring den building and tree climbing), Crafty Cabin for knitting and tie-dye, the Insect Circus and Museum, Bigtopmania Kids’ Theatre and Circus, Spinney Hollow Woodland Crafts and the sports park and skate ramps. Plus teen talks and special events just for parents (about being parents). So much to cram into just four days and nights.
Early bird tickets now available. Complicated price range of tickets for children, depending on their ages. https://campbestival.net
bOing! Kent's International Family Festival 24-25 August 2019 - Canterbury
University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NB
Curious Arts Festival 23-26 August 2019 East Sussex
A quirky festival of music, literature, comedy and irresistibly Curious happenings. This boutique festival is held in the lush gardens of Peppingford Park in Ashdown Forest. Everything’s just a bit curious, as you’d expect. There’ll be a massive choice of children’s activities on offer in 2019 to engross and exhaust little ones of all ages. Events are updated all the time. Children can enjoy a Curious Bear Hunt through the Park and budding writers may explore The Week Junior Journalism Course or attend the writing workshop. There are bedtime stories every evening as well as bat walks and an Alice in Wonderland Party. For grown-ups, there’s poetry, bookish talks by best-selling authors and live music, live stand-up, arts and crafts and immersive adventures…
Peppingford Park Manor, Nutley, Uckfield TN22 3HW
England's Medieval Festival 24-26 August 2019 East Sussex
A weekend packed with outdoor medieval-themed activities, set in the grounds of an amazing castle. The castle is the centrepiece of the entertainment, coming under siege and battle daily by re-enactors. Be enthralled by jousting, watch a longbow contest, cover your ears when the cannon is fired. Grand parades, medieval puppet shows, strolling minstrels, jesters, wizards and 12ft giants circulate. There’s a Kids’ Kingdom with staged performances, living history encampments and over 200 craftsmen and merchants plying their trades. A great day out for all the family.
Wartling Road, Herstmonceux, Hailsham BN27 1RN
The Big Feastival 23-25 August 2019 - Cotswolds
Food is at the heart of this festival, where children are encouraged to cook at this mouth-wateringly good Bank Holiday weekend. Held on former Blur bassist, Alex James’ Cotswold farm, it’s a guaranteed mix of fabulous food and high-end celebrity spotting – Raymond Blanc and Pru Leith will be two of the top chefs cooking up a feast this year. 2019’s musical line-up, includes Elbow, Rudimental and Jess Glynne.
For the kids there’s Justin Fletcher, Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig. Small chefs can head to the NEFF Kids’ Kitchen for hands-on cookery classes. Adam Henson will be introducing feathered and furry friends and kids children can become Greenleaf Tree Climbers – at the top they’ll have the best views of the festival. There are numerous international street food outlets, and kids can visit the RAU Vegetable Patch where they can learn about the journey from field to fork. The Big Feastival features a vintage funfair, complete with dodgems and a helter-skelter.
Alex James’ Farm, Kingham OX7 6UJ