As someone who’s been camping every year of my life, it’s probably quite difficult to believe that I’ve never been to a festival. Not once. No wild weekends as a teenager at V Festival. No jumping in muddy puddles at Glastonbury. And no late night music sessions under the stars at Bestival. I didn’t used to think they were ‘for me’. I’m not much of a party animal, and from what I knew of music festivals, they were loud, expensive, alcohol fueled all-night parties without the ability to shower, and nothing about that sounded appealing to me. But as I’ve gotten older (and some would argue wiser), I’ve realised those aren’t the only type of music festival around. There are literally festivals to suit all tastes, styles and interests, and it’s definitely time to experience one for myself. Here are some family-friendly festivals I’ve got my eyes on.

Timber Festival

Timber Festival in the National Forest

Image Credit: Andrew Allcock

When I first heard about Timber Festival, I couldn’t believe just how up our street it sounded.

Timber is a joint venture between Wild Rumpus and the National Forest Company who are coming together to create a family friendly weekend camping festival exploring the transformative impact of forests, through a diverse programme of wellbeing activities, sustainability, music, art, theatre, ideas, talks and debates, and adventures. The ethos behind the festival is to re-connect young minds and the young-at-heart with our natural surroundings, promoting curiosity, learning, courage, personal development, social skills and familial bonding within the context of wild landscapes.

I’ve not shied away from talking about how much spending time outside means to us as a family, and so the ethos of Timber speaks to me, and it’s exactly the kind of message I’d like Pickle to be surrounded by. I’m imagining a weekend spent exploring nature, with magical, ethereal surprises galore. I’m particularly excited about the premiere of Seek, Find, Speak, an outside theatrical adaptation of Robert Macfarlane’s book The Lost Words: a forest theatre-trail for all ages, featuring 3D installations like spells wrapped in gold lettering around trees, and guided by Goldfinch performers. Oh, and there’s a whole outdoor spa section with hot-tubs, a dry Finnish barrel sauna, hot showers and a beauty corner with mirrors, hair dryers and GHDs. Sounds like heaven.

Bathing under the Sky at Timber Festival

When? 6th – 8th July 2018

Where? The National Forest, Swadlincote, DE12 6DQ

Cost? Adult day tickets start at £35, Adult weekend camping tickets are £130, Under 3s are free.

Find out more: Timber Festival

Cornbury Festival

Image Credit: Ben Phillips Photography

Image Credit: Ben Phillips Photography

I first heard about Cornbury Festival when I worked as a barista in Caffe Nero, as they’re one of the festival’s sponsors. I always quite liked the mix of music we played in the coffee shop, and so that’s the musical vibe I imagined Cornbury Festival would have, and judging by the line up for this year, I’m not far off the mark. A couple of months ago, whilst we were having a family afternoon at the Arrow Valley Lake, I spotted a flyer and one name in particular on it caught my interest. I passed it over to LPD (Little Pickle’s Dad) and tested him to see if it’d mean as much to him as it did me… It did stump him a little bit, but he got there in the end!

LPD trying to figure out what I was excited about on the Cornbury Festival flyer

You see, playing on Sunday at Cornbury Festival is Marc Cohn. His song True Companion was our first dance at our wedding. And I can’t tell you how much it would mean to me to stand in a field, arm in arm with LPD, dancing to the song being played live. The festival is much more family friendly than I had imagined too – there’s a whole kids section in which all the activities are free (music to any parent’s ears) and there’s also a dedicated hangout tent for teens. Add the Hairy Bikers to the mix, and it sounds like a wonderfully vibrant, exciting weekend.

Cornbury Festival with child on stilts

Image Credit: Ben Phillips Photography

I’ve been reading lots of reviews from other family bloggers to see what it’s like taking your children, and it all sounds really positive! This lovely review from Travel Loving Family is practically glowing, and I just love this video from What Alex Did.

Cornbury Music Festival 2018 line up flyer

When? 13th – 15th July 2018

Where? The Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire

Cost? Adult day tickets from £84, Adult weekend camping ticket from £226, Children aged 0-2 are free.

Find out more: Cornbury Music Festival

Underneath the Stars Festival

A few years ago, my parents headed up north to the folk-tastic Underneath the Stars festival. At the time, they were looking after two gorgeous girls (aged two and three at the time, I think) so they proved to me that festivals with toddlers is possible! I love listening to folk music and so this sounds absolutely brilliant, and it sounds wonderfully family friendly.

When? 20th – 22nd July 2018

Where? Cinderhill Farm, near Barnsley

Cost? Adult weekend tickets from £110, under 7s go free.

Find out more: Underneath the Stars Festival

Do you have any family-friendly festival recommendations?

Have you been to any really good family friendly festivals? I’d love to hear your recommendations for ones we should be keeping our eyes open for – either a last minute booking for this year or to look ahead to for next year. I’m super excited to be getting into the festival spirit this year, and will be sure to write more about how we get on. Any tips or handy festival hacks I need to know? Let me in on your secret knowledge if you have some!