WORDS: Family Point Daddy
After a wet and windy start it seems that we are finally emerging into summer 2015, ready to shed our layers and do everything al fresco. If you’re anything like me, around about now you’ll be making the annual promise to yourself that you’ll take the family to a festival of some description, with summery visions of the kids running free. You’ll also want to smugly show off that Ramones t-shirt you bought your 4-year-old daughter from H+M, and introduce your offspring to some of the bands you like (and live music in general), and why not.
In recent years the great British festival has become a more family-friendly affair. Glastonbury’s decision to erect an impenetrable fence to keep the riffraff out has proven effective in drawing more of the previously hesitant middle classes in, and no one can deny how fantastic the experience is. However, Glastonbury costs a cowing fortune. Although children aged 12 and under get in free, an adult ticket costs £220 plus booking fee. While some would argue that the price reflects the six-day goliath of all entertainment, not many of us have got the disposable income to indulge ourselves.
With that in mind, below are some budget to moderate festivals you can head to in Wales and beyond with the family. Your suggestions, experiences and festival family survival tips are very welcome, so please get in touch to share them.
Sefton Park, Liverpool
Website says: “Now in its 23rd year, Africa Oyé attracted record crowds of around 80,000 in 2014 to the two-day, family-friendly city event.”
We say: Many North Walians think little of chipping across the Mersey for a night out in Liverpool, so a free festival like this should be a no-brainer. It is the largest celebration of live African music in the UK, so as you can imagine the music and cuisine are outstanding, as are the dance and music workshops. There is also a kids’ area with bouncy castles, face painting, fun activities and a ‘new and improved’ funfair.
More info: www.africaoye.com
THE BIG CHEESE
Website says: “It’s medieval meets funfair – complete with Ferris wheel, a helter-skelter and food stalls. Just seen a troupe of chain-mailed soldiers clunking across the drawbridge? Nothing out of place about that, but don’t be surprised to perhaps see them followed by a pack of giant smurfs.”
We say: This is a quality festival that encompasses most of what’s great about being outdoors: good food and drink, live music, beautiful surroundings and activities for the kids.
More info: http://your.caerphilly.gov.uk/bigcheese/home-page
BRECON JAZZ FESTIVAL
Tickets: various for gigs / kids’ zone free (booking necessary)
Website says: “New for 2015 is an additional venue, Brecon Elim Church, with a 200-capacity and a pedigree in staging concerts of its own, where the Western Power Kid Zone will engage local children in making music.”
We say: Give the little ones the chance to engage with music on a grassroots level. Most people have made the pilgrimage to Brecon Jazz at some point in their lives, and with good reason. The town itself is stunning, with a picturesque river running through it and some nice kids’ activities and parks available.
More info: www.breconjazz.com
BRISTOL HARBOUR FESTIVAL
Website says: “If you are a fan of arts, circus, dance, music, boats, nautical capers, good food and drink and general enjoyment – make sure you put that weekend in your diary.”
We say: It’s not far or costly to get to Bristol, so you could combine this free event with a mooch around the city’s shops and parks. The kids will sleep well that night!
More info: www.bristolharbourfestival.co.uk
THE GREEN GATHERING
Piercefield Park, Chepstow
Tickets: adults £95 / ages 11-15 £54 / under 11s free
Website says: “One of the joys of the Green Gathering is seeing free-range children running around with new friends in open fields!”
We say: Last year this was given Festival Kidz Gold Award status, which counts for a lot when choosing what’s best for your little tikes. Bare feet and tie-dye abound, and one of the bands playing is called Formidable Vegetable Sound System, which in itself is reason enough to go.
More info: www.greengathering.org.uk
Tickets: adults from £105 / teens from £85 / under 13s free
Website says: “Our main priority is making sure everyone has the best weekend possible, whether you’re age 1 to 100! With this in mind the crew get together every year to talk fun for small people, so we can cater for families with kids of every age and provide fun in a safe environment all weekend long.”
We say: Everyone we know who has been here says how great it is. Their Enchanted Glade dedicated kids area provides crafts, activities and entertainment for littl’uns and parents alike.
More info: www.nozstock.com
THE ROYAL WELSH SHOW
The Royal Welsh Showground, Powys
Tickets: adults £23 / ages 5-16 £5 / under 5 free
Website says: “It provides something to interest everyone through its kaleidoscopic range of activities including forestry, horticulture, crafts, countryside sports, Sports Village and a 12-hour programme of exciting entertainment that continues throughout each of the four days of the
We say: A bargain price for four days of the chance to interact with every variety of farm animal, and more. The event comes with its own free app.
More info: www.rwas.co.uk/royal-welsh-show
River Thames, London
Website says: “Totally Thames takes place over the month of September and brings the river to life via an exciting season of arts, cultural and river events throughout the 42-mile stretch of the Thames.”
We say: Given that the average return ticket to The Big Smoke on the MegaBus costs £10, you could cherry-pick an event during this month, such as the Feast on the Bridge or Light Parade, and take the family for a daytrip on a reasonable budget. One of last year’s highlights was HippopoThames, a 21-metre plywood hippo that made its way slowly up and down the mighty London river.
More info: www.totallythames.org