Staying out for the summer.

With the sun now shining down on us all, my thoughts are turning to the summer holidays. Although neither Olivia and William are at school full-time yet, it’s a situation we will very soon be finding ourselves in. Heading away during July and August can get very expensive and I suspect we’ll be looking for fun things to do in the UK before glancing abroad at what’s on offer.

With a little bit of time booked off work later in the summer, I’ve been searching the internet for some ideas on days out to keep the children entertained. I came across a variety of different family friendly festivals so thought I’d share some of the ones I found. Here’s my rundown of what I think are some great sounding family friendly summer festivals in the UK.

Family Friendly Summer Festivals

Deer Shed Festival

Where: Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire

When: 19-21 July 2013

What is it? The Deer Shed Festival is a music, arts and science event held every year in North Yorkshire. It’s in its fourth year and has a different theme each year (last year it was ‘monsters’, this year it’s ‘machines’). You can go for part of it or stay for it all and camp.

Why is it perfect for families? There’s lots on offer: Edwyn Collins and Gaz Coombes (former frontman of Supergrass) will be 2 of more than 30 musical acts performing during the weekend; there’ll be a ‘cinema’ showing films including The Iron Giant; a ‘scrapheap challenge’ to build a “water worthy craft out of junk”; Meccano; Minecraft; and workshops to make all kinds of things like friendship bracelets, water bottle rockets, badges, furry mobile phone cases and balloon powered cars. Younger children will be catered for with Roald Dahl storytellers; a sports field; rounders; 8 tons of play sand; soft play; and, probably most excitingly for little children, a ‘cardboard city’ (because we all know that children can get the most joy out of simple cardboard boxes). Parents can hire trolleys to cart their campaign gear and offspring from car park to campsite. There are also highchairs and milk warming devices, as well as feeding and nappy changing facilities available.

How much? There’s a tiered ticketing system for the festival. You also have some camping accommodation options: either bring your own tent (at no extra cost) or hire a pre-erected one, or you could even plump for a luxury Tipi. Be warned though, Tipi’s look very cool but can cost between £395 and £615.

Deer Shed Festival
Image courtesy of the Deer Shed Festival
Pershore Plum Festival

Where: Vale of Evesham, Worcestershire

When: 28 July – 26 August 2013

What is it? For the whole month of August, Pershore in Worcestershire goes “plum-crazy”, paying homage to the healthy fruit. There’s a ‘Plum Princess Garden Party’ on the last Sunday if July before the festival officially kicks off on 3 August. There are lots of different events taking place at various times in the town (although most is kept until the August Bank Holiday) including an arts trail, coach tours, a fun fair and river boat trips.

Why is it perfect for families? Did I mention the fun fair? On Festival Day (26 August) there’s also a climbing wall, bouncy castle, arts workshop, zorbing, teddy bear zip wire races and teddy bear parachute jumps.

How much? The perfect price – free!

Happy Face in the Sky

Camp Bestival

Where: Lulworth Castle, Dorset

When: 1-4 August 2013

What is it? It’s become one of the ‘must go to’ festivals for families with young children featuring an array of music, shows, comedy acts and activities. It offers four different options for camping as well as a separate Campervan area for festival-goers.

Why is it perfect for families? There’s something for everyone. This year, Mark Owen, Ash, The Levellers, Labrinth, The Proclaimers and Billy Bragg will amongst the musical talent performing over the weekend. You’ll also be able to try your hand at making silent movies, zombie horror films and stop motion animation the BFI Film Club. There are 2 main areas for children at Bestival (although activities are spread across the whole site): the ‘Upper Kid’s Garden’ especially for the little ones and the ‘Lower Kid’s Garden’ for older children. Kids can learn a circus skill; take part in theatre, dance or even yoga workshops; have a go on the Bouncy Castle, bikes or go-carts available; play in the sandpit or soft play area; have their face painted; go on fairground rides…the list seems nearly endless. Mr. Tumble (AKA Justin Fletcher), Dick and Dom and Horrible Histories will also be putting on a show.

How much? Children aged ten or under go free but other tickets aren’t cheap. An adult ticket for the entire weekend with camping from the Friday costs £180 but rises to £190 if you want to camp over the night before as well. If you have an 11 to 14-year-old, their ticket will cost £98 and you can expect to pay £113 for a 15 to 17-year-old. Car parking is extra as are tickets for Campervans, caravans and trailer tents.

Camp Bestival 2009, by humbert15, on Flickr
Image courtesy of humbert15 | Flickr
Croissant Neuf Summer Party

Where: A secret location in Monmouthshire, Wales. You get emailed with the details once you have bought your tickets.

When: 8-11 August 2013

What is it? It’s the greenest festival in the UK (according to the 2012 UK Festival Awards). It’s a solar powered event with music, crafts, activities, workshops and some circus fun thrown into the mix too. It’s another festival where you can choose between visiting for one day only or camping for the whole festival.

Why is it perfect for families? As well as hosting nearly 40 musical acts on its 2 main stages, there’ll also be ‘Open Mic’ and informal jam sessions for anyone who wants to get involved. There’ll also be a circus; a dedicated crafts area; a Kids Zone with fun circus equipment to try out (tight-rope anyone?); fun games like tug-of-war, jousting and treasure hunts. On Sunday there’ll also be a lantern-making workshop before an evening procession to a fire-show on the Iron Age hill fort. For adults, there’ll be a pub for the first time and a range of relaxing therapies on offer from Indian Head Massage to reflexology.

How much? For a weekend ticket, expect to pay £ten5 for an adult, £60 for a teenager (aged between 13 and 16) and £40 for children who are 6 to 12-years-old. Little ones aged 5 or under go free. There’s an extra charge if you want to take a Campervan and regular car parking is an extra charge too. If you only want to go for one day, an adult ticket is £40, it’s £25 for teenagers and you’ll pay £15 for younger children.

Croissant Neuf Summer Party
Image courtesy of Croissant Neuf
Kids Fest

Where: Marsh Farm, Essex

When: ten-11 August 2013

What is it? Described as “like Glastonbury for kids”, this is a 2-day festival focused on children. This is the first ever Kids Fest and promises to be a good ‘un featuring a multitude of acts, shows, chill-out zones, workshops, fairground rides, a circus…and tons more.

Why is it perfect for families? This is most definitely one for the kids (although there will be things that parents will enjoy). Over the 2 days, Cbeebies favourite Mister Maker will be showing off his creative skills and Fireman Sam, Bob the Builder, the Zingzillas and Fifi and the Flower Tots will all be making an appearance.  For older children there’ll be Justin Beiber and One Direction tribute acts and ‘Laser Kombat’. Then, there’s the stuff that children will enjoy at any age – a circus, fairground rides, a mountain bike stunt show, a Wild West show, a petting zoo, magic shows, arts and crafts and dance workshops. For the grown-ups there’ll be a ‘Mummy’s Market’ and a ‘Daddy’s disco’ for dads to throw a few shapes on the dancefloor. We’re planning on going along and it sounds like it’ll be a really fun and varied event.

How much?  You can only buy daily tickets so if you want to go for both days then you’ll need to pay twice. Pre-booked tickets cost £21 for anyone over the age of 2. If you’re an annual pass holder to Marsh Farm, tickets are £ten.50. On the day itself, the price of the tickets rise to £25 per person. Children aged 2 or under will get in for free though. Tickets may seem pricey but everyone who purchases a ticket will get unlimited FREE entry to Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park between Monday 12 August and Sunday 13 October 2013 inclusive (a family ticket – for 2 adults and 2 children – can cost between £24 and £30 for each visit).

Happy Face in the Sky


Where: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

When: 16-18 August 2013

What is it? It’s the biggest UK festival for children and a ‘must go to’ for familes with smaller children. Aimed at the under tens and their families, it includes lots for children to see and do, including fun activities and live acts and shows. It’s now in its fourth year and is incredibly popular. No campsites in sight here.

Why is it perfect for families? Because it’s aimed directly at children, that’s why. The site is split into sections – Tween Town, Lollibop Kitchen, Lollibop Live, 3ft and Under, Lollisports, Imagination Stations and Science Zone to name but a few – so you can your children can head to the activities that interest you most. Cbeebies presenter, Alex Winters, will be the compere on the main stage while Justin Fletcher (Saturday and Sunday only), Dick and Dom, Peppa Pig, Shaun the Sheep, Postman Pat, Cloudbabies and the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters will all be making an appearance over the 3 days, as well as a host of others. The Science Museum will be doing some fun experiments, the Transformers Optimus Prime truck will be on display and those ever-popular Skylanders will be there too. It sounds like a really fun event.

How much? For a ‘family of four’ ticket, prices range from £62 to £1ten depending on how far in advance you purchase.

Dick and Dom at Lollibop
Image courtesy of the Lollibop team
Doune the Rabbit Hole

Where: Cardross Estate near Stirling, Scotland

When: 22 – 25 August 2013

What is it? With space for camping, it’s a festival with a music and creative focus designed to encourage children to get involved with arts and culture. The company behind this event is passionate about making sure children from all backgrounds have the same opportunities to get involved in creative arts.

Why is it perfect for families? As well as the line-up of bands, there’ll also be stand-up comedy, DJs, a cinema tent, Walkabout Art Trail, and lots of workshops for everyone to enjoy. Craft stalls and organic food will also be on offer. Set in the sprawling Cardross Estate, it’s a picturesque background to accompany the relaxed festival atmosphere, although most probably one for families with slightly older children.

How much? A full price ticket is £88, although children under the age of 12 go free. Day tickets cost £30. Extra charges apply for car parking, campervans and caravans. You can choose to rent a Yurt for your stay but these start at £150.

Stalls and drinking at Doune the Rabbit Hole 2011
Image courtesy of borispumps | Flickr
Lost at Sea

Where: Isle of Wight

When: 31 August – 4 September 2013

What is it? This is a brand new type of event from the team behind Camp Bestival. Lost at Sea is a free-floating arts festival on the Isle of Wight. This means this festival featuring music, film, talks, theatre and comedy will be held at a variety of venues around the island, rather than on one site.

Why is it perfect for families? There’s a bubble show for children aged 2-11, a theatre show and puppet workshop for those aged ten and over and a theatrical train ride for the whole family. Restaurant critic Jay Rayner will be hosting a dinner during the event and there’ll be some live music events too.

How much? There’s no ‘overall ticket’ as such, you just buy tickets for the events you want to go to.

The Isle of Wight Lost at Sea Festival
Image courtesy of Get Involved Communications
British Science Festival

Where: Venues across Newcastle-upon-Tyne

When: 7-12 September

What is it? It’s an event all about science of course! Each September the British Science Festival visits a different UK city and this year is the turn of Newcastle. Events will take place across the city.

Why is it perfect for families? It’s a great opportunity to teach children all about science, engineering and technology. The event will kick off with a weekend dedicated to families. Organisers promise bucket loads of fun with a science sleepover in a museum as well as “science superheroes, freaky food of the future and walking on custard”. A full programme of events is due to be released on 16 July so keep your eyes peeled for more information!

How much? You buy tickets for individual events rather than pay an overall fee. Prices vary depending on the event but some are free or charge a very low amount (around £3).

How about you?  Do you have any recommendations for family friendly festivals?