Attending a music festival can be a fun family activity, especially if you are prepared and go into the experience with the right mindset. Learn some tips from the perspectives of these frequent festival-attending parents to make your own experiences attending music festivals with your family enjoyable and safe.
I have two little girls. My oldest is now 3 and a half and my youngest just turned 6 months. Performing at festivals is my livelihood and I like to keep my family together as much as possible, both babies have been going to festivals their whole lives, they were each just one month old when they attended their first festival. We always camp in a tent together. When our youngest was born I bought a portable A/C and generator to help keep the little ones comfortable during the hot parts of the day. The thing that has made attending festivals with my kids a success has been to make it a fun family adventure! These days, for us, it is more about the experience of being there than seeing any particular act. I can’t remember the last time I saw a headliner, but that has been a worthy compromise for having my family together. -Artist SuperTallPall from TheJive Joint
It is important to get the whole family involved in planning ahead. It is what I like to call “setting the stage” or in other words, giving your family a heads up with what to expect at the festival – i.e. the social environment, what kind of weather there will be, looking at the schedule of events and activities – especially if there is an area specific for children and families to enjoy together. Also, look at the festival website with your children. Allow your children to pack a small bag with their favorite toys and costumes. Plan a food menu for the weekend together. I would also recommend parents get familiar with where the medics are located at the festival in case of emergencies. If the festival doesn’t provide it, get wristbands or some type of identification for you and your children to wear at all times in case your children get separated from you. Make sure to have your name and contact information on their wristbands and their names and ages written on yours. For those with older children, make a plan that works for your family, in case of an unexpected separation.
We recommend packing necessities of healthy and nutritious food (i.e. pre-cooked/prepared meals, such as homemade soups) and beverages like coconut water (that have electrolytes to stay hydrated). These other items that are a must:
- Biodegradable and non-toxic castile soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s so as not to harm the very nature that you are enjoying while camping.
- Reusable utensils, including straws and dishware to support being eco-friendly. If you choose to get disposables then get the earth-friendly kind or better yet, bamboo utensils.
- Earth friendly disposable baby wipes
- Non-toxic sunscreen
- Water bottle spray or pump mister to keep the kiddos cool
- Ear headphones to protect your children’s ears
- Headlamps for the whole family
- Camelpacks – this makes it easier for the whole family to carry your water and any necessary stuff (i.e. extra toilet paper for the portapotties, sunscreen, lip balm, snacks, etc).
- Extra trash bags
- A sturdy wagon or stroller to caravan the children and your stuff in. Note: it’s a good idea to get a wagon that has a canopy for shade.
- LED lights to decorate your wagon or stroller for night time, as well as fun LED items to decorate you and your children in. Note: do your best to stay clear of single use items like glow sticks as they just end up in the landfill after just one night’s use whereas LED lights last longer and can be used time and time again if you replace the batteries.
- Fun costumes for the whole family to be as expressive as they feel
- Bathing suits if there are water activities.
- Water toys
We encourage parents to truly be open to fully participating and engaging your children to participate in what the festival has to offer – all the while connecting with the people, family activities, the music, the art, the nature, and especially connecting within. Yet at the same time also being very aware of your surroundings (after all, it is a festival where there will be adult going-ons happening everywhere).
There’s something to be said about welcoming the magic with what children can bring to these festivals. Every year, more and more families are bringing their young ones; just as more festival participants are starting to have children and wanting to still be able to experience what these transformative festivals have to offer. It is an empowering movement that we want to continue inspiring and encouraging. There is much to learn for children and families along with other festival goers about caring for one another, the planet, and ourselves with being raised in the festival culture. -Tangee Veloso in collaboration with Eva Lea, Sonia Wike of Family Love Village (FLV). When taking your family to a music festival, seek venues that cater to families offering activities for children:
Our children’s area (Kidzbiosis) at the Symbiosis gathering will be a wonderland of play, movement, education, artistic expression and storytelling. We are also turning our attention to our family camp, creating some infrastructure and thoughtful layout for the families to settle in, close to the action, and create a sense of community with the other families who attend. There can be a deep sense of community that happens at our gatherings and a whole lot of love that wells up inside this community, and I have seen kids just thrive within that environment. Kids naturally love to play and dance, and I feel that sharing these community-driven experiences centered around love and play is a beautiful thing. –Marsi Gray, Content Manager for the Symbiosis Gathering.
Some upcoming Music Festivals With Kid-Specific Bands and Programming:
- American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront
When? Aug. 26-28
Where? Bangor, ME
- Four Corners Folk Festival
When? Sept. 2-4
Where? Pagosa Springs, CO
When? Sept. 2-4
Where? Seattle, WA
- Wiggle Out Loud
When? Wiggle Out Loud Sept. 18
Where? Oklahoma City, OK
- Symbiosis Gathering: Family Tree
When? Sept. 22-25
Where? Woodward Reservoir, CA
- Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival
When? Sept. 24-25
Where? Franklin, TE
- Austin City Limits Music Festival
When? Sept. 24-25
Where? Austin, Texas
- Joshua Tree Music Festival
When? October 6-9
Where? Joshua Tree, CA
Image Credits: Photo 1 – Daniel Zetterstrom, Photo 2 & 3 Setareh Vatan