Taking kids to festivals can be great fun and most of the major festivals cater really well for the kiddies - but remember if you do take your children YOU are responsible for them. Here are a few tips on how to manage the festivals with children:
If you have children keep a close eye on them at a festival - kids have a nasty habit of getting lost very easily and very quickly. Do all the safety things you would normally do going out, but be aware that there are lots of things to attract your child out of your sight. In case they get lost make sure that you know what they are wearing and have told them what to do if they get lost - find a police officer, steward or a 'mummy with kids'. It's a good idea to put a mobile phone number on the child somewhere (a wrist band, or sticker on t-shirt), so that if they are found you are easily contacted. Contact festival welfare and the police on site if you have lost your child and they will help you get reunited, emergency announcements can be made from the stage and normally this will be arranged by Welfare, do not waste your time and everybody else's by going to the stage and trying to arrange stage announcements yourself - it won't happen! Go to Welfare, that's what they are there for!
Lost kids and lost property should be reported/taken to the Welfare Point so it/they can be reclaimed/returned - after the event lost property will be handed over to the Police and lost kids to Social Services.
Some (but by no means all) events have special facilities for children including crèches, play areas and children's entertainment but that does not mean you can just dump the kids off for the weekend, you will almost certainly be required to stay with your kids and the children's facilities are usually closed by early evening. Some events have age restrictions or are not considered suitable for kids- check in advance. Pick the right festival. The best festivals for kids are those which include more than bands alone - so look for events that are more rounded with arts and crafts or world music. Often these events will have specific stuff for kids laid on.
Make sure you really do want to take your child/children with you. Remember that you are going to miss out on a few things if they go with you and there is no point in going to all the trouble of taking them if you are simply going to feel frustrated at the end of the day. You'd be better off trying to arrange a babysitter (even if it means going for less time) and having a blast on your own. The idea that you can do everything you want to with children in tow is a misnomer, unless you are prepared to let your kids suffer.
But remember, they are still only kids (even young teenagers) and are therefore more vulnerable to all the dodgy aspects of a festival site: big crowds, loud noise, drugs, alcohol, drunks and weirdos.
Be prepared and make sure you have everything to provide for their needs - take anything to the festival that your child is unhappy without. Most babies through to 13 year olds are pretty flexible, but if there is a dummy, teddy, pillow or toy that your child relies upon, then take it to ensure plenty of relaxing times. Having said this, you should never take anything to a festival that you are not prepared to lose - so you will need to be incredibly vigilant if there is a 'special' item that your child can't live without - you really don't want to traumatise them for life!
Chill out - remember that you are on holiday, having a break, trying to relax, and so are your kids, so let the kids have a good time. Forget about those normal rules and planned days and let the festival and your kids guide you. Children will lead you into spaces that you have never dreamed of visiting before which is great - it makes the festival experience fresh.
Take a potty - the loo's can be too much for kids of all ages to cope with, so a potty can be invaluable.
A young child is best transported in a ruc-sac baby carrier as a pram is tricky to push over fields and rough roads. Also the baby can see from this vantage point.
It's a good idea to play some of the music your child will hear at the festival before going. Then they will recognise it and enjoy it all the more.
When seeing bands with smaller kids don't go too near the front of the stage as they will be put off by the loudness of the music. If you stand a bit further back the kids will enjoy it all the more. Also be aware of the fact that kids can't see what's going on on the stage and they have little patience with listening alone.
Make time for your child and they will be much more tolerant of the things that you want to do. e.g. an hour in the kids make-it tent followed by a band followed by an ice cream will hopefully mean that your child is fulfilled and so are you.
Take plenty of sun block/hats and light coloured t-shirts for a hot event or wellies/waterproofs and spare clothes for a wet one. Don't forget medication if your child is dependant on it for any medical condition.
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