Last weekend we did our first festival with the children. We’ve camped on numerous occasions but were lucky enough to be invited to do some adventures at Valley Fest – a family-friendly festival in the Chew Valley, near Bristol & Bath.
We thought that before we get too pro(!), it would be worth sharing a few hints & tips!
A near-death experience for our dog Digby, meant that we weren’t as prepared as we could’ve been, but felt that with plenty of enthusiasm and gumption, we’d be OK. The van was packed up and off we went.
Both children fell asleep en-route and arriving in the late afternoon to a dry campsite, we set up the tents, fed the children and generally felt pretty good about life. With the kids having slept, we thought it would be fine to keep them up a bit later so we set off the explore the wonders of our first festival, with the youngest tucked in a sling.
The kids were wide eyed and soaked it all up. They particularly loved the big bonfires, funny dancers and looking at the amazing stars.
Everyone returned to camp at about 10ish and the kids went straight to sleep. We then (foolishly) decided to stay up drinking “festy”-strong G&Ts for a while longer, before rolling in to the tent.
And then the rain came. And boy, did it rain! It was positively biblical and didn’t stop for what felt like weeks (in fact it was about 36 hours).
Pointers that follow are probably slightly skewed to a soggy festival experience. But having spoken to many friends, anything that isn’t soggy is exceptional for a British festival.
So here are our top 10 must haves to take on a family festival!
1. A sling. Our three year old hasn’t been in the sling for c.6 months but being able to hoik him into the ergo of an evening was a blessing (and a good glutes workout!)
2. More socks that you can ever imagine. They inevitably get soaked and you find that everything feels so much better with clean, dry socks on.
3. Lego – we bought one of these nifty little things after a school camping trip. It means you can ‘contain’ both the lego and the children.
4. Face paints – yes, the £8 glitter face paint by the pros is pretty snazzy. But watching 7 year-old25″ /> Melody ‘make up’ all of the younger ones was hysterical! And they all LOVED it.
5. A dog lead – bear with me on this one. Our children managed to play for a WHOLE HOUR as imaginary dogs that were attached to the lead, whilst we packed away the camp. Genius.
6. A shower mat – our friends mocked us as we rolled out our ‘doormat’ but we were more than smug on the last day to have the cleanest & driest tent!
7. All in one waterproof-jobbies – a complete pain in the backside to get them in and out of, but once in they are watertight (and usually happy!).
8. Torches – again, more than you would usually care to bring. The children love having (and losing) the torches and later at night, you can create fun animal shapes using them.
9. Portable charging devices. We’re lucky to have a VW Transporter that’s demi converted, even though we sleep in the tent. And use that to charge phones and a fridge cool box. But we got given a very nifty portable charger that proved super helpful over the weekend.
10. A sense of humour. Such a boring cliche but you really cannot say it enough. The children WILL be a little crabby when they go to bed later and get up earlier. YOU will be a little frayed around the edges when you’ve drunk a bit too much cider and been woken up at the crack of dawn. But keep in mind that this is magical for your children: so embrace the craziness and have fun!