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Pink sheep. Fancy dress. Sand castles. Star gazing. Sweet treats (and savoury ones too).
Looking for an adventure-filled weekend buzzing with live music? Or just want to have some fun in the sun with yummy food and drinks?
Hit the road and head to a summer family festival where all ages will see their dreams become reality.
In the UK family festivals are not only perfect for the young ones, but inbetweeners and adults love them too. Along with fantastic line-ups of music, comedy and arts for the older set, many offer activities tailored to pint-sized attendees. From face painting to crafts, carnival games to amusement rides, sports to all sorts of live entertainment, everyone in your posse will enjoy a weekend of fun, fanfare and festivities while camping out together.
And you won’t have to play hide-and-seek to find one. Lots of cities, towns, farms and forests across the UK are hosting child-friendly music festivals in 2020 that range from multi-stage behemoths to carefully curated boutique gatherings.
We’ve rounded up 10 that are sure to make for an unforgettable summertime experience. So get your calendars out and save the dates for these totally awesome family-friendly festivals!
Where: Henham Park, Suffolk
When: 16 – 20 July 2020
Headliners: HAIM, Liam Gallagher, The Chemical Brothers
As winners of the Best Family Festival at the UK Festival Awards in 2018, Latitude’s organisers know all about curating imaginative activities that appeal to all ages.
Not only are the festival’s ambassadors a flock of neon pink sheep, but its programme includes as many theatre, comedy and cabaret performances as music acts. In other words, there’s a humungous choice of entertainment for all.
Of course, hearing HAIM play Want You Back and seeing the sisters’ super fun choreography as they switch between instruments is sure to be a highlight. Along with the other headliners, the line-up features sets from Snow Patrol, Michael Kiwanuka, The Lumineers, Keane and Charli XCX.
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What’s more, Latitude has a kids area divided into three zones. This means tiny tots can enjoy soft play, while young children try their hands at crafts or cool science projects. Teens even have their own place to hang out where they can learn to design T-shirts or play video games.
Factor in leisure activities like swimming in the lake and the dedicated family campsite and you’ve got the ultimate family festival getaway.
Where: Bury Wood, Todd’s Green, Stevenage, Hertfordshire
When: 17 – 19 July 2020
Headliners: The Killerz, Killer Queen Experience, Who Are You
Now entering its third year, Todd In The Hole Festival celebrates eccentricity in the heart of the Hertfordshire countryside.
Tribute acts are typically showcased on its four stages. This year you can catch The Killerz, one of only a few tribute bands to The Killers, as well as discover other acts covering the world’s greatest pop and rock bands – like Petty Criminals, Wrong Jovi and Mused.
Another unique feature of Todd In The Hole is The Great British Elvis Off. Some of the best Elvis impersonators from the around the country come to compete. Cheer on big and little Elvi, young and old Elvi, jumpsuit-wearing Elvi and Blue Hawaii-lovin’ Elvi. Trust us, in all your life you will never see so much spirited hip swivelling.
Also squeezed into Todd In The Hole’s eclectic programme is Irish step dancing, a tug-o-war competition and a chilli eating contest.
And be sure to roll up for Showtime Circus, which is coming to Stevenage to teach your brood how to walk a tightrope and fly through the air like a cannonball.
Where: Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire
When: 23 – 26 July 2020
Headliners: Björk, Groove Armada, Metronomy, Róisín Murphy
Interested in a festival that allows you to explore the wonders of the universe? If you’re a space, science or computer nerd then bluedot is the place for you. And if you’re not, well, you’ll still discover tonnes of mind-blowing fun as well as some weird brain illusions.
This summer bluedot marks five years beneath the Lovell Telescope. Its grounds are always crammed with interactive activities for all ages. Plus, there are intergalactic family-friendly areas with cool science shows, hands-on experiences, amazing animations and intriguing experiments.
One of bluedot’s most popular events is the annual night carnival. A feast of cosmic colour, don’t be shocked when illuminated space wanderers, percussionists and celestial creatures parade by you.
And there’s simply no other festival in the UK where you might bump into a roaming science superhero or real-life astronaut Tim Peake.
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The festival is also known for hosting jaw-dropping interactive light art, with the Lovell Telescope itself transformed annually into a gargantuan audio-visual light installation.
What’s more, in a UK exclusive, Björk is at the top of bluedot’s music line-up this year. Her work merges elements of music, art, technology, science and mathematics to create a whole unique world that you’ll definitely want to visit.
Where: Bury Wood, Todd’s Green, Stevenage, Hertfordshire
When: 23 – 26 July 2020
Headliners: Primal Scream, with more to be announced
In contrast to large-scale events, Standon Calling is a smaller, more intimate gathering. An independent music and arts festival, it still boasts big names (why hello veteran alt rockers Primal Scream, who always wanna have a good time), alongside emerging talent out in the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside.
This year marks Standon Calling’s 15th anniversary and organisers have promised an epic celebration. In honour of the occasion the festival’s theme is “The Party Of All Time” – so start planning what crazy getup you’ll wear because their costume parades are LEGEN… wait for it… DARY!
A boutique summer blowout, it also includes comedy, engaging talks, yoga, carnival rides and plenty of good eats.
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Plus, Standon Calling is committed to being the most dog-friendly festival in the UK. Expect to see plenty of furry, four-legged attendees out and about. There’s even an annual dog show with corny categories such as Looks Most Like Owner. Note: Many of these dogs will also be in fancy dress – so your costume better be good!
Where: Lulworth Castle, East Lulworth, Dorset
When: 30 July – 2 August 2020
Headliners: Fatboy Slim, Groove Armada, Liam Payne
Held on the grounds of a 17th-century fairy tale castle, Camp Bestival offers the most family excitement you can have in one weekend. Founded in 2008 by Rob da Bank, who also created its sister festival Bestival, this programme is jam-packed with music, comedy, theatre, spoken word, cultural talks, arts and crafts, carnival games and other activities for all ages.
Along with Fatboy Slim’s hugely immersive show and unmissable sets from the other headliners above, the line-up boasts Friendly Fires, Sophie Ellis-Bextor featuring Sink The Pink, Becky Hill, Level 42, The Selecter, The Sherlocks and Heather Small. Max & Harvey, 16-year-old identical twins, will also play some of their refreshingly fun songs.
And this year you can head to Camp Bestival dressed as your favourite film character because the festival is rolling out the red carpet and going to the movies! In addition to an open-air cinema, there’ll be sing-along movie nights, film showcases and workshops. Covering everything from the Golden Age of Hollywood through to the latest action-packed Marvel adventures, escape into a world of fantasy… just be warned: you may discover some zombies there too!
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Over the years Camp Bestival has raked up numerous awards. Not only are organisers super chuffed about winning the Best Family Festival title at 2019’s UK Festival Awards, but they have also laid claim to the Pure Fun category at the Family Traveller Awards.
Don’t wait to hear a director yell out “lights, camera, action” – start making your plans now for a wonderful weekend full of movie madness. And you’re sure to get a bang out of Camp Bestival’s fabulous fireworks display.
Where: Lowther Deer Park, Penrith
When: 30 July – 2 August 2020
Headliners: Supergrass, Stereophonics, Foals
Head North for a rollicking time full of family fun. Kendal Calling was born in 2006 from a group of music lovers who wanted to see the Lake District’s glorious rolling countryside enter the wild world of festivaldom. This year marks its 15th anniversary.
Named the Best Medium-Sized Festival by the UK Festival Awards in 2013 and 2016, Kendal Calling is known for its wonderful line-ups and wacky themes. Last year’s edition saw the grounds transformed into Jurassic Deer Park for a weekend of prehistoric frolicking and dino fun.
For 2020, Kendal Calling is going to the arcade. Prepare to navigate your way through games of every form: large and small, digital and analog, real and virtual. There’ll be everything from supersized versions of classic video games to human table football and live graffiti art.
In between all this fanciful gaming, incredible music will waft through the air courtesy of the above headliners alongside other illustrious acts such as Dizzee Rascal, You Me At Six, DMA’s and Sundara Karma. And everyone will want to get up and sing to Sister Sledge.
Where: Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
When: 30 July – 2 August 2020
Headliners: Foals, Loyle Carner, Supergrass
Now in its 10th year, Wilderness has cemented itself as the UK’s most idyllic boutique festival. With two lakes and a picturesque forest, you truly get to escape from the routines of daily life.
Wilderness always puts together an unbelievably stacked line-up spanning every genre. In addition to this year’s huge headliners, catch BICEP, Kelis, David Rodigan & The Outlook Orchestra, Elder Island and Jayda G.
And Wilderness is about much more than music. Its programme is impressively diverse, with eclectic arts performances alongside inspiring talks and debates. There are amazing dining experiences and a sanctuary that caters to attendees’ well-being needs. You can also indulge in scrumptious feasts and a whole host of late-night activities.
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Photos: Wilderness Festival 2019
Young ones can get silly with the Flying Seagull Project, a madcap menagerie known for spreading happiness, or settle in for some storybook magic from Storystock, while inbetweeners will want to let loose with sock wrestling or disco dodgeball. And there’s a lot of outdoor leisure pursuits to go wild for – like bike riding through the meadow to swimming in the lakes or going for a midnight run in the forest.
Where: Chester Lakes complex, Dodleston
When: 14 – 16 August 2020
Headliners: Symphonic Ibiza, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Scouting for Girls
Launched just last year, Deva Fest is a three-day festival that’s fast on its way to becoming Cheshire’s must-attend summer event. A music, food and lifestyle extravaganza, it has loads to offer all ages.
For 2020 there are two stages – the main stage in the big top and a new stage out in the field sponsored by a beloved Chester bar, Liquor And Co.
This year Deva Fest kicks off with a real old skool party night featuring the high tempo beats of renowned club DJs Symphonic Ibiza.
Get into the swashbuckling spirit Saturday when Deva Fest hosts Pirate Day, complete with parades, fancy dress and an amazing set from indie princess and pop superstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor… as who doesn’t love a bit of murder on the dancefloor?
The festival closes with a bang on Sunday with the ultimate festival sing-along band, Scouting For Girls.
Deva Fest also features an array of fairground rides that are free to all attendees, and there are loads of family-friendly games and competitions to keep all ages entertained.
Where: Alex James’ Farm, Kingham
When: 28 – 30 August 2020
Headliners: Sigala, Nile Rodgers & Chic and Rag’n’Bone Man
This Big Feastival is the perfect recipe for a great time, after all they have put the “feast” in festival. Taking place every year on the August bank holiday weekend in the beautiful Cotswolds setting, it’s not only brimming over with family fun, but also the most incredible culinary programme you can imagine.
In addition to making your mouth water, there’s always an unbelievably impressive line-up of music acts to make your ears tingle with energy. With the main stage, BBC Introducing stage and bandstand, you’ll see an unrivalled mix of hit makers to perform throughout the weekend. Along with the headliners this year The Big Feastival is set to welcome Swedish pop sensation Zara Larsson, Leave A Light On hitmaker Tom Walker, Brighton-born pop singer Maisie Peters and loads more.
Adding to the top-notch music talent is the chance to get tips from the UK’s most celebrated chefs during live cookery demos in The Big Kitchen. Marco Pierre White, the youngest and first British chef to be awarded three Michelin Stars, helms the culinary line-up.
Small Feastival goers can also dance, sing and laugh beneath The Big Top or chill out under The Small Top.
So bring all the family – and their insatiable sweet and savoury teeth – for great food and music, complemented by carnival rides, arts and crafts, a soft play area, a vintage fun fair and much more.
Where: Charisworth Farm, Blandford, Dorset
When: 18 – 20 September 2020
Headliners: The Amazons, Skindred, The Fratellis
What better way to spend the first weekend in May than hearing The Wurzels belt out “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester” at a festival benefitting a really important cause?
Named in honour of Ted Newton, who passed away at the age of 10 from a rare bone disease, Teddy Rocks was founded by his family to raise funds to support children with cancer. What started as a small gig in 2011 has grown into a sprawling three-day event with four stages that feature a wide range of music – from rock and pop to folk, ska, punk, metal, electronic and grime.
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In addition to the headliners, other must-see acts on this year’s bill include Newton Faulkner, Dream State, The Snuts, Lauran Hibberd and The Skints.
And not surprisingly, Teddy Rocks is famous for providing fun activities for youngsters throughout the festival’s green spaces. Think dodgems, bungee trampolines, face painting and much, much more.
Photo courtesy of Charlie Raven Photography
Discover more about summer festivals:
Summer music festivals make for the most magical experiences, with every detail crafted for everyone’s enjoyment.
In addition to the 10 family-friendly festivals we’ve highlighted above, there are many more not to be overlooked – including The Bath Festival Finale Weekend, The Cambridge Club, Forest Live, Kaleidoscope Festival, Hideaway Festival, Meraki Festival, Neighbourhood Weekender, South Tyneside Festival, York Festival… and the list goes on and on.
So venture out with your family this summer! Not only will you make dreams come true, but you’ll also create memories together that are sure to last a lifetime.
Header photo by Teodora Andrisan, courtesy of Festival Republic