Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Family friendly festivals part 1. Sleep

Going to music festivals has been a big part of my life for the past 18 years, first Glastonbury before the kids, then Big Chill Festival when we had our first child and now Camp Bestival, as we have 2 children of different ages.

I was very chuffed to be asked to write a guest post on a very big blog, athomewithmrsm, about this subject and it appeared earlier this week.

I cant say it's always easy taking your children to festivals. In fact, as times it is blooming hard work! But as a family it gives us something we all can enjoy together. Time to play, time to dance, time to hear great music, time to be silly, time to be with friends.

I'm going to write a series of blog posts, with advice about how to get the most out of your festival with the kiddies.

For me, the main areas I consider when at a family festival are very similar to when I'm at home.

Firstly, sleep. This is really important because if your child doesn't sleep, they will be knackered and grumpy and everyone will have a rubbish time! We learned this lesson to our cost last year, when our excited 6 year old had about 5 hours sleep the night before Camp Bestival and was an absolute hysterical mess by the time we arrived. So things that help here are eyemasks, earplugs if your child will tolerate them, warm bedtime clothes with thermals underneath, a hat, hot water bottles and a proper bedtime routine for young children.

What we do is take the children back to the tent around their regular bedtime and let them have a bit of quiet time. Do the usual bedtime wash, story, milk, pyjamas, teeth and bed and then put them down to sleep in their cot or bed. Once they have had a decent sleep for an hour or two, we lift them up, put them into a buggy with their ear defenders on, or cotton wool in their ears if they wont tolerate the ear defenders, Then cover up the buggy with a sunshade and cover with an dark blanket, so that their sleeping environment is warm, quiet and dark. We also add battery powered LED fairy lights around the pushchair, which prevents drunken adults or lively children from running into it.

In terms of pyjamas, my little one wears a fleece sleepsuit with feet in it and a long sleeved vest. My daughter (age 7), wears a long sleeved thermal top and trousers, leggings, wellies and a pyjama top under her fleece jacket. She tends to go to bed at 7.30, sleep until the headline act comes on, then she wakes up, dances for an hour and goes back to sleep in her trolley. Once we get back to the tent, she's already in her pyjamas, so we just take off her coat and wellies and pop her straight into bed.

This brings me to the next festival essential- a trolley. If you go to Camp Bestival, you will see literally hundreds of these things being dragged around by weary looking Dads. It is now possible to hire trolleys from companies like Mr Trolley, which also raises money for Amnesty International.

If you plan on going to loads of festivals, it's probably worth buying your own. There are lots of different options.

1. Radio Flyer wagon (picture courtesy of

From seeing these at festivals, they are lots of fun and look really cool, but you are a bit limited as to how much stuff you can pack in around your child. You will need a comfy mat underneath your child, a pillow, blankets/ sheepskin, a picnic mat, waterproofs, juice, nappies, bubble swords, fairy wings, ear defenders and drinks/ snacks in there!

2. Wooden cart (image from

We have one of these, it is light, cheap, sturdy, easy to decorate and has a raincover which can be attached. Ours is painted blue, decorated with stars and varnish to waterproof it. However, my eldest is now starting to look a bit cramped in it, so we have to take the end off to allow her to stretch out her legs. Not ideal really in the middle of a crowd of dancing people.

3. Metal garden trolley (image from

This is the sort of trolley that you see for hire and is very popular with families with 2 or more children. You can fold down one of the sides and use it as a sofa when you are watching bands, they are very sturdy and can cope with being rained on. However, although my husband can pull it along, there is no way that I would be able to pull one of these up a muddy hill with 2 children and their gear in it, so it wouldn't work for me.

So there's pros and cons to all of them really.

If money was no object, I would be very tempted by a wagon from Bolderigo, which is a lightweight, collapsible wagon which can comfortably fit 2 children. Unfortunately, they cost £250 plus postage. I am trying to do a bit of a "cost per use" justification, but it is still a lot of money. I might sell my pushchair to fund one.

The other one which I think looks totally awesome is the Ulfbo trolley, which has two seats, a raincover and a suncover.

If you have any other festival tips for sleeping, I'd love to hear them. Please leave a comment :)


  1. Nice post. I love those trollies for little ones when they are all covered in fairy lights!
    Btw how did you find Camp Bestival? We were going to book there until I read a lot of negative stuff on their own forum about teenagers at last years festival. x

  2. Last year seemed much busier than the year before, probably because the line up was really strong and had quite a few teenage friendly, dubstep bands, DJs and some big headliners.I also read about the problems on the forum, I think what happened is that there was no requirement for an adult to be with the teenagers and they were roaming around in groups. This year, the line up is very different and they've also changed the ticket restrictions on teenagers, so those problems should be resolved. I still think there is loads for teenagers to enjoy though, it's a good mix.

  3. Such a practical post... I have to admit I am a lazy mum & this all sounds too much effort for me, but I absolutely take my hat off to you that you aren't held back from attending festivals because you have kids. I love that!

    Nic x

  4. Thanks Nic. Well yes it is hard work, but I seem to enjoy watching music and being creative much more when it's with the kiddies. So we all benefit really :)And I definitely wouldn't go to a really big festival like Glastonbury, I would find it way too stressful.