Image: Isle of Wight Festival 2011 Mummy Time Out
It’s Summer, and in my mind that means one thing – Festivals are back! The Brits love a festival and there are literally hundreds happening this summer. I have picked 10 of my favourite that are within Hampshire / Berkshire region (or just outside) that will hopefully whet your appetite . Some are family friendly, others are best enjoyed sans children. If you have any festivals you would add to this list, please comment below.
So in no particular order:
Newport, Isle of Wight. 21-24 June 2018 – tickets go on sale soon
Whilst we have missed IOW 2017, it would be remiss to not mention one of my favourite festivals in Hampshire. 2018 will be the festivals’ 50th Anniversary, so expect a HUGE line up! (not yet released) Even though this rock festival now stands alongside the larger festivals in the UK, it is still intimate enough to offer a family friendly experience. There are some incredible accommodation options over the three days, from setting up your own tent (there is a dedicated family camping section near the entrance to the site) to glamping it up in one of the onsite tipis, yurts, assembled tents or Podpads. Alternatively, stay offsite in a local B&B, apartment or a truly unique vintage airstream! Find out more here. Tickets are around £200 for the weekend and you can expect an brilliant line up of acts, flowing champagne and beer, a funfair, wide range of food stalls, overflowing toilets (actually I joke, they are not too bad) and a red arrow flypast. It is one of Britian’s most quintessential festivals with a rock soul.
Getting there: Red Tunnel Ferries operate from Southampton, Portsmouth, Lymington or Southsea. There are regular buses from the ferry terminal to the festival ground.
Family Friendly: Yes, especially during the daytime, the main stage is usually quite relaxed until around 4/5pm. There is also a dedicated Kids Zone.
Overton, Hampshire. 25-27 August 2017 – very limited tickets available
Image: Carfest 2016 Gallery
Carfest is the brain child of Chris Evans and has been going since 2012. It raises money for Children in Need and is held in Cheshire and Laverstock Park Farm, Overton, Hampshire. Tickets sell out quickly as this festival offers winning cocktail of cars, music and food, perfect for the whole family! It attracts some big names, 2017 will feature the likes of Tom Kerridge, Kaiser Chiefs, Olly Murs, Seasick Steve and Taxas. There is also fast and furious action in CarFest’s Paddock and more fun-filled antics for the family including Steam-World, The World’s Biggest Custard Pie Championship and Superhero World. Tickets can be bought as day passes or weekend camping with VIP and boutique camping options available. Click here for more info. Children under 6 can get in for free and adult tickets start from £67 per day or £163 for the weekend camping.
Getting there: Overton is accessible by car or train, however, be aware the station is three miles from festival site.
Family Friendly: Definitely – there is a lot going on for children, especially during the day.
Lulworth Castle, Dorset. 27-30 July 2017 – Tickets available
Image: Camp Bestival 2016 Gallery
If you are looking for a safe middle-class family affair, then look no further, Camp Bestival is the festival for you! It’s celebrating its 10th year and attracts around 30,000 people annually and caters for the very young and old. This year there will be even more activities and events for children, including The World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle, Insect Circus, Tudors on Tour, Dressing up Area, Soft Play, Toddler Zone and much much more in its dedicated Kids’ Gardens. It also has a pretty impressive line up for the adults with Madness headlining Saturday night plus Mark Ronson, Kate Nash and some 90’s greats including All Saints, Right Said Fred, T’Pau and Leftfield. As with most festivals these days, you can avoid pitching up your own tent if you are happy to spend the money, see more details here. The dedicated camping areas are included in your ticket, however, you can upgrade to a Camping Plus Ticket offering a reserved plot, a Backstage VIP Camping Ticket offering a special VIP experience and benefits. There are also Boutique Camping options including staying in Tipis, Yurts, Squrts, Cloudhouses, Podpads, Bell Tents or Gypsy Bowtop Caravans.
Getting there: Lulworth is located in the heart of Dorset between Bournemouth, Dorchester and Weymouth so it is possible to get there by coach, train or car. If by train you will need to catch a local taxi to the site itself. The Big Green Coach Company is operating from London Victoria to Camp Bestival.
Family Friendly : Absolutely! Dress up and enjoy the fun!
Alex James’ Farm, The Cotswolds. 25-27 August 2017. Tickets available.
Image: The Big Feastival Best Bits Gallery 2016
Jamie Oliver is the big name behind this festival and for one weekend every year he takes over Alex James’ (of Blur) farm for a fun-filled 3 days of food, music and drink for the whole family to enjoy. There are big name chefs, decent bands and lots of activities for the children, including cooking demonstrations, farmyard fun, a big top, Paw Patrol (that’s right!) arts and crafts, dens and entertainment. Confirmed acts for this year include Norman Jay, De La Soul, Toploader and Dodgy amongst others. They’ll be food and celebrity chefs aplenty, this is a food-lovers dream so you won’t go hungry. This festival is hugely popular, you never, know you might even spot David and Samantha Cameron! So grab your tickets and feast up. Adult camping tickets start at £189 with VIP and Glamping upgrades available.
Getting there: Whilst most people will arrive by car or campervan, the festival organisers are pushing for people to jump on the train to Kingham station, which is only a few minutes walk from the site.
Family Friendly : Definitely! From babes in arms to babes who are ready to leave home. All are welcome!
5. Reading Festival
Reading. 25-27 August 2017. Tickets still available
Reading Festival 2016. Photo credit:Sam Neill
Reading is the a big one in the festival calendar alongside Leeds and Glastonbury and attracts nearly 90,000 people. It is the world’s oldest popular music festival and its list of artists really packs a punch, 2017 being no exception with headline acts Kasabian, Eminem and Muse. It really does not get much bigger! I have include Reading as it is in Berkshire, but also because it was the first festival I went to and I have fond memories of seeing The Red Hot Chilli Peppers light up the stage, fuelling by love for rock music. It is definitely not a festival you should consider taking a young family to as the target audience is more 18-30, and you won’t find organic food stands, children zones or baby changing facilities here. This is more of a hard drinking festival where people have lots of fun enjoying incredible music. Adult camping tickets start from £219 for the weekend, however, there are nice upgrade packages to improve your accommodation.
Getting there: The festival ground in in central Reading and the traffic can be horrendous. If you can, catch the train and walk to the site. Alternatively, Big Green Coach will be operating shuttles from London Victoria. More info here.
Family Friendly: Not really suitable for young children. One for your older children or for Mum and Dad alone! The BBC will be there so you can always get a taste of the festival and enjoy the atmosphere by sitting back in the comfort of your home watching the highlights on BBC Radio 1 (available though your red button!).
6. Wilderness Festival
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. 3-6 August 2017. Tickets Available
Wilderness Festival 2016. Photo Credit paulcarless
The people of Oxfordshire must love a festival as here’s another one for the diary! Renowned as one of the poshest festivals, this 4-day festival appeals to those who want to immerse themselves in the Wilderness Community, enjoy the spectacular deer park and take part in the many magical activities and workshops. It’s offers a fusion of arts, music, food, family fun and wellbeing offering a unique atmosphere where you can let go of your boundaries and be free! You can swim naked in the river, listen to lively talks and debates, try yoga, enjoy a Neal’s Yard therapy, bop to good music and chill under a tree with a cocktail. Children of all ages are welcome here and there are activities and entertainment dedicated to them including workshops, games and circus skills in the Club House Playing Field. All tickets are for the full four days including camping, but there are a few different options you can choose including a family field with baby changing facilities, tents with ready made tents or the ultimate upgrade to a luxury boutique tent. Find out more by clicking here. Adult tickets start from £178 plus BF and there are only limited children tickets available so get in fast!
Getting there: Most people arrive by car, but there is a train station in the local village of Chalbury, 1.6 miles away. National Express are running 12 coaches from London direct to the site. Details here
Family Friendly: Yes. This is one of the more laid back festivals with a family vibe and dedicated family area and campsite.
LOCAL NEWBURY FESTIVALS
Newbury Market Place. 15 July, 6-10 pm -16 July, 2-8pm 2017
Whilst we may not have Ronnie Scotts, Newbury has a new event in the calendar, to swoon local residents who love jazz and blues. This free to enter event will take place in the Market Place and smooth music is set to fill the air over the course of two warm Summer’s evening in July. They’ll be a fabulous atmosphere and food served from the local restaurants and bars as well as a retro bus serving gin from the Newbury Gin Club / Newbury Corn Exchange. Featured bands include Jon Walsh Trio, Chicago 9 and Bob Long Trio amongst others awakening the Market Place. So head into town for this unique event.
Getting there: Cars will not be permitted in the area, but parking is available in Parkway, The Library and The Kennet Centre.
Family Friendly: If your children can stay up this late! Mind the gin though.
Newbury Showground. 11-13 August 2017
Photo credit: Newbury Observor
Whilst this festival may not attract the big named bands, it is set to be a weekend of fun for car, plane and music enthusiasts. You will be transported back to the 1930’s – 80’s with vintage cars on display, flying demonstrations, a retro shopping arcade, steam engines and music from this era. Families will be well catered for with a dedicated Kids Zone and funfare. Come for the day or camp overnight.
Getting there: There will be ample parking. The showground is located at Junction 13 of the M4.
Family Friendly: Absolutely!