Pre-kids I used to go to all the big festivals each summer – Glastonbury, Leeds, T in the Park and many more. Festivals have always been my happy place. Now I have a 4 and 7-year-old so these days, when I’m choosing which festivals to go to I’m ideally looking for a family-friendly festival with a strong music line up with camping in scenic surroundings. I’ve just been researching which we will be going to for 2019 and this is my short list of the ones I think are the best. Going to festivals with kids is enough of a mission as it is without an arduous journey so I’ve kept all the options within a 3 hour 15 minute drive from Newcastle upon Tyne. I’ve organised them in date order and the drive time from Newcastle is noted in each one.
Y Not Festival, Derbyshire, 25-28 July 2019
A festival I hadn’t heard of until this year but its fantastic line up has drawn me in and it’s at the top of my list now. Y Not Festival is a 3 hour 2 minute drive from Newcastle. Bands playing that I’d want to see include Foals, Wolf Alice, Elbow, Subways, Idles, Two Door Cinema Club, Franz Ferdinand, Kate Nash and many many more. They look like they are striking the balance between standard festival and family friendly perfectly.
They have a dedicated family and children’s area called Strawberry Fields which promises to have; the Flying Seagull troupe of clowns, magicians, circus performers and musicians; Tootles and Nibs immersive theatrical environments; Artful dodgers – a family friendly rave; art activities and workshops for all ages and Y Not Tweens with graffiti, skateboarding, trapeze and cinema. As well as all this, they have a dedicated family camping area that is quieter and closer to the car park.
Family Camping has separate toilets to the rest of the campsites and showers just for families. New for 2019 the Family Campsite will be equipped with baby baths, free nappies and changing facilities so it’s perfect for those parents with really little ones. There is also an evening campfire with Marshmallow toasting, as well as storytelling from early in the morning. It sounds like PERFECTION!
Kendal Calling, Lake District, 25-28th July 2019
One of the closer festivals to us at a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Newcastle, Kendal Calling also has an excellent line up this year. Bands I’d like to see there this year include; Doves, Manic Street Preachers, Idles, Tom Jones, Mystery Jets, Subways, Joy Formidable, Blood Red Shoes and many more.
I can’t see that Kendal Calling has a separate family camping area but they do cater to families and children. This year they have a ‘Kendal Calling goes Jurassic’ theme and have loads of dino-themed activities across the weekend from arts and crafts, Dino Village, a prehistoric parade and more. There is also a family cinema, Tiny Tim Peaks, which features kids TV favourite Alex Winters from CBeebies, who’ll be hosting craft sessions, fun & games, storytime with special guests and music. Across the site there are fairground rides your kids will love to fleece you for too!
Kendal Calling has a fantastic reputation and this year’s festival looks its best yet – another festival right at the top of our list.
Deer Shed Festival, North Yorkshire, 26-28 July 2019
This July weekend is THE weekend for festivals apparently, we are spoilt for choice. Deer Shed is only 1 hour and 10 minutes from Newcastle! This year is Deer Shed’s 10th anniversary – which is no mean feat in the festival business. They are celebrating in style with Ezra Furman, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Anna Calvi, The Wedding Present, Steve Mason, Akala, Palace, Sunflower Bean, Gruff Rhys, Lucy Rose and many more. We loved watching Ezra Furman last year at Electric Fields so those going are in for a treat there. One of my favourite memories is watching my son rock out to Ezra playing. I’m part of the Love Deer Shed Ambassador scheme so if you buy your tickets through my unique link here then you will get adult tickets £10 cheaper (and if enough of you buy through it I might get some rewards too!).
My friend Sam over at North East Family Fun reviewed Deer Shed last year and I really liked the sound of it. I love the sound of their Wilderwild – ‘leave behind the trappings of modern life, and join us in the wildest of spaces’ where children can learn lots of outdoor skills and my 4 year old would LOVE fairy school. Read more about Deer Shed 10 here.
Underneath the Stars Fest, South Yorkshire, 2-4 August 2019
Underneath the Stars festival is a 2 hour 49 minute drive from Newcastle at Cinderhill Farm, Cawthorne near Barnsley. On the line up, this year are the Proclaimers, Billy Bragg, Northumberland’s very own the Unthanks, Kate Rusby and an audience with the hilarious Ruth Jones.
Underneath the Stars have a whole section on their site about what they can offer families. They even have a photo of a mama nursing her baby in a sling – props to Underneath the Stars, that’s my kind of festival. Children will never be bored at Underneath the Stars as they take part in craft activities, music and dance workshops, creative writing, theatre and even circus training. The Moon Tent is a (mostly) calm area tucked away from the noise and activity of most of the festival with toys, books to borrow, playmats, colouring in for all ages, a dressing up box and outdoor games. The Sun Tent has kids activities galore all day long, with all kinds of messy crafts led by their dedicated team of Star Helpers. There is loads more too so do check out their full site linked above. It looks like a really canny festival for families.
Just So Festival, Cheshire, 16-18 August 2019
Just So Festival is a 3 hours 11-minute drive from Newcastle. We had a wonderful time at Just So Festival last year and we will be working with them again covering their 10th festival birthday this year.
Just So Festival is a festival that’s a bit more about the kids but it’s so precious I don’t mind. The kids have already chosen that they want to be Team Lion again this year and keep asking me how long it is until we go again every day. Just So is a festival for those who enjoy arts and culture and want their kids too as well. It’s has a middle class/National Trust-esque vibe. If you like Gatehead’s Enchanted Parks then you will love Just So. It’s in beautiful woodlands and is really safe. It’s a great first festival to take your kids to as you know you are cutting your teeth on somewhere extra safe, secure and child-friendly. You can read about our experience at Just So Festival last year and our top tips here.
So those are my top 5, I hope you like them. Have you been to any of these festivals before? Let me know what you thought in the comments. Are you going to any festivals with your kids this year? Let me know which ones, especially if I’ve missed any great ones!
If you enjoyed this post, you might like some of my other festival posts:
- Electric Fields Festival 2018 – family review
- Creating a family camping starter kit from scratch
- 17 festival camping tips for families from seasoned pros
- Festival wagons for kids – are they a good idea and which are the best?
Disclaimer: We will have press passes for Just So Festival again this year as we will be doing promotion for them. This post contains an affiliate type link. If you buy through the Deer Shed Ambassador link you will get your ticket cheaper and for every 8 tickets purchased I will receive a reward. For my full disclosure policy please see my about page.