Family friendly festivals – the joys of camping with kids

For me, putting up a tent is a bit like giving birth.

Bear with me on this…

Obviously there isn’t the same actual physical pain involved, no one would ever camp if there was, but there are plenty of parallels. Think for instance of that moment when you come to pack the tent away. You look at the tiny bag, you look at the tent, surely one just isn’t going to fit in the other? See what I’m saying here?

I don’t camp often if I’m honest, (why would you pee in a bucket and eat food warm that’s meant to be cold/cold that’s meant to be hot when you could stay in a hotel?) and all my camping is at festivals. I set out full of enthusiasm, I’m confident I can do it without pain relief/crying, but the minute I set the bags down on the inevitably sloped and rocky patch of grass next to the toilets, I turn into a monster. Give me a pre-pitched tent any day.

I give the children harmless jobs to do – hold the tent pegs, pass the hammer – but within minutes I am overcome with the urge to punch someone in the face. It’s not even that I struggle with tents, I can put them up fine, I just hate it. Every time I promise myself never again, but then the months pass, the sun comes out and I find myself thinking ‘it wasn’t really that bad was it? Let’s have another go…’ (At camping, not babies).

So, that’s where I find myself today – gazing at the blue sky and thinking back fondly to the festivals I’ve taken Bee and Belle to over the last few years. Not all of them have been sunny, but they’ve all be a break from routine at least. And a change is as good as a rest after all. So I’ve been told.

As a single parent, I like to go to festivals where I can let the kids wander off for a bit, so I can at least have ten minutes lying happily in the sun on my own. My absolute favourite for this is Camp Bestival – baby sister of Bestival, set in the grounds of Lulworth Castle. Last year Bee took a friend, and the site is small and safe enough that I felt happy letting them go off on their own for the whole day. It is really family orientated – one of the headline acts is Mr Tumble – and the kids’ field has a lovely relaxed feel. Belle really enjoyed being able to run off on her own, and I felt sure she’d be able to find me again in my sunny spot.

We will definitely be going again this year, but my tent memories haven’t quite faded enough to feel ready for camping yet. To spare us all the two hours of rage on arrival (I need a good hour to calm down afterwards too), I am going to be camping in style this year in the Tangerine Fields. Not only do they put the tent up for me, they even blow up the airbeds and lay out the sleeping bags. On top of that we get private showers and toilets – complete heaven. And at the end of the weekend we can just walk away and someone else clears up. Speaking as a woman who has three-day old dishes in the kitchen, you can imagine just how fantastic I find this prospect.

So if you’re taking the kids to Camp Bestival this year, look for the posh camping and come and say hi – I might even let you have a go on my private loo.



  1. 22 June, 2010 / 7:12 pm

    I was looking at Camp Bestival, and going down the posh camping route. Seems the most sensible, albeit pricey, way to do it.

  2. 22 June, 2010 / 7:18 pm

    Ooh! We could have a bloggers corner :-)

    It is pricey, but the festivals we’ve been to have often been our only holidays, so I like to spend a bit of money on things like nice food and treats. A couple of years ago Bee even had a pedicure at Camp Bestival, which she loved.

  3. 22 June, 2010 / 7:45 pm

    It sounds like you have mastered camping by choosing Tangerine fields. I too know of ‘Tent Rage’, but like, I seem to be unable to remember it clearly enough to avoid repeating history. Obviously you are much more clever than me.

    I think that the dollars you spend are well worth it for the piece of mind. Have fun.

    • 23 June, 2010 / 8:46 pm

      Ah, that’s like giving birth you see! You forget how awful it is and you do it again! D’oh.

  4. 22 June, 2010 / 7:59 pm

    We’re going to our first festival this year – the Just So Festival in Staffordshire! However, we’ve whimped out of camping…we’re booking a cottage nearby! Think we might practice camping in the garden next spring once Iona is 3!

    • 23 June, 2010 / 8:47 pm

      A cottage nearby sounds like a fantastic idea – hope you have lots of fun x

  5. 22 June, 2010 / 11:14 pm

    I was just looking at the photos…I love the one with your daughter in face paint. I think I speak for all the readers when I say, “We would like to see Josephine in face paint!”

    • 23 June, 2010 / 8:48 pm

      I see what’s happening here… you mention a camel and I write about it, and now you’re imagining yourself as the puppeteer, pulling the strings of my life…

      • 25 June, 2010 / 6:34 am


        Pulling your strings?…no…never…I wouldn’t ever come up with such an evil plan. Just made a simple suggestion…



  6. 23 June, 2010 / 11:59 am

    I want to take the boys along, maybe next year. We used to go to festivals a lot BC

    • 23 June, 2010 / 8:49 pm

      I think I’m at an advantage as I’ve never been to a festival WITHOUT kids, so have nothing to compare it to!

  7. 23 June, 2010 / 12:34 pm

    I really admire you for taking the girls. I hope in a couple of years I feel strong enough to do the same sort of thing with J. I have never been to a festival and would love to go and to be able to experience it with him would be wonderful. Hopefully one day I’ll be as brave as you ;) x

    • 23 June, 2010 / 8:50 pm

      Just go for it Hayley, there’s nothing brave about it – foolish maybe! – just take plenty of wipes :-)

  8. 4 July, 2010 / 11:39 am

    I’ve been to quite a few festivals over the years as my husband works in the music biz and posh camping is the only way to do it! In fact, at Bestival last year we eschewed camping altogether and rented a lovely farmhouse with en suites and everything. Now THAT was a fun festival ;)

  9. 24 August, 2010 / 2:06 pm

    I just love camping but I love camping in a different way- communicating with the nature, being in the total wilderness, unzipping your sleeping bag and waking up in a tent. For me it’s the best way to relax. A little time for myself/family:)

    • 24 August, 2010 / 5:43 pm

      I love that part of it too – I particularly like the smell of the cold, fresh air in the morning, and the fact that everything becomes so basic and simple. Unfortunately I’m not a good sleeper, and sleeping in tents is even worse, so the waking up part happens rather too frequently during the night for my liking!

  10. 26 August, 2010 / 12:16 pm

    Camping with your kids is something they would treasure their whole life. The experiences and memories that a family garners will serve as a lifelong foundation for understanding and open communication for the family.

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