There’s no doubt that exploring the sensory pick ’n’ mix of Glastonbury with wee ones in tow is a little different to discovering it without. But bringing kids to the Festival can be a hugely rewarding and family-bonding experience.
From a child-centric perspective, there’s enough family fun at Glastonbury (where anyone aged 12 and under gets free entry) to keep even the most adventurous tykes and teens entertained. From the veritable wonderland of the Kidzfield – with its big-name entertainers and infectious silliness – to the good ship Cadmus and eco-conscious heart of Green Kids and the day-to-night shenanigans of Theatre & Circus fields; there’s enough craft, comedy and craziness to fill the entire summer holidays. The activity-driven havens of the Greenfields and Green Futures further engage and inspire, and older kids are mesmerized by the Greenpeace skate ramp and notorious drop slide. And when you just need a bit of a rest, you can recharge whilst catching a film at the Pilton Palais cinema.
Of course Glastonbury is not just about entertaining the kids. And the whole family will want to soak up the site-wide spectacle – from the huge mainstage artists to the immersive alternate worlds of Shangri-La and Unfairground. But before you head for those big stages and busy late-night hot spots, it’s worth taking a moment to consider what impact it might have on your kids.
Glastonbury is a pop-up city – big and bustling – and the same notions of responsible childcare reign here as they would in any city centre. That means staying compos mentis.
Please never leave kids unattended – even if they seem happily asleep – and just as it wouldn’t be appropriate to take a toddler in a pushchair into a busy Saturday night pub, neither would it be advisable to deposit a buggy in the midst of a crowd or drag it deep into a main-stage throng. Also, be conscious of where big crowds are likely to be – for example, if there’s a very popular act playing – and expect it to be tricky to navigate those crowds (both on the way there and at the stage itself) with a buggy or small children in tow. The Festival is generally a very safe and friendly environment, but if your child happens to get lost, please contact a steward so we can help reunite you with your wandering offspring.
If you intend to party late into the night, much in the same way as one would appoint a designated driver, it is worth deciding in advance who will head back to the tent or remain in the calmer reaches of the Festival to look after the children.
Large crowds and tents can be boring and even scary if you’re two-feet shorter than everyone else. That means you’re better advised to stay on the periphery if you’re going to catch the action from these stages. But while you may miss out on the moshing, there’s a whole new perspective to be gained from catching the headliners from the sloping edge of the Pyramid Stage just beyond the sound desk. Not only is there some breathing space here, but watching the gig above the sea of people on a hillside lit by smouldering campfires, is a spine-tingling experience all of its own. When the show is over, it’s best to wait and let the crowds disperse around you instead of joining the melee and risk people tripping over your buggy.
And what to do if you and the kids want to keep going once the big stages are finished for the day? Some busy adult-orientated late-night areas, particularly our venues in the South East Corner, are simply not appropriate for younger audiences at certain times. We strongly advise families with younger children under the age of 13, to leave these areas before 10pm. And even for teenagers under the age of 18, these are areas which may not be suitable late at night.
For families with older kids and teens, the late-night buzz of the North West Corner is a counter-pivot to the bacchian South East Corner. Here you’ll find the sylvan sanctuary of The Wood – with its treetop walkway and enchanting lights – and Woodsies which, while busy until 11pm, really comes into its own once the main stage closes and its convivial campfires spark to life. Head to the Theatre & Circus fields to be charmed by twinkly entertainment in Glebeland, or treat those still awake to some fabulous late-night fireshows and aerials at the Outdoor Circus. Across the site, it might be a little boisterous for pushchairs, but older teens – and their folks – can get their wiggles out courtesy of the finest DJs, under the Rave Tree at the Greenpeace field.
Here are some tips to help families get the most out of the kaleidoscopic sights and sounds of Glastonbury:
Pitch your tent in Family Camping. Less rowdy at night and more forgiving to the early risers, there are two Family Camping Fields: the Cockmill Meadow near the KidzField and another on the north-west of the site at Wicket Ground. Families do not need a special ticket to camp in the Family fields, but it is not possible to reserve space in advance (and they can fill up quickly).
Find some space. At the big stages, there’s no need to throw yourself into the thick of it to get a good view of the bands or take in the vibe.
Get some ear protection. For little kids, ear defenders are a must to protect their hearing. As kids get older, they may prefer more subtle ways to avoid ringing ears. There are many decibel-reducing earplugs on the market to save their hearing; and even a pair of regular foam earplugs will do a very worthwhile job.
Pack snacks. Visiting Glastonbury is energetic work and you can never have enough cereal bars, breadsticks and custard pots! Yet it’s worth mentioning, one of the best things about Glastonbury is its friendly, utopian vibe. People are just nicer here. And in that spirit, when it does come to meal times, it’s worth asking at food stalls if they’ll do you a children’s portion — they’ll usually say yes, and often charge you very little for it. Milk can also be bought on site.
Make your little ones stand out. If you intend to navigate the site with a buggy or a wagon, it is worth investing in some battery-powered or solar charged fairy lights to festoon over your vehicle. Not only will it enchant your mini-me, but it will crucially help make your load more visible to other Festival-goers so they won’t trip over it in the lower light of night. You might also want to consider dressing your toddlers in bright clothing or even a little hi-viz vest to help you spot them in the melee of the Kidzfield.
Please don’t attempt to take buggies and wagons into dense crowds. Even if those crowds are moving, it’s best to hang back and wait for the crowds to disperse.
Eschew peak time in the South East Corner and opt instead for inspiring art trails, stimulating talks and daytime raves. Once the sun sets, the adult-orientated late night South East Corner – comprising Shangri-La, Block9, The Common and Unfairground – is really not the place for kids in arms or bulky buggies and under 13s. But in the warm light of day, there’s plenty of opportunity to marvel at the mind-bending installations and out-of-this-world creations of Unfairground and Shangri-La; and audacious, detailed builds of Block9 and The Common. For added mental stimulation, pitch up at Totem Talks in The Common throughout the afternoon on Friday and Saturday or visit Shangri-La’s Nomad stage for daytime talks and events or loosen your limbs at a daytime rave!
Get intimate with an iconic Spider. Visit Arcadia between 7pm and 9.30 Friday – Sunday to get up close and personal with the infamous Spider before its performance begins. Although the Spider itself won’t be on, her resplendent sister, The Bug, and its ace resident DJs will be on hand to warm-up the brewing crowd.
Take in the sights. Head up to the iconic Glastonbury sign above The Park Stage and take in a cracking view of the Festival beneath. Or drop in at Strummerville – high in the hill beyond the Tipi Field – park yourself on a cosy sofa around the campfire, enjoy some tunes, and take in the easy vibe.
Immerse yourselves in the interactive pleasure lands of Theatre & Circus. From acrobats and fire-eaters; comedy, trapeze acts and clowns, the surreal world of the Theatre & Circus Field is underscored with a big, healthy dose of anarchic silliness. While the Big Top headliners can sometimes have a post-watershed flavour and Bella’s Field offers older teens something a little more risque, there’s always the wonderlands of the Outdoor Circus and twinkling Glebeland to entertain and delight all ages well into the night.
Take in the atmosphere. The Festival site is vast; don’t just run from stage to stage to try and fit in everything. Make time to explore and stumble upon the unexpected. After all that’s where the true Glastonbury memories are made.
Don’t forget to pack…
Sunscreen and hat
Wellies and waterproofs
Snacks. Loads of snacks.
A snuggly rug/blanket.
Shower curtain or tarpaulin – infinitely useful!
A child-vehicle of sorts – with a rain cover. If your kids are under 5, it’s definitely worth bringing something to cart them about in, like a wheelbarrow, wagon, off-road pushchair or bike trailer buggy.
Bucket/travel potty — for midnight wees and must-go moments
A first aid kit (with Savlon, plasters, insect repellent, Calpol, etc).
Wash cloth for cleaning grubby hands
Anti-bacterial hand foam or gel
Torch, of course.