Taking Young Children to Festivals, and Still Have Fun - Glastonbury Edition!

Taking Young Children to Festivals, and Still Have Fun - Glastonbury Edition!

As I write this in the hot Summer of '22, I am a 40 year old mother of one almost 4 year old, who acts like he's about 13. Not to boast, but i've been to countless festivals, spanning 2 decades, and this was my 5th Glastonbury festival - the first with a child in tow. So I thought this would be a good place to start my new blog "How To Be A Decent Parent - And Not Lose Your Shit" although that name is subject to change. Welcome to my honest account of festivals with children, and how to still have a ruddy good time! 


How to Take Young Children to Festivals - And Still Have Fun!

Glastonbury Edition. 

Taking Kids to Glastonbury and Still Having Fun
Me & My Boy Overlooking Glade Bar

1. Manage your expectations, which is one I tried to drill into my husband before we went, this will not be the same as the time you stayed up until the sunset taking acid by the stone circle, you now have an extra person or two's desires, needs and moans to take into account.... 

2, Getting there, have a look at the site map and try to plan your approach based on where you want to camp i.e. get in the car park nearest to your desired camping spot. 

Glastonbury Help With Taking Kids Blog

So, for example, if you wanted to camp in Cockmill Meadow, aim for the blue and purple car parks on the east of the site. If you're headed for Wicket Ground, aim to park on the west in pink or orange.

3. And where should you camp? Well, if I were you, i'd do my very best not to camp, and to hire a campervan and stay in the Bath & West fields instead ... this is how I did it for 3 of my pre-kids years. It makes life so much easier, as you don't have to carry anything anywhere, just pop the roof, put the awning up, open a cold beer and relax... but, we're not all made of money....  and this wasn't the way we went this year either....  So, into the festival popular, quieter family spots on site are Wicket Ground in the North West, handy for John Peel Stage and Pyramid, and a fairly easy route to the Kidz Field. Or, Cockmills & Big Ground in the East, here you'll find a hilly campsite, but flushing toilets, very close to the Kidz Field and easy access to Pyramid Stage. There's also a welfare and medical tent up here. Best to avoid Pennard Hill, Oxlyers, and Park Home Ground - these are all more central, but will likely attract a lively crowd. We actually cheated this year and stayed off site at Willow Meadow - it's a long old walk up to near orange car park and Sticklinch. 

The camper van fields at Glastonbury
Camper Van fields (2017)
Camping in Big Ground
Big Ground Camping (2013)
Offsite Camping Glastonbury Willow Meadows 
Offsite at Willow Meadows (2022)

4. What time to arrive? Well, this is what goes down. Folks start arriving overnight and sleep in the car park for a bit, and then start queuing as the sun starts to rise (some do it all night with no sleep, crazy kids). The campsite gates will open at 6am, and if you're at the right gate, you might even be greeted by Michael Eavis himself. As you enter, there will be a giant map with stewards standing by, these guys keep tabs on which campsites are full, and which you can still get a spot in, so check in with them before traipsing off Also, if you come in at the blue car park, you'll be waiting in the camper van fields, where there are toilets and water. Pink and orange car parks have no facilities for waiting overnight. 

5. Travel light or take multiple trips. We are totally rubbish at travelling light! So we take a few trips back to the car. On your first trip prioritise the tent, something to create shade or shelter, and somewhere to safely trap little one and occupy them while you battle to erect the tent. One of you stays at the tent, or goes for a wander, while the other goes back to fetch the rest of the gear. Oh, and on this, turn off the screen time guilt! If you need to thrust your phone in front of your restless toddler while you get something done - you go for it!

6. Once you're in - now what? Well, the site opens on Wednesday, but very little happens, so have a wander, get lost, just take it all in. There is a opening ceremony up by the Stone Circle, you'll need to get in there early. But there will be fireworks, which you can see from all around. Same with Thursday, some acts will pop up, but they will be few and far between and will get very busy, as there's not a lot else to do. We'd gone for a sit down by Williams Green to listen to a bit of Northern Soul which was followed by Mel C and 30,000 other people looking to spice up their life and the area was swamped! We were trapped there for a while, but we were with friends, and we had a spot to sit in the sunshine. 

Taking Kids to Glastonbury and Still Having FunTrapped at Williams Green by Mel C

7. Kidz Field.... does not open until Thursday but it does open at 9am. In here you will find, traditional kids rides (which are free to ride) obstacles course, magic shows, crafts and making, circus skills workshops, walk around entertainers, a giant pink castle to climb and explore, a family "restaurant", story telling, Basil Brush and so much more. There's also childrens only toilets, which we never actually used, but it's here. There's a NCT Baby Tent area where you'll be able to warm bottles, bath babies, borrow cots, take shelter from the elements, drink tea, use the high chairs, warm up meals in the microwave - plus they have most things that you might have forgotten, like nappies, food, hats, shoes etc. Thanks for the tips @rachel_liles83 - we totally missed the NCT area, but sounds perfect if you're there with a baby. All free too, they just ask that you consider a donation. Things to keep in mind, the helter skelter doesn't allow parents to go on with the kids, so save yourself the disappointment of joining that queue. There's an unspoken "don't rob my buggy rule" in here, abandon your trailer behind the gates and go explore! Under the arch as you enter the field, you'll also find stewards with sharpies and wristbands, so that you can write your phone number on your child. Oh, by the  way...  and you can drink booze in here... I was like, are the other parents going to frown at me if I crack open this warm San Miguel ... but no it's cool, we're all at it and we're here to have fun too right?

Bubbles making in the Kidz Field  
Kidz Field Bubble Making
Taking Kids to Glastonbury and Still Having Fun
The Big Pink Castle
8. Green Kids Area, accessed either from the old railway line near Glade or from behind the Greenpeace area. Now this one, is more centrally located, and the Greenpeace area often has some sort of amazing all day rave going on. However, the doors to the Green Kids Field is guarded, and any miscreants will be turned away. This area tends to be quieter than the Kidz Field, and it is smaller. In here you'll find more kids toilets, another little sheltered rest area. A giant ark to climb up, but this is strictly for over 5's. There's more crafts, shows and games. And a giant old tree to take shelter under. The Greenpeace area itself is pretty good too, they have a death drop slide which is fun to watch. 
Green Kids Fields at Glastonbury
9. There's also a whole lovely craft area, with plenty more to see and stimulate in Green Futures, and the Green Fields. I'm ashamed to say, that we've never spent enough time there to be able to tell you what to do! So, i'll have to try harder on that one. I know you can widdle spoons, there's a sandpit, a camp fire and various ways to get yourself healed!
10. Transport and what to choose, we mulled this one over a lot. My son is too big for a pushchair, and hadn't really been in one for two years by this point. We plumped for a bike trailer though, and picked up a cheap one online, which we had to fully assemble when we arrived as it didn't fold up. However, fantastic for transporting children and/or stuff, you could fit two kids in there side-by-side, but they'll both have to sleep sitting up. Also, top tip, don't let your fully grown friends have a go as we ended up with a wonky clown wheel after day 1 - whoops. Look for something with big wheels, and that you can push, rather than pull. Even if it's dry, the terrain of Glastonbury is rocky, or wood chipped, hilly and uneven. And if it's muddy, it's a 1000 times worse! Popular choices on site were bike trailers, which can be hired from Kids Bike Trailers, Out & About Nipper Sports, & Phil & Teds Double - anything with big wheels and the front wheel isn't fixed! My boy took to having 3-4 hour taps in his trailer, just after lunch. Which meant he'd then nod off for the night at around 10pm - but time isn't really a thing here anyway.... just go with it. 
What kids transport to take to GlastonburyOne of his many naps.... 
You could also choose a carrier, we hired a Tula pre-school carrier from Nottingham Sling Library. With the intention of negotiating crowds with him attached to us by day (and leaving the trailer in a property lock up) and using the trailer at night. That plan didn't work out, he went into the carrier once, to watch one of my favourite bands Sports Team at the John Peel Stage... and fell asleep about one song in. 
Pre School Toddler Carrier at Glastonbury
Napping in the Tula Carrier
We also tried one of the Minimeis shoulder carriers, that i'd seen advertised everywhere, thinking he's be safer on our shoulders and feel more secure in one of those, get us into the crowds, clap along. He gave it a go once, bribed with a fruit pastille ice lolly, during Idles, but that was it. He was a bit big for it, even though it says it can be used for up to 5 year olds, also, worth noting if you've been eyeing one up - they're not designed to be used by people with boobs! 
Minimeis Shoulder Carrier at Glastonbury with a 4 year old Minimeis Shoulder Carrier

In hindsight, i'd stick with just the bike trailer and bare shoulders, if we could just convince him to go up there.

11. Right the, down to the nitty gritty - does taking your kid make festivals shitty?
Well, this is going to be an honest blog, so potentially yes. My child was not up for it, he had no interest in seeing bands, or riding on shoulders or exploring. However, this is what we did to make sure everyone got a bit of what they wanted! 
Taking a 3 year old to Glastonbury
We'd head into the main festival area at around midday and head straight to a kids area, the idea being that we'd let our boy have a couple of hours of having his cup filled before filling our own. The kids areas were one of the very few places, in which he felt confident enough to leave the trailer for any amount of time. He suddenly became interested in crafts and made a felt collar, cat mask, a necklace and a keyring. We'd then grab some food, and he's nod off for a few hours in the trailer. So, this is when we started our drinking for the day and would wander off to see a few bands. 

Taking a 4 year old to Glastonbury
He'd wake late in the afternoon, be demanding, sulk, shout and try his best to make our time miserable, but we'd take a few hours to do some family fun... for example spend time in the Circus Field, we played crazy golf near the Cabaret stage, or hung out in a hammock. Often he wasn't up for doing anything, so he'd stay in the trailer with his toys while we watched an act. I felt like a bit of a festival Mum failure, looking at the other kids laughing and riding high on Dads shoulders, but not mine, not my grumpy 3 year old. Truth is, Glastonbury is a gigantic place, designed to amaze, stimulate and confuse minds of all ages - and it's a lot. There's a lot to take in, it's so busy, and the weather is extreme. Not everyone is going to like it, and we don't all like the same things right?
Crazy Golf At Glastonbury
If the timings had been different, we would have taken him to a smaller festival first, shown him a less busy, less overwhelming version. Which we did, a few weeks later, we went to EM Chilli Fest, which is pretty local to us, it was still super hot, but nowhere near as busy, he still took an afternoon nap (which he never does at home) but he did get a lot bolder with exploring and dancing.
12. Should I try and stick to your routine? I'd say bin the routine, just survive, go with it. My boy doesn't nap at home, unless he takes a rogue one in the car. But he started napping again. Which caught us off guard, we were hoping to get the evenings to ourselves, but that's not how it panned out. He did go to sleep for the night, in the trailer at around 10pm - and Glastonbury Festival is a 24 hour party - so it doesn't really matter who sleeps when. Just ask some of the guys down in SE corner, they've not been to sleep since Tuesday. 
Now, some general tips, we've learnt over the years, some about kids, some not
13. Having a wash - personally, I have a much better start to the day if i've has a wash with water, A baby wipe just doesn't cut it, it just pushes the dirt around your already grubby body. Grab yourself a packet of reusable wipes, and a fold away washing up bowl, bring your swimming costume to protect your modesty and have a scrub in the morning. The UV camping shower things don't work, trying to hold them high up enough in the air to create a shower, while washing your nether regions is very difficult. The other way to create a shower is to fill empty water bottles, with a sports cap. Your own handheld squirty shower! Leave the water out in the sun for a bit to warm it up! 
Having a wash at a festival
14. How to not lose your child. Tricky one, as the site is big, my child barely left my side anyway. Write your number on them somewhere. We also tried an Apple Air Tag, but that didn't work for us (as husbands phone didn't work) Places like the pink castle in the Kidz Field have multiple exits, so this is a spot you might lose sight of them. And if they do get lost, don't shout their name - instead shout "I'M LOOKING FOR A 3 YEAR OLD BOY WITH BROWN CURLY HAIR AND A GREEN TROPICAL SHIRT ON" everyone around you will look, and know who they're looking for. You can also pick up wristbands from the stewards in the Kidz Field.
Green Kids Field Glastonbury


15. Feeding kids at festivals can get expensive, especially if they suddenly decide that "they don't like it" after you've just spent £25 on the burger they insisted that they wanted. So I threw any attempts at healthy eating out of the window and purchased the crowd pleasing beige things. Many stalls do "food for a fiver" or, if you ask nicely, will do you half the meal, for half the price if you present your womb fruit at the counter. Most full meals were over £10 - so be warned, eating out ain't cheap. There's stalls selling fresh fruit, milk and smoothies too. You can pretty much eat and drink anything you could think of at Glastonbury!

Eating with kids at Glastonbury

 16. Where to go, and where to avoid. Especially relevant if you're trying to navigate some giant child transport. We found that The Park stage was difficult to access with the trailer, the hill is all sort of on the wonk. Avoid any secret acts, they'll be busy. If you want to be in the crowd with your trailer, arrive early, and be prepared to wait before you can leave again. If you go into a tent with a buggy or trailer, attach yourself to one of the towers which are holding the tent up. The Other Stage & West Holts are good ones to go at with transport, easy to get in, and easy to get out. Plus, in my opinion West Holts has to best music, and the best bar! Personally, we avoid headline acts on Pyramid stage, always have, the area is so vast, that the experience for me isn't great if you're a mile back. There's plenty of other things to see and do in the early evening.  

The Brother Bar Glastonbury The best bar, drinking training recommended 

17. Navigating crowds with a trailer or a buggy can be tough, we found ourselves trapped at The Park for Wet Leg, just off the track near the ribbon tower, with a sleeping child in the trailer and vehicles trying to pass up and down the road. Make friends with the people around you. Make sure the ones stood in front know you've just wheeled something behind them so they don't accidentally back into it. And shout, if in doubt be an obnoxious prick and start shouting that you're trying to move with a baby. Often, i'd walk in front to guide and make space - shouting and pointing as you go. Doing this with a smile on your face rather than a scowl will get you a better reception. 

Navigating crowds with children at festivals -  Glastonbury

Also, plan your attack. Everything at Glastonbury takes twice as long as it should, three times as long if it's muddy or you are walking with your child. Don't give yourself too much to do in one day. Don't plan to see bands that are at stages miles apart, at times close together. Don't sit by the Pyramid stage all day everyday - there's so much more to it than that. Assess the crowd, for example, we wanted to see Noel Gallagher, but we didn't want to stay for Paul McCartney, so we sacked if off and went somewhere else, as we realised the crowd probably wasn't going to move or change, and we'd be trapped for hours. 

18. You're going to walk for miles, pick good shoes. Over 5 days, we walked 70 miles and over 180,000 steps. Walking boots would be your best bet, although I didn't take my own advice and wore Converse. Don't wear your wellies unless the ground has gone, this won't happen after the odd shower. They are heavy and make your feet sweat. I made this mistake twice this year, and ended up with blue sweaty legs! 

Wearing wellies at Glastonbury Festival


19. If you're on an 02 network or 3 - your phone probably isn't going to work at all. There's an EE tower near the site, and EE have an onsite charging place. To save time, buy yourself a couple of charging block things. Keep your phone on flight mode - just take photos and check the time. No scrolling!

Greenpeace Area Glastonbury

20. Watch out for people and their opinions! Now we didn't have any bad experiences with this, however, a lot of people on the forums did. You may run into someone that looks at you like you've got two heads for bringing your crotch critter to Glastonbury, and they'll say things like how "they could never bring their children" and "I don't know how you're coping with this" although some are just curious, drunk people are like toddlers after all, they're very similar. We chatted to a couple of people, curious more than scathing, both parents themselves curious as to why we'd do it. Truth is for is, it's either bring our little treasure and get on with it, or don't go at all. 

Or you might catch the eye of someone who longs some day to be like you, hopes that one day they'll have their own face painted, smiling fairy on their shoulders to share it all with. That used to be me, doesn't mean they think you're a dick. They're in their own moment, quietly sharing yours. Don't be mad, just smile and do your thing!

Raving with a toddler at Glastonbury

21. Can you still party as a parent at a festival? Well, I give this a hard yes, but it all depends on how you feel about it. If you decide to crack open a cider at 11.30am, you won't be the only one. If you decide to stay at Arcadia until 3am drinking wine from the bag, you won't be the only one. If you want to explore SE corner with your infant, go for it, you won't be the only one. Enjoy it, risk assess it for yourself, see what you feel comfortable with. You don't have to scale it all back so far that it isn't how you remember it. We drank, we danced, we stayed out until about 1am, we went to Arcadia, we went for a wander around SE corner, we smiled, we loved, and we can't wait to go back. We had a bit of a running joke, when pushing around the trailer... one hand for parenting (the hand on the trailer) and the other hand for partying! 

Parenting at GlastonburyCheers!

 Oh, one parting tip, and this one's for the girls.... how to use the long drop!
As I mentioned at the start, i've had a long and prosperous festival career, and i'm about to share with you, the secret of how to use the long drop. Seems obvious, why am I telling you? Because you've probably been doing it wrong! First of all, join the queue, or jump the queue depending on how desperate you are and how good your pelvic floor is these days, I won't judge you, i'll be jumping too. Start mouth breathing, the smell of these toilets I can not even describe to you, especially on a hot day, it's something else. Once you're in, and before you lock the door. Hang your bag on the latch and then lock it. You don't want to put your bag on the floor in there. and now it's suspended in the air. See all that piss on the floor? That's all from girls who do not know how to do this properly and tried to hover. Now, here's the secret, now you're in. Climb up! That's right, stand on the platform, one foot either side of the seat and squat low. Put one hand on the top of the divider for balance, the other hand holds the tissue! No risk of falling backwards onto the loo, no risk of whizzing all over your own feet, or getting wee running down your legs. Tadarrr! Try it next time and thank me later. Also, gentlemen, this technique, I imagine would also work if you've got a Code Brown!


How to use the long drop toilets at Glastonbury Festival 


 Shopping List for Glastonbury!

 Those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.... so here's a list of things that we took, that we found invaluable. 

  • Ear defenders
  • Sun cream (luckily we had a sunny festival)
  • Hat (sunny and wooly)
  • And as the weather is not guaranteed, waders or a puddle suit, rain coat
  • Now we're beyond potty training, however we took the Carry Potty with us, and this neat little urinal thing we found on Amazon.... the long drops are not a delightful place, i'd avoid taking your kids in there if I were you
  • Transport - we went for a bike trolley 
  • Solar powered fairy lights
  • Bubbles
  • Snacks
  • Refillable drink bottles
  • Squash - to take the edge of drinking water all of the time
  • Blankets - both to sit on, and to cover up at night
  • Layers of clothes, so you can add warmth as the sun drops
  • Pen to write your number on your child
  • Power block phone charger
  • Big water carrying thing for at the tent
  • Camping stove and a pan or kettle
  • Pot noodles, pot porridge sort of stuff
  • Ear plugs
  • Swim suit & towel
  • Calpol, paracetamol, fizzy-nice-make-feel-betters (or Berocca as you might call it)
  • Toys - they'll hand you a tote bag as you enter, so you can make a little treasure bag out of this
  • Beer

Things suggested by my new friends from the Glasto Mums, Dads & Families parenting group, that you might need for babies

  • Sleeping bag with built in sleeves
  • Pop up travel cot (Koodoo)
  • Wet flannel in a zip lock bag - cloth wipes would be good to use here too - great to clean up mucky faces, and to cool off with a quick blast of cold water from the plentiful taps and sinks around the site
  • Little paddling pool or fold away washing up bowl 
  • Clip on fan for the pram
  • Pop up windbreaker type tent
  • UV shade umbrella
  • Dummies, comforterers. bottles 
  • You can buy fresh milk daily from the milk shops
  • A spare one of anything you can't be without
  • Repair kit, or pump for your pushchair

If i've missed anything, drop a comment below. I'd love to hear about your experiences. 

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