Beaches, camping and a festival or five – I love summer and for most weekends from June to August you’ll find me enjoying the English countryside!
I’ve been going to festivals since I was a teenager. They’re where my inner wild child feels free and safe among wonderfully diverse but like-minded people. I love a long weekend in the great outdoors and sunshine immersing myself in the colourful production, live music, fun frivolity and outdoor living – and most of all they’re an amazing opportunity to spend precious time with friends and family, creating long lasting memories. Now as a festival mama it fills my heart to see Cece enjoying all they offer too, with excitement around every corner.
I also love the camping bit without the festival aspect – a long weekend under the stars is one of the best ways to take a real break from the speed of modern life and our always-on culture, especially for us London dwellers. Being able to properly commune with the surrounding nature and wake up to birdsong, cook on fire, bathe in a box, dine by candlelight and gaze up at the Milky Way are among the magical moments a camping trip brings.
As a seasoned camper and festival-goer, I’m sharing my favourite family friendly summer festivals, survival tips for tackling them with babas, and best camping and glamping sites around the UK.
Favourite family festivals 2022
Camp Bestival – The original one
Location: Lulworth Castle, Dorset
Next dates: 28-31 July 2022
The best-known family festival of all, held in the grounds of castle and little sister of the infamous Bestival (now sadly no more). IWith a packed programme of music, theatre, wellbeing workshops, circus spectacles, comedy, faery den, cosmic kids’ yoga, craft village and all sort of food and drink, it’s all totally geared up towards little people and families. It’s a lot more fun with the kids than without!
Wilderness – The arty, foodie one
Location: Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
Next dates: 4-8 August 2022
Wilderness is held in the most stunning setting and is a super-safe playground for parents with kids of all ages. There’s fun for all the family including a wild swimming lake, woodland area with overnight bushcraft experience, immersive theatre, hosted games throughout the site and a funfair. This is the one to splash out on boutique accommodation, bookable experiences including banquets and chefs’ tables to delight foodies, maker workshops, wellbeing at the lakeside spa and the healing field. Don’t miss the infamous cricket match and Wilderness orchestra, and if you fancy a late night boogie in the valley, book a private nanny to watch over the little ones in your own tent.
Into the Wild – The rewilding one
Location: Chiddinglye Estate, Sussex
Next dates: 26-29 August 2022 (bank holiday)
An intimate immersion into nature and wild crafts, one for all earth mamas – and papas and babas! With a focus on supporting biodiversity, rewilding and regenerating a wild revolution and an award-winning kids area, they prefer to call themselves a camp: “Like the olden times, when nomads would gather in the summer to share, to remember what’s truly important, to find love, to grieve and share stories around the hearth.” Activities include wild crafts, den making, fire making, foraging, martial arts, storytellers, Celtic blacksmiths, falconry, bush crafts, forest bathing, stargazing, world music, yoga and all sorts of healing therapies. It’s full of wonder and rewilding for the whole family.
Medicine Festival – The community one
Location: Wasing Park, Berkshire
Next dates: 18-21 August 2022
This small, intimate and visionary festival is set in ancient woodland and focused on living in harmony with nature and interweaving communities and cultures. It hosts wisdom keepers, indigenous communities, visionaries and artists, sharing their spiritual, earth-based wisdom. Enjoy an introduction to plant medicines, beautiful sacred ceremonies and group singing and dancing. The family area offers nature-based arts and crafts, movement, storytelling and vision quests and there are conscious parenting workshops.
Shambala – The green one
Location: Secret Northamptonshire location
Next dates: 25-28 August 2022
Anti-corporate, environmentally pioneering and boasting the most vibrant kids’ field on the festival circuit, this is definitely the place for your inner hippy! It doesn’t serve meat, cow’s milk or use disposable plastic, has reduced its carbon footprint by 80%, uses 100% renewable energy, and is glitter-free. It’s jam-packed with activities and entertainment from art tents and circus school to creative workshops and enchanted woods. There are surprises at every turn. Get involved with the epic Shambala Carnival and wind down with bedtime stories and cocoa in the family camping yurt.
Glastonbury – The epic one
Location: Worthy Farm, Somerset
Next dates: Last weekend in June 2023
The biggest festival on earth. I’ve been here many times as I grew up not far away and it’s a brilliant few days, a microcosm of human life in glorious technicolour with a wonderfully diverse community where anything goes. Although famous for it’s heavyweight main stage line-ups and debaucherous naughty corner, shangri-la Glasto is more family friendly than you might think and totally do-able with children as long as you pack everything you might possibly need, and upgrade your accommodation if you can.
We usually take a bell tent but this year we had a lovely Airstream campervan in a beautiful field with running water, fridge and our own shower – heaven. With a beautifully colourful and whimsical kids’ field boasting a private ship and the Pink Palace house of fun (a permanent structure that you can visit all year round), as well as inclusive green crafts and healing fields, there’s plenty to keep them entertained in between catching your fave bands’ performances.
The 2023 dates are expected to be 22-25 June so keep an eye on their website for tickets. They usually go on sale in October.
Standon Calling – The in-the-know one
Next dates: 20-23 July 2023
A lovely, small independent music and arts festival in the grounds of a private residence with an abundance of activities for babies, kids and teenagers. It has dedicated spaces for children as well as weaving in family friendly activities and performances throughout the programming, including theatre, circus, crafts, sensory play, a woodland area with adventure playground and zip wire, a swimming pool, dog show and a professional nanny hosted tent until late so that you can have a few hours to feast, relax, pamper or party grown-up style. Early bird tickets are on sale now.
Standon Calling website
Festival tips for parents
How I survive Glastonbury – or any family festival – with two children
🎪 Treat yourself to good accommodation. We usually take a bell tent but upgraded to an Airstream this year with running water, fridge and shower. With a toddler and new-born, it made it much more manageable and enjoyable
🎪 We got a babysitter one night so we could enjoy some adult time
🎪 Take a carrier and large buggy or trailer that has space for them to lie down to sleep, storage, sunshade and rain covers
🎪 Pack suncream, hats and layers for all weathers and after the sun goes down
🎪 Take healthy snacks and drinks. The queues are longer than their patience
🎪 Plan a few activities, but keep much of the time loose so you aren’t rushing around. It takes waaaay longer to get around than you think and there’s so much to see at every turn
🎪 Don’t miss Glasto’s Kids’ Field. It’s magical for children and adults alike ✨
🎪 Write mobile numbers on children in case they get lost (write straight on to the body, as a band can come off)
🎪 Accept help from strangers. With sleeping babies and a flat tyre, we were very grateful of the offer to push us up the hill on the way out at 11pm 🙏
🎪 Don’t forget the all-important fancy dress – for them and you!
🎪 Stop off somewhere lovely for lunch on the way home to break it up and decompress
Best family camping and glamping locations in the UK
Higher Aunemouth, Devon
Higher Aunemouth is simple, wild, rustic camping for tents and campervans, within walking distance of a gorgeous beach on the South Devon coastline and a 20-minute walk to the village of Bantham. It’s a simple stay, embracing nature with the family. We have camped here for the past two years and love the chilled vibe, far-reaching views and proximity to Bantham beach. There are some great restaurants including the Oyster Shack and Beachhouse.
Higher Aunemouth website
Fforest, Cardigan Bay
Fforest is a campsite in Pembrokeshire that’s all about embracing the great outdoors in a magical setting through living, playing and learning. Fforest has a community aspect that makes it very unique: sit and eat with each other, learn new skills together and talk to each other! We took part in their August Gathering two years ago and loved the community vibe, creative workshops, storytelling round the fire and the on-site pub! They have a farmhouse and an array of amazing permanent eco structures you can book into as well as a camping field. Their nearby Pizza Tipi restaurant is well worth a visit too.
Marston Park, Somerset
Marston Park, a ‘playground for creativity’, offers a collection of luxury canvas studios and suites, and has a lively programme of creative workshops, wellbeing sessions and musical performances, plus a wild pool and hot tub. We discovered this newly launched glamping haven last year when Pikes, the iconic Ibiza hotel, hosted a two-week pop-up of pool parties and DJ nights on the site. All the bell tents are located on the lakeside, beautifully decorated and decked out with easel and canvas in case artistic inspiration strikes.
Marston Park website
Thistledown Farm in the Cotswolds has been managed organically and sustainably for nearly 30 years. It offers an alternative approach to camping: green values are emphasised, campfires are encouraged, the lower fields are car-free and they have no allotted pitches. It’s a lovely campsite where you can pitch up in the trees, wild camping style, but with excellent facilities close by. Their on site restaurant is very popular.
Wyresdale Park, Lancashire
Wyresdale Park is the ultimate glamping experience. Based in Lancashire, Wyresdale park is every adventurous child’s idea of paradise. Tents are sheltered by the woods and look out onto a private lake, creating the ideal spot for a family holiday in Lancashire. The estate is owned by a good friend, and has several beautiful lakeside Featherdown cabins with their own jetties, an on-site cafe, stunning fell walks and now also a water park for older kids. It’s very popular as a wedding venue too.
Wild camping in a beautiful location
Become fully submerged in nature by taking the family on a camping trip in the wild. Ditch the luxury glamping and pick a remote location that’s full of nature and opportunities to explore, set up camp and create amazing memories with your family. This is the ultimate off-grid, back-to-basics experience when you want privacy and nothing but nature surrounding you.
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