Europe is full of amazing music festivals that are sure to blow your socks off, but when you’re taking the whole family, the criteria for a good time suddenly change. Kid friendly performances, lots of activities, dedicated children’s areas, suitable campgrounds and a general family friendly atmosphere are exactly what you need to make sure everyone has a blast. Thankfully there are a plenty of family friendly festivals around Europe, so nobody has to miss out. And there's still plenty of fun for the adults! Check out our top picks below for just a glimpse of what's on offer.
Larmer Tree Festival, England (11 – 15 July)
The Larmer Tree Festival claims to be “the happiest, friendliest, quirkiest festival in the land!”. An intimate five-day event, the usual crowd is 4000-strong and flock here for the diverse range of music and comedy. Held in the beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens in Salisbury, the festival has attracted the likes of Van Morrison, KT Tunstall, Roots Manuva, Paloma Faith and the Punch Brothers in the past.
For the family: The festival has a great program with over 150 free workshops, activities and shows the whole family can enjoy – from puppetry workshops and crafting sessions to street theatre, storytelling and poetry. There are also music shows geared towards the children and special campsite areas dedicated to families. Kids under five can get in free, and there’s a YouthZone for 11 to 17 year-olds. The Larmer Tree Festival has also been awarded by the UK Festival Awards for the ‘Best Family Festival’ and ‘Best Toilets’, as nominated by festival goers.
Hove Festival, Norway (Last weekend in June)
This is one of Norway’s biggest and best festivals, merging great artists with fun camping, beautiful surroundings and an overarching emphasis on environmental awareness. Held over four days on an island outside of Arendal City, the line-up is a mix of both international and local well-known and upcoming acts. But you’ll also discover quirky art scenes, yet-to-be-released movies and local organic food – and the beach is always right at your fingertips. Acts for 2014 include The Offspring, M.I.A and Ellie Goulding.
For the family: There’s music, activities and entertainment for kids of all ages, as well as specially dedicated campsites for families that are quieter and have more bathrooms. Non-smoking and alcohol-free areas also make you feel completely safe with your children, and there are cheaper tickets for children attending just the daily events.
Tollwood Summer Fest, Germany (June/July)
For a family-friendly festival that’s also ‘green’ and worldly, you can’t look past the Tollwood Summer Fest. A 25-day extravaganza held at Olympiapark South in Munich, in the south of Germany, it’s a fabulous program of musical acts, performances, plays, cultural events and environmental activities. The food stalls serve up dishes from around the world – and are all organic – and the whole festival is environmentally-considerate. Better yet, over 70% of the events are free! Billy Idol has hit the stage in the past, and 2014 brings Natalie Cole, John Fogerty and many local rock bands.
For the family: There are many great family-friendly events that are perfect for all ages, including theatre, music and stalls, and the kids will love the acrobats, street performers and impromptu shows popping up around them. For an educational touch, check out the environmental displays together before taking the kids to the adventure playground. There's also plenty more to see around Munich, where you'll find stacks of hotels to choose from.
Mirande Country Music Festival, France (12 – 15 July)
This country music festival is Europe’s largest and attracts 35,000 people every year. Set in a natural amphitheatre in the mountains of central France, it’s a celebration of all things American and country, so expect a mix of everything from honky tonk to western swing, rockabilly and new country music. But you’ll also find large truck and motorcycle shows that the kids are bound to love.
For the family: Family-friendly activities are easy to find here as the whole event is geared towards children of all ages. Soak up one of the relaxed daytime concerts, catch a line dancing show or marvel at the many animations at night. There’s also a nursery for children aged one to five, and activities such as dance courses, plays, a make-up area and inflated games for kids. And when you’ve had enough, head back into town to see what’s happening – this is also where you’ll have to sleep as there’s no onsite camping.
Green Man Festival, Wales (August)
Green Man prides itself as a family friendly festival and for its beautiful location in the Black Mountains at Glanusk Park (Brecon Beacons). There are 10 different entertainment areas spread through the lush Welsh wilderness that play home to all the comedy, poetry, literature, art, science, and of course, music. The music ranges from DJs to well-known artists and upcoming musical acts. There are also spas, all night bonfires, locally-sourced food stalls, and ale and cider sipping tents.
For the family: Teens will love that they get their own dedicated teens' area, where they can try beatboxing, interview bands and even make their own films. Children under 12 have their own world of fun, full of free activities like rides, games, arts and crafts, storytelling, dress-ups and photography workshops. Everywhere though, the vibe is mellow and intimate, perfect for families, and getting entry won’t cost a fortune. Children under four get in free, and tickets for five to 12 year olds are extremely cheap, including camping. There are special campsites dedicated to families with bathrooms close by for late night toilet trips.
Other great family-friendly festivals to consider: Camp Bestival (July) and Wychwood Festival (June), both in England.