Essential Festival Tips: Kids at Festivals

Young Drummer

Photo by tanakawho — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

As The Who knew so well, at festivals The Kids are Alright.

Of course, there are festivals designed specifically for kids and their families. KadmusArts connects you to the most Festivals for Children in the world.

However, more and more grown-ups are bringing their kids to rock ‘n roll, dance and theatre festivals. After all, for those of us who grew up in the shadow of Woodstock, why wouldn’t we want to share the art, music, environment, vibes and spirit of a really good festival with the next generation of festival fans? Taking kids to see and experience great artists at their impressionable age creates not only a life-long memory, but a lifetime of connection to the best in our culture and creative expression.

Many festivals today specifically target the next kiddie-gen and their parents with safe play areas, targeted activities, and free tickets. (Take a look at the upcoming trend-setting Lollapalooza’s family centric Kidzapalooza. and what they do for families.)

From our festival producers, artists, and fans, here are some essential tips and advice for bringing kids to a festival:

  • Choose the right festival. Look at their sites and get a sense of lay-out, crowd control, food, and flow of events. Take a look at the pictures they host on the site. Do you see other families? Can you imagine your kids having a good time there?
  • Be prepared! Before you leave your home, you should pack as though you are taking them on a trip from the old country to the new country. After all, this will be one of your kid’s most exciting journeys, even if it’s an artistic one.
  • Safety. Make sure your mobile phone number is visible on their clothing or wrist band. Talk through with your child what to do if separated, decide on meeting points, and make sure they understand how to identify a festival official. (They usually have the best t-shirts in the crowd.)
  • Essential supplies. Sun block, hand sanitizer, hats, and a change of clothes will all come in handy. There’s nothing worse than being burned, dirty, hot, and sticky. The kids are there to enjoy the artists, not to be focused on how uncomfortable they are.
  • We love food; Kids need food. Keep the kids well fed. Food is a perfect way to fight off the whiny “I am so hungry” chant.
  • Headphones. Yes, noise reducing headphones. Kids have sensitive ears, much more so than adults. To protect them, bring along noise-reducing headphones. While fancier models will allow more of the music to get through, even plain-vanilla ones used for cutting out engine noise while mowing the lawn will do the trick.
  • Beware of what they will see. It’s a festival and that means of festival of all kinds of behavior (“what’s that smell?”), dress (“have I seen that before?”), and ways of enjoying the romance (“why are their bodies so close together?”) of art and music. You know what I mean. This is what good parenting is all about. Don’t pretend the real world does not exist. Do use the real world to inspire honest and direct conversations with your kids. With your direct guidance, they will learn, and more importantly, they will understand.
  • Context. Festivals provide a great way to learn about artists and how art is created. Listen to the artists’ music with your kids before you go. Let them know something about the performers and how they grew-up. The more the kids know about what they are going to see the more they will enjoy the experience.
  • Let the kids be kids. Let them watch. Let them pick-up on the vibes and skills of the performers. Adjust to their time for they may need more breaks. They may want a quiet place for a bit. If so, use that time to talk about the acts, to talk about what they’ve seen. You are witnessing the development of their taste in music and culture. And, you are there while it’s happening. Don’t miss the opportunity to listen to them and to create a mutual exchange as equals, as fans.
  • Buy them a keepsake. A t-shirt. A hat. A key chain. Buy them some trinket. This is not only about a lifelong keepsake, this is about the coolness factor to show-off on the school playground.

You are not just educating the next generation, you are creating a lifetime festival fan. That is the definition of being a cool parent.

Have other festival travel tips? Let us know!

- Bill Reichblum

Also See:
Essential Festival Tips: How to Stay Healthy
Essential Festival Tips: Your Festival Packing List
Essential Festival Tips: How to Save Money on Your Festival Travels

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