Take Your Kids to Music Festivals and Still Have Fun!

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Yes, you can take your kids to music festivals and still have fun! Of course, you need to plan ahead to make sure everyone is happy and safe. If you’ve never taken the kids along it might sound a bit scary, but we’re here to help! So pull up the stroller and check out these tips from parents who’ve been there, done that!

Take Your Kids to Music Festivals and Still Have Fun!

Yes, We Take Our Kid To Music Festivals…

Our son was just under a year old when we took him to his first fest. He had an absolute blast! We also took him to Bonnaroo when he was six and had an amazing family vacation together. Now he’s in his 20s and still goes to concerts with us (if he’s not working). Are YOUR parents that cool?

So yes, you can take your kids to music festivals and still enjoy the show! It will give your family a lifetime of great memories, if you plan ahead to make it go more smoothly. Luckily for you, we’ve got plenty of experience to share. In addition to our general tips on music festivals, here are our top tips for jamming with the kids.

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Take Your Kids To Music Festivals That Are Family Friendly

Not all music festivals are a good fit. I’m guessing a death metal fest is not the best scene for families (just sayin’). Make sure that kids are welcome and have a safe space. Go to the website and find out what amenities they offer for little fest goers. Take your kids to music festivals that set up areas for kids to play!

You need to know what kind of scene they will be exposed to before you take your kids to a music festival. When they are really young, I don’t recommend loud indoor shows, even if they wear ear protection. Indoors shows have pretty crappy air quality and things can be a lot more intense.

Outdoor music festivals are soooo much easier…the smoke wafts away, and you can hang out in the back where the scene is much more chill. However, if your child is easily upset or overwhelmed, even the most laid-back of outdoor shows is probably not their scene.

Yeah, I’ve heard negative comments, and if you take your kids to music festivals, you may too. Don’t sweat the negativity, just make sure everyone is safe and it’s all good.

tickets to concerts

Tickets, Please…

Your child may or may not need a ticket to get in, so be sure to check the age range first. Usually five years and younger don’t need a ticket, but that varies from one fest to the next. Some venues are super chill about having kids and they set up play areas, offer special activities, and give away free earplugs for the munchkins.

What About Newborns?

For babies that are only a few months old, I really recommend leaving them with grandparents or responsible friends while you enjoy the show.

At that age they probably aren’t sleeping through the night and could keep your neighbors awake. They may object to ear protection and you don’t want any damage to their hearing. Breastfeeding moms: remember that your baby will be exposed to whatever you ingest.

As they approach 1 year old, it gets much easier to bring baby along. Our son was about 11 months old when we took him to a weekend music fest. We felt pretty good about it. It was an outdoor show, we were far away from the speakers, and we had been taking him along on a lot of adventures already. We also had our tribe with us to help watch out for his well-being. It worked out great for us.

Take your kids to parks, fun fairs, or small outdoor concerts before bringing them to a large music fest.


Start Out With Small Venues…

That first music fest we attended with our son was The Clifford Ball – a Phish weekend with 70,000 fans. Yeah, not what you’d call a small festival, right? We did start out by taking him camping, going to a lot of kids shows, and play dates with noisy and boisterous crowds around. So it’s not like we jumped into a Phish fest after sheltering him from society!

Start out by taking the kids to small local shows, just to get your feet wet. Fun fairs, kids shows, water parks, and other outings are a great way to find out what your children can handle. Expose your kids to do a wide range of activities from a young age! Most kids acclimate to their surroundings. If they don’t, you’ll know ahead of time that a music fest isn’t a good idea. Listen to your instincts!

Take your kids camping a few times!

Camping Fun!

Take the kids on a short camping trip so the fest won’t be the first time they’ve slept in a tent. When we went to the Clifford Ball, we made a week-long trip out of it. The early part of the week, we camped at a state park that had lean-tos for sleeping. Some friends joined us later in the week and we all went to the festival together. It’s great to have your tribe with you to help out with entertaining the tykes or just keeping an eye out for tripping fans.

Six years later, we went to the first ever Bonnaroo festival – another 70,000 fan event. This was another test of how well our son could handle the sights and sounds of a huge music festival and he did great! He was a pretty self-entertaining kid so we didn’t spend the weekend figuring out how to keep him occupied. Not all kids can do this and not all families are laid back enough to deal with the little set backs and inconveniences that may occur. You need to know what you are capable of before you take your kids to music festivals. Start small and work your way up!


Your Child’s Safety & Comfort Come First

This should go without saying: keeping the kids safe is your top priority. Make sure at least one sober and responsible adult has an eye on your little ones at every moment. This isn’t necessarily stressful; in fact, it’s fun to watch the kids running around and dancing while you listen to the tunes.

You might want one of those toddler harnesses to keep the kid tethered and make ID bracelets with their name and your cell number. Want a little more peace of mind? Check out these tracking devices.

Learn some basic first aid and keep a few emergency supplies (wipes and bandages, at least) on hand. Check out the festival grounds and identify the first aid stations and security tents. Talk to your kids about what to do if they get lost.

Make sure they are aren’t able to pick anything up and put it in their mouth.

Bring ear protection…make sure they try headphones on in advance and will keep them on!

If you take your kids to music festivals in the summer, be sure to have plenty of water available to keep the small fries (and yourselves) hydrated. Have a source of shade to keep cool. And don’t forget the sunscreen!

Bring extra clothes into the music venue, just in case. Have a well-stocked diaper bag or backpack. Dispose of dirty diapers properly. And don’t forget to grab snacks so they don’t get hungry and cranky.

Make sure your kids are having fun at the fest too!


Entertain the Kids

It’s great if the kids get into the music and dance, but they might get bored, so be sure to keep their entertainment in mind. After all, if the kids ain’t happy, Mom and Dad ain’t gonna be happy either…and maybe the folks around you. Not cool. Bring books, toys, bubbles, fairy wings, whatever makes them happy!

When we went to Bonnaroo, we got stuck in a 10-hour traffic jam before the show. (Yeah, that sucked.) Luckily we brought lots of toys, and our son (who was almost seven at the time) spent the whole time in the back seat playing with dinosaurs and cars, and reading his books. When we finally got to the festival grounds, he was ready to move around, but we still needed to set up camp, so we gave him a job to do: help Dad pitch the tent. This not only kept him occupied, it made him part of the team. Whether it’s a music fest or just a camping trip, he always had jobs to do. Everyone pitches in and does their share, and kids should learn that as soon as possible.

Remember that some festival-goers either don’t have kids or they arranged a babysitter so they could enjoy the fest “unencumbered by the parenting process.” (We’ve done that a few times ourselves.) Try to keep your kids from infringing on someone else’s good time. Try to keep them quiet in the morning so the folks around you don’t get annoyed.

Kids schedules don’t always align with ours. Have fun while they are awake, and give them some chill time.

You May Miss a Band or Two

You’re up for pulling an all-nighter to see the late-nite bands, but the kids will be tired, and a sleepy kid is a cranky concert-goer. Take ’em back to the campsite and get some sleep. Don’t worry about the bands you’re missing, just appreciate the ones you get to see and the fact that you’re turning your kids on to a great environment.

Take it in Stride

At a fest last year, we met a young couple who had their little one with them. When we mentioned that we took our son to a music fest when he was about the same age, they asked if we had any advice. I said, “Take everything in stride. There will be good times and bad times, but as long as the bad times don’t turn into tragedies, you’ll end up with great memories.” One thing we’ve found in all our years of camping with our son: kids are resilient as long as the parents can keep their cool, even in a mini-crisis. 

One last thing, look out for other people’s kids too; not everyone is as responsible as you are. One of the things we love about music festivals is the sense of community that they foster. We’re all in this together, folks. Take care of each other.

Want to read more about how to take your kids to music festivals? Here’s a good article from Ticketmaster about bringing your kids to summer festivals.

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2 comments on “Take Your Kids to Music Festivals and Still Have Fun!

  1. Pingback: The Great Blue Heron Music Festival - Music Fest Fans

  2. Who Me?

    Nice, we started taking our kids to festivals when they were babies. Now they volunteer every year at our favorite, the Great Blue Heron Music Festival.

    Reply

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