Family Festivals in the South West
It may still be cold out there but summer is on its way so it’s time to start planning which of the Family Festivals in the South West you are going to this summer.
Taking a family to a festival is a very different experience to hitting Glastonbury after your exams. There’s less beer, more trips to the loo and a lot more kit to carry around with you. But choose the right festival and it’s a perfect summer break for the whole family.
Even the bigger, commercialised festivals have caught on to the money making opportunities offered by family friendly festivals but we prefer to go to the smaller, independent festivals where families are seen as an integral part of the community, not an add on to be tucked away in the corner.
Our Essential Family Festivals in the South West have families at the heart of the community – they are smaller and less intimidating for children, they have amazing workshops, play areas and activities for children and not a kids’ TV character in sight.
This is almost more of a family camp than a festival in the modern sense. Around 300 people, a field in Devon, compost loo, basic facilities, camp fires to cook on, limited catering, no beer or music until the weekend, no kids’ TV celebs, off grid living for a week – sounds kinda grim?
Well actually it’s rather perfect. It has the most amazing sense of community and a warmth & buzz that you can only achieve with a smaller festival. Here the organisers get to know the faces of everyone who attends and always have the time to stop and chat. There is a relaxed atmosphere, giving families the chance to unwind, take time out together and not feel pressured into rushing to the next must see/do session.
Hedgeucation offers an incredible line up of activities that the whole family can enjoy together, included in the ticket price. The Hedgeucation website and Facebook page are updated regularly as more activities are added but over the last couple of years we:
Made wooden flutes, stools, one string guitars and learnt to spin
Learnt ariel acrobatics
Made copper jewellery and noz bugs
Used fire poi and firesticks
Made a peg loom rug and a wicker basket
Went on foraging walks
Wrote and performed a play
Painted horse shoes
Learnt archery and threw axes
Made a dragon out of a broken tent
Took classes in Tai Chi and yoga
Learnt about horse care and rode bareback
Listened to amazing stories from Hedgespoken
In addition, there is plenty of space both undercover and outdoors for children to run around, teen activities in the early evening and lots of organised but not too structured craft and play opportunities for younger children.
Details of Hedgeucation 2017
Tickets cost £90 per adult & £45 per child for a full week of basic camping and workshops. Under 5s are free and there are various options for weekend only, day tickets etc. All workshops are included but if you use a lot of materials or learn new skills, you may like to leave a donation to say thank you.
29th May – 4th June 2017
Location – North Devon
A very big thank you to Jean Cullen for generously allowing us to use her beautiful photos. If you like them, why not check out Jean’s Facebook Page?
Off Grid at Biophilia Project, Exeter
After moving around for a few years, Off Grid now has a permanent home at the Biophilia Project in Exeter.
Billed as a college for individuals to learn the skills needed for low impact or off grid living, the festival will include:
Off Grid College covering topics such as permaculture, organic food production, waste water treatment
Craft and Tech sessions – think straw bale house building, building bread ovens or rocket stoves
Conference covering areas such as the future of farming, low impact living
Wildwoods with bushcraft, men’s and women’s circles
Children’s area, live music and demos
Previous year’s children’s activities have included crafts, climbing walls, trapeze, den-building, forest school, archery, wood working, bat walks, storytelling and fire making. Where appropriate, children are welcome to participate in other activities, such as blacksmithing or cob oven building.
Details of Off Grid 2017
Tickets cost from £95 per adult, £22.50 per child, under 5s free. Car parking is from £15 for the weekend
10th August – 13th August 2017
Location – The Biophilia Project, 96 acres of meadow and woodland on the edge of Exeter.
An essential part of summer life in Devon, Beautiful Days is perhaps the most iconic of the Family Festivals in the South West.
Set in beautiful Escot and organised by the Levellers, it has six stages, a huge children’s area, comedy, theatre, family camping, licensed real ale bars from Otter Brewery & a great choice of food and craft stalls.
Beautiful Days is a ‘proper’ music festival with a great line up of local, national and international acts as well as family camping fields and a dedicated Children’s Area run by Majical Youth Theatre.
Activities planned include theatre and circus, storytelling, crafts, bushcraft and family friendly performances in the Theatre Tent.
Details of Beautiful Days 2o17
Tickets cost from £135 per adult, £65 for teens and £35 for under 10s. Car parking costs £15 for the weekend
18th-20th August 2017
Location – Escot Park, Ottery St. Mary
Port Elliot Festival
Set in possibly the most beautiful corner of England, Port Elliot Festival celebrates words, music, imagination, ideas, nature, food, fashion, flowers, laughter, exploration, fun and all that is good in the world!
The beautiful gardens at Port Elliot are opened for one magical weekend where you can list to amazing music and spoken word, canoe, surf or swim, take part in science experiments organised by Eden Project, Plymouth University and the British Science Association, eat amazing local food, surround yourself in the beauty of art and nature or take part in a host of workshops.
Families are fully included in the programme:
They host some of the biggest names in children’s literature, with readings from Lauren Child, David Baddiel and Kate Winslet in recent years
Making accessories in the Wardrobe Department with legendary designers
Learning how to dance Bollywood style
Children’s workshops on drumming, knitting, and wildlife illustration
Outdoor activities include kayaking or archery plus wild swimming
Rogue Theatre Company provides a haven for adventure, with enchanting performances, interactive theatre, and activities galore
Plus lots to see and do throughout the festival such as magicians, dance troupes, hula-hoopers, jugglers and clowns.
Details of Port Elliot Festival 2017
Tickets cost around £170 per adult, £100 for teens, £70 for children with under 8 going free.
27th-30th July 2017
Port Elliot, St Germans, Cornwall
Another proper music festival with a great offering for families. Chagstock is set in the heart of Dartmoor, 5000 festival goers come together to celebrate great music, beautiful countryside and a fantastic atmosphere.
Activities for children include bouncy castle, dance workshops, gyro-riding, climbing wall, workshops and animals.
Sadly, we’ve never made it to Chagstock and the website is a little light on details but friends and family have always raved about Chagstock and it is often tipped as one of the best Family Festivals in the South West, so I’ve included it in this list.
Details of Chagstock 2017
21st-22nd July 2017
Tickets cost £90 for an adult, £65 for teens and FREE for under 12s.
Location – Whiddon Down, Dartmoor