Maybe in your previous, pre-kids life, you liked nothing better than to pack off somewhere for the weekend to soak up the unique atmosphere of a festival. But if you choose wisely, there’s no reason you can’t introduce your children to the festival experience. Kids are great conversation-starters, they’re inquisitive and enthusiastic about new experiences, and they soak up different cultural experiences like little sponges. Many festival organisers recognise that the demand for family-friendly facilities is growing every year and now set aside space that is specifically designed to enhance the enjoyment of their smallest patrons (and their parents). Here are some of our favourite family festivals around the globe.
Just So Festival, Cheshire, UK
If you were to ask a child to design their idea of a perfect festival, it would probably include midnight feasts, fancy dress costumes, a huge pillow fight, stories and songs by campfire, yummy food, lots of messy play and a huge tournament. The Just So Festival, now in its eighth year amid beautiful parkland at Rode Hall in Cheshire, delivers all of this and more. Determined to be the best family festival in the UK, they seem to have thought of everything. And if you don’t want to bring your own camping gear, you can even hire one of their fun boutique camping options, ranging from yurts and tipis to vintage tents.
Winter Carnaval, Quebec, Canada
This celebration of all things winter was first held in 1894 and now hosts upwards of a million visitors each year. Think of every winter activity you’ve ever wanted to try: dog sledding, ice skating, skidoo riding, horse-drawn sleigh racing – it’s all here. The festival runs from late January for two weeks, but be warned: Quebec in mid-winter is seriously cold, so be sure to pack ALL of your winter woollies!
Cherry Blossom Festival, Japan
Every year between late March and early May all over Japan, thousands of cherry trees burst into blossom and people stop to take part in the time-honoured custom of hanami, or flower viewing. One of the most popular places to do this is Ueno Park in Tokyo, where paper lanterns are strung between the trees so that people can enjoy outdoor picnics late into the evening, but there are plenty of other locations too. It can be a little tricky timing your visit to perfectly coincide with Mother Nature’s whim, but your personal travel manager can help you find a tour that takes out most of the guesswork.
Holi Colour Festival, India
You may have seen or even participated in colour runs, where participants complete a five-kilometre run and then throw paint powder over each other in a riotous blaze of colourful fun. The source of inspiration for this multi-hued fun takes place throughout India and Nepal every year, some time between the end of February and the middle of March, dependant on the timing of the full moon. Holi is a Hindu celebration of the coming of spring and symbolises the triumph of good over evil, when participants throw coloured powder and water over anyone and everyone, sharing music, laughter and traditional Holi delicacies. You don’t need a ticket to get involved in this festival, but if you’re travelling with kids you might want to find an organised party within a hotel or expat club, as it can be pretty chaotic!
Capital E, Wellington, New Zealand
If you’re looking for something a bit closer to home, make the short hop across the ditch to Wellington, New Zealand to Capital E’s National Arts Festival. Held every year over twelve days in March, this gathering of some of the world’s best kids’ entertainers brings dance, live music and interactive storytelling to the capital city, just for the kids (although parents are certain to have a good time too). Combine a few fun shows and workshops with a visit to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (or Te Papa, as the Kiwis call it).
To find out more about these and many more fun-filled family events and festivals, talk to your personal travel manager who can help you plan your next family adventure, wherever that may be.