Today we announced out 2019 Festivals programme for BFLF – one of the highlights will be playing the Greenpeace Stage at Glastonbury next week. I have gone to Glastonbury since the mid-90s and since 2010 have taken my children.
My daughter was 4 months old for her first in 2010 and since 2014 David and I have taken both kids with us. Along the way we’ve dealt with boiling heat, incredible mud, celebrity babysitters (Matt Smith!), visits to the medical tent and sent one child off to be behind the decks with Four Tet.
Anyway – last weekend a BFLF attendee started asking me how best to tackle Glastonbury with kids as she was embarking on it for the first time. We started exchanging emails and she suggested I blog it. So here it is – my very personal, highly specific and wildly incomplete advice…..
– transport on site. You need something with pneumatic tyres for mud. Under 1 and an all terrain buggy is your friend. As for 2+ years I’d recommend a garden trolley or double bike trailer. Use small cushions and take blanket to make trailer/trolley sleep ready at any time. Both the back bit of the trailer and the footwell are handy booze storage areas. Use footwell for booze when out and about as it prevents the trailer tipping over backwards. We used our trailer to get kit on site and made our toddlers walk at get in.
– sleeping. Double sleeping bag for adults but can take toddlers upwards in if they get too cold. Toddlers upwards in on air mattresses. For baby sleeping I recommend a usual baby sleeping bag in an n’cessity pop up tent, on an air bed – the pop up tent doubles as changing area/sun protector during day. It’s very easy to carry about. You can always sleep in the single sleeping bag, next to your baby in their mini tent.
– take pegs. If you have a mud or wetting disaster and need to wash something for reuse then use pegs to hang on tent guy ropes to dry (in sun)
– food. I take a small amount of dry food eg cereal bars, Pringles, apples, satsumas to give as snacks and breakfast. Abandon usual desire for healthy stuff for children and just try and keep them topped up for energy. NCT tent to help with any milk powder requirements eg boiling water. Also the field crews in family camping can help.
– think through what you would need to do if bad things happened eg 4 year old goes full mud person. Rinse face and hands and let mud dry on clothes. THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED TO US.
– the medical tent is awesome btw. Our 4 month old would not stop crying the first night so we took her there. They checked her out and could find nothing wrong. Eventually she slept and was then absolutely fine for rest of festival.
– the Kidzfield and Greenpeace Kids are both brilliant but they’ll enjoy everything so do go and enjoy ALL the festival. Don’t forget to get them on a stone at the Stone Circle for a classic photo!
– loos. We go in before the children and clean it up before going in with them. All loos are fine we have found – including long drops! Nice compost ones in family camping.
– if you walk through the Pyramid Field early on Thursday you are likely to be approached by media crews for interviews.
-Toy Story 4 Sunday morning will be brilliant. Get there an hour before to secure place, buy pastries from bakery at entrance to Acoustic Field and take booze.
– all kids love drum and bass
– – strongly recommend an early evening change at tent into evening clothes eg onesie for kids year old. Use battery operated fairy lights for evening transport (which should double as sleeping venue for children). Also under onesie thermals and wooly hat for in evening.
– find the Stonemasons Arms. A secret bar behind the curtain where they do stonemasonry in Green Crafts. It’s a lovely respite from everything. Also Permaculture cafe/garden by railway line path. Also – check out the Dragon if it’s hot.
-campsites. I have a strong personal preference for Wicket Ground as it is less crowded than Cockmill. I also HATE the East get in with the Hill Of Death (done with double buggy in mud, lethal both getting in and leaving). Also the trudge across campervan fields seems interminable. However, I can see the strong attraction of having Kidzfield/NCT tent on your doorstep. There’s no right or wrong answer – it really is a matter of preference.
-the queues to get in on Wednesday morning are long but do keep moving. I stay at my Mum’s in Bristol on Tues night and leave there about 9-10am. By the time we arrive there are reasonably long car queues but the Gate queues aren’t too bad. You know that at Glastonbury whatever will be will be (weather, conditions under foot, queues, stolen tents) – and whilst it is a big ask of parents with young children – that stands for us too. My answer for most issues at Glastonbury is ‘Oh well, best have a cider and a think about what to do.’
-the only showers near family camping are those at the bottom of the Kidzfield. Always queues there but I think takes about an hour. I know no more about this as we have never used them. My kids stay filthy throughout and I wash my hair on the Friday morning outside my tent using cold water. I think if I felt strongly about cleaning my baby I would take a washing up bowl, small gas cooker (one ring) and a pan to boil up water and do it that way. Thinking about it I think they do have a daily baby & toddler wash there – but we never did it. We let our kids be total grubby monsters – hopefully they’ll have the constitution of an ox in later life!
More tips on activities:
– there is an amazing climbing thing at the top of the Kidzfield. When mine were 4 they spent HOURS there.- if arriving at Kidzfield when it opens head straight to hair braiding and facepainting in tent towards top. Get it over and done with. All free. Crafting activities are fab (all free) but some better than others. In general, those resulting in something to wear are ‘best’ eg fairy wings, top hats.
-All the circus things in the main Circus field are fantastic for all ages.
[EDIT: extra Advance Level Q & A Tips
Q: What to do if your 2 year old has a poonami when it is raining and you are inside a lovely cafe tent, theny find your 4 year old has wet all the blankets and cushions in the trailer while asleep – ALL AT THE SAME TIME AND YOU ARE A 45 MIN WALK FROM THE TENT.
A: Down your cider and take toddler outside and change them on a bin bag in the rain, take back in to put on their clean clothes. Leave 4 year old asleep (needs the rest). Once they awake, change clothes and cover all wet in trailer in bin bags.
Q: What to do if your 3 year old loses a welly in apocalyptic mud and no stall sells children’s wellies?
A: Have a cider. Don’t walk around for hours trying to find a stall selling them – they don’t – go to NCT tent in Kidzfield where they have a selection of second hand ones for a donation! Alternatively – take two pairs of wellies for each child and leave one set in tent in case of emergencies.
In fact most problems at Glastonbury are sorted with cider and bin bags.
My kids call Glastonbury ‘Home’ . I have loved it for decades and now I love sharing it with them. See you at the Pilton cider festival (with bin bags)!
Peace & Love Hannah and fam xx