Taking a kid to a festival?
You are braver than I
It’s spring and thoughts are already turning to summer, and which festivals my motley crew of friends will be attending. I’m invited, but seriously?! Festivals? With a kid? Pah. Don’t make me laugh. You’ll never see the 9pm band on the main stage because you’ll be in a sweaty tent playing white noise to your kids to ease them to sleep whilst the ravers on bad pills in the tent next door come down from their high. You’ll start drinking early, because y’know, you’re at a festival, and the hangover will kick in before the day is out. Then you’ll have to deal with kids high on glitter face paint and candyfloss, whilst also battling dehydration, a pounding headache and the steady thud of the dance tent. Your phone will run out of battery so you can’t watch emergency CBBC. You can’t text your husband to bring some loo roll back from the bogs for snotty noses because you gave your baby wipes to a girl who fell in a puddle. And you can’t access the festival app to find the kid zone.
You’ve earmarked money to pay the school fine for taking Sammy out. Fine or no fine, I’m pretty sure that the Rainbow Play tent is going to do more for their creative energy than maths and spelling in an overly-warm classroom. On top of this, you need to feed the kids and whilst the food at festivals has gone from dire to dreamy in a few short years, you know you don’t get change back from a tenner per head. Despite your brilliantly packed Fjallraven backpack, you’ll lose your sun cream / sunglasses / flower crown / phone charger and have to pay way over the odds to replace them. I don’t have teenagers but I can only imagine the day starts with you handing over cash, and ends with you worrying about why they are back late.
Camping is a horror, because the kids go to bed late because it’s so exciting, and wake up early, because it’s light, hot and sweaty. If you hit Glasto in a rainy year, they will wake early because the tent has leaked, and then get tearful when they fall in a puddle. If you’ve packed the McLaren, you’d better hope you can dig it out of the mud when the inevitable happens (although in a sunny year, a pram is an excellent booze transporter, as is a Trunki).
There will be a glorious window, when the sun hits that sweet point in the sky, your kids wave their hands to Ed Sheeran (come on, you aren’t cool enough for Stormzy now) and you feel like you’ve nailed it. Cool parent 101. Enjoy this, because this is what you’ll remember. But be aware that the long walk back on the aforementioned sugar-high will lead to a tantrum, you’ll be going to sleep with a toddler foot in your face and you’ll miss the Foo Fighters because you’ll have been in a queue for the loo with one of the kids.
Despite my views on festivals, I’m excited for the return of In the Neighbourhood, a weekday programme of free activities, taking place between the two weekends of All Points East (the new Lovebox). Come down to Victoria Park for free outdoor cinema, live music, entertainment, theatre, arts, sports and wellbeing – and loads more. There’s also street food and pop-up bars to ensure the grownups are happy too.
Kicking off on the second May bank holiday, and taking place across the May half term, In the Neighbourhood will be a fun destination for you and your family.