Family festival frolics

As I started writing this post, Mr Goodtimes called me from the dining room. ‘I need your mother’s brains’. Wondering why he’d need my mother’s brains, I walked through. ‘What I need is a mother’s brains to help me write my packing and shopping list for Latitude’.

He is more than capable himself, but his luck was in, so this post includes a genuine ‘what you need to take the family to a festival’ list, created today.

I’ve not gone as far as actually planning the recipes for you on this occasion, but hopefully, if you’re taking your family to a festival, it’ll lighten the load when trying to get your head around what you need.

It’s been a while since I’ve packed taking only a small backpack, a tiny tent, a best friend or two, and the whisper of adventure. If you’re in that zone, grasp it, embrace it, and honestly, get to as many festivals as you can. You’ll remember them forever (or at least, the hazy memory of the good times you experienced!)

Nowadays, getting packed up and ready to go with a family – and two or three kids requires a bit more organised planning. And if enjoying my festival means making sure you’re kitted out for a comfortable ride, then so be it. Bring on the uber-lugging.

If you’re a festival rookie, at whatever age, here’s my ultimate family festival guide, along with a shopping and packing list to help make your lives easier.

Friends. Me and Mr Goodtimes have festivalled alone with our kids. And as night falls and the kids tire, and you head back to camp, there is nothing more gutting than hearing the music over the hill with no means of getting back out to enjoy some late-night fun. Don’t get me wrong, rum by the campfire is all good, but taking friends, with kids who know your kids, and fellow parents who don’t mind a bit of babysitting swapping means you can get your money’s worth. Failing that, bring a babysitter (I’m not actually kidding)!

Arrive with time to setup, early enough that you can kick back and enjoy your first night. And bring you and the kids earplugs for nights. Even in family camping, the bass echoes up to the tent making it a challenge for all but the utterly exhausted to sleep. To be honest, by night three, you are all so broken, it’d take a small army to keep you awake anyway, but they’re handy for nights one and two.

Get to know your neighbours! It’s fun, plus a bit of added security.

And while we’re talking security, don’t take any valuables with you to the festival. At all. You’ll have enough to deal with, without stressing whether you’ve lost your grandmother’s ring. And carry your money with you in a money pouch, even when you’re sleeping.

Electronic devices.
You might want to keep your phone on you in case your kids get lost (remember to give them a wristband with your number on it), or maybe to look at the festival app for line-ups, but better to buy a programme. But turn data off for all your unimportant apps to conserve battery. And clear your phone so you can take pics.

Your teen will probably have his or hers surgically glued to their hand, best just to accept this. Take a charging pack as backup – they’re inexpensive and not too heavy for your festival backpack. When it comes to younger kids, ditch the tech! Take some colouring things, and stay out enjoying the fun of the festival until they ask you to take them to bed.

Plug ’em.
I have tinnitus. It’s annoying. Bring earplugs / ear defenders for all of you if you or your kids are planning on getting up close and personal with a bassbin, and save the hassle and irritation of years of unwanted ringing in your ears.

Comfy shoes / sandals (you are going to be walking miles every day), wellies for wet weather, plenty of plastic bags for wet, muddy clothes and shoes, and to use a very portable seat, sunhat, pac-a-mac (yup, hideous, but does the job). But yes, sequins, and brights, too! Be a boho queen for the weekend, or a raved up warrior. Whatever floats your boat.

For day into eve, think dress / shorts / top during the day, and then easy-to-roll up leggings to put in backpack (see below) to put on under the dress as temperatures drop. Also, a scarf / sarong that can double as somewhere to sit if it’s warm, or keep the neck warm. For kids and grown-ups, a nice snuggly hoodie, or poncho for evening is always handy too. Think layers, and lightweight.

As a parent you really have to accept that you’ll have to carry a backpack. Yes. Not ideal. So make it a nice one, with a zip to keep things safe, or load up a kind friend / partner. Put clothing (above), first aid kit (below), water bottles, snacks in it.

Essential first aid
To carry about all day I have anti bac wipes, plasters, wasp-eze, and suncream.

Hair & make-up.
Damn right, a consideration! Wild, wacky, out there, ideally. But first, let’s talk about glitter. It’s messing with our planet, so check out the peeps over at Glitterlution for planet-friendly glittergasms. And don’t forget to pack it – it is eeeesential!

I usually manage to find someone ready and willing to smother me in it like in this pic!

With hair, generally speaking, think up-do’s. It’s gonna get greasy as hell very quickly. Braids, flowers, out there headpieces, sequin hairbands, or best of all, cover it up in a hat.

Makeup. Whatever floats your boat. cover-up, lipgloss, mascara, glitter and blusher are my essentials, but you know what works for you. Remember your cleanser and to take it off at night, no matter what, and take a small mirror so you can reapply it first thing to avoid scaring your neighbours in the morning.

Getting clean.
It used to be baby-wipe showers for me. And if it gets to ‘can’t-be-arsed-o’clock’, it still is. My preference is to fully take advantage of the option of showers in family camping. Getting up at 6.30am is the only way to guarantee and hot, queueless shower. Then go back to bed ’til the kids wake up.

The weather.
This is England. Check the forecast on Accuweather every day (hour) in the run up to the festival, then pack for every kind of weather anyway. Suncream if it’s set to be scorchio, or mixed. If it’s wet, generally be mentally prepared that everything is going to be wet and muddy and this is where your bin liners come into their own. Pack changes of clothes for all of you if the forecast is wet, being cold AND wet at a festival is bad enough. Being cold and wet and having cold and wet kids tests you to the extreme!


You’ve probably spent a small fortune on the tickets. And even if you haven’t, festival food prices can rinse your wallet clean in a few short hours, especially with the sensory overload that has the kids tugging at your coat tails every five minutes.

It’s always good to allow some budget for treats – an ice cream a day, keeps the moaning at bay, in my experience.

Taking your own food is nice. It gives you moments of chill, and lessens the financial burden a little. Obviously taking food requires a cool box. So get a good one and take it. Ours afforded us the luxury of a cool glass of rose wine on the eve of the last day. The joy!

Food-wise, I aim to take enough munch for a good breakfast every day, and one other meal. Breakfast for the grown-ups is either eggs, sausage, bacon, spinach or bircher muesli. For the kids probably bacon / sausage butties or some kind of favourite cereal.

For the other meal, think easy, one, or max two pan cook up / throw together like:

Pesto pasta with tomatoes
Spaghetti bolognaise
Thai veg curry & rice
Chilli & rice
Hot dogs
Ham, cheese, and any other filling sandwiches

You can take salad, with cucumber and tomatoes storing well. And lettuce and bagged spinach for the first day or two, depending on your fridge situation.

And then snacks. Oatcakes, nuts (and small pots to carry them in), cereal bars, bananas, apples are the easiest.


Above all, explore. Make the most of all the arts, music, cabaret, comedy, and festival delights all there in one amazing world for the weekend – it’ll be a time you won’t forget in a hurry!




So, with anecdotal advice dished, I hope it’s been a help!  CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD! the packing and shopping list.

And on that note, I’m off to help my family prepare for Latitude!

Be safe, have fun, and enjoy your festival.

Big love & good times,