I’m by no means a festival addict, but I’ve been to a wide variety of music festivals since discovering them in high school. I wasn’t much more than a kid myself when I attended my first all weekend festival … but would I take my kids to a music festival? I’d like to answer with a resounding yes – but not all music festivals are created equal when it comes to family appropriateness.
Here are five music festivals across North America that can be safely experienced with kids in tow.
Most folk fests are laid-back, family friendly events, and the Calgary Folk Music Festival is no exception. You won’t find Fred Penner on the performers list, but if your kid will groove to the performers who are there, you’ll all have fun. The grass parkland of Prince’s Island Park is the perfect venue for kids to run around, take breaks on the playground equipment and naps under the trees.
I pilgrimage to Sasquatch each May, and while I’ve always left my kids with my in-laws, there are a few people who bring their little ones along. A four-day festival held at The Gorge, a massive outdoor venue with plenty of quieter areas to set up and spread out. Numerous camping options are available, but if you want your kids to get any sleep, you’ll need to upgrade to the VIP option, which has an enforced quiet time. The basic campground is essentially an all-night rave – not suited to anyone under the age of 18 (or over 35, really).
Held annually Labour Day weekend at the Seattle Centre, Bumbershoot brings together artists and performers in the film, comedy, visual arts, literary, theatre, performing arts, dance, and spectacle worlds. Children 10 and under are admitted free with an accompanying adult, and children’s programming is available in the Youngershoot Kids Zone.
Bonnaroo is constantly highlighted in top 10 lists of best festivals in North America, Bonnaroo is hot as hell, but they do feature a number of family-friendly options. Their Kidz Jam area offers a safe space for parents to play interactive games and sports with their kids, or create recycled art projects. Fresh water, sun block, earplugs and safety tips are offered free of charge. The Family Camping Area is your best bet for camping, and doesn’t cost extra.
Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival
ACL has eight stages showcasing performers from all genres over two weekends in October. Held in the city, more than 75,000 people attend each day. Kids can chill in the Austin Kiddie Limits family-friendly area open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of both weekends, which includes a stage with kids’ performers, a sandy beach, video karaoke, crafting and more.