In my family, we're fools for festivals. Every summer, we hit the road for at least one (two, if we're feeling flush). My husband, Scott, and I go for the thrill of live music and because outdoor festivals make it so easy to share that experience with our son, Quinn. At 9 years old, Quinn likes the music, but he loves what comes along with it: the joyful, neighborhood-party atmosphere, the food trucks, the craft vendors, and all the fun -- from kid tunes to hands-on crafts and circus arts -- in the children's tent.
Scott and I perform at festivals, too, and we've visited many over the years. I'm not talking Lollapalooza here (awesome as it is), but smaller, mellower festivals that truly welcome families. Musically, these tend toward genres like folk, bluegrass, and world music. They happen in farmers' fields, city parks, and mountain meadows, with all-day entertainment on multiple stages. The daily crowds (3,000 to 6,000, on average) are friendly, the sites are a blast to explore, and there are usually maps, first-aid tents, and flotillas of helpful volunteers. Some events offer families staying overnight a quiet campground option, with an early curfew. Most roll out the red carpet for children, with kids' stages, strolling magicians, giant sandboxes, and more.
At upwards of $40 per day and $200 for a camping weekend, tickets aren't cheap, but they're a bargain for a full day of entertainment, especially when kids get in for free. When I add in priceless family time spent outdoors dancing, learning to juggle, eating too much kettle corn, and falling asleep to the last acts on the main stage, I'm sold. If you are, too, check out these festivals (and more online). They unfold in tempting destinations with dazzling lineups -- and they all go the extra mile for families.
Music festivals are ideal for families who...
- Like discovering new tunes
- Have kids of various ages
- Can tolerate a little dust and a lot of sun
- Enjoy a laid-back vibe
And less ideal for families who...
- Prefer their concerts with chairs and without ambient noise
- Don't like crowds
- Can't abide Porta-Potties