Looking for family festivals? Here are the best to visit

Festival season is well and truly with us, from the bohemian splendor of Body and Soul to the neon mayhem of Electric Picnic.

However, finding festivals suitable for all family members can be tricky, especially if you are a former raver, now a parent, and want to share the joy and fun of festivals with your young ones.

Luckily, family festivals are becoming more and more common, with a range of activities and events organized for parents and children alike – no need to stay awake singing songs and on the playgrounds here!

Sinead Fox from the Bumbles of Rice blog and Instagram joined Today with Claire Byrne to give us information on the family festivals to organize this year.

Before that, though, Fox has some great advice for anyone braved their first family festival this year.

“Prepare, get organised, do a bit of google research, find out if there are any road closures in your path. Find out about the parking situation. Look at weather apps, see what the weather is going to be like , but don’t let that put you off – just let it help you prepare.

Don’t forget your sunscreen and hats in sunny weather, and rain jackets and rubber boots in wet weather.

Now let’s move on to festivals. For starters, food festivals are a great place to start as there really is something for everyone. “There are a lot of food festivals, I think they’ve really grown over the last few years,” Fox says. “A big one is Fingal’s Flavors, which is at Newbridge House in Donabate.

“Any of these festivals, they all score lots of stuff to bring families. There will be music, there will be magic shows, street entertainment. There will be traditional games that they do up there and then your standard bouncy castles and you’ll still have a little funfair section to a lot of that stuff.”

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In Enniscorthy, County Wexford, there is the traditional Strawberry Fair, which has become the Rockin’ Food and Fruit Festival, which takes place on the August bank holiday weekend. Mixing rockabilly music and rhythm and blues, “it’s not the standard music you’ll get,” says Fox.

They also have a free food marquee, which will hand out samples from artisan producers. “It’s a chance to try something new, try something different, and there’s a great food scene in Wexford.”

Agricultural fairs have been a mainstay of the Irish summer and they are back in full force.

“People who didn’t go to them when they were kids only realize it now when they listen to us or see pictures we post on social media, saying ‘where did you see that giant tractor? ‘ or ‘where did you pet the bunny?’ or ‘where did you do this, that or the other?'”

“If you’re on vacation in another part of Ireland that you’re not used to, take a look at the road signs,” suggests Fox. Farm fairs include everything from animal fairs to demonstration classes, where you can enter the produce you’ve grown. Kids will love this because they’ve seen events like them on TV, but never in real life.

Of course, the Plowing Championships in Ratheniska, Co. Laoise are the kings of them all and run September 20-22.

If you’re looking to take your kids to a music festival, Fox says there’s no need to be suspicious as long as you’re “reasonable.”

“They want to make it inclusive for everyone,” she says of these festivals. “But there are also music festivals that cater directly to families, because not everyone wants to take their kids to music festivals like I did when they were little!”

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Fox herself has been to Electric Picnic twice with very young children, so it can be done, but it takes a bit of planning. “I did the hotel, but we had a two and four year old and my four year old… fell asleep during The Killers and missed ‘Mr Brightside’ and was very disappointed.”

“If you don’t bring a kid to something like that, you don’t realize that there are actually kid-friendly things out there,” Fox adds. “A lot of festivals have areas, walled gardens in fact, with all the kids science experiments and different workshops and arts and crafts.”

The Kaleidoscope festival, which takes place at Russborough House in County Wicklow from June 24-26, welcomes all kinds of guests, with Ham Sandwich and Divine Comedy playing for parents alongside the biggest bouncy castle and archery arc of the world.

For the full interview, listen again here.

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