Top Picks: The Best Australian Family-Friendly Festivals

Summer is about to hit and with it the long list of fantabulous music festivals, many of which offer a whirling merry-go-round of fun for kids and adults alike. With family campsites, children’s activity areas and often-gorgeous surrounds, a festival experience can be just as enjoyable with kids (albeit in a different way!) as going solo. They can also work out a lot cheaper than you would expect, with admission free for under 12s at most festivals.

woodford

Woodford Folk Festival

Often heralded as the ‘festival of festivals’, Woodford is the ultimate Summer folk extravaganza with more than 2000 performers and 400 events across six days, in the picturesque hills of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

World music, cabaret, burlesque, circus, dance, comedy, workshops and debates are all part of the Woodford experience, but the Festival is so family focussed they actually have their own Children’s Festival running alongside the main program. The Children’s Festival promises a schedule of events that kids can ‘jump into, roll around in, drink, breathe in and be covered in’ plus a swag of fun and simple workshops for the really little ones.

With the option to camp from Christmas over the New Year or drop in with a day ticket, Woodford is a beautiful introduction to festival-ing en famille.

When: 27 Dec – 1 Jan 2014
Where: Woodford, Queensland (1.5 hrs from Brisbane)

Falls Festival, Marion Bay

A great excuse to enjoy Tasmania in the summer, Falls Festival is held on the apple isle’s spectacular South Eastern Coast. Regarded as the most family-friendly of the Falls’ music festivals, it’s smaller and more relaxed than the other events. There’s a family-only camping ground, just 10 minutes’ walk from the beach and plenty of interactive activities as part of The Village arts programming, including circus workshops, craft corners, large scale sculpture classes and art parades. Kids 12 and under are admitted free.

When: Dec 29 2013 – Jan 1, 2014
Where: Marion Bay, Tasmania

ConFest

Don’t be surprised if you run into a naked ticket collector at the entrance to this alternative camp-out festival held twice a year on a remote property in south-western NSW. Offering a week-long program of music (acoustic only), performances and alternative lifestyle workshops, this is a super chilled Festival experience. Kids can spend their time swimming in the river, exploring in the bush or getting involved in creative workshops. Tickets for those 16 and under are just $1, but adults are expected to contribute a minimum of two hours’ work as part of their own admission.

When: 17-22 April, 2014
Where: Moulamein, NSW (4 hours from Melbourne)

Barunga Festival

Unless you’re living in the Northern Territory or planning a trip to the Top End, getting to Barunga is a bit of a hike (it’s four hours drive from Darwin). But once there, this three day Festival offers a beautiful celebration and showcase of remote Australian Indigenous community life though music, sport and culture. In 2013 the Festival was taken over by Skinnyfish Music, and the fantastic line up included John Butler, Gurrumul, Tom E Lewis and Thelma Plum among others. There’s plenty of activities during the day that kids can get stuck into such as making bush toys, damper cooking and circus skills.

When: 6-9 June, 2014
Where: Barunga, NT (1 hour from Katherine)

Splendour in the Grass

Can’t quite let go of the true music festival experience – loud bands, heaps of mud, screaming hipsters – but you now have a child in tow? Well Splendour in the Grass has started catering for parents who want to rock out, by allocating an entire field to their little festival goers. Little Splendour provides a weekend of arts and crafts, clown school, drumming workshops and of course its own music program. There’s also a parent’s room and a babysitting service each night from 6pm to midnight (private sitters available for kids under 4).

When: July 2014
Where: Byron Bay, NSW

WOMADelaide

If camping is not your thing but you still want that immersive Festival experience, hit up WOMADelaide, an extraordinary feast of world music, arts, dance and food which is renowned for its family friendly atmosphere.

Running over four days each March in Adelaide’s Botanic Park, it features an eclectic bill of artists from far-flung countries and genres. The seven stages are jam packed with bands, street theatre, dancers, DJs and conversation programs and the international food is also a highlight, with more than 50 gourmet catering stalls and cafes. Not to mention the Taste the World program, in which the artists cook a dish from home.

Children are invited to take a creative journey across the world in the KidZone activity area, where they can try anything from African drumming and Ngarrindjeri basket weaving to Greek shadow puppets and Japanese origami. There’s also storytelling and dress-ups, free face painting and big, bright bouncy things.

When: March 7-10, 2014
Where: Botanic Garden, Adelaide

Just for Kids

How about an arts festival for young people? Now that’s a bright idea!

Awesome Festival

Kids and their grown-ups can enjoy 18 days of high quality, imaginative arts programming including new media, film, animation, contemporary dance, sculpture, installation and theatre.

When: 18 days each October
Where: Perth Cultural Centre and various venues

Out of the Box Festival

Catering specifically for the under eights, this excellent biennial Festival offers hundreds of ticketed and free arts events and creative activities in and across Brisbane’s major cultural centres.

When: 25 June – 2 July, 2014
Where: Brisbane

 

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