Family Holiday Festival Guide #1

This post is going to be updated regularly as we have more experience with festivals and little ones. I really want to go to the National Folk Festival held in Canberra every Easter weekend during the holiday, but we are holding off camping there until the kids are a little older. We are also planning on a couple of other community festivals this year, so watch this space!

In February Canberra hosts the National Multicultural Festival in the city, and this year there were over 240 000 attendees. This is a huge number of people for the small space in the centre of Australia’s capital. We braved the inclement weather on Saturday to join the festivities and thought we’d share some things that worked, and other things we wish we’d prepared. We returned to the festival on Sunday with better weather and less crowds, and also with some better preparations.

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It is tempting to take everything you could possibly need to a festival on holiday, and depending on the locality you may very well need to. For day trips though, try and limit to some basics that can be kept in a family back pack. Avoid shoulder bags as they have the habit of getting snagged, being put down somewhere and forgotten, or can place unneeded strain on your shoulders.

  • Sunscreen, insect repellent
  • Nappies, wipes
  • Change of clothes for kids
  • Light jackets for everyone
  • Light food, like snack pouches
  • Water

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We took an Ergo carrier on Saturday but it was too hot for Master 18 months to sleep. The crowds would have made the stroller impossible, so we ended up seeking refuge in a pub so he could nap in the carrier in comfort. On the Sunday we took a stroller as the crowds has dissipated and he slept in that quite well. The stroller is traveler design so it packs down really quickly and can be carried when not in use. We wish we had the stroller the first day, because there were quite spaces we could have retired to while he slept.

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The hardest thing about festivals with big crowds and an energetic toddler is harnessing that energy so that everyone can relax and enjoy the holiday and festivities. Take time to plan the schedule around the personalities of the kids. We spent a bit of time at a less dense performance stage so we could keep an eye on Master without snoring his experience. We also sought out the kids space (most family friendly festivals have these) and he was able to decompress, we could sit down and have coffee and everyone got some much needed respite. Taking time to scout this out will pay back in less stress for everyone!

Ultimately, festivals can either be an exercise in survival or enjoyment. We did our preparations and still had some hiccups but I think Master 18 months has a good time and we all enjoyed the delicious food and lively music. We will do it again, and I know there will be different considerations when we brave the camping festivals. Festivals are amazing for their atmosphere and what they can teach our kids about community. It takes some work, but definitely worth it!

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