Rock ’n’ roll kids

A fes­ti­val with your chil­dren may not repli­cate the he­do­nis­tic experience of your youth, but there are a lot of com­pen­sat­ing fac­tors, says Emma Con­nolly

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting -

MU­SIC fes­ti­val devo­tees Caro­line and Si­mon took their daugh­ter to Elec­tric Pic­nic when she was 10 months old — and with baby ear pro­tec­tors she slept through one of the loud­est bands ever, My Bloody Valen­tine.

The cou­ple who live on the north coast with daugh­ters Emily, 9, and Alice, 7, were Glas­ton­bury devo­tees be­fore their kids were born and now they fes­ti­val to­gether.

With a lit­tle plan­ning and com­mon sense, mu­sic fes­ti­vals are an ad­ven­ture the fam­ily can en­joy in a safe en­vi­ron­ment with­out too much com­pro­mise from ei­ther young or old.

The coun­try’s most high-pro­file fam­ily friendly mu­sic fes­ti­vals are week­end-long events Elec­tric Pic­nic in Strad­bally, Laois (Septem­ber 1-3) and Body&Soul in West­meath this week­end (June 23-25), both of­fer fam­ily ded­i­cated fam­ily camp sites for kids 12 and un­der.

“We have taken the chil­dren to Elec­tric Pic­nic three times,” says Caro­line. “The first time was when our el­dest was 10 months old — I car­ried her in a sling, she co-slept with us, and I brought jars of baby food for her. Ad­mit­tedly, I did not stay out late and my mem­o­ries are of a fun time, per­haps not see­ing as many bands as I would have pre­vi­ously. I also did not have any al­co­hol.

“We then went back to Elec­tric Pic­nic, with two chil­dren, in 2013 and 2015. Our girls had a ball and re­ally got into the spirit of things both times. They both have wa­ter­proof dun­ga­rees and wellies, and I would say that these are es­sen­tial.”

Elec­tric Pic­nic has a huge kid’s field with loads of ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing cir­cus skills, wing-mak­ing, wand-mak­ing, felt­ing, face-paint­ing, drama, and dance work­shops.

“We in­ter­spersed these with the mu­sic — El­lie Gould­ing was, and still re­mains, a firm favourite — and, of course, all the fan­tas­tic food from all over the world.

“The fam­ily camp­ing area at Elec­tric Pic­nic is like a VIP area. There were real, flush­ing toi­lets — im­por­tantly, it was quiet and felt safe.”

Eib­hilin O’Gor­man, for­mer key­board player with the band Fred, lives near Dun­man­way, Cork, and is mum to Naoise, 5, Eoghan, 3, and Sadbh, 1.

“We went to Lis­sard fes­ti­val when Naoise was five months.

“We brought her to Lon­gi­tude when she was just over one — also great fun. Last sum­mer, we brought the three to Town­lands in Mac­room. When they were smaller it was eas­ier to go to see the mu­sic you wanted to see but as they get big­ger they are less will­ing to lis­ten to any­thing for too long. I’m not ready to share Elec­tric Pic­nic with the kids just yet. It’s a week­end where I get back a lit­tle bit of the free­dom I had be­fore kids.”

Di­rec­tor and founder of Body & Soul Avril Stan­ley says: “It’s about cre­at­ing in­cred­i­ble mem­o­ries and open­ing kids minds to learn­ing in a new way.

“We want them to experience it, feel safe and en­joy the mag­i­cal experience and world that it is. We want our fes­ti­val to be in­spir­ing for all fam­i­lies that come.”

Con­stantly look­ing at how they can en­hance the par­ent/ child experience, for 2017, the or­gan­is­ers have rented ex­tra land to fa­cil­i­tate a ded­i­cated fam­ily camp­site with its own en­trance close to the car park, its own toi­lets, hot show­ers, fam­ily-friendly traders, early morn­ing work­shops, and sto­ry­telling ses­sions.

Then, on the main site, there’s Soul Kids (also at Elec­tric Pic­nic), where kids rule. This zone can only be ac­cessed by chil­dren (ac­com­pa­nied by a par­ent/guardian who must stay with them) and has a range of in­no­va­tive en­ter­tain­ment such as mask-mak­ing, yoga, hu­la­hoop work­shops, for­est for­ag­ing, and the like.

How­ever, Avril doesn’t want par­ents to feel like they’re miss­ing out ei­ther; with a bit of or­gan­i­sa­tion, ev­ery­one can get some­thing from the week­end.

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