Music festivals can be great fun for families, and Reading is one of the biggest and best in the UK summer festival calendar. Prepare yourself for a stress-free weekend of exciting gigs in an unbeatable atmosphere with our handy family festival guide.
Take a look at our Reading Festival tips to ensure the best festival experience, whatever the ages of your party.
With a long history reaching as far back as the 50s, Reading is the world’s oldest popular music festival still in existence, and the fact that it’s still going is testament to how good it is. You’re guaranteed an amazing line-up at Reading, with 2016 headliners including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Biffy Clyro and Foals. The A-list of the music world queue up to play at Reading, and Eminem, Green Day, Foo Fighters and Guns and Roses have all played this festival in recent years, and it was famously the last UK gig for Nirvana in 1992, before the death of frontman Kurt Cobain. You can feel confident snapping up tickets way before line-ups are announced for Reading, as it never fails to impress. Plus the fact that it’s held across the August Bank Holiday weekend means you don’t have to negotiate any days off work.
Younger music fans are sure to enjoy Reading Festival, with its line up of world-leading popular artists, and under 13s get to attend for free (proof of ID may be requested). However, the festival does bill itself as unsuitable for very young children, and doesn’t offer specific events and attractions for youngsters, unlike some others. Anyone 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult (over 18) at all times. If you’re planning to camp then check which campsite is expected to be the quietest, before you book. Bare in mind that things can get loud and rowdy after dark, with people partying until the early hours.
Where to Stay
A good alternative to the mayhem of festival camping is to stay in one of the hotels near Reading Festival instead. Older and younger members of the family are sure to appreciate a hot shower and a comfortable bed after an exhausting day of running between stages, dancing and enjoying themselves. Shuttle buses run regularly from early until after midnight from the town centre, so there’s no need to worry about missing any of the action when you stay off-site.
The Big Green Coach is the official Reading Festival coach service, with access to the on-site coach park (unlike unofficial coaches which will typically drop off around 20 minutes from the campsite entrance). Day and weekend return packages are available from a number of pick up points across the UK. However, if you’re travelling as a family group its cheaper to drive yourself, with weekend parking passes costing between £10 and £30, depending on where you park. Campers should remember that you’re going to have to carry your tent and camping items a considerable distance, often through mud – another good reason to consider a hotel instead.
Keeping Kids Safe
Children are given a wristband with space to write the contact name and number of their parent or guardian at the festival, just in-case you become separated. It’s also a good idea to discuss a meeting point with your children and other family members – maybe choose one of the flags that can easily be seen from a distance. Leaving the arena earlier in the evenings might be advisable to avoid things at their most raucous, and beware that the closer to the stages you get, the more physically demanding being part of the crowd becomes. If you want to minimise stepped on toes and being bumped from all angles, positioning yourself towards the back of the crowd is wise.
If you’d prefer a festival that’s more accommodating to children than Reading, there are plenty of child-friendly, and even child-oriented festivals to choose from. Camp Bestival in Dorset and Latitude in Suffolk are two big hitters that merge both adult and child experiences brilliantly, while the Curious Arts Festival in Hampshire, Deer Shed in North Yorkshire and Elderflower Fields in East Sussex are smaller festivals that welcome even the littlest family members.