10 of the best small family-friendly festivals in the UK for 2019

Elderflower Fields, East Sussex

The wild, hilly estate of Pippingford Park, near Uckfield, is a perfect backdrop for the outdoor fun of Elderflower Fields, now in its eighth year. With views across Sussex healthland and ancient woods, there’s climbing, kayaking, trapeze sessions, free running and nature workshops – and a huge family picnic on the Sunday. The programme of kids-only activities, including arts and sports camps – plus onsite nannies – gives grownups time to check out the woodland spa or some of 40 acts announced so far for the three-day event, from high-energy ska to chilled hip-hop.
24-27 May, adult £138, child £66, elderflowerfields.co.uk

Deer Shed, North Yorkshire

Already-announced music acts at the 10th Deer Shed festival include Ezra Furman and Anna Calvi, plus comedians Reginald D Hunter and Nina Conti. Across 36 hectares (90 acres) of fields and woodland in Baldersby Park, near the village of Topcliffe, there’s plenty of space for activities including willow crafts and fireside cooking, promenade theatre, art installations and singalong cinema. The science tent will host retro gaming, robots and slime-making, while for sporty types there’s kayaking, quidditch and wrestling workshops, plus family yoga, gin yoga and bubble wrap yoga (depending on your mood).
26-28 July, adult £155, 6-15s £50, 3-5s £20, under 3s free (ticket required), deershedfestival.com

Eden, Dumfries and Galloway

Once a part of the Wickerman festival (which ended in 2016), this standalone event now has 18 areas (including stages, discos and kids tents) in Raehills Meadows, near Moffat. There’s lots of free creative activities, workshops, crafts and games for children, plus aerobics en masse with Mr Motivator, healing fields, and a drive-in cinema with vintage vehicles for a cosy family night. The lineup encompasses everyone from John Cooper Clarke to Bondax, with electronic, disco, choral, indie, reggae, a dance tent with psychedelic visuals, and a Scottish tavern for local bands.
6-9 June, adult £131, 13-17s £96, 5-12s £22, under 5s free (ticket required), edenfestival.co.uk

Tropical Pressure, Cornwall

This vibrant festival takes place in the grassy grounds of Mount Pleasant Eco Park, overlooking the north Cornish coast. By day, live music comes from around the globe, with African and Latin American beats, plus a children’s programme of creative workshops, such as Afro-Brazilian dance, circus skills, headdress-making and campfire cooking. As an all-ages event, there’s fun after dark too, with tropical costumes and cocktails at Fandangos, a secret dance tent and a silent disco.
12-14 July, adult £102, 5-15s £46, under 5s free (ticket required), tropicalpressure.co.uk

Timber, east Midlands

Dreamed up by the National Forest Company and Wild Rumpus (which also produces the Just So festival), Timber is the UK’s first festival celebrating forests, returning for a second year. The 28-hectare (70 acre) site of Feanedock in the National Forest, on the Leicestershire-Derbyshire border, will host folk, soul and a variety of beats and bass, alongside experimental music and woodland sound art. Elsewhere in the forest, there’ll be theatre and immersive feasts, laughing yoga and Think Like A Tree workshops, dance classes from Bangra to Appalachian flatfooting, plus talks with creatives, scientists and activists exploring our relationship with nature and the benefits of forests.
5-7 July, adult £117, 3-15s £37, under 3s free (ticket required), timberfestival.org.uk

Larmer Tree, West Country

This summer marks 29 years since the Larmer Tree festival first took place in the Victorian pleasure gardens of Cranborne Chase, which straddles Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. The vibe remains intimate, with just 5,000 festival-goers, and several resident peacocks roaming the gardens around pretty pavilions and sloping lawns. On the bill, so far, are The Cat Empire, Kate Tempest, Gomez and comedians Josie Long and Nish Kumar. Theatre, talks, hula disco, carnival crafts, ukulele jamming, sustainable clothing workshops and other creative and wellness activities run alongside the acts.
18-21 July, adult £192, 11-17s £121, under 11s free (ticket required), larmertreefestival.co.uk

The Great Estate, Cornwall

In the grounds of a country house in the village of Scorrier, there’s a garden fete gone wild. Traditional fairground rides, skate ramps, craft workshops, face-painting and hula-hooping are billed alongside more unusual entertainment such as Mexican wrestling, a Victorian sports day, sword swallowing and contortionists at Madame Wong’s House of Wrong. James, “Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly”, and Craig Charles Funk and Soul show are on the music lineup so far, plus comedy, theatre and wellness.
31 May-2 June, adult £90, 10-17s £28, under 10s £12, greatestatefestival.co.uk

Campo Sancho, Hertfordshire

This small-scale but big-energy party in the countryside is run by Sancho Panza, which has two decades’ worth of Notting Hill carnivals, warehouse discos and boat parties under its belt. This year will be the family-friendly rave’s third edition, which takes place near Stevenage with a DJ-heavy lineup, including mellow electronic and big funky beats, with Layo & Bushwacka! and Maurice Fulton, and a kids’ disco for mini revellers. There’s also circus and craft workshops, nature trails and other arty happenings, local food stalls and frozen carnival cocktails.
26-28 July, adult £128, 6-17s £49, under 5s £11, sanchopanza.org

Bearded Theory, Derbyshire

This festival is a little larger than others on this list, but no less friendly than when it started back in 2007 as a birthday party in a field behind a pub. Bearded Theory takes place deep in the woodland grounds of Catton Hall, which borders Derbyshire and Staffordshire. This year’s lineup includes Suede, Editors, Doves and other acts from dance to punk, plus circus, comedy and a crafts-and-healing arena. There’s a dedicated area for babies, educational workshops and sports for children, and a space just for teens, with beatboxing sessions and live graffiti sessions.
23-26 May, adult £129, 12-16s £56, 6-11s £30, beardedtheory.co.uk

Doune the Rabbit Hole, Stirling

Among the ancient oaks of the Cardross Estate in Port of Menteith, this laid-back little festival includes a heaving lineup featuring Sister Sledge, Lee “Scratch” Perry, John Grant, the Damned, the Wailers and Simian Mobile Disco. It started on a smaller site in 2010, just down the road near Doune (hence the name), and still makes a great starting point for exploring the southern Highlands and the Loch Lomond & Trossachs national park. Workshops are designed for families to get involved together, including art sessions, open jams, family yoga, DJ lessons (ages 8+) and clowning workshops. There’s also theatre, spoken word, cinema, and other activities to be announced. Dogs also welcome.
19-21 July, adult £98, 12-18s £32, under 12s free, dounetherabbithole.co.uk

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