I’m not quite sure when I realised my parenting choices were starkly different to most of the other parents I knew.
A memorable one, that perhaps shows deeply our philosophies on family travel is where we had three weeks and $10,000 to spend on a holiday, and we were given the advice by most people we knew to go on a cruise, because “there’s always easily accessible childcare there so you can enjoy yourselves”. We both where aghast that people so readily wish to dump there kids for a holiday and could think of nothing worse, so we set off in a tent to explore from Darwin to Adelaide. The kids were 5, 3 and 18 months, we were covered in red dirt for almost the entire 3 weeks, and they probably don’t remember much of it, but we don’t regret that choice at all. I am still sure my spirit wouldn’t have been fulfilled on a cruise nearly as much as it was making those memories with our young family in some of the most breathtaking regions of Australia.
So, it probably came as no surprise to our friends, when we first dragged all three children along to a weekend music festival. In the rain.
Our introduction of live music to our children started quite early. Our eldest spent the night, right through until after midnight tucked snugly in his pram when we went to dinner as new parents, only to discover a wonderful singer, and not wanting to go home, figured as long as he was sleeping and happy, then there was no harm in staying to enjoy the tunes. In fact, all three children danced wildly in my belly at concerts, the first at riverdance when I was around 8 months, the second at dirty dancing the musical, and the third at a Robbie Williams concert. Their love of music was nurtured in the womb.
I respect that for many people, taking their children to live music events isn’t something they’d feel comfortable doing, and that’s OK. Like with everything in parenting, the choice is an individual one. For those people who have considered it and just aren’t sure it would work, then we hope to inspire you to give it a go and hopefully you’ll have as much fun as we have over the years, and plan to have for many years to come, enjoying live talent with our kids. At Deni Ute Muster we got to take part in the Guinness Book of World Records Blue Singlet Record in 2009…. The crowd of 2010 currently hold the record and we’d love to get back there to give it another shot!
Key Points for Taking Children to Music Festivals.
- Dress Appropriately – Our weekend in the rain at FOTSUN meant ensuring the kids had great rain jackets, gumboots and plenty of changes of clothing for the guaranteed mud play. For sunny festivals, hats and sunscreen, and layered clothing works well if you’re not sure quite what the weather will do. DENI UTE MUSTER was freezing when we were there, and there were night concerts we wanted to see, so again, warm clothes, waterproof gear and plenty of layers were essential.
- Know the Food Rules – It’s a great idea to check before hand if you’re allowed to take food into a festival. Lots of places expect you to buy food while you’re there. Packing a couple of snacks probably isn’t going to get you in trouble, or if there’s certain things your children are fussy about, or have allergies etc, but don’t plan on packing eskies of food for venues that don’t allow it. Similarly, you’ll likely be able to take a drink bottle in for the kids, but some places don’t allow this either, so always check ticket conditions and FAQ on websites and pack accordingly.
- Don’t Expect to Re-live Your Youth – Yes, music festivals with your children are a great way to expose them to music culture, but don’t expect to be right up front of stage in all the action. Kids will get fussy, sooky, and all the other things kids do, so always do your best to find a comfortable vantage point that allows you to make easy escapes to toilets or to top up drinks and other requirements. Similarly if the kids become rowdy or boisterous, have some respect for fellow concert goers and move to another area where people won’t be inconvenienced.
- Stay in the Family Area – Festivals like FOTSUN and DENI UTE MUSTER offer family areas that restrict alcohol consumption and are made to provide a safer environment for people with children. It’s always a great idea to stay in these areas for overnight festivals where such a section is provided.
- Buy the Correct Tickets – Some festivals and concerts allow kids to enter free with paying adults, others have cheaper pricing for children, and others have age restrictions. If in doubt, always contact the promoter to be sure you won’t be disappointed and not allowed entry on the day.
Mostly, just get out there and enjoy the live music as a family.
During our travels across Australia, there are hundreds of music festivals we’ll be taking the kids to, everything from Jazz, Aboriginal Culture Festivals, to Gympie Muster and Blues Fest which I’ve somehow never quite made it to despite planning to go many years over. Our plans are to attend any festivals that are accessible to us, and to bring to you, how to head out there with your own kids and enjoy each one. We’ll be aiming for hints and tips specific to music festivals, and sharing our love of music within Australia.
As you all know, we’re very inspired by our love of Australia, so hopefully on the way we’ll get to ask some wonderful performers if anything in particular about Australia inspires them!
Have you taken your kids to music festivals? Got any advice to parents considering it? Anything you’d like to know or any festivals you’d like us to cover? Let us know in the comments below: