There’s nothing quite like heading to music festivals for families. Where else can you dance the night away with your kids to a live band or two or three? Except at a wedding… yeah, no.
I’ve picked the music festivals for families that have something for everyone. The kids are catered for, the growns are happy as and the teens are loving themselves sick. My family has been to four different festivals (noted below) and loved every single one of them. The folk festivals are our favourites – they tend to attract a welcoming, generous crowd who have the patience of saints when it comes to kids.
If you camp overnight at the festival, you become immersed in a creative, colourful, kind, energetic, flowing community (with bloody good music). It’s unreal.
While some of the bigger festivals like Woodford, Splendour and Rainbow Serpent are ambitious for families, any festival on this list will see you right. Just pick one and go, go, go. You won’t regret it.
13 good-time music festivals for families
National Folk Festival
Canberra, ACT (Easter Long Weekend – 29 Mar – 2 Apr 2018)
The Nash as this one is fondly known, is an all-ages event and we had a brilliant time here last year. Kids are allowed absolutely anywhere (except close to bars serving alcohol, as per AHA rules). There are stages devoted to performances for kids up to twelve and shows exclusively run for teens. The festival is held at the Exhibition Grounds in Canberra and there is plenty of running around room at the camping grounds. 2018 headliners so far: 19-Twenty, Katey Brooks, Faustus, Frumious
Tickets are on sale now and early bird discounts are worth securing (from 30%-10% on a sliding scale). Kids under 7 are free, child tickets are from 7-12 and youth from 13-17. An adult ticket starts from $266 for the 5 day festival and kids from $40. Camping extra.
Byron Bay, NSW (Easter Long Weekend – 29 Mar – 2 Apr 2018)
Bluesfest is set up for kids of every age, from toddlers to teens. The kids’ festival runs from 2-3pm and 5-6pm each day. It’s a comprehensive program including music, dance, workshops and circus. 2018 headliners: John Butler Trio, Lionel Richie, Robert Plant, Seal, Tash Sultana and Michael Franti.
Day tickets – Kids under 6 are free, 6-15 years $50, 15-17 years from $154 and adults from $159 adult. Tickets for the 5 day festival – Kids under 6 are free, 6-15 years $125 , 16-17 years $570 and adult $595 . Camping extra.
Adelaide, SA (9 – 12 March 2018)
One of Australia’s biggest festivals, WOMADelaide is a must for kids. The KidZone is packed with things to do, including performances by some of the headliners, workshops, play spaces like Nature Village, circus skills and dress ups. Throughout the festival there is plenty for little eyes and ears to take in. Try and get a babysitter for the evening sessions or definitely take earmuffs for the smalls. 2018 headliners: The Avalanches, Dan Sultan, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Yirrmal and the Miliyawutj.
Free entry under 12s. Festival passes from $342 adult / $192 youth 13-17.
Splendour In The Grass
Byron Bay, NSW (20-22 July 2018)
Splendour is probably not the best festival to choose if your kids are festival noobs. It’s a crazy busy mish-mash of a festival, but worth attempting if you’re up for it. Let’s face it, there’s not much else happening throughout the winter months. 2018 headliners: not yet announced.
Kids aren’t allowed in bars and need to be kept with you at all times if they’re under 16 (your early teens will probably have an issue with that). Note that getting back to your camp after 10pm can mean a long wait for the shuttle bus, so plan accordingly.
2018 lineup and ticket prices announced soon. Keep an eye on the Splendour website as tickets sell out fast.
Marion Bay, Tas, Byron Bay, NSW, Fremantle, WA – dates to be announced
Note that Lorne, Vic is strictly 18+.
Pick a location and get in there for Falls Festival. This is a tops festival for families offering plenty of kid-friendly things to do and hear. Each camping festival location is close to the beach for a little cool down mid festival. Marion Bay is especially set up for families with a kids’ club, making it ideal for families who need a little time apart.
Tickets are free from under 12s. All other tickets started from $249 in 2017 excluding camping. Tickets sell out fast.
The Happy Wanderer Festival
Ballarat, VIC – usually late November, to be announced
Happy Wanderer is a good-value, comfy, sustainable festival held on a family farm outside of Ballarat at Yin Barun. The music starts cool and slow and picks up the pace as the sun sets each night. The campgrounds are perfectly set by the river in lush bush farmland. This is basically like a super-chilled weekend at your most hospitable country aunt’s place. The music is way better though. 2018 headliners were: Adam McGrath, Amistat, Beautiful Beasts, Bec Bartlett, Little Bee and This Way North.
Prices in 2017 were: Under 10s are free, 10-16 years $50, 16+ $150 included camping.
Mullum Music Festival
Mullumbimby, NSW (15-18 Nov 2018)
Mullum was the first festival our family ever went to and it made us love all the festivals. Like you’ll find at all of the folk festivals, the atmosphere is creatively festive and the people kind and welcoming.
There are venues all over town and most of them are kid-friendly. Dedicated spaces for younger kids include face painting, workshops, kids’ shows, art and craft and circus skills. Kids 12 and over are okay roaming between unlicensed venues unsupervised, but they have to be over 18 to go into licensed venues without you. 2017 headliners were: John Cleary + the Monster Gentlemen, Marlon Williams, Frazey Ford, Harry James Angus and All Our Exes Live in Texas.
Under-5 kids are free, 3-day tickets for kids aged 5-11 from $28, youths aged 12-16 tickets are $50 and adults 16+ from $175.
Woodford Folk Festival
Woodfordia, QLD (27 Dec 2018 – 1 Jan 2019)
We experienced Australia’s oldest music festival, Woodford this past December. It was easily the most atmospheric, family-friendly, life-changing festival of the lot. There is an entire program dedicated to the kids, and 2017 featured special shows by headlining artists like Mic Conway, The East Pointers and Jenny Wynter. Workshops to book the kids into were as diverse as batik dyeing, weaving, oil painting, drumming, bunting making and costuming. Every day was filled with music, colour, soul-searching and good vibes. The camping was peaceful and well-catered. An absolute must-go for any family.
Sign up to be notified when tickets go on sale because early-bird tix are great value and go super-fast.
Big Red Bash
Birdsville, QLD (10-12 July 2018)
The Big Red Bash is basically held in the middle of nowhere (sorry Birdsville, but c’mon); but don’t let that put you off. It’s a family-friendly, get-away-from-all-the-sh*t big weekend out. Big Red features an all-Aussie line up (it’s basically the festival for all the old-time Aussie rockers you thought were long retired – see below) and there is plenty for the kids to do. You can even bring your dog. 2018 headliners: John Farnham (no really, Farnsie is still singing), Hoodoo Gurus, The Angels, Daryl Braithwaite, Jon Stevens, Kate Ceberano, Adam Brand and The Black Sorrows.
Adult tickets start at $476.65, 12-17 years $66.65 and kids 11 and under are free. A family ticket is $1,019.90 for as many kids as you have on board. Camping extra, but cheap.
Fairgrounds is a new fairly festival (it started 2015), but don’t let that put you off. Berry is located just a couple of hours south of Sydney and it’s a sweet little spot. There’s a whole “Little Fairgrounds” festival within the festival devoted to the kids, including an indie-kids karaoke stage, circus area, dedicated kids’ performances by some of the bands and magic shows. 2017 headliners were: The Shins, Marlon Williams, You Am I, Holly Throsby, Future Islands and Press Club.
Kids under 12 are free (up to two with an adult ticket). Adults price in 2017 was $167.50 with camping costing extra.
Blue Mountains Music Festival
Katoomba, NSW (16-18 March 2018)
Another festival offering an easy weekend away from the city. BMMF is an easy, chilled place to be for all the kids. The music is an eclectic mix of roots, folk and blues and there’s plenty to do in the dedicated kids’ playspace. Kids are welcome in all venues except the bar. 2018 headliners: Missy Higgins, Kate Miller-Hiedke, Archie Roach Band, Lior + Paul Grabowsky.
Tickets from $15 kids 3-12, $90 youth 13-18, $230 adults and kids under 3 are free.
Lexton, VIC (late Jan – 2019 dates to be announced)
Join the waiting list to score tickets to the sold-out Rainbow Serpent festival, which began as an electronic music festival but these days bills itself as a ‘celebration of dance, colour, expression and celebration’. Right in the middle of this extravaganza is a dedicated kids’ space with a creative, varied programme. Register in advance for the fenced-off family camping area with a shaded communal space and reduced night noise. 2018 headliners were: X-Dream, G.M.S, Miss Melera
Tickets in 2018 were around $375 for adults. Kids under 12 free with a paying adult.
Riverboats Music Festival
Echuca, VIC (17 – 19 February 2018)
A super-chilled vibe and small venue makes this a good fun family event. One stage, plenty of room and a gorgeous location under the Murray gums. Riverboats always pulls a really special line up. Try make the Sunday breakfast which is free for kids, $25 adults and $15 for youth 13-17. 2018 headliners: Neil & Liam Finn, Kasey Chambers, Josh Pyke
Kids under 12 are free, youth 13-17 $75, adult $155. Family ticket $385 (2 adults + 2 youth)
Have you been to a festival with the family?