A guide to family-friendly Summer Festivals
Even though these days there are great events happening throughout the year, summer is traditionally the greatest time for music festivals.
As we get older and take on more responsibilities - we'll be frank, we're talking about kids here - you can't just run off to any old event and hope your kids will be happy and safe toddling along with you. You need to choose the right kind of event with the right atmosphere and the right facilities.
If this warm weather has you yearning for a day (or two) of live music, good food, perhaps a quiet drink and that indescribable atmosphere that only comes from a great music festival, then we've got the following suggestions for you.
New South Wales
Berry, NSW (8 - 9 December 2017)
The line ups are brilliant, the location is just far away enough to feel like you're out of town, but still manageable for a weekend and the location is gorgeous. Fairgrounds is one of the best new festivals in the country.
2017 headliners: The Shins, You Am I, Future Islands
Peats Ridge, NSW (29 – 31 December)
If you're feeling hip then you might want to spend New Year's with the kids at the cooler than cool Lost Paradise. Parents or authorized guardians must accompany all minors.
Minors need to be in the immediate company of a parent or legal guardian whilst at the bar / licensed areas. There is also a family camping area and a creche. A young person ticket (11 – 17) is a bit cheaper than an adult one and kids under 11 will be allowed in for a $10 registration fee.
2017 headliners: RÜFÜS, Matt Corby, Meg Mac, DMAs, Client Liaison
Thredbo Blues Festival
Thredo, NSW (19 – 21 January 2018)
Kick back in a village with intimate venues and a whole lotta blues. There’s almost 70 performances from more than 20 acts. Day or weekend tickets are available. Children under 14 can attend for free. Take your pick from a few accomodation packages for cabins, apartments or hotels.
2018 Headliners: Gail Page with the James Southwell Band, Blues Arcadia, Doug Henthorn & The Rick Melick Band.
Illawarra Folk Festival
Bulli, NSW (18 – 21 January)
You’ll find folk, bluegrass, roots, gypsy and celtic music in this mix up. All those under 18 need to be accompanied by an adult, and children aged 12 and under get free admission. There are opporutnities for youth artists to play at this festival, and get a scholarship to its Folk School. There’s a few fringe events too.
2018 headliners: Eric Bogle, Breaking Trad, The Balkan Elvis (Mikelangelo)
The Tamworth Country Music Festival
Tamworth, NSW (19 – 28 January 2018)
It's a family friendly event with a few free concerts, busking and activities for children under 18. There's a Family Zone with rides and entertainment too. It's home to the Golden Guitar Awards and attracts a crowd of around 55, 000.
2018 headliners: Troy Cassar-Daley, Lee Kernaghan, The McClymonts
Meredith & Golden Plains
Meredith, VIC (8-10 December 2017 and 10-12 March 2018 respectively)
The Meredith team is very open about their kids policy. Basically, kids are welcome, but they might get a bit bored. The festival is not set up with kids in mind and, as such, there are no childminding facilities or activities for kids. They suggest leaving the kids at home, but if you bring them, make sure you have a consent form on you at all times and don't let them run off. Kids under 12 are free, those over 12 need to have a full priced ticket.
2017-18 headliners: Todd Terje and The Olsens, Noname, Silence Wedge [Meredith] + Grizzly Bear,The Avalanches, Jen Cloher [Golden Plains]
Lexton, VIC (26 – 29 January 2018)
This will be the third year Rainbow Serpent has offered a designated fenced-off Family Camping area complete with a shaded communal space and reduced night noise. You need to register for the space beforehand. The festival’s Kids Space is also growing every year. There’ll be a whole heap of international electronic artists this year. Tickets for 2018 are sold out but you can still join the waitlist.
2018 headliners: X-Dream, G.M.S, Miss Melera
Riverboats Music Festival
Echuca, VIC (17 - 19 February 2018)
This Echuca event is a far cry from the rowdy modern rock and dance festivals with the likes of Neil & Liam Finn and Josh Pyke headlining this year's event. Kids under 12 are admitted free and it's around half the price of an adult ticket for anyone 13 – 17.
2018 headliners: Neil & Liam Finn, Kasey Chambers, Josh Pyke
St Kilda Festival
St Kilda, VIC (11 February 2018)
It’s the country’s biggest free day festival and a huge celebration of Aussie talent. There’s multiple stages, workshops, kids’ entertainment, sport and dance. It usually draws a crowd of about 400, 000.
2017 headliners: Daryl Braithwaite, Archie Roach, Ecca Vandal, Emma Louise (2018 line up announced in January)
Beechworth Music Festival
Beechworth, VIC (26 – 27 January 2018)
Don’t let the fact this festival is located on the site of the former Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum deter you. You’ll be among rolling hills and a “musical smorgasbord". Kids under 14 can go for free and camping is also free.
2018 headliners: Remi, The Sand Pebbles, Jade Imagine
Bruthen Blues & Arts Festival
Bruthen, VIC (16 – 18 February 2018)
Bruthen, population 640. This festival brags small-town hospitality in a family-friendly environment. The whole thing is organised by volunteers and all proceeds go to keeping arts and music alive in Bruthen. It’s a glass-free event, but fear not, ‘safe’ wine glasses are on sale at the festival.
2017 headliners: James Southwell Band featuring Charlie Wooton, Chase the Sun, Geoff Achison, Mike Elrington
Launceston, Hobart, TAS (12 – 14 January, 15 – 22 January respectively)
It's one of Tasmania's biggest events and you should take your children to experience it. Kids can go along to events at the festival hub for free if they are under 12 and parents can get a discounted ticket as well if heading to something with their youngsters. Kids over 12 are eligible for student discounts. This year’s festival will be its most diverse yet.
There's also Dark Mofo during winter, most of which is all ages. Some of it is perhaps a little scary for young people but who are we to say?
2018 headliners: Gotye (presenting a tribute to Jean-Jacques Perrey), Violent Femmes, Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Marion Bay, TAS (29 - 31 December 2017)
The Tassie leg of Falls is built for families, with kids under 12 allowed to attend for nix and a Kids Club and family campground ensuring that the youngsters have a real good time, make some new friends and don't get kept up all night.
2017 headliners: Flume, Fleet Foxes, The Kooks, Angus & Julia Stone
Party In The Paddock
Burns Creek, TAS (9 - 10 February 2018)
Kids are more than welcome and if they're under 12 then they will get in for free. The usual rules apply about parents or guardians having to be around and there's a consent form that you'll have to have completed if you're not a parent or legal guardian.
2018 headliners: Grouplove, Gang of Youths, The Avalanches, Meg Mac
Cygnet Folk Festival
Cygnet, TAS (12-14 January 2018)
It’s a bit of a foodie’s destination. You'll also find folk, film, art and local handicrafts. Tickets for children aged 5-12 are available, kids under 5 are free and youth tickets are available for those aged 13-17.
2018 headliners: Joe Geia, Bush Gothic, Eleanor McEvoy
Woodford Folk Festival
Woodford QLD (27 December 2017 - 1 January 2018)
One of the oldest festival's in Australia also happens to be one of the most kid friendly. There's pretty much an entire festival for kids within the Woodford event – we can pretty much guarantee you that they're not going to be bored. It's fre for kids under 5, very cheap for kids up to 12 and anyone between 13 and 18 gets in a little bit cheaper than an adult.
2017-18 headliners: John Butler, Kate Miller-Heidke, Holy Holy
Boyup Brook Country Music Festival
Boyup Brook, WA (15-18 February 2018)
It’s on the banks of a river with grassy knolls and river gums. Tickets are available for adults and children. There's a street carnival with buskers and kids activities. You'll also get some bush poetry, markets and a ute and truck muster.
2018 headliners: The McClymonts, Travis Collins, Billy Bridge & Rebecca Lee Nye
A Day On The Green
Held across 18 wineries and outdoor venues in all states of Australia during summer.
Kids under 12 can enter the General Admission area for free in every state and territory except Western Australia. For WA concerts, even children need to have a ticket for GA. All Reserved Seating areas will require a ticket. Keep in mind there's no shade or rain protection.