Families are embracing festivals like never before, but targeting both young and old audiences is a challenge. In this feature, Access speaks to a selection of people from both sides of the fence, who weigh in on the issue.


Joel Smith, vice president, Arts & Entertainment Events, IMG on marketing to families:

How do you market to families?

Families have always been part of the heart of The Big Feastival. While we feel our line-up offers something for everyone, families enjoying good food, good music and good times is what we’re all about. We market to families through numerous partnerships including NEFF, The Times and Family Traveler, as well as digital targeting and working with relevant influencers, but really it’s all about the content. In addition to the music line-up, food is a huge focus for us. We offer a selection of festival favourites such as wood-fired pizzas and gourmet burgers, as well as a variety of options including vegetarian, gluten free and vegan. This year, we have introduced a new dedicated ‘Family Dining Room’ with more menu options for babies and toddlers.

What was new at this year’s event?

Every year, we add engaging new elements to the festival. In addition to our new Family Dining Room, we are launching The Collaboration Kitchen X TABASCO® Sauce, a dining experience serving up a series of special-edition menus co-created by the UK street food scene’s most innovative talent. Continuing down the feasting theme, our new gin partner Warner Edwards was distilling live on-site, so we will have our first ever Feastival gin!

We are also excited to work with The Times to introduce our first ‘Times Hub’ – a specially designed lounge featuring a packed schedule of guest speakers and learning sessions, alongside specialty coffees and wines. This year’s Village Hall will also feature a new ‘Parents Panel’, which will see a range of well-known influencers and bloggers host family-focused panel discussions and Q&As.

Yurtel at the Big Feastival

Dr Angela Hall (pictured), the impossibly proud mother of editor Tom Hall, gives her verdict on Yurtel’s glamping options, and how her granddaughters Emmie and Georgia Hall enjoyed the experience.

Which activities did the children enjoy the most?

Mr Tumble! It was great fun dancing along to his music, and it provided a great family atmosphere. Also, the craft activities – making head dresses and decorations were a hit. They also loved the farm animals and fairground rides.

How did the rain effect the event?

I think some people went home early. We tried to find indoor activities for the children, such as the crafts, but it meant we couldn’t stand around outside listening to the music and relaxing. I think we circulated around the stands less, too.

How did the Yurtel facilities make the experience better for families?

The spacious tents meant it was possible to be organised inside the tent. The Yurtel area felt safe and civilised – and facilities such as fires and seats for chilling in the evening, and an indoor bar meant families could relax away from the hubbub of the main festival. Also – the quality and cleanliness of the toilets and showers was a real plus with young children. Also, the Yurtel transport buggies to and from the car park were life-savers.

What could the festival improve for next year?

I did not see very much for older children and teens to do – there was lots for young children. The celebrity chefs were hard to get close to – more repeat sessions or larger tents for these might help.



Dancing tweens

Mike Pickets, founder of Raver Tots, tells Access the secrets behind the event’s appeal to younger audiences.

How do you research appealing to both children and adults at Raver Tots?

As a father of two young kids who grew up listening to dance music, I am my own target audience, so it was straightforward in that way. I thought about what would appeal to me and my family, and asked friends and extended family members who are parents about the types of things they would want a t a family festival – it was all very informal. Aside from all the fun stuff, like the music and inflatables, we thought about practical things that matter to parents, too, including ample baby changing facilities, plenty of choice and reasonable prices for food and refreshments, good parking and so on.”

What family friendly aspects feature at the event?

“The music is top quality, with DJ sets from big names in dance music, so parents are keen to hit the dance tents, but the energy of the tunes is loved by kids too and it’s a brilliant way for families to bond together through music. There are also professional dancers, confetti blasts, and pyro lighting that add to the atmosphere and are enjoyed by young and old. Plus of course the inflatables, face painting, fairground rides and so on that kids go crazy for!”

Mother’s message

Elizabeth Nixon, mother to nine-year old Andre (pictured), assesses the youth festival market.

As a keen festival goer myself and the mother of a 9 year old who loves music I decided to find a few festivals to take Andre (my son) to this year. However as easy as this task sounds with all the family friendly festivals available in 2018 I actually found it very difficult. Andre is passed the age of getting excited over Mr Tumble, face painting and the balloon animal guy, he would much rather see Stormzy, Bruno Mars and play Lazer tag ­– all of which can only be experienced at adult targeted festivals.

I did consider Wireless, but after contacting them about their children’s facilities/family area I was told: “I’m sorry there is no family area at this event. You are welcome to bring children of over five if you wish to but there aren’t any children’s facilities.”

I also looked into British Summer Time as Bruno Mars was performing and they sold a guardian ticket and had a family area, but this was so far away from the main stage that Bruno Mars would have been a small dot.

Andre and I did have a fantastic time at the Color Run. We started off our day at the warm up session where we did jumping jacks, squats and running on the spot and leaped in the air to catch the prizes being thrown at the crowd (Andre caught a sweat band). The 5k itself was lots of fun and everyone seemed to be in good spirits, there was an unspoken competition of who could get the most colour on them as we walked through each colour zone and high fives were flying around between fellow runners.

It has made me wonder, what is out there for Andre’s age group? 8-12 year olds are not quite old enough to go to the big festivals with the big names but if we go to the family friendly festivals I imagine I will spend the day hearing ‘I am bored or worse ‘can I have your phone’, so where do we go? Is there a gap in the market?