Festival season is well and truly upon us now – hope you had an amazing time if you went to Glasto last weekend. We are huge Camp Bestival fans (we’ll be part of the promo film team again this year) and like to go prepared, so we do a round up of our favourite bits of kit every year.
My number one festival essential is a bell tent. Ours literally revolutionised camping for me. No more hunched over, sweating scrabbling around in a standard tent – bell tents are light, airy, cool, spacious and, above all, fabulous! They also avoid all those arguments about how long its taking to get it pitched as the tent is up in 15 minutes. We have a 5m zipped-in groundsheet from Pukka Tents and it’s ample for a family of four (and Kitty’s multitudinous soft toys) and we love it. I must admit that I’m loving this new Star Bell Tent from Boutique Camping though – one to add to the wish list. My second must-have is an inflatable mattress. We love Coleman airbeds – the kids have singles and this year we’ll have a Coleman Maxi Comfort Raised King (because the children inevitably end up in with us), £79.99, which is basically like having a normal bed to sleep on – sooooo comfortable. We take a duvet and pillows as well for that little extra home comfort, but the children have these awesome sleeping bags from Outwell – Alfie’s is starry and Kitty’s is spotty – that come with kid-friendly features like a toy pouch, a rainbow-coloured zip that has a carbiner with a mini torch attached and a brilliant carry bag with handles and a zipped pocket for treasures. We recently took these on a camping trip and they looked so snuggly. See also the matching pillows and inflatable sleeping mats.
We like to eat breakfast at camp and sometimes return to cook tea and get changed before venturing out for the evening, so a decent camping table and chairs is a must. Again, Coleman came up trumps with the Pack-Away Table for Four, £139.99, which features two padded benches that fold to fit inside the table, which has a pleasingly retro design on top and is easy to carry. For lighting we have our tealight chandelier and some solar fairy lights that I’ve pimped with mini globe shades from Ikea to match our monochrome lanterns. Foodwise, we pack a big ‘igloo’ with ice, frozen milk, salad, cheese, veggie sausages (and booze, of course), plus we take lots of wraps, pittas and snacks – seriously, you can never take too many snacks to a festival. You’ll find that the children are permanently hungry and if you’re buying snacks every time it’ll cost you a fortune, although ice lollies/ice cream, churros and corn-on-the-cobs are a given!
Once you’ve got your camp set up, you’re ready to venture into the festival itself. And you’ll need something to carry stuff/kids – you can hire trollies, but we always take our own cart. Our trusty Radio Flyer Big Red Wagon has been a mainstay of our festival and camping kit for years, but, now that the children are growing up, we’re sidelining it in favour of an Outwell Maya Transporter, £116.99. It’s an absolutely brilliant bit of gear – it folds up, making it a breeze to squeeze in an over-loaded car, large enough to fit two children in (has been declared ‘really comfy’ by Alfie and Kitty), easy to manoeuvre and comes with a cover to keep your stuff dry in case of rain – although, of course, that never happens at UK festies. It also has a nifty carrier for a matching coolbag at the back, so your children won’t be constantly complaining that they don’t have enough room/have something poking into their back. It’s sturdy, too – we took ours to the park for a class picnic a couple of weeks ago and it was a huge hit with all the reception children, who loved pulling each other around in it.
It definitely pays to be prepared for all weathers. We take the brilliantly handy Muddy Puddle Pac-a-Mac waterproofs for the children. They are utterly fab, come in a range of eye-popping prints and, yup, are ACTUALLY WATERPROOF, unlike many similar products on the market. There’s also a 20% off at the moment, so they cost £19.20. We are big fans of Hunter wellies as they are comfy enough to wear all day if necessary and, although the children were gutted they discontinued the glow-in-the-dark ones, they have been placated by silver, which will be perfect for this year’s rock and pop star fancy dress theme. Check out The Welly Shop for loads of fabulous brands and designs. Even if the sun is out during the day, it can get mighty cold at night if you’re camping out, so thermal base layers are our sleepwear of choice. Smalls merino layers are, without doubt, my favourites. Alfie lives in his 24-Hour Trousers when we go camping and they currently have a fantastic bundle deal of trousers and long-sleeved base layer for £88.50 (seems pricey, but, trust me, they will keep your little ones toasty warm, last forever and wash brilliantly) with a further 10% off if you’re ordering for the first time. We also take hats – Alfie is looking forward to wearing his Kivat dinosaur balaclava.
Of course, we’re all hoping that it’ll be sun, sun, sun all the way, but even fine weather brings its problems. Sunhats, suncream, sunglasses and water bottles are a must. We love Little Hotdog Watson‘s cool and quirky hats and they offer great coverage with wide brims and neck flaps (that can be rolled) up, plus UPF50+ protection, mozzy repellent and clever cooling fabric to stop little heads overheating. Kitty has really fair and sensitive skin, so I need creams that are going to protect, but also won’t irritate her. Green People‘s Organic Children range ticks the boxes – it’s scent-free and packed with natural soothing goodies like avocado and aloe vera. Our favourite kids’ sunglasses are Zoobug – they have a huge range of super-cute styles with 100% UV protection and a 12-month guarantee and the kids love the bright orange zipped cases. We’ve tried lots of different water bottles, but we always go back to CamelBak as they are really sturdy and don’t leak (and are covered in cool illustrations), although I’ll be taking my new Chilly bottle this year.
Ear defenders are essential for children at festivals – even if you’re not thinking of venturing down to the front of the main stage, they’ll come in handy if your children want to sleep in the evening, while you enjoy the entertainment on offer. This year, Alfie and Kitty have brand new Muffy ear defenders from Alpine Hearing Protection, £19.95, which have funky stripes on the headbands. They also do special baby defenders and even children’s earplugs if your little one doesn’t like the feeling of headbands. We always take a first aid kit (just in case), although we have rarely needed anything more than a plaster. The LittleLife Family First Aid Kit, £19.99, is pretty comprehensive and even contains star stickers to be awarded for being brave. I also always pack more baby wipes than you’d think possible, plus anti-bacterial surface wipes, and a bottle of hand sanitiser as the dispensers in the loos usually run out – Milton do a good anti-bac range. Losing sight of your child at a festival is every parent’s worst nightmare, and many children don’t like the feeling of wristbands, which is why Claire and I created our Bambino Goodies lost children badges, £5 for four, because what child doesn’t love a badge? Customise with your phone number and pin to every layer of your small person’s clothing. I also like to use Kattoo tattoos as a back up.
Probably the most important thing to take to a festival with kids is a whole lot of dressing up gear. As I said, this year’s Camp Bestival theme is Rock and Pop Stars, so there’s plenty of scope there (Alfie and Kitty are going as David Bowie and Madonna), but we also like to sport as many sparkly, shiny, fabulous accessories as possible for the rest of the weekend – it detracts from the dirt! This year, that means gorgeous, glimmering Pearl Lowe x Selfish Mother sequinned Super Capes, the seriously brilliant Tell Tails Clever Crocodile tail, super-cute Lala & Pom glittery cat ears and glitter from Glitter Eyes. I’ll also be packing my Rosa Bloom cape and a flower crown – excellent for covering up those greasy roots!
Stay tuned for our Festival Accessories giveaway, which offers you the chance to win lot of the items mentioned. Plus, we’re giving away a family ticket to Camp Bestival, so hopefully see you there!