Most of our festival going over the years was prior to our four young children, although we did manage to get to loads of folk gatherings with our eldest son who is now into his twenties.
Now, with four children under eleven, we are very interested in family friendly events as we set off on our year long 2012 festival odyssey around Australia.
A number of the larger festivals portray themselves as family friendly, but, with the exceptions of Port Fairy, Woodford and the National Folk Festival, we have only attended others as party animals who didn't fall into bed totally exhausted before 10pm! It's now time for us to test how true the claim are of those gatherings who encourage families take part in the celebrations this summer.
As our programme beds down we are considering a couple of options to start off the new year with a bang.
Woodford Looking as Strong as Ever
We love the Woodford Folk Festival having been many times. We had a ball there as singles, as a couple, and have since enjoyed the enclosed children's festival area with loads of activities to entertain and engage our children. Combined with the family friendly ambience of the festival the children's facilities always make the event a strong candidate.
In the past we have brought our own camping gear, although, when our children were very young we took advantage of the Tent City facility with it's pre-erected tents close to the action.
The 2012 Woodford festival is looking exceptionally good, particularly with 'The Dreaming Festival'(cancelled in June due to storm damage) running in parallel with the regular gathering. The programme has arrived and it a piece of art in it's own right. Woodford runs from Dec 27 2011- 1 Jan, 2012.
Family commitments, the long drive north and financial considerations, mean that we are going to have to give Woodford a miss this year, but we highly recommend it to families with children of any age as a great experience. Be warned, go prepared for the possibility of very hot days and very wet days but the spectacle is well worth it.
This year we will be in New South Wales for our festival quota and have pretty much earmarked the following events.
In less than ten years the Peats Ridge Sustainable Arts Festival has become a fantasmagorical 3 day festival to see in the New Year. It has created a children's hub high on the hill where, they tell us, there's 'a whole world of activities and play
designed to keep kids of all ages happy'. There’s a designated
family campsite, the Festival has plenty of open
space and there’s a family swimming hole manned by a Life Guard! The children's programme looks well-thought through.
There is a cool music line-up for teens and adults, as far as we can tell! We were mortified that when we looked over the adult programme as we are now officially now a bit out of touch with contemporary music. Our 10 year-old son, who is up to date, assures us that the acts booked are "really wicked".
The clincher for us is that there are dedicated areas for children of different ages with three specific areas for different age groups (under 7s, under 12s and teens) so Peats gets our nod to see in the new year with style. Watch this space for our impressions.
In Kiama, NSW, the circus tent returns for school holiday workshops, but this time with an entire seaside festival attached. The KISS Arts Festival looks like a real family affair with street performers, kids' circus skills workshops and professional performers in the high top each night.
There will be an opening gala night and other shows including Harvey’s Troupe that produce bold modern circus and Fool's Gold featuring trapeze, acrobatics, unicycling, axe juggling, slack-rope
walking, sword swallowing, whip cracking, magic, hula-hooping, stunt car
jumping, pogo sticking, roller skating.
We will be enrolling our children in one of the circus skills workshops and spending a day or two in an area that we know well and love.
The KISS Arts Festival event runs from 3rd - 15th Jan, 2012.
Parkes Elvis Festival
We thought that we needed a festival that is a little more out of the ordinary, so what better place than a hot, dry Aussie country town full of Elvis impersonators, entertainers and visitors at the Parkes Elvis Festival? This way the children will get to learn both local history and some music history in the same week.
As well as enjoying the five day festival ( 11 -15 Jan, 2012) with it's concerts, parades and a thousand Elvis's, we will be taking in some of the local sights.
On the list:
- The King's Castle Elvis Exhibit
- Parkes Motor Museum
- Henry Parkes Museum (folk history)
- Pioneer Park Antique Machinery Collection
We also plan to take the children out past the Parkes satellite dish, famous for its role in relaying Apollo 11
telemetry and television pictures from the Moon on 21st July, 1969.
Throughout January the Sydney Festival is offering a variety of children friendly events and we will be trying to catch some of these in between. We will be endeavoring to get to the first day on Saturday 7th January where in the heart of the CBD from 3pm. There is kids live music, street theatre, a double decker bus of dancing music at Hyde Park. Will have to see what else falls into place.