Family

Family Festivals Guide – Part 2

Making the most of your festival experience with children

kids at festival

Image source: Tunes in the Dunes

In recent years the UK festival scene has grown and grown. So much so, there are now events happening in fields, castles and beaches across the country throughout the entire summer. With the diverse range of acts on offer, there is something for everyone—not least young families.

With the right planning, festivals can be a relaxing rather than chaotic experience. They are also a great chance to spend time with friends and family. In Part One of our festival series, Jack Keery from Deer Shed festival and Tommy Job, founder of the Tunes festivals, shared advice on what to pack and what to expect. Here, they share more top tips on making the best of the experience with a young family.

Family-friendly festivals

Historically, the thought of taking small children to a festival would have been laughable. However, the increase of child-friendly events has put festivals on the calendar for families. Jack believes that festivals should be fully inclusive for little ones: “Say no to ‘children’s areas’. Kids aren’t zoo animals, and the best family-friendly festivals will ensure their whole site is safe and secure, so your kids can run wild!”

Tommy shares his advice on taking kids to a festival:

  • Decide on a meeting point once you arrive, or make note of where the box office is. In the unlikely event of your family getting separated, you’ll all know where to meet one another.
  • Youngsters can get tired out pretty easily at festivals. Pull-along wagons can come in handy after a long day exploring the festival grounds.
  • If the weather is hot, it’s important to seek out some midday shade.
  • Most of all, festivals are magical events for families— embracing the atmosphere, listening to brilliant music and relaxing together is what it’s all about.

Pitching up

Camping is a great way to immerse yourself in the festival spirit and can be great fun, especially as a group. A few small things can make a huge difference to the camping experience, such as:

Top tips for festival camping

  1. Arrive nice and early to pick your plot. There is nothing more stressful than trying to squeeze a tent into a crowded field, and there’s a reason why there is a big empty space downwind from the portaloos!
  2. Ask about family areas. Designated zones are often a bit quieter and more child-friendly.
  3. Choose your pitch carefully – stay away from toilets but within sight of a recognisable landmark. Try to keep away from the main thoroughfares unless you want to be kept awake all night.
  4. Identify your tent with a flag, bunting or a sign—in a sea of tents it can be tricky to identify which ‘blue one’ is yours. Or, you could invest in a remote control tent finder, which lights up to help you spot your tent in the dark.
  5. If you are with a group, position tents to face each other and pitch them close together to ensure no one else can squeeze into your spot, and make sure to leave enough space for guy ropes. You could always create a boundary with windbreaks or tape to prevent revellers from wandering through your ‘camp’. This is also a good way to deter thieves.
  6. It may seem sensible to lock your tent but this actually has the opposite effect and highlights that you may have belongings worth stealing. The simple rule of preventing theft is not to take anything of value with you.
deer shed

Image source: Deer Shed

Something for everyone

Aside from the music, many festivals cater for younger visitors with quiet zones, science tents, movie areas, bubble parties and even group bath-times. With so much on offer, it can be difficult to work out how to fit everything in. These tips should help:

How to make the most out of the festival experience

  • Have a good look at the music line-up and the children’s events to create a schedule that keeps everyone happy.
  • Prioritise your preferred acts and try not to overschedule the day—you don’t want to risk a dreaded meltdown just as your favourite headliner is about to start.
  • Keep in mind that festivals can be tiring for little ones­—factor in plenty of down-time between events.
  • Once you have identified which acts will be playing when and where, think about how long it will take to travel between stages. In larger festivals, this may involve a hike across a field or two, which can be tiring for little legs.
  • Lightweight strollers are great for napping on the move but can be very difficult to push across a muddy field. If possible, bring a buggy with all-terrain tyres or consider a sling or backpack-style carrier for smaller children.
  • Although festivals are great for trying different types of food, some children may prefer more familiar flavours. Bring some favourite snacks from home just in case. Packets of dried fruit and pureed fruit pouches are a good way to squeeze in a couple of the five-a-day.
family at festival

Keeping clean

It’s no surprise that festivals generally involve getting dirty, which for many people is part of the fun! Pre-planning can help keep the grime at bay, as Tommy advises: “Make sure you have lots of water, toilet roll, (biodegradable) face wipes and baby wipes. Also, come prepared with bags to put rubbish and dirty clothes into.” 

Jack suggests looking out for festival eco-hygiene packs, which contain everything you need to keep clean at a festival without hurting the planet.

Puddle suits, waterproofs and wellies are a must for small children, plus plenty of lightweight layers to adapt to the unpredictable British weather.

If you have access to your car during the festival, the car boot is a great way to create additional storage. A wipe clean bootliner will stop your car’s interior from getting wet and muddy, especially when it comes to packing up your filthy tent and belongings. Keep bin bags in the car ready to stash soggy clothes and muddy boots. 

Festival safety

Every parent’s nightmare is their little one getting lost in the crowds. It can be very tempting for them to wander off with so many exciting things catching their eye. The following precautions will help ensure that they are safely reunited:

Six top tips for keeping children safe at festivals

  1. Make sure that children have your contact number with them. If possible, include the numbers for a couple of the members of your party in case phone batteries die or signal is poor.
  2. It is well worth investing in a secure kids ID bracelet before you go. Waterproof, personalised wristbands are available online and will reduce the possibility of details getting rubbed off.
  3. Explain to your little one what they should do if they get lost—find a police officer, festival steward or a ‘mummy with children’.
  4. It’s also a good idea to point out a recognisable spot to head to, such as a particular food stall.
  5. Dressing your child in bright, distinctive clothing will make them easier to spot and also to describe to others.
  6. Kiddy backpacks with integral reins can also be useful for keeping tiny tots close.
rubbish at festival

Keeping the outdoors great

A big problem for festival organisers is the vast amounts of litter left behind once revellers have departed. With this in mind, think about bringing reusable bottles or cups for drinks and make sure you leave nothing behind when you pack up.

Aside from general litter, a surprising amount of tents are left behind at the end of festivals. Contrary to belief, discarded tents are not donated to charity and will generally end up as landfill. A main reason people leave their tents is because they don’t know how to pack it up properly, so make sure you practice beforehand. If you do plan on leaving yours behind, ask the organisers about drop off points — but the tent must be in good condition and complete with all parts.

To help combat waste, festivals such as Deer Shed are championing Drastic On Plastic, an initiative where food and drink traders are prohibited from selling single-use plastic bottles, cups straws, cutlery and serve ware. Instead, traders only serve meals with compostable cutlery and trays. The Tunes festivals have even incorporated beach clean up events into their schedule, ensuring the festivals create no environmental damage to the coastline.

Family Festivals Guide – Part 1

Top tips from the experts on what to pack, plan and expect

kids at festival

Image credit: Deer Shed

For many families, the festival season can be the highlight of the year, and for good reason! Fresh air, great music and the chance to chill out together can be a welcome escape from the restrictions and routine of ‘real life’.  

Revelling in the great outdoors, however, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. One of the main reasons why people shy away from festivals is the thought of getting wet and muddy. This was confirmed in our survey of the British public, which revealed over 54% of people would be put off visiting a festival because of bad weather.

Although we’ve all heard ‘horror stories’ of other people’s camping disasters and festival washouts, these are few and far between in comparison to the thousands of families who enjoy a wide range of festivals year after year.

It’s all in the planning

As any veteran will tell you, the secret to a successful festival is in the planning. Arming yourself with the right equipment, knowing where (and how) to pitch up and having a good idea of the acts and events on offer will make a huge difference to your experience.

There are three golden rules to festival packing:

  1. Don’t take anything that you would care about losing/ruining.
  2. Don’t over-pack; you’re unlikely to use it all and it can be a long walk from your car.
  3. Take a tent at least ‘one man’ bigger than you need—two man literally means two people with no room for belongings—and practice pitching and packing it away before you go.
people at festival

Advice from the experts

To find out more about what to pack, plan and expect from different types of festivals we decided to get some advice from the experts: Jack Keery from Deer Shed festival and Tommy Job, founder of the Tunes festivals.

Read on for their expert tips on ensuring that you have the best possible festival experience—come rain or shine:

What to pack for a field-based festival

People attending a field-based event need to come prepared for the possibility of mud.

Jack Keery from Deer Shed Festival shares his top ten packing essentials:

  1. Reusable water bottle and reusable hot drinks cups. Check if the festival runs reusable cup schemes at the bars and hot drinks cups (at Deer Shed you pay £2 on top of your first drink but take home a branded cup as a festival memento) and top up at fresh water standpipes around the site.
  2. Earplugs/ear defenders:Protect the kids’ hearing! Quality music at festivals can really blow you away, but that doesn’t mean it has to blow your eardrums.
  3. Eye mask:People always pack warm layers in anticipation of chilly British summer nights, but often forget that the sun blazing through a thin tent wall can cause quite a rude awakening at daybreak. You need your beauty sleep, after all.
  4. Torch:Vital for those midnight toilet visits.
  5. Sunglasses and sunscreen:It’s great to soak up the sun but make sure that you protect your skin and eyes - even at British festivals!
  6. Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, anti-bite cream and insect repellent:People sometimes forget about the presence of pesky bugs at festivals so keep them at bay with a handy spray and treat any bites as soon as you can. Wet wipes and hand sanitizers can be a godsend, too.
  7. Cooler box for food and drinks:Keep your snacks and drinks fresh and cool.
  8. Gas stove:Providing it adheres to event restrictions (cylinders at the Deer Shed Festival, for example, must be less than 2.7kg in gas weight). There are lots of local and international food traders at most festivals, but it can be nice to have bangers on the campsite for a change.
  9. Sling:For carrying the really little ones around, so you can remain hands-free.
  10. Poncho/anorak and wellies:Just in case, obviously! Every year we pray for no rain. Sometimes our prayers are answered…
festival

Image credit: ‘Tunes’

Top packing tips for a beach festival

Tommy Job, founder of the Tunes festivals suggests packing for a beach-based festival in a similar way as you would for a general beach trip. Here are his top tips…

  1. Swimwear is a must, along with sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses and towels.
  2. Reusable water bottles are great for keeping hydrated.
  3. Don’t forget a picnic blanket, plus buckets and spades for little ones.
  4. Dress in brightly coloured clothes and wear eco-friendly glitter so you’ll be sure to stand out from the crowd.
  5. As British weather can be unpredictable, bring waterproof ponchos in case of summer showers.
  6. Although most festivals have card machines available to make purchases, it’s always handy to have change, especially when there are so many amazing food traders serving a variety of tasty treats.
  7. Last but not least, lots and lots of (biodegradable) baby-wipes to help keep little sticky fingers clean! 
car surf board

Everything but the kitchen sink

Once you’ve got your tent and have stocked up on camping essentials, there is the small matter of deciding what clothes to pack. The unpredictable British weather can make packing for a festival a bit of a dilemma—especially when trying to pack light—and as our survey suggests, the idea of spending a weekend feeling cold and wet is less than appealing.

Layers are key for the UK weather, with decent footwear and a good waterproof coat in case of a downpour. Try to resist the temptation to pack for a month and leave anything you don’t want to get ruined or that is tricky to get in and out of—such as playsuits and dungarees—at home. Biodegradable glitter and bright coloured accessories will help embrace the festival vibe—not to mention make it easier to spot other members of your party in the crowds.

To make things easier, our comprehensive packing list covers everything that you could need for your festival trip: [download here]

Festival Essentials – Downloadable Packing list

Essentials

    Festival tickets! Print them out in case your phone dies.

    ID

    Phone and charger/battery pack

    Enough cash to stash around your person (plus a money belt or bum bag)

    Credit/debit card

Camping

    Tent

    Folding chair

    Sleeping bag, roll mat and an empty pillowcase (pad it out with a hoodie)

    Blanket for wrapping up in when sitting out at night

    Earplugs— the only way to guarantee some sleep

    Sleep mask—essential if you don’t want to wake up with the sun

Toiletries

    Wet wipes and antiseptic wipes

    Toilet roll and hand sanitiser

    Paracetamol, hayfever tablets, any personal meds, bug spray and a small first aid kit

    Toothbrush, toothpaste and chewing gum

    Towel (microfiber towels dry quickly and don’t take up much space).

    Dry shampoo, towel off body wash (no water required)

    Tampons and deodorant

    Sun cream, glasses and hat

Eating and drinking

    Refillable water bottle

    Non-perishable food—e.g. dried fruit, bread, pot noodles, nuts and biscuits

    Small cooking stove and pan

Clothes

    Light, waterproof rain coat or poncho

    Jumper or hoodie for the evening

    Quick-drying legwear – avoid jeans

    Wellies, comfortable shoes/boots

    Spare socks and underwear

    Completely dry set of clothes in a watertight bag

    Decent rucksack (don’t bring a suitcase, they are heavy to carry and won’t wheel through mud)

Extras

    Flash light, preferably a head torch

    Bin bags for wet/dry clothes, sitting on, rain protection and for under sleeping bags

    Duct tape for tent mishaps

    Noise reducing earphones for kids

    Disposable cameras (don’t waste your phone battery)

    Picnic blanket and toys for a beach festival

    A sledge, trolley or wheelbarrow to help transport your gear to your pitch

And what NOT to pack

  • Glass—if your festival permits you to bring your own refreshments, choose cans or plastic.
  • Gazebos won’t make you very popular with other campers and are heavy to transport.
  • Candles, Chinese lanterns or fireworks can be incredibly dangerous in a festival environment.
car boot fully packed

Travelling to and from the festival

For many families, it is easier to travel to a festival by car, not least because of the amount of luggage you will need. If you have access to your vehicle during the festival, your car can provide a useful space for keeping belongings dry—just make sure anything of value is kept out of sight.

Our top tips for taking your car to a festival:

  1. Make sure you have enough fuel for the journey there and back. You may find yourself stuck in heavy traffic when leaving the festival, so don’t rely on being able to fill your tank as soon as you leave the site.
  2. Keep bin bags ready and waiting to fill with muddy clothes and camping gear.
  3. Invest in a wipe clean, padded boot liner to protect the car’s interior from mud, water and scratches from lugging bulky camping gear in and out.
  4. Have a set of clean, dry clothes and shoes in the car so you are comfortable on the journey home.
  5. Leave extra snacks and water for welcome refreshments.
  6. Keep a phone charging lead in the car -- your battery will almost certainly need a boost.
  7. Entertainment for tired children will help while the journey away.
tents at festival

And finally, what to expect when you get there

Many festivals—especially family-focussed ones—are jam-packed with activities alongside the performances. Before you go it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the itinerary and work out what is on offer and when. Don’t forget to factor in travelling time between stages and attractions as some festivals can sprawl over a vast area. Often festivals have an app that allows you to check the acts to want to see and avoid any clashes. Some die-hard festival-goers have even been known to devise a spreadsheet to ensure they make the most of every minute!

Tommy Job, advises festival-goers to take a much calmer approach:

Make sure to leave plenty of time beforehand so you don’t feel stressed upon arrival. It can be overwhelming karting many bags and camping gear along, especially with little ones tow, so the more you can prepare at home the better. Pack something small that will keep them entertained if you do have to queue at the box office. If you’re camping, pitching a good distance between the bathrooms and main entrance is beneficial. The Tunes camping grounds are relatively small, so it’s easy enough to navigate your way around. Check on the performance times before you get there so you don’t miss your favourite acts.”

Something for everyone

Aside from the headlining acts festivals often have areas designed purely for children, as Jack Keery explains:

It’s hard not to give information overload when you’re talking about what’s on offer at Deer Shed because there is so much to do for every member of the family! The festival site is a plethora of performances, activities, spectacles and good vibes. Visitors can experience magical and immersive theatre, walkabout performances and art installations or even attend a baby bubble rave before taking your tot to our group bath time.”

For more top tips about making the most out of your festival experience, read Part 2 of our festival guide here…

3 ways to celebrate Mother's Day

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, March 26th, 2017 to be exact,  the team at Hatchbag have come together to round up the best activities to enjoy with your mother. With the flowers starting to blossom and the glimmer of sunshine on the horizon, why not celebrate your mother AND Mother Nature? Here are 3 ways to spend Mother’s Day outside in 2017.

SIGHTSEEING

Castles – Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire

What better way to spend Mother’s Day than by learning about our British history and one of our famous castles such as Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, England.

Derbyshire in itself is known for its beautiful scenic landscapes and expansive greenery that is sure to take anyone who visits breath away. As you make your way down the spectacular drive to Bolsover Castle, you’ll realise that the fairy tale Stuart mansion that is Bolsover Castle has been designed to entertain and impress.

With plenty of activities to keep all entertained, make your life easier by planning your day here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/bolsover-castle/

We have chosen Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire as part of our roundup, however, why not take a look at the Top 10 English Heritage castles here. View the website here.

EXPERIENCE NATURE

Kew Gardens – Richmond, Surrey

There’s no better way to enjoy Mother Nature than with your own mother, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers. One of our favourite places to visit in the UK is Kew Gardens in Surrey.

Discover the secret life of bees at The Hive, or, absorb the artworks ranging from Henry Moore to Marianne North. If art isn’t your thing then you can simply take in the fresh air, the beautiful gardens and the sweet scent of the flowers which adorn most paths around the grounds.

Should you not live near the area, check out this handy guide to find a garden near you: The English Garden.

GO FOR A WALK

Ty Coch – Mofra, Wales

 Why not visit one of Wales’s most famous pubs Ty Coch; which is also a National Trust listed building – and enjoy the tranquillity of there being no cars in sight before tucking into a lovely Sunday lunch?

Park your car in the Molfra car park and take a beautiful coastal walk along the seafront, taking in the sights and sounds of one of Wales’s most adored gems before finding Ty Coch where you can tuck into your favourite Sunday carvery.

Helvellyn – Lake District

If you’re looking for a bit more adventure this Mother’s Day then why not pack up the hiking boots and take to the wild with the best woman in your life in hand?

Helvellyn in the Lake District - although not the highest peak in the Lake District - can still stake a claim as the most beautiful. Loved by the likes of Wordsworth, Wainwright and generations of walkers, you’ll have a lovely day walking along the flat summit on a hopefully warm Spring day. What better way to spend Mother’s Day?

Whatever you do this Mother’s Day, we’d love to see what you get up to. Send us your snaps to @HatchbagCompany on Twitter, @thehatchbagcompany on Instagram & The Hatchbag Company on Facebook.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely Mum’s out there.

Scotland Named as the UK's Favourite Staycation

This year many families will be deciding whether to jet off in search of some summer sun or to opt for the ever increasingly popular UK staycation. Thus, Hatchbag asked 1000 people all about their summer plans for 2017.

Staycation vs Holiday Abroad

Staycation

In total 46% of the respondents stated that they plan to stay in the UK this summer, opting to explore what Great Britain has to offer. In comparison, 54% revealed that they would still be seeking their dose of summer sun abroad this year.

Popular Destinations

So, with 46% of you choosing to stay in the UK this year, we wanted to know which areas of the UK are most likely to benefit from staycations.

Hatchbag

Interestingly, the most popular area is Scotland, which received 25% of the vote from the 1000 people we asked. Charmed by culturally steeped cities such as Edinburgh, stretches of stunning sands in The Outer Hebrides and the breath-taking beauty of the rugged Cairngorms, it is no great surprise that Scotland has come out on top.

But, Scotland is not the only one set to profit from domestic tourism with the South West of England and Wales closely following in second and third position.

With the South West of England playing host to popular coastal resorts such as Torquay and Cornwall, it’s perhaps unsurprising that 21.4% chose it as a preferable location. After all, Cornwall experiences the highest temperatures in the UK over the summer months.

Wales offers an eclectic mix of places to visit. From the medieval city of Tenby to the striking scenery of Snowdonia National Park and picturesque towns and villages such as Hay-on-Wye, there’s certainly plenty to explore. So it’s no wonder 20.2% would want to have a staycation in Wales.

In comparison, the area least likely to profit from a rise in the number of staycations is the West Midlands. Only 1.9% claimed that they would be likely to visit this particular region. It seems that many of us are not drawn to the city sights of Birmingham or the rolling Shropshire countryside.

Similarly, the East Midlands and Northern Ireland aren’t likely to benefit from people holidaying on home soil.

Staycations by Age

Staycation by age

The age group most likely to opt for a Staycation in 2017 are 45-54, closely followed by 35-44-year-olds.

In contrast, those in the 25-34-year-old category and 65+ are more than likely to choose a holiday destination abroad over a staycation in the UK.

Why are more people choosing to holiday in the UK?

Expense

18% said that they would be opting for a summer holiday in the UK because they feel that foreign destinations are too expensive. This could be influenced by the falling value of the GBP.

Those aged 35-44 are the most likely to shun a holiday abroad due to expense, while 55-64-year-olds cited cost as being the least influential factor.

Preference

17% are choosing to stay in the UK simply because they prefer it. Males are the most likely to stay in the UK out of choice, with 57% claiming that the UK is their preferred holiday hotspot.

20.9% of those who stated that they prefer to holiday in the UK are aged 45-54.

Terrorism

The threat of terror attacks is also a factor that is having an impact on the number of people who are choosing a staycation over a foreign holiday. 8.2% of respondents claim that the threat of terrorism will stop them from travelling to their preferred destination this summer. And, it is actually males that are more than likely to be put off holidaying abroad by the threat of a terrorist attack compared to females.

If you’re opting for a staycation this summer, be sure to take your Hatchbag boot-liner with you to protect your boot from any nasty spills or damage from suitcases and hair from your furry friends. Also, we’d love to see pictures of your favourite UK locations. Send us your snaps in on social to @HatchbagCompany for Twitter, @thehatchbagcompany on Instagram & The Hatchbag Company on Facebook.

Methodology

Hatchbag surveyed a sample of 1000 respondents who varied in age and gender from across the UK. The aim of the survey was to research attitudes towards staycations and to investigate which areas of the UK are most popular with domestic tourists.

101 Ideas for Having Fun with the Kids this Summer

It is our pleasure to introduce the Best of British 101 Ideas for Having Fun with the Kids this Summer eBook. With the winter months finally behind us and the summer sun starting to warm our backs it’s time to look outdoors and plan our summer adventures.

Put together with the help of more than 100 of the best British bloggers, each of the ideas found within this e-book come straight from the heart and is one of the longstanding loves of each blogger involved. So, without any further hesitation, welcome to the gateway of summer adventures that you will remember for a lifetime. Oh, and if the good old British weather doesn’t quite hold out, don’t forget your Hatchbag!

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Keeping car clean after Children's Activities

We use our cars to ferry children to their various sporting activities and after-school clubs but the impact on the once smart interior of the vehicle can be significant. Within just a few hours the upholstery and car interior can become so messy and dirty that you may as well have not bothered to clean them. One of the best ways to minimise this problem is to fit your car with a protective boot liner.

keeping car clean after childrens activites

You may love watching the kids play football but the result on your car on the trip back home is less enjoyable. Wet towels and costumes after swimming classes can make the fabric in your car damp. Even after dance and gymnastics classes the glitter from costumes can spreads throughout your vehicle. Bulky sporting equipment such as scooters, bikes, golf clubs or cricket kits can also leave muddy streaks and potentially damage your upholstery.

Keeping a spare change of clean, dry clothes for the journey home is always a good idea. Ensure that you have a few plastic bags in the back of the car for wet or dirty kits. Most importantly, you can protect your car's interior from wet and mud in the first place by fitting a protective boot liner.

Hatchbag boot liners are designed to fit the specific dimensions of your car's boot. Simply select your vehicle make and model and choose your preferred colour for a durable boot liner. The liner can be easily removed for cleaning to ensure that your car retains its spotless interior, whatever family life may throw at it.