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Summer festivals

4 years, 10 months ago

5 Best Family Friendly Summer Festivals

Great value family-friendly European festivals for summer 2015 from Brittany to Bristol, Edinburgh to London.

  1. Nimes
  2. Hamburg
  3. Bristol
  4. Edinburgh
  5. London

Festival Organisers of the world, take note: a bouncy castle and some facepaint does not a family-friendly event make. We’re not taking a stand against inflatables and we like face painters – especially the ones who can do bugs with giant, compound eyes – but come on. Does an entertainment seeking family really want Chi symbols and five minutes overpriced bouncing when there’s a whole universe of creative opportunity out there and that’s not even including cats with YouTube channels dedicated to their pancake art.

Time to vote with our feet we say. So here are a few of the most fabulous and family-friendly festivals this summer where bouncy castles are the least you can expect.

Feria de Pentecôte, Nimes 20th – 25th May

With Avignon just 45 minutes away, Nimes sometimes gets a bit overlooked. Shame on us for that, this is one of the most historic and lovely cities in France and we’re missing it to go look at half a bridge. If you want to make things right this year, the best time to visit Nimes is for the annual feria at the end of May. It’s one of the biggest events in France, incorporates 1000s of years of history and tradition, plays like there’s no tomorrow and gives you a chance to sit around and cheer in possibly the finest Ancient Roman amphitheatre in Europe. It’s five days of pure theatre and children love it.
Feria de Nimes

Hamburg Children’s Short Film Festival 7th – 14th June

The Hamburg Film Festival’s reputation for launching new talent is obviously based on the ‘get ’em young’ approach. The Short Film Festival is part competition, part film immersion, a bit of education, plenty of stuff to see and do and lots and lots of party and it’s all about the kids. Entries for this year are closed but if you think you’ll spend a week here with your budding film makers and not be hounded relentlessly about next year’s competition, we look forward to hearing how that goes for you.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta 6th – 9th August


Only Albuquerque can say it’s had more hot-air balloons in the sky at one time than Bristol. So a visit to the annual Balloon Fiesta is worth it for that sight alone. But just in case you’re really hard to please, the three day event also has massive fun fairs, dozens of live music acts, acres of eating and drinking and it’s held at beautiful Ashton Court Estate. Bristol Balloon Fiesta. If you can’t make it for the balloons, the Bristol Harbour Festival is another famously good family event from 17th – 19th July.

Edinburgh International Festival 7th to 31st August

Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh‘s had nearly 70 years to get it right and, apart from a few missteps along the way, its annual festival is still one of the best in the world. We’d be lying if we told you everything is family-friendly – a lot of the deeply dreadful Fringe is only for children if they’ve been really bad. But that’s a small quibble compared with the rest of the spectacle. Edinburgh’s like the mother-ship for every street performer on the planet in August and you could easily spend nothing but a few pounds and be entertained endlessly day after day just walking about. If you’re happy to part with a little more cash there’s great value children’s events, performances, exhibitions and mini-festivals everywhere from the city’s gorgeously, glamorous theatres to makeshift tents. And we haven’t even touched on the dozens of free Edinburgh museums and galleries working even harder than usual to prove the city’s festival is one to make space for this summer.
Edinburgh International Festival

Nottinghill Carnival, London 29th – 31st August

Nottinghill Carnival

Nottinghill Carnival’s nearly 50 and it might only be three days long but it makes the most of every minute. From the huge open-air music event on Saturday evening – all welcome and completely free – to the spectacular children’s parade, live music, amazing food and drink on Sunday, right on through to Monday’s famous Grand Finale and Parade, this is one of those events you have to ‘do’ at least once in a lifetime.
Nottinghill Carnival

And if that isn’t enough here are a few other family-friendly festivals worth a look this summer: Weston Air Festival, Weston-Super-Mare 20th – 21st June; Festival of Brittany 21st – 25th May; Beautiful Days, Devon 21st – 23rd August; Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire 6th – 9th August. Enjoy!

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