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Is Reading Festival Suitable for Kids?

18 July 2023

There are many music festivals in the UK which make an effort to be child-friendly. You may be wondering whether Reading (and its northern counterpart Leeds) are included in this. The short answer is, no, Reading isn’t suitable for children, and unless yours are teenagers we don’t recommend taking them. Read on for more information.

Not recommended for young children

The official website of Reading Festival states that it is open to all ages and entry is free to under 13s, but they do not recommend bringing young children. Teenagers can attend without an adult once they’re 16 and it is a popular event with teens who may be celebrating the end of their exams. 

Alcohol and drug use

Although the Reading festival is primarily about music, it is also about partying for some people. While using illegal drugs is obviously not permitted on site, some attendees still manage to sneak them in. Drunk people can be loud, obnoxious, and frightening for kids to encounter, and families may struggle to get enough sleep due to noise. Alcohol and drugs can impair judgement and lead to risky behaviour, especially when combined with campfires. 

Very crowded and overwhelming

The festival can be overwhelming for young children, with tens of thousands of people attending. The arena area can get crowded and kids may struggle to see much. There isn’t as much space as at festivals like Glastonbury, where the natural hill facing the Pyramid Stage is a good place for families to sit. The crowds can also make it hard to get around the site and families with pushchairs will find it especially challenging. 

Loud music

Reading is all about the bands, with multiple stages and tents going at the same time. This may be an overwhelming sensory environment for children. You can help them by taking ear defenders or ear plugs to reduce the noise, but they may still find it too much. Because the festival takes place in late August, it is dark by the time the headliners play, so they use flashing lights, lasers and smoke machines, which may also be upsetting for kids. 

Not much for kids to do

As any parent knows, keeping kids entertained can be a full-time job. That's why festivals and other events geared towards adults can be a tough sell for families with young children. The Reading festival is an excellent example of this - while there is plenty of music and fun to be had, there is not much in the way of activities for young kids. As a result, parents are left with the difficult task of keeping their kids entertained while also trying to enjoy the festival themselves. 

If you do decide to take your kids to Reading, you might be better visiting for the day or staying off site, so you don’t have to contend with loud campsites full of excited and drunk adults and teens. Or try a more family-friendly festival, where there are activities to keep kids entertained. You can always watch Reading on TV, or find someone to look after the kids and go without them. 

Photo by anna-m. w.

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