Looking for tips on how to have the best time at Latitude this year? These tips are for families, so if you’re packing little ones for your Latitude Festival fun, read on!
What is Latitude Festival?
Latitude is an annual music and culture festival held at Henham Park in Suffolk. It is one of the larger festivals in the UK, but is still much more manageable than the massive crowds at Glastonbury. It’s also incredibly family friendly. Check out the video recap for the most recent festival, along with the lineup and dates for Latitude this year here.
The late July scheduling for Latitude brings about as much hope for fine weather as you’ll ever get in the UK, and the location across fields and forest feel a world away from everything else.
Whether this is your family’s first music festival, or your 100th, Latitude has a lot to offer.
Why Latitude Festival is Great for Families
One of the hardest parts of picking activities as a family is finding things everyone will like. This is the reason I wanted to try Latitude in the first place.
There are other UK festivals like Camp Bestival that really lean on the family-friendly atmosphere as well. What I like about Latitude is that it doesn’t feel like a children’s fair, but it does have plenty of child-friendly options.
I’d say this one is best if you want to catch some big name performers, as well as a diverse lineup of theatre, dance, comedy, poetry and fun family-friendly activities. No one gets left out here.
Children And Teen Activities
Kids are fully considered participants at Latitude. There are festival areas dedicated to children’s shows and activities, a fun fair, and even a teen zone for the 12+ fans. My daughter especially enjoyed visiting the Enchanted Garden to craft her own claymation character with help from an Aardman animator.
Babies and little kids are often spotted riding around in trolleys (wagons for my Americans) like tiny royalty. These make for handy portable nap stations as well.
The baby and toddler tent provides baby feeding and changing space, and even baby bath-time tools. A baby sling library is coming this year in case you want to try out carrying your baby close while you explore.
Kids area activities run from 10am-6pm and include everything from storytelling to art creation to an earthworm science walk. There is something to inspire every interest here.
The Inbetweeners teen space makes sure older kids have room to explore too. There’s a teen stage featuring young talent, some of which have gone on to become big names after performing here. Digital design and creative art drop-ins give older kids an activity that doesn’t feel like they’re in the kid zone.
Family camping is its own zone, and requires campers to include 16 and under kids in their group. You’ll get a family camping wristband when you first enter, and will need to show it each time you enter the family campground.
Family camping has dedicated toilets and shower facilities in the campground. There are also a handful of food and drink vendors scattered along the main paths.
One of the best perks of family camping is the dedicated festival entrance. Depending on where you wind up in the campground, this can be a nice shortcut in and out of the fun.
Latitude was my first festival camping experience, and I definitely learned some things I’d want to change for my experience next time. Check out my tips further down to avoid making the same mistakes I did.
Beautiful Location in Henham Park
England in the summertime can really be gorgeous. Henham Park takes you from wide open fields in the camping areas, through winding trails amongst towering trees, across bits of stream and around a small lake.
The festival mainstage is named the Obelisk for the obelisk stone marker nearby. I’m not sure why there is an obelisk in the park, so please comment if you know! Internet research instead led me to this randomly fascinating fact from Henham Park’s About page:
“An ancient oak in front of the Old Stables was used by Sir John Rous, an ancestor of the current owner, to hide in for three days while Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads searched for Royalists. The tree still stands.”
These sort of details, and the generally beautiful natural setting, make it easy to romanticise your experience if you’re so inclined. The signature pink sheep add to the whimsy as well.
What Isn’t Great for Families at Latitude
Before you book your tickets to Latitude, keep in mind that not everything at this festival is kid-friendly. The most obvious warning comes from the comedy tent, where you should expect adult-themed jokes. Some of the theatrical performances outside the kids area may also include nudity. Use your common sense to find the entertainment that best fits your comfort zone.
The big mainstage shows will draw large crowds, so keep a close eye on your kids to avoid losing anyone. You can write your phone number on a kids wristband for them just in case. Pick one up from wristband exchanges.
Keep in mind that camping rarely leads to a great night’s sleep for everyone, including kids. Don’t try to cram in so many activities that you all wind up exhausted. Some of our favourite performances were spent sprawled on a blanket near the performance tent when we needed a rest.
Tips To Improve Your Family Experience at Latitude
First, let me admit to the mistakes I made during our first trip to Latitude:
- We arrived late in the day on opening day – this meant a good 80% of the camp fields were already filled in with people who’d arrived earlier
- We tried to see everything on the first full day of the festival – and were shattered by the evening
- I underestimated the noise and overestimated my ability to sleep in an uncomfortable setting
- I didn’t consider my kid’s comfort level in crowded settings and wound up hustling her out of a tent when she got overwhelmed
So, with that in mind, what did we learn? I’d definitely still go back, but here’s what I’d do this time:
- Arrive early. Campgrounds open at 10am and there are no reserved spots in the family camping fields. Getting there early gives you a better chance to find a spot before the fields are overwhelmed. In general, I’d aim for a short walk to toilets and off of the walking paths.
- Bring or rent a trolley. It’s a long walk from the car park, past the campervan fields, before finally arriving in the very large family camping fields. We rented a trolley last time, which worked pretty well, but they are pricy and I’m not sure how available they are at peak arrival times if you haven’t pre-booked. I’d probably bring my own next time to avoid the risk of all the rentals being out.
- Bring earplugs. I was really surprised none of the vendor shops sold earplugs. With a mini Co-op on site and loads of tired people, this seems like an easy item to sell. I did bring some cheap foam earplugs, which helped but tended to fall out in the night. Next time I’m trialling some fancier silicone ones in advance so I’m sure I can block out noise when I want to sleep.
- Bring snacks. Food at the festival is pretty good and the queues are reasonable. If I had little kids with me, though, I’d want to be armed with some easily dispensable snacks and fruit.
- Be patient. It’s so easy to get swept up in the excitement of all there is to see and do. Try to slow down in the early days so you don’t run out of steam!
- Know your kid. Whether it’s crowds or noise or just overstimulation in general, there’s a decent chance something will challenge your child’s equilibrium at the festival. Check in with them regularly and don’t try to force experiences.
- Be ready for the weather. It was dry and hot when we went. My husband brought his desert scarf, and I absolutely made fun of him because it’s not like we were at Coachella. Then the wind picked up one day and I was literally breathing dirt. Whether it’s a pair of wellies in case of rain, or a sun hat, or a bandana to block the dust, it’s best to be prepared.
Alternatives To Family Camping at Latitude
Not everyone can tolerate camping, and not everyone wants to haul camping gear – especially if you’re travelling far to attend the festival. Here are a few alternatives that provide families with a bit more ease and comfort:
- Pink Moon Camping – This is luxury camping at Latitude Festival. These sites come with ready to go tents and niceties like foam mattresses. This smaller camping area also has its own toilet and shower facilities, and perks like a pamper parlour.
- The Stables at Henham Park – Incredibly close location to the festival with lovely boutique rooms that can accommodate up to four.
- The Plough – This country inn in nearby Wangford is a short drive from Henham Park and has family rooms sleeping up to four.
Hotels book fast once Latitude announces dates each year. Find the best availability in the area by searching with this map view in Booking.com.
Family Packing List for Latitude Festival
Ready to go? Here’s everything you need for a fantastic family experience at Latitude:
You can show tickets on your phone, but make sure you know how to pull them up. If you’re coming from overseas you’ll have the option to pick up your tickets at the box office or have them mailed to your home in advance. Don’t leave them behind!
ID and Bank Card
Identification may be requested to verify your tickets, and might be necessary to verify your child’s age. My daughter has always been tall and we were asked to show proof that she was 12 or under to match her child ticket. Vendors in the festival all had card readers at the ready, so you don’t have to pull out cash in advance unless you prefer it.
Trolley or Wagon
Whether to bring your own trolley or wagon will depend on whether you’re just hauling camping gear from the car, or ferrying children all over. For hauling purposes, I’m eyeing this high-capacity gem that also has the weight capacity to manage tired kids:
If you need something more child-focused, it’s hard to go wrong with Radio Flyer. This wagon with a canopy can double as shady nap space.
If you need to save space in your car, you can pre-book a trolley rental from Mr. Trolley. Some trolleys are available on the day, but you do risk them running out. Keep in mind that they require a cash deposit. The trolleys are heavy duty, but definitely need padding for use with kids.
These are small things that go a long way to keeping your stuff in the trolley when you’re doing your big haul in and out.
Don’t just pick a cheap tiny tent when you’re travelling with family. Space will help keep you organised, provide a small bit of privacy, and make it easier to secure your stuff while you’re away from camp.
This is the exact tent we took to Latitude, and would recommend for families with up to four people:
It has a sewn-in groundsheet, light dimming enclosure with optional separate “rooms”, and enough living space at the front to store all of our stuff and stash our camp chairs when we go out.
Bigger groups can opt for something larger, or consider grouping tents together to carve out a mini-community.
If you want to bring your own glamping experience, I was super jealous of the gorgeous bell tents like this one:
A plastic sheet helps keep your stuff dry if you arrive in a rainshower, and can serve as a backup picnic blanket or quick cover in a pinch.
Opt for something cosy that won’t lead to overheating in mild temperatures. This one from Amazon is reasonably priced and adaptable to the weather.
Your kids may be fine sleeping on a rolled up towel, but bring yourself a real pillow to help you sleep.
Sleeping Pad / Air Mattress
I brought sleeping pads we’d used for camping in Yosemite, where they’d been totally fine. However, when you’re already in a noisy campground, a little extra comfort goes a long way. Next time I’m bringing single air mattresses for everyone like these.
Don’t forget a rechargeable pump to save your lungs if you go this route.
These are a lifesaver to cope with late night music and having only a thin sheet of fabric between you and a whole lot of other campers. I used some standard foam ear plugs, which were ok but tended to fall out part way through the night. Next time I want to try this silicone pair from Loop.
It’s so nice to have a comfy place to sit while enjoying a coffee in the morning, or just gathering to chat. We bring one standard chair, and two rocking chairs that are such a relief at the end of a long day.
You can really do any combo of things here. I brought some mini lights that took advantage of our tent’s internal clips. We also had a lantern and a torch in case of nighttime bathroom runs.
This is another thing we didn’t bring that I wished we had. Whether you want to make your own coffee, have a quick meal in camp, or spread out your festival makeup and mirror, a table makes everything a bit more convenient.
No one wants to fix their hair and makeup in the public toilets. This mirror is under £20 and comes with a built-in rechargeable light for touch ups any time.
Don’t spend your evenings moaning over a sunburn. The July sun will make you regret not slathering this on each day.
Fun Makeup and Glitter
This is the best time to experiment with fun colours and glitter. Check out the fantastic Make Up or Break Up for a huge line of glitter and festival makeup.
Make it easy on yourself to remove the makeup, glitter and dirt at your campsite. Don’t forget the cotton wool for easy application.
You may not need them all the time (this is still England), but it’s a good bet you’ll want to have some sunnies stashed in your bag.
Bring this with you for when you need a quick break or the tables by food vendors all fill up. Any blanket will do, but one with a plastic backing will make sure damp ground doesn’t seep through. We took a blanket break under this tree for a lovely afternoon hour.
Reusable Water Bottle
Water points are available all over the festival, so bring a bottle to make staying hydrated easy! Note that you can’t bring in liquids, so will need to have it empty when going through the festival gates.
A sturdy enamel mug is handy for your morning coffee or grabbing water for teeth brushing. Plus, they’re cheap, lightweight, and small. You can find all sorts on Amazon, though I love this cute mushroom print:
Hope for summer sunny weather, but have some warmer layers and rain gear on standby. At the very least, bring an emergency poncho and stash a wooly jumper and wellies in your tent.
Swimsuits are great if your children are over eight. Take a dip in the lake at Henham Park, or try your hand at paddleboarding.
I really enjoyed having my wellies to slip on for the morning trek to the toilets and coffee pick up. Just as quick as flip flops without adding another layer of dust to your feet. These ones from Joules are a good price and come in lots of different colours and patterns.
Wet Wipes and Tissues
Keep some wet wipes on hand for the many and varied ways kids end up in a mess. Biodegradable is the way to go. Tissues are also a good idea just in case of a toilet emergency. I never encountered an understocked toilet at Latitude, but no one wants to be in a port-a-loo and discover there’s no toilet roll.
Clean your hands quickly and avoid coming home sick. This is an easy add to your day bag that you’ll definitely use.
Paracetamol (American: acetaminophen/Tylenol)
Even if your family camping adventure doesn’t involve as much drinking as younger you might have enjoyed, there are still plenty of ways to get a headache. Stay hydrated (with water) and bring this along just in case. I’d recommend bringing the dissolvable or chewy tabs for kids if your child would rather die than swallow a pill.
Portable Phone Charger
Camping means you can’t just plug your devices in at the wall each night. Keep your phone going with a portable charger like this one by Anker that’s compatible with most phone brands.
Most Important Family Tips for Latitude Festival
- Kids 12 and under enter with a much cheaper Child ticket – bring age proof if your child looks older
- The comedy tent is routinely adult-themed – so decide in advance whether you’re comfortable with what your kid may hear there
- Arrive early for the best selection of camping spots in the family camping fields
- Let yourselves wander – there’s no need to overschedule yourself or your kids
- Talk to your kids about what to do if they get lost, and make sure younger children have your phone number on them somewhere
Most importantly – have fun! This is different from many other family events and is a great way to learn more about your kids while having fun at the same time.