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'Should we just sit at home twiddling our thumbs just because we have children?'

Should people have to hang up their wellie boots just because they have kids?

Lollapalooza Source: Associated Press

IS THERE ANYTHING better than being at a music festival when the tent is up, it’s not raining (preferably) and you’re lying on the grass listening to a great band.

But what if you are a parent? Should you hang up your wellie boots and call it a day on the festival scene? 

Electric Picnic is on this weekend and if you’re lucky enough to have gotten one of those golden tickets, you will have noticed these little festival goers amongst you.

The festival prides itself on being just as welcoming to families as it is to the group of twenty-somethings who want to enjoy the weekend.

However, many people ask why would parents choose to bring their kids along?

KIDDIES AREA AT PICNIC 1 (1)

The loud music, the crowds, the drunk people — where’s the attraction?

Writer Eleanor Fitzsimons has been bringing her children to the festival for years and says they have a great experience every time.

Parents are just people (in case you didn’t know) and they are fans of music too.

The first time Fitzsimons brought her kids it was because there was a band due to play that she and her husband just could not miss.

“The Sex Pistols were on that year and we thought it would be great to see them. How can we do it, we thought. I suppose we should just go and bring the kids with us, my husband said.”

5/9/2009 Electric Picnic Music festivals Source: /Photocall Ireland

I didn’t know what to expect on the first day that we arrived down to the site. We wandered into the the family campsite and there was loads for the kids. There’s a walled garden set up, workshops, jugglers and face painting, you could spend a huge amount of time there. It gently eased us into the festival. I just thought it was so comfortable and well organised.

This year Soul Kids, a unique children’s area, will be situated in the Walled Gardens.

On it’s website, Electric Picnic says Soul Kids is a “celebration of nature, creativity and all things magical, a space dedicated solely to children and their families”.

KIDDIES AREA LITTLE BOY (1) Source: Electric Picnic

But what about when you head into the crowds of the main venue?

Fitzsimons explains that in their first year there with the family, one of her children was just two years old, the other aged six.

Of course, going into a large crowd with your kids can be nerve-wracking. You can’t exactly head into a massive crowd or up the front of the main stage. I had a buggy with me, so we were just happy to hold back.

Mishaps do happen, like they do with children no matter where you are, she explains.

There was one instance when we were in Mindfield at the science exhibition. My two-year-old got his thumb wedged in a Coca-Cola can. There was a lot of blood, but we brought him over to the first aid area, he was patched up and back out enjoying himself.

The safety measures at the festival is something Fitzsimons said she found reassuring.

Children attending must be registered by parents before attending. Wristbands are supplied to children upon arrival with the parent’s mobile phone numbers.

28/8/2012 Hotpoint and Barnardos Bring Home Comfor Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

“Of course there is a fear there that one of your kids will run off into the crowds, but the wristbands are great and parents are told that if there is an issue, go straight to one of the stewards, who will radio the control centre and gardaí.”

In the first year attending, Fitzsimons said they stayed for the main acts and then headed back to campsite before things got messy.

Most people I have encountered have said really positive things to us about bringing the children. People have come up to us and said: ‘You’re amazing, I wish my parents brought me to festivals when I was younger’.

However, she said there have been some negative reactions over the years.

Some people have come up and said ‘why the hell would you want to bring your kids here’ and been really negative towards us. I would just ask them, what is the alternative? Should we just sit at home twiddling our thumbs just because we have children?

31/8/2014. Electric Picnic Music Festivals Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

“Of course you are limited in what you can do at a festival when you have children, but as they get older the children get a lot more into the music and want to see the bands they like too.”

The last time she attended, the children were aged 12 and 8.

“They really enjoyed the Body&Soul area. It’s just a chilled out area for them. The craft village was also a hit with them. There is tons for them to do at that age. We got to see a blacksmith workshop, which they loved. It’s ideal for children at that age.”

Children are only permitted with adults under the age of 12, but Fitzsimons said she hopes to go back with her children when her eldest is old enough to attend.

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“I’m sure he will want to go in his own right one day, but it really is ideal for families. There is nothing to fear and parents shouldn’t have to give up on seeing their favourite bands just because they have children. It really can be a family affair.”

Expressive Arts Ireland.JPG 4

Soul Kids events taking place at Electric Picnic include:

  • The Big Dig (School of Irish Archaeology) will give children the opportunity to experience what it is like to be an archaeologist for the day by learning how to excavate the remains of a Viking house. Designed for children from 5-12 years of age. 
  • Dog & String Puppet Theatre Azal the artist introduces the landscape of the forest in this new production from Dog and String Theatre. With help from the audience he creates a picture of the environment they are about to enter. This interactive and comical show is for children aged 4-10 years incorporating storytelling, traditional glove puppetry and life sized puppets.
  • Earth Force Education with Ciara Hinksman aims to make Forest School and nature available to all. They will forage for wild plants, learn about the lives of the birds, explore den building, woodland crafts and there will be time for reflection. They will experience methods to give children and adults confidence and ways to feel more at home in nature while building on curiosity for the natural world and nature awareness.
  • ReCreate - where young and old can be curious, creative and inventive together. Our artists will be there to help you make and shake your way through endless possibilities with an exciting array of unusual reuse materials from ReCreates ‘Warehouse of Wonders’ to help make something wonderful to take home as a memory of Electric Picnic 2015!

For more information and for times visit the website here.

Here’s a map, in case you’ve lost yours:

Electric Picnic 2015_Sitemap_Portrait-01

Read: Here are all the stage times you’ll need for Electric Picnic 2015>

Read: Do You Even Know Who You’re Seeing At Electric Picnic?>

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