This weekend in Hong Kong saw the music festival “Clockenflap” happening. Set up on the West Kowloon Cultural district, it runs for three days with a few stages.
We went as a family for the first time. I was a little apprehensive about taking T. Would it be too busy? Too loud? Would she be bored? Get tired quickly?
No, it turns out, partly because Clockenflap, like many festivals, is family friendly. There were 2 bouncy castles, kids activity area including lantern painting and slime. There was even a kiddie stage with musicians and children’s entertainers.
We also survived and enjoyed it as a family because of a couple of other things.
Here’s my guide for keeping little ones (and therefore, you) happy at a music festival:
1. Family Friendly Event? Even before you book your tickets check that there will be some family friendly or kids areas. If you have a baby, you don’t need to worry, but once you have toddlers or older, they will need entertaining. Being able to take them to play will extend the amount of time you can stay at the festival.
2. Pack Extras. OK, so you don’t want to carry tonnes of stuff around with you, but having a few key things on hand will avoid meltdowns: Include, SNACKS, spare clothes including warm / cool layers depending on the weather and how long you are planning to stay. Picnic blanket and soft blanket for naps and chilling time. Hand sanitizer, tissues and cloths/wet wipes. Did I mention snacks?
3. Safety: Go over the safety rules. We told T. that she had to stay near us all the time. We went over what to do if she got lost (answer: stay put until we come back to find her). Another thing to do (which we forgot) would be to put a card in a card holder around their neck saying “Help, I’m lost, please call this number:” with your number(s). Make sure they are easy to spot in a crowd – put them in bright, easy to describe, easy to recognise clothes.
4. Protect Their Ears: Concerts are loud and kids are much more sensitive to noise than we are so it might be worth investing in some hearing protective gear. There are lots out there, specifically designed for kids. Clockenflap had a stall selling them at the venue and I saw lots of babies and young children wearing them.
5. Bring Activities: Bring activities such as colouring or stickers for some down-time.
6. Light up the Night: Bring some toys that light up or flash for the evening. It will re-engerise flagging children. I’m not a fan of the one-use glow sticks, nor cheap plastic, battery opperated toys so next time I will try to find something more durable. Tough, I know in our throw-away society.
7. Keep to normal meal times: If they usually have supper at 6.00, line up at the food stalls in advance and have a more substantial meal for them at that time, even if they have been snacking all day.
8. Water, Water! Keep them hydrated. Bring your child’s water bottle and keep reminding them to drink. It’s easy to forget but will reduce bad moods and headaches.
9. Bring Your Wheels: Carrying a sleeping child is tiring, bringing your stroller (a heavy duty off-road one is best) will save your arms and also give the kids a calm cocoon if they get overstimulated or overwhelmed. It can also carry your bags!
10. Compromise and Tag-Team: Know that you won’t see everything. You brought the children? Let them have some kid time at the kid areas. We took it turns to take T to the kid area and to see music. Going with another family helps too as kids can play together and only one adult needs to be with them, freeing up the others to check out the bands. Pick 2 to 3 bands or performers that you ‘have to see’. Work out who will see what and when. Be prepared to leave early too, you never know how the kids will react to situations, so be flexible.
11. Set Up Camp: Find a nice spot and park yourselves. We set up our blanket on a grassy area of the main stage. Not near the front, but where we could still see. We kept that same spot all day so everyone knew where to come back to and we weren’t going backwards and forwards between different stages the whole time. This kept it relaxed.
Finally: Chill – sit, watch the world go by, chat, eat, and have fun! Relax the rules a bit: T. got a fake tatoo on her face. Fun for her and got her into the festival swing of things.