A Parent’s Guide to Music Festivals

Pro tips for festival families

As a lover of live music and father of two young girls, I’ve come to terms with the fact that heading out to multiple shows a week is no longer the most viable option. Of course there are exceptions and some shows are simply can’t-miss, but they are few and far between.

Field Trip Music & Arts Festival is back again for its fourth year at Fort York & Garrison Common and understands, better than any festival, the struggle of parents with young children who still want to experience great live music in a setting that is suitable for kids. Field Trip allows parents to not only introduce their kids to some of today’s most exciting indie artist, but also provides a complete program stream for kids, specifically. The TD Day Camp is chalk full of programming, including intimate performances by Field Trip artists on the kid’s stage, free games, arts, and activities that will keep your kids occupied while you soak up the sun and enjoy that tall can to the sounds of your favourite band.

Like any excursion with kids, bringing them to a music festival requires some serious planning. Here are some pro-tips:

Make sure it’s kid friendly

Not all festivals are like Field Trip. Do some research to see if the venue has facilities and programming that are appropriate for young ones.

A photo posted by arkellsmusic (@arkellsmusic) on


Protect those ears

Little Johnny or Suzy has sensitive ears – very sensitive. Don’t mess with that. Invest in some kid’s specific over-ear headphones.

A photo posted by Ashley Bowers (@bowers_) on


Timing is everything

Besides planning around naps, which should be obvious, make sure you arrive at the right time. Know when the kids activities and music that is appropriate for their ears is happening. Also, avoid the encores and leave early. You’ll thank me for this and any enjoyment you’ll get from that last slow jam is quickly destroyed by the ensuing meltdown that occurs in the slow procession out of the venue.

A photo posted by FIELD TRIP (@fieldtriplife) on


Buy Something

Save a few extra bucks and get your kid a souvenir. A t-shirt is a great option and they’ll have something cool to remember the experience fondly, which bodes well for bringing them to future music events.

A photo posted by Arts & Crafts (@artsandcrafts) on


Bring a Stroller

While super annoying to some people and yourself, you’ll need this if your kids are still wee. Nothing beats your kid taking a mid-day nap in the stroller (with headphones) while you enjoy your favourite band from a safe distance.

A photo posted by MeltemC (@meltemce55) on


Take Turns

If your partner is cool with it, take turns on kid duty. Alternate and take 30 minutes to catch your favourite band solo or with some buds.

A photo posted by Kimmi (@kimmijkth) on



Again, this is obvious but should not be overlooked. Get everything sorted the night before: a blanket, hats for you and the kids, sunscreen, a sweater for later in the evening (if you plan to stay that late), and some snacks in a cooler pack.

A photo posted by FIELD TRIP (@fieldtriplife) on


Have fun!