Families Guide to Sidmouth Folk Festival

Wondering how to keep the whole family happy this summer? Look no further!

‘Brilliant, a real treat for 3 generations of our family’

The Sidmouth Folk Festival really does have activities to entertain everyone – from your pre-schoolers to your older family friends and relatives. Whether you live to dance, enjoy traditional or new music, love a drama or just want to sit on the beach with an ice-cream, you will leave here counting down the days ‘til you can come back and do it all again next year.

That’s what our regulars tell us, and with multiple generations growing up at the Festival over the last 70 years, we believe them. To make it easier to enjoy the Festival as a family, this year we’ve made all tickets for Children 0-11 free, daytime family events free and reduced the price of youth tickets.

‘The children’s festival on Peacock was lovely, and the space was well thought out, space to chill and play as well as enjoy the workshops, my daughter loved singing hats and yoga.’

Things to do with younger children

If you are bringing young children, the Peacock Lawn is the place to be. A safe, secure and welcoming, bespoke family area where you can enjoy events and activities free of charge throughout the day. Bring a picnic and stay for the day, enjoying the lunchtime shows in the Star Marquee, or dip in and out when there’s something you particularly want to enjoy.

The Seagull and Peacock Marquees host all sorts of workshops to bring out your child’s creative side, immersing them in crafting, songwriting, dance, singing and more. Or just keep them happy and entertained for a while, making new friends and enjoying their summer holiday.

Activities and workshops are organised by age (4 years and under, 5-7 years, 8 years and over or for all the family) with some of them building up to a performance at the end of the week – Summer School at the Seaside with absolutely no cost involved!

The fun doesn’t stop as the sun goes down. The children’s festival includes daily early evening fun and laughter. This year, The Enchanted Garden will be home to an evening of storytelling, music and song, hosted by the mysterious Midnight Gardener and the fabulous Jackie Oates. Later in the week, you can strut your funky stuff at the Folk Funk Family Disco with The Oli Matthews Band and work out Where the Lost Socks Go with Under the Bed Theatre and their hilarious family show. And did we mention that the Spooky Men are back? If you’ve not seen them before, join us in anticipation of a hilarious evening of harmonies and humour. If you have seen them before, then you know to come early because they will be very, very popular.

… and for older Children & Teenagers

What are the perfect holiday ingredients for the teenagers in your life? Stuff to do? Friends their own age? ‘Me’ time away from the rest of the family before joining up for fun together? At Sidmouth Folk Festival, we’ve got you sorted.

Our Youth Festival is run by young people, for young people. Shooting Roots has been organising youth programmes for 30 years & Stream of Sound celebrate 25 this year – in fact many of the tutors and facilitators started out as participants in the Youth Festival, not that long ago. If your young people are aged 12 to 17 (ish) there are plenty of ways to get involved, find a festival friendship group, learn new skills, find new interests….. or just hang out on the beach and eat chips with like minded youngsters. The Youth Festival always ends with amazing showcase performances from newly formed bands, dance sides, choirs and theatre groups. As well as fond farewells up at Betsy’s at the Bulverton, a favourite haunt for young festival goers.

Click Here to Read more about the Youth Festival Programme 

Where to stay

The Campsite is the cost effective place for families to stay. Open from the Wednesday (31 July) before the festival until the following Saturday morning (10 August) it is the place where the festival buzz starts and finishes. It’s the place where young people cement their friendships; a hop, skip and (for the really energetic) jump from the popular Bulverton workshops, high energy dance evenings and the chill of Betsy’s. The campsite gives young people the freedom to come and go as they please in a safe and fun environment. Meaning you can choose to chill outside your tent with a book and a glass of something, with the absolute best view in town, out across the valley to the sea. Everyone has plenty of space – bring your gazebos and enjoy camping in this Area of Outstanding Beauty.

If you are camping with younger children there’s a designated quieter family camping area.

The campsite has all the facilities you need for your holiday. There are plenty of trailer
toilets, showers and washing up sinks, plus morning catering options at the Campsite Hub.

The town has lots of hotels and guest houses but they get booked up well in advance. If
you prefer the comfort of a bed and four walls, you might need to put yourself on a waiting list with Sweetcombe Cottages or at the local Tourist Info. But always try, it might be your lucky day or there might have been a cancellation.

Travel at the Festival 

The special Festival Bus Service runs all day – from 8am to 2am, traveling between town and the campsite every 20 minutes. A single trip is £3 (£1.50 Youth) but if you’re going to use it regularly then day or week passes are great value for money.

Book Week Bus Passes here (Children 0-11 go free)

For in town parking info check out more information here. The nearest car parks to the Children’s & Youth Festival venues are The Rugby Club or Cricket Club (both £10 per day, cash).

What’s cooking?

The campsite has facilities to treat yourself to a cooked breakfast and a cup of tea in the mornings, and the nearby Bulverton hosts Crazy Jalfrezi for evening food with a view.. If you are cooking up your own tasty treats, Sidmouth boasts a Tesco and a Co-op. And there’s a Waitrose just out of town that the festival bus visits every few trips (check when you get on whether the driver is going to Waitrose). Sidmouth enjoys all of the pubs, award winning chippies and fine dining that you would expect from a seaside town. You will be spoilt for choice.

 We do like to be beside the seaside!

What else to do at Sidmouth – build a sandcastle or go rock pooling of course! With a mix of sandy and pebble beaches, shady cliffs and holding a Blue Flag and Seaside Award for the fifth year running, Sidmouth & Jacob Ladder Beaches are perfect for seaside family fun. Check out the two free beach toy libraries for bucket, spades and more – just pop them back when you’re done for the next families to enjoy.

Make the most of the glorious sea with Jurassic Paddle Sports, they offer hire and classes for all abilities throughout the summer.

At the Ham Marquee there’s a large playground, a great spot for catching up with friends with a coffee or snack from our Ham caterers. Do also check out the newly revitalised Riverside Walkway – and head to the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) next to the Ham, for a pack to complete the Brass Rubbing Trail along the River Sid.

For indoor options – Sidmouth Swimming Pool have offer public swimming and family sessions, Sidmouth Museum is well worth a visit – check out their Museum Hunt – and Sidmouth Library is handily based just next to Peacock Lawn.

Quiet Time

At the Children’s Festival itself The Rainbow Tent in Peacock Lawn offers a quiet space to relax. For buggy naps – The Byes is a beautiful riverside walk with plenty of parkland.  Also check out the Knowle Parkland, on the road up to the Campsite, or Connaught Gardens for a spot for families to unwind.

What to Pack?

It can be very hot in the August sun during the day, most events at Peacock Lawn are in shade but picnic spots might not be – remember the sunscreen, reusable water bottles, hats and parasols for shade, and comfortable seating (blankets or folding chairs) to enjoy the daytime events comfortably. For those inevitable forgotten things, Sidmouth has a great choice of shops for all the essentials, and Blackmore Gardens has a great choice of refreshments. There are water points throughout the town. 

If you’re camping, it can get cold at night so remember to bring warm coats, sleeping bags, extra blankets and air beds to insulate you from the ground. ​​Also consider ear defenders for young folk, particularly if you’re heading up the hill to the Bulverton. 

Any Questions? Just get in touch. See you by the seaside!