Danielle Wright finds plenty of enjoyment for the kids at the summer music events.

Life with kids can be so structured. It's good to show children that sometimes people do things "just for fun" and there's no place like a music festival for showcasing the lighter side of life. We've picked a few family-friendly festival options.


Take the kids to New Zealand's longest-running music festival, Parachute. There's a focus on local talent and this year, there's the option of "glamping", which means that when you arrive the tent is already put up and ready - a parent's dream.

Parachute is drug and alcohol-free, creating a safe environment for families and there's a family camping area with noise restrictions from 11pm. For primary school children, there's also a supervised kids' programme running from 8.30am on Saturday and Sunday, finishing at 3pm.


As well as music by the likes of Stan Walker, Dave Dobbyn and Ruby Frost, there's also a line-up of Christian speakers. One, pro-skater Christian Hosoi, was once one of the greatest skaters in the world before falling from grace and serving time in prison for drug trafficking. He has since devoted his life to Christianity.

Older kids will love the return of the skate park, resurrected in Hosoi's honour, which will feature skate crews. Because of its squeaky clean image, Parachute is possibly the best music festival to let your older teenagers go to on their own.

Mystery Creek Events Centre, Hamilton, Waikato, January 24-26.

Splore is more than a music festival - expect cinemas powered by bicycles and a tin hut transforming into a steam-punk time machine, and everything in between. Anything goes and this year the festival is celebrating its 10th year, having started life as an underground New Year's Eve festival.

"We love having kids at the festival," says Amanda Wright, founder and festival director of Splore.

"A lot of our original audience now have their own kids so it's been a natural progression and the family-friendly aspect is one of our unique points. It's something we're really proud of."

Charlie's Rumpus Room provides free activities and entertainment for kids and their adults. It's not a babysitting service, but will provide giant bubble making workshops, LED lantern building, circus skills lessons from the Blingling Brothers, UV play dough, interactive storytelling, the creation of a fruit orchestra and turning kids into synthesisers.

There are also theatrical performances and street theatre.

The family camping area is tucked away for a quieter evening experience. It's just 70km from Auckland.

"The kids become completely absorbed in all the things on offer," says Amanda.

"It's a safe environ ment and a great family weekend away. It's the kids who often tell their parents: 'We can't not go to Splore!"'

Tapapakanga Regional Park, February 14-16.
Tropfest NZ Short Film Festival

Get into shorts in Taranaki this summer with the world's largest short film festival, Tropfest. It's an international festival with big-name support from the likes of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. This is the second event to be held in New Zealand.

"It's a stunning outdoor event with a sound shell in front of a lake," says Tui Ruwhiu, one of last year's finalists. "Any of the films' contents can be watched by children and there are lots of families picnicking in the late afternoon."

There will be documentaries, comedies, dramas and animated shorts, which a panel will judge live under the stars. Watch films from past festivals on youtube.com/tropfest. Inspire the kids with the short film from 13-year-old Taranaki boy Kalind Hutchinson.

TSB Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth, February 16, 6.30pm.

Womad is celebrating its 10th year in Taranaki with an eclectic mix of artists including Arrested Development, Kimbra, Tim Finn, Femi Kuti and The Bads.

"We have had kids coming here since they were really small. It's quite amazing really because they're so used to the diversity and are now so knowledgeable about world music," says Womad business manager Chris Herlihy. "Womad is a three-generation festival where people often bring their children and their parents."

Children are welcome at music festivals around the country including Womad, above and below, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Taranaki this year. Photo / Michael Flynn
Children are welcome at music festivals around the country including Womad, above and below, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Taranaki this year. Photo / Michael Flynn

There's a family area in the campground, and a Kidzone offering workshops, such as acrobatics, dance and costume making. The weekend festival stops early on Sunday evening for the children's parade, where the kids get to show off their creative efforts.

There's also children's entertainment, a rock climbing wall and face painting.

If that's not enough, there's also the Brooklands Zoo, featuring farmyard animals, frogs, fish, otters, meerkats, monkeys and a walk-through aviary.

"But there's always a time during the festival that you'll discover an artist you've never heard of that rocks your world. It's a moment of joy, really," says Chris.

TSB Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth, March 14-16.
Music in Parks

From Whangaparaoa to Waiuku, Huia to Maraetai, the Auckland Council is again putting on free music in our beautiful parks. Most of the events are in the afternoon from 2 or 3pm, a good time slot for the kids to enjoy the music from a choice of jazz and swing through to rock, blues, opera, alt-country, dub-reggae and more.

Pack a picnic and choose a concert at a park with a good playground for the kids, in case they aren't so interested in the performances - try Pt England, Little Oneroa, Jellicoe Park, Stanmore Bay Park, David Lange Park, Grey Lynn Park or Huapai Domain.

Most of the concerts also offer coffee and ice cream vans and there are more food options at larger concerts in Nixon Park, Henderson and Three Kings. Try out concerts such as the Latino/Mariachi events, which the kids enjoy and remember to follow your own interests - your kids will no doubt be into similar things, until they're teenagers.

January 11-March 22.
Movies in Parks

Take in a movie for free on a Friday or Saturday evening all over Auckland, thanks to the Movies in Parks programme. Roll out a rug for a summer picnic to see adventure, comedy and romance films under the stars.

If you want to keep the kids up later, there are plenty of family-friendly options such as We Bought a Zoo, Monsters University, The Muppets, Ice Age 4, Hugo and Wreck It Ralph. Ice Age: Continental Drift at Monte Cecilia Park, Hillsborough on Friday, January 31 will also have a family fun day at Pah Homestead, TSB Wallace Arts Centre prior to this event - starting 4.30pm. Naturally, all movies will have coffee, icecream and popcorn available.

January 24 to end of March.