Tips for Attending Summer Festivals with Little Ones

My partner and I love to take our 2 year old little girl to summer festivals. We live in Columbus, Ohio and there are festivals everywhere. Some of our favorites are:

Komen Race for the Cure – This is not technically a festival but we love to go every year.


Columbus Arts Festival

Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival

Jazz and Rib Festival

Circleville Pumpkin Show

Going to the festivals is great fun, but with proper planning we have learned how to save money, time and energy while having fun at the same time.

Here are some general tips:

Make a list of things you need. Here is our general list – plastic tarp, blanket (s), food, drinks, sunscreen, bug spray (child-friendly please), water, cooler, ice, change of clothes for toddler, diapers, a few toys, stroller, baby wipes

Parking Parking is sometimes a challenge at festivals. Try to arrive early. We have been going to these festivals for a few years so we have found places to park which are lesser known to others. We are also not afraid to take a public bus if necessary. The most important thing to remember when choosing a parking spot is how easy will it be to get out at the end of the festival? Since we have a toddler, we usually try to arrive before noon so we can do some activities and then she will nap on our blanket area. We then usually leave pretty early.

Choose a good spot. When we get to the festival, we look for a place to put put down our tarp, blankets and chairs. We look for a place that has some shade, other families close by, and we can see the entertainment. We do not leave anything valuable on our spot.

Food and Drinks A festival can be an enjoyable and affordable experience if you bring your own food and drinks. If you do not, be prepared to stand in long lines, spend a lot of money on food and drinks, and sometimes the vendors even run out of food and/or drinks. Come prepared. We usually bring food and drinks but also plan to purchase a specialty item from the festival. For instance, we bring our side dishes to the Jazz and Ribs fest, but buy a slab of ribs.

What to Pack We try to bring food that is healthy but I’ve found if we bring food that is not appealing we will be more likely to want to purchase the festival food and not eat our food. We like to bring sandwiches (cut in quarters), grapes, cup up cheese, yogurt, goldfish or wholegrain crackers, apples, oranges, juice and soy milk boxes, and water.

Restrooms Restrooms are typically porta-potties. Look for restrooms that are not in the main area. They tend to be cleaner. Take baby wipes with you. If you have small child who is potty training, you can bring disposable potty seat protectors. They can be purchased at Babies R Us. But I have actually found that they are not very effective and very expensive. I prefer to bring a small baggie of Clorox (or similar) wipes and wipe down the toilet seat and any other areas my daughter will be tempted to touch. To be honest though, if you are afraid of germs, public festivals are not the thing for you.

Purchasing items at the festival Although you may technically bargain for prices, remember that you are supporting local artists when you purchase items directly from artists at festivals.

Have fun this summer and check out a festival!!!