Camping at Deer Shed Festival with Kids

*We were provided with press review tickets

The Deer Shed Festival takes place near Thirsk, North Yorkshire in July and is one of the best family days out in North Yorkshire. This year's 9th festival conveniently fell on the first weekend of our school summer holidays and really was the perfect way to celebrate the end of the school year in style. The festival is all-singing, all-dancing with LOADS of activities and things to do for all ages - from tiny tots up to grandparents. I attended with Steve and Jack (7), Heidi (9) and Harry (11) who were the perfect age for the festival I think - old enough to stay up and enjoy some of the more grown-up bits and independent enough for us to not need 10 pairs of eyes in our head so we could relax too. Sitting listening to an acoustic guitar play with a pint of beer as the kids played and the sun shone was honestly the most chilled out I have felt in a long time. 

Family Camping at Deer Shed Festival 

Friday and Saturday night camping is included with your ticket price and you can pay a fee on arrival to stay on Sunday night too (I think it was £50) if you'd like to extend your stay. We travelled down to Thirsk straight from school on Friday and were there for around 5:30pm (the traffic on the A1 was pretty bad thanks to it being the first day of the school holidays and rush hour all at once). We parked in the overflow car park and decided to hire a trolley from Mr Trolley. They'd set up a booth at the car park exit and I would 100% recommend you hire a trolley if you don't have one of your own. It made transporting our luggage 1000% easier and only cost us £5 - well worth it! You can hire the trolley for the full weekend for £50 if you have little kids to cart around. We stayed in our Coleman Cabral 5 tent with blackout bedrooms which is perfect for a weekend.

The campsite was pretty full by the time we arrived and I was worried we'd have a repeat of Glasto 2010 where we had to literally wedge our tent between the long drops and another tent - not a good experience! Thankfully the helpful volunteers directed us to the far corner of the field where there was plenty of space to set up our tent. We were right by a mini welfare tent, a water point and some loos too so it was a pretty good spot. There was so much room around our tent that kids could play football where as the campers that had set up earlier in the day seemed to be closer together so if anything, arriving later was a blessing in disguise.

We found camping at the festival to be well organised - there was a nice community feel, minimal noise from the festival after the headliners had played and kids in the surrounding tents didn't seem to wake up until 7:30am which wasn't too bad at all. There's a no glass on-site rule but you can take your own food and drink (including alcohol) to consume although alcohol you've brought from home isn't allowed inside of the arena. I would say, you can never have enough food - pack as much as you can carry as the kids will be forever-hungry and buying food on-site soon mounts up. There are free water points on-site, showers to use and plenty of bins. The loos weren't the worst I've ever been in but there were huge queues in the morning - we once waited 30 minutes which isn't ideal when you have little kids so I'd recommend packing a potty even if your kids have long since been potty trained. When you've got to go, you've got to go! I tended to wake up at around 6am (thanks cows) and there were no queues at this time - it was mostly 7am-9am when it was busy. There was plenty of loo roll in the morning but they always seemed to run out by the evening so take some tissues for your bag. 

Relaxing at Deer Shed Festival 

We're a pretty chilled out family and the kids aren't fans of me booking them onto loads of activities so we spent most of our days just sitting in our camping chairs and listening to live music with a drink in hand. From acoustic sets on the pallet stage to louder performances on the main stage and then several other tents/stages dotted about the festival plus walk-about bands - I felt SO relaxed at Deer Shed and wish I could actually bottle that feeling up!

Food at Deer Shed Festival

We're a family who LOVES our food and we were in foodie heaven at Deer Shed. Eating at festivals is expensive but with so many good options on offer it's too tempting to resist. We spent around £250 on food and drink for the 5 of us on Friday night and Saturday (Steve and I didn't drink excessively and the kids just had juice we'd brought from home apart from one slush). There were loads of Vegan and Vegetarian options and maybe 30 stalls altogether. Snack-type food was priced around £5 with more substantial meals being £8/£9. There were always charges for extra toppings etc... and it soon mounted up. We didn't mind paying it though if I'm honest. 

Poutine £5.50

Stonebaked Pizza - £7

Scotch Egg Breakfast Meal - £8

Churros and Chocolate Sauce - £6

Mac and Cheese - £7

Greek Chicken Gyro - £7

There is a ban on the sale of plastic bottles on site and I loved the festival's beer policy - you buy a (plastic) glass for £2 with your first round and then hand it back when you buy your next drink - the glass is then replaced with a new one free of charge and yours is washed and re-used. Then at the end of the festival you can ask to replace your glass with a souvenier Deer Shed glass for that year - this system worked really well and was a great way to cut down on landfill. Pints were an eye-watering £4.80 each so it was £10 a round for Steve and I. Yikes!

Pint of San Miguel - £4.80 
Free Activities at Deer Shed Festival 

I was a little shocked at all of the additional charges at Deer Shed festival - it was £10 to buy a programme on arrival, £15 to park, £2.95 to withdraw cash and then most of the bookable activities seemed to have a £ next to them which meant they were chargeable. This hasn't really happened with festivals I've attended in the past where we've maybe only had to pay extra for face painting or fairground rides. Most activities seemed to be priced at around £3-£5 which wasn't too bad but again, with three kids it does mount up. There are a fantastic range of activities on offer from soldering to creating dream catchers, canoeing and tree climbing. There's something for everyone and you really could not get bored. After the initial shock of realising many activities were available for an additional cost, I realised that there were actually lots of free activities too - more than enough to keep us busy.

I was actually really impressed with the free activities on offer - with the exception of the science tent which was extremely busy when we visited, all of the volunteers/staff members were so friendly and welcoming and I loved that we could just drop in and try such a wide range of activities. Heidi and I learned how to make a proper friendship bracelet in one tent and sat and finished ours outside whilst listening to some music and the boys created their very own cardboard air guitar.

There were fairground rides (paid) plus free swingball sets near the main stage which kept the kids entertained whilst we listened to the music - we spent an hour having a proper swingball tournament (which I did not win - it turns out my co-ordination is not what it used to be!) and there was also a dedicated sports field with LOADS of games and sports on offer.

Personally, I loved the WilderWild section of the festival which was kind of hidden away in the woods. Here they had lots of traditional activities on offer. Most were paid (£3-£4) but there were also plenty of free activities such as tree climbing, campfire songs and clay making which Heidi and Jack both really enjoyed. We also had the opportunity to meet some gorgeous Newfoundland dogs who were here raising funds on behalf of their charity.

Festivals are tiring even if you do feel like you're simply relaxing and I liked that the camping field was pretty close to the arena (less than a 10 minute walk to the furthest point where we were) and we managed to sneak back for an hour nap before the evening on Saturday. 

Evening Entertainment at Deer Shed Festival  

As the sun set, the volume of the music being played seemed to increase but there were still quieter pockets in the festival such as story-telling, outdoor theatre, cinema and a hay bale play area. We're huge comedy fans and on both Friday and Saturday night we decided to head to the big top which was definitely the best decision for us. Whoever is in charge of booking did an excellent job as all of the comedians were absolutely spot-on for the audience. It wasn't a lame comedy show for kids at all. There was swearing, references to drugs, sex and politics but it was done in such a way that the kids in the audience seemed to just be part of it and it was never overly offensive. Rachel Parris and James Acaster were both absolutely hilarious on Saturday and the tent was packed out. Abandoman and James Acaster both went off script and just worked the room in a way that only the best comedians can. I'd have paid £30+ to watch these shows alone and our three loved it too. I think they secretly enjoyed the grown-up nature of the jokes.

The comedy ended at around 9:30pm so on Friday we headed to the main stage afterwards where we danced the night away and really let our hair down in a way that you only can at a festival.

If you want to get more of a feel for the festival, check out my video below: 

Final thoughts

We absolutely loved Deer Shed festival. There is so much to see and do and I reckon we only covered 2% of it all. Whether you're a sporty family, a music-loving family, a family who loves to watch comedy, a crafty family or a family who likes to just chill out and take each hour as it comes - you could never be bored at Deer Shed. We'd love to return next year and I'd remember to bring extra cash and maybe book onto a couple of activities. I'd also probably bring a little more food with us to keep the cost down as buying quite a bit of food and drink on site did make it an expensive weekend for us. 

I'd recommend this festival to all ages - the toddlers in attendance seemed to be having a great time and they have their own dedicated tent as well as being able to take part in most of the other activities. We spotted a fair few families with younger teens too and Goldfrapp on Saturday night felt like a proper festival gig with strobe lighting and lots of noise and plenty of dancing. I think Deer Shed would be a great festival to visit with tweens and younger teens and give them their first taste of UK festivals as Deer Shed never felt childish to me (although it was obviously child-friendly).

For us, Deer Shed was the absolute best way to start the holidays. We had such a relaxing time with the kids (yet also returned home knackered - how does that work?) and I'm sure we'll be talking about our highlights and jokes from the weekend in years to come.

Deer Shed Festival announced on their Facebook page that Deer Shed 10 will take place at the slightly later date of 26 - 28 July next year meaning most families won't need to leave straight from school. Tickets will go on sale at 10am on 6th September - set your alarm!

If you're looking for some tips for visiting next year, check out these posts:

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Camping at Deer Shed Festival with Kids



  1. This looks like so much fun! The food looks delicious, especially those churros!!!

  2. What an excellent review! Really balanced and informative. I feel like I’ve had a real insight into the festival now and know everything I need to know. I’ll definitely look at visiting this next year now. I think my two will love it. Best review I’ve read in ages! It’s even given me food for thought for the festival we are going to in August. I love the idea of the trolley hire place!

  3. £250 on food! My goodness.

  4. It looks so fun and I'm very jealous about your flower crowns!

  5. It looks like you all had a great time, I am not a festival or camping type of person but if I was I would book this as I know my kids would love it.I had never heard of the Deer Shed festival before reading this. Heidi really suits the festival look with the flower crown and heart glasses, very cool xx


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