Festival camping rarely means a good night's sleep. Whether it’s thumping music from the main stage or the noisy neighbours clambering into their tent at four AM, quiet isn't likely. The good news is that, while festival organisers may crowd their meadows with tents, toilets and cold showers, some of the top events in the UK have lesser known camping options nearby. Think peace, quiet and clean toilet facilities – a genuine family campsite where you can recharge before another day of glee.
With the official arrival of festival season, we’ve asked the authors of The Cool Camping Guide to Festivals for their pick of the best secret festival campsites. Each campground is within a 10-minute drive of the festival site, so you can dance all day, sleep all night and be guaranteed not to wake up in a mud bath.
The world’s most famous music festival seems to get bigger every year but beyond the boundaries of Worthy Farm and across the fields, family-friendly Greenacres Camping couldn’t feel further from the noise. Campfires are allowed, there are bikes available to hire and, though the meadow is huge, there’s a maximum of 40 tents allowed at any one time.
5-minute drive, 1-hour walk (Red Entrance). £20 per night for a tent and 2 people.
Just down the road from Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire, where Wilderness Festival is held on the first weekend of August, this small campsite has two meadows flanked by pine trees. Campfires are permitted, the washroom facilities are newly built and there’s even a little kitchen space you can use. The market town of Charlbury lies between the campsite and the festival, so you can stock up on supplies en route.
5-minute drive, 45-minute walk. £18 per night for a tent and 2 people
On the Isle of Purbeck, near Corfe Castle, Lulworth Cove and Swanage Bay, Camp Bestival finds itself in a thoroughly popular holiday location and, as a result, there are plenty of good camping alternatives nearby. This tiny, basic campsite is one of the closest, with hens scratching at the entrance and providing fresh eggs for your breakfast. If it’s full, expansive Woodyhyde Campsite is a few minutes further down the road.
10–15-minute drive. £15 per night for a tent and 2 people.
Just a stone’s throw from Boardmasters, which takes over the beaches and the vibrant surf town of Newquay, this peaceful campsite is moments from the main festival site. Pets are welcome, campfires are allowed and there’s a beautiful stream running around one edge of the camping meadow. There are glamping options, too – a safari tent, a pod and a newly converted mobile library – and the toilets have won awards for their cleanliness.
5-minute drive, 30-minute walk. £23 per night for a tent and 2 people.
On the last weekend of July, WOMAD (World of Music, Arts & Dance) takes over the Charlton Park Estate in Wiltshire for one of the UK’s most diverse music festivals. It’s a particularly family friendly affair and, for those on the hunt for a local spot to camp with the kids, nearby Rouselands Farm is ideal. There are just 10 pitches, so peace and quiet is guaranteed, and the recently refurbished washblock has everything you need. Campfires and BBQs are allowed and there’s a basic kitchen space.
10-minute drive. £12.75 for a tent and 2 people.
Described by the BBC as “one of the most family-friendly festivals around”, Larmer Tree in Wiltshire’s Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been running for almost 30 years and headliners continue to go from strength to strength. A short drive away, Maple Field Camping, on the other hand, is as new as they come, having opened for the first time this May. Facilities are relatively basic but campfires are allowed and it has a wonderfully homespun feel. Larmer Tree Gardens, where the festival is held, also hosts folk-rock-focused The End of the Road Festival on the first weekend of September.
15-minute drive. £20 per night for a tent and 2 people.
This established campsite on the Isle of Wight has two expansive meadows in which to pitch and, unusually for a family-run campsite, an outdoor swimming pool in which to cool off. There’s good access to off-road cycling routes, if you fancy pedalling the seven miles to the festival, as well as down to the beach at Shanklin. Facilities are clean, there’s good WiFi and pets are allowed. Campfires, sadly, are not.
15-minute drive. From £12.50 for a tent and 2 people.
Shambala is a small but diverse festival that indulges in a little politics and cultural debate along with the usual fare of music, dance and revelry. The location of the festival is kept closely under wraps (directions are only provided once you have your tickets) but our carefully protected sources have it in good confidence that Brook Meadow Farm – a beautiful, lakeside campsite – is just 10 minutes down the road. It’s peaceful, well priced and campfires are allowed, plus, if you have time before heading back to the festival, you can even do a spot of fishing.
10-minute drive. From £18 for a tent and 2 people.
This independent festival has scooped a hefty handful of UK Festival Awards in the last few years and owes a lot to its scenic setting in the heart of the Cotswolds. There are plenty of decent campsites nearby but Far Peak, six miles East, is the pick of the bunch, with acres of space, a healthy attitude to campfires and an excellent on-site café (plus glamping domes and tipis for lazier festival goers).
15-minute drive. From £15 for a tent and 2 people.
This tiny but much lorded festival is Somerset’s antidote to the great scale of nearby Glastonbury. The Sunday Times name it as “the bargain of the festival season” but if the 5,000-capacity limit is still too busy for you then Batcombe Vale Campsite is just down the road. There are just 30 pitches in total, with excellent facilities and a little lake you can go boating on. Big groups and noisy types aren’t welcome at the campsite, though, so this is strictly for the most peaceful of family festival attendees.
5–10-minute drive, 30–40-minute walk. £28 for a tent and 2 people.
Have fun in the fields this summer!