Wine Country Music Festivals with Kids {How to Do it Right}

Wine Country Music Festivals with Kids {How to Do it Right}

The Spring and Summer music festivals are almost here in Wine Country. While the word "music" is in the title, these festivals are about so much more than just a band playing on the stage. Festivals today offer a variety of experiences including food, wine, craft beer, games, shopping, and sometimes even -- kids activities. This is the perfect opportunity for kid-toting parents who love being on the go to enjoy themselves (I am talking to the millennials, who would rather get the gift of experiences vs “stuff”, as well as grandparents wanting to bring their grandchildren to summer music fests in their town).

With a bit of extra preparation, parents, grandparents and kids can enjoy many of the music festivals coming to Wine Country this year.

Music Festivals Happening in Wine Country:

Let’s start off at BottleRock Napa Valley in May (SOLD OUT). Pretty much everyone (including grandma) LOVES Bruno Mars, and the entire venue is one big playground for SF hipsters. There are sponsored wine areas with photo booths and props, as well as 4 stages, including the new culinary stage. Okay, kids may not care what Martha Stewart and Macklemore are cooking, but I can tell you from experience - it was delicious.

Kids are allowed at (and encouraged to attend) this festival. In years past, I have seen parents lug around Radio Flyer wagons filled with kids, backpacks, and toys. There's also a 12 and under play area located a good distance away from the crowds for kids to break away and have some fun. Pro Tip: Bring a blanket and set up in the back of the grassy area so your family doesn’t get trampled.

Froggy 92.9’s Country Summer is happening at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in June. Many kids attend this festival, and there are games like cornhole at the booths by the entrance. Two years, the weather was HOT (over 100 degrees), and there was little shade. But last year it was cooler… So, plan ahead, bring layers and lots of sunscreen! The food is all fair-style food, so make sure to pack a homemade lunch (here are some details on what you can bring on their website), including empty water bottles.

This year Tim McGraw is headlining on Saturday, so start playing “I Like It, I Love It” now so your kids can sing along… Just like you did with friends in high school (at least, that’s what my friends and I did when we saw Tim McGraw 3 times in the span of 2 years).

In the town of Sonoma, the Huichica Music Festival at Gundlach Bundschu Winery is VERY kid-friendly. The June music festival features 30 indie musical acts, Sonoma Valley wines, craft beer from Lagunitas, and food trucks. There's also a designated kids area with bubbles, chalk, cornhole, boats made out of corks, and a grassy hill to run around on. Everything a kid could ever want!

Other Music Festivals in Wine Country to Bring Your Kids: 

The lineup for the Green Music Center’s Summer on the Green is here. This event is always kid-friendly, with great prices for lawn tickets. There's also a giant hill of green grass, water bottle stations, and a laid-back vibe. You can even bring your own picnic! These shows are great to bring kids to and I know this firsthand because Weird Al Yankovic was Ryeson’s first concert when he was nine months old!

If you're not into large crowds, insane parking, and/or paying money to go to a music festival, there are always smaller shows to check out in Sonoma and Napa County. Healdsburg on the Square and Sonoma Farmers Markets are both on Tuesday nights and kid-friendly. The Windsor Town Green on Thursdays is a blast for all ages. And Fridays at Napa City Nights is family fun for everyone. They all start their concert series in May.

There are also a few music festivals at wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties this year. However, they're usually 21+, so make sure to check your favorite wineries for info before you head out to any winery concerts. 

Tips for bringing your kids to a Music Festival:

  1. Prepare beforehand. Check the weather and take a look at the music festival's website to see what you can and cannot bring. Most concerts allow a wagon and an empty plastic water bottle that you can refill. Bring sunblock, and if snacks are allowed, pack a stash in case the kids get hungry. And if you have a portable battery to charge your phone, bring it.

  2. Location, location, location. The closer you are to the stage, the crazier things can get. I never thought I'd say this, but please don't bring your baby into a mosh pit. Put out a blanket at the back of the lawn and enjoy the setting with your family.

  3. Food - know what's available. If you know your kids are picky, scope out the food vendors when you get there. You can  even purchase something early on before the lines get too insane. When you have a screaming kid on your hands, the last thing you want is to be waiting in line for an hour.

  4. Don’t forget to take care of yourself! Put sunscreen on your kid, and make sure to add some to your face as well. Drink lots of water because being out in the sun all day with family can easily dehydrate you.

  5. Check out everything the festival has to offer. Festivals are becoming more about the experience than just the music. Take advantage of that.

  6. Stay safe. Spend a few minutes talking to your kids (and the adults who are with you) about what to do if they're lost. Find the information booth, or set a designated spot for them to go if the situation occurs.

  7. Remember, if you have to leave early because of a tantrum - it isn’t the end of the world. Just be sure to take precautions and be as prepared as possible so that your kids are not ready to go before Bruno Mars even starts.

*Main image of Old Dominion at Country Summer 2016 via Country Summer team.

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