Why Would You Bring Your Child to a Beer Festival?
He stood on the bench with about five of his friends, lederhosen on. Massive beer in hand. He couldn’t have been more than 18 and will almost certainly be behind the toilets, slobbering all over the face of one of the dirndl-clad girls he’s flirting with in about seven hours.
He caught my husband’s eye, shook his head and said something disapprovingly. The music made it impossible to hear what he said so my husband got closer.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Why would you bring your kid to a place like this?” He repeated.
“Because we can.” Hubs replied. Then he turned and walked away.
Oh how we laughed at his future self.
This delightful interaction took place in one of the tents at this year’s Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest. Yes it’s noisy, a bit raucous and there’s smoke.
But we did our due diligence beforehand and were assured that it was fine to bring children. They had a children’s menu. It was noon. Besides, it’s not like we took our toddler to a drug deal.
I’m unfazed by what Herr Peachfuzz thinks. We’ve been bringing Wee Man to beer-related events since he was about two months old. But it did get me to thinking about how we make it work. Here are the best ways to go to a beer festival with a child (and why I know that Herr Peachfuzz will read this post in about 14 years and do everything I say.)
10 Tips for Bringing Your Child to a Beer Festival
#1: Well, don’t go with them.
I know this seems contradictory to this entire post but, frankly, why would you want to? I know I love to dance on tables unencumbered by the demands of a toddler. And I feel really bad when I spill beer on his head (really, it was just a little bit. Dried right up.)
So, umm, don’t bring them!
We went to the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival with a group of friends in 2016. Wee Man was just over a year old. So, we brought a nanny with us. She was (is) immensely trustworthy. We bought her plane tickets—which were super cheap—and made sure our AirBnB had a bed for her. Boom. Job done.
Totally felt like Beyoncé.
#2: Can they even come?
Many beer festivals are an entirely appropriate place to bring your kids. So, if the nanny thing is unavailable to you or you do want to make it a family affair—make sure, first, that they’re welcome.
Some people don’t consider that they even could bring their child to a beer festival. But there are some fests that are very well-suited for children: Leeds International Beer Festival, for example, has an entire family session. Others, like the Great British Beer Festival, allow you to bring your children into the building but they have to stay in the Family Area with parental supervision. So much for going to GBBF if you have to stay in the Romperoom. Whomp whomp.
I make a point of visiting the festival’s website to see if they say anything about their child policy. If they don’t, I go to the fest’s Facebook page. I’ll send them a message specifically asking about their child policy (and whether strollers/prams are allowed). If still no dice, I’ll take a look at Google images from previous fests to see if I spot any children in the photos. It generally doesn’t come to that but if all else fails, see #1.
#3: Go early, leave early
It kind of goes without saying, but the best times to bring kids to a beer festival is early. Like, doors-open early. Crowds are usually sparse(r), lines for beer are shorter, and if you need to push around a stroller (see #4), there’s more space. I normally like to get the Wee Man out of a beer festival before 5pm. That’s typically five good beer hours. I don’t need much more than that.
#4: Set up camp
Another reason to get there early is that you’ll have your pick of seating areas (although I’ve literally seen people run to claim their seats as soon as they unlock the door.) I try to find a table in a corner, tucked away somewhere—or against a wall, if possible. Gives the Wee Ones some breathing room and somewhere to dump your stuff.
#5: Strap ‘em to you
I’ve always preferred to have Wee Man in a sling or baby-backpack when taking him to a beer festival. I know that pushing around a stroller is way easier on the joints and a great place to dump all the beer swag I’m getting. Yet, frankly, it’s more of a pain to push around and I’m constantly getting in other people’s way. Besides, I like to keep him as close to me as possible. Only us parents should be the ones spilling beer on his head.
#6: Know your child
Not all children will be up to the energy of a beer festival. Most festivals are really chill, especially early in a session. Others, not chill at all. Our Wee Man is pretty adaptable (read: used to going to beer festivals) so will put up with quite a lot. But the energy level will eventually get to a point where it’s not suitable for him. The way I look at it: the more energy I feel in the room, the more the beer is flowing. Time to get the kids out of there. You’ll know what I mean.
#7: Tag team
It sucks, but sometimes we have to do a beer festival in shifts. This year, at the aforementioned Stuttgart Frühlingsfest, Hubs and I had to take turns. While it was completely appropriate to have the Wee Man there, he was getting bored and a bit overwhelmed. (It was loud and, umm, not chill.) So, I took him out to the rest of the fest where we rode the Ferris wheel, got some treats and spent €7 on those stupid-ass claw machines. Gave Hubs an hour to have some fun and Wee Man was happy. Then we switched.
#8: Bring child food and water
We’ve gotten caught out a couple of times, especially here in Europe, without appropriate food or water for Wee Man. Assuming we can buy things at the fest, it turns out they only have sparkling water—which he won’t drink—or something which he won’t eat. I can only feed him French fries for dinner so many times so now we make sure we’ve got stuff for him.
#9: Bring stuff to do
Especially for older children, they need to have something to do. A beer festival will probably be really boring for the kids who are beyond the age of just wanting to be held by Mommy and Daddy. It’s essentially a lot of waiting in line and then sitting around drinking beer. I think that’s awesome but a seven-year-old will probably want some coloring books or something. Bring headphones for the iPad and they should be content for a while. Hopefully.
#10: Have a great time!
Yes, beer festivals are geared for adults (unless we’re talking about some awesome outdoor festival with a bounce-house and stuff). But I feel like, with proper planning, a beer festival can be great for the whole family. I do try to keep in mind that adults like to go to beer festivals as a way to have some fun and unwind, with other adults. I act like Wee Man is an invited guest—welcome, but with certain expectations of politeness.
I hope that this has been a help for you in bringing your kids to a beer festival. At the very least, I hope I’ve given you the confidence that it is completely ok to have children at a beer fest. Even if there are the Herr Peachfuzzes of the world that act like you shouldn’t.
Now it’s time to go get in line—there’s much beer to be had!
Please let me know in the comments, or over on Facebook, what beer festivals you’ve brought your kids to. How did it suit your children?