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A family-friendly folk music festival? Try Folk by the Oak in Hertfordshire [LINE UP AND REVIEW]

Writer Louise Baty finds that a folk music festival, with it's easygoing music, tasty food and multitude of family-friendly activities, could be the golden ticket the summer for kids, parents and parents-to-be

Posted: 16 May 2016
by Lousie Baty

Lots to do at the Folk By The Oak Festival

The 2016 Folk By The Oak Festival will take place on Sunday 24 July in the grounds of Hatfield House, Hertfordshire. This year’s line up includes Cara Dillon & Friends, Lau, False Lights, Sweet Liberties, Cardboard Fox and The Rheingans Sisters.

The festival is also one of a handful of performances this summer by Afro Celt Sound System, following the release of their much lauded album, The Source.

As well as the bands, the festival promises oodles of non-musical family friendly delights, including vintage prints and furniture with Dot to Dot Designs Ltd, circus skills with Flip Juggling, massage, reiki and reflexology with VIP Therapies, henna painting, Indian art and drumming workshops with Jay at Moustache Productions and Indian and Caribbean street food from Cinnamon Travelling Café. Plus, there will be fireworks. All in all, a well-rounded package.


Picture a world where barefoot children with flowers in their hair dance in green fields; where pregnant ladies are cheerily ushered to the front of queues; where you can buy cakes and cuppas from brightly coloured camper vans…and all to the sound of lilting folk tunes...

So, have I drunk too much pear cider and imagined travelling back to 1970s flower power days?

Thankfully not!

Folk by the Oak is a festival which has all these delights and more – but is fixed firmly in the 21st century. Perfect for parents and young kids, it has to be one of the most family friendly day festivals around.

Set at picturesque Hatfield House, a short train ride from King’s Cross, the festival features well-known and upcoming folk acts on its main stage and Acorn stage.

It was ages since my husband and I had been to a festival. The arrival of our daughter in 2012 curtailed our regular summer jaunts. Neither of us fancied negotiating muddy, beer-fuelled crowds with a little one in tow.

But, last summer, with our second baby on the way, we decided to be brave and dip our Hunter wellies back into the festival scene. Folk by the Oak was perfect for us, being easily accessible and laid back rather than rock 'n’ rollin'.

Don’t worry about needing to be folk aficionados to enjoy the festival. The nearest we’d got to the folk scene was listening to Mumford and Sons on the radio - so we were hardly experts. But, it didn’t matter.

The music is infectious. You can’t help but feel uplifted.

The festival also offers vintage and craft stalls, free child-friendly activities and an array of food stalls, which I definitely made the most of, being six months pregnant and feeling constantly peckish.

We needn’t have worried about keeping our three-year-old entertained at the festival. There was so much for her to see and do. She particularly loved the ‘plant your own cactus’ stand and the free ‘make your own rose petal garland’ area.

Being a hippy child at heart, who’s never happier than when she’s barefoot, she was right at home.

She was also bewitched by the circus skills class, although we drew the line at letting her join the juggling group – for her (and everyone else’s) wellbeing.

The Pan.De.Mania pizza stall was fantastic, with delicious, wood fired thin crust pizzas starting at £7. Just what a tired and hungry preggers lady needed to refuel. We also loved the Cake Bar camper van selling delicious homemade goodies.

Most wonderful moment of the day for me? Being cheerily sent to the front of the toilet queue when the other ladies in the line clocked the bump straining through my maternity maxi dress.

The portaloos were spotless too, which made a welcome change from festivals we used to attend.

Folk by the Oak is definitely a civilised day out. Forget the mosh pit. Folk fans are laid back types. The space in front of the main stage was a sea of deckchairs. As you can bring your own food and drink to the festival, cool boxes and bottles of bubbly were the order of the day.

Our picnic was slightly less classy with Fruitshoots and breadsticks being the main components. Maybe next time we’ll bring a bottle of something fizzy too.

But it was the music which made the day so special. We loved Keston Cobblers’ Club and kicked off our shoes yet again to dance to their upbeat, happy tunes. Truly, food for the soul.

Later, as the sun went down, we cuddled up with our tired toddler to watch The Unthanks, fronted by Tyneside sisters Rachel and Becky Unthanks. Their haunting, melancholic tunes – complete with clog dancing by the sisters – had the crowed entranced.  

Folk legends Bellowhead closed the festival with a storming performance - the perfect end to a wonderful day.

Will we be back? You bet – we’re already planning our trip to Folk by the Oak 2016. This time, we’ll have our baby son in tow too. We can’t wait get back to those hazy, blissful fields. Flower garlands at the ready!

For more information, and to book your tickets, visit:


Freewheelin' at the festival

Lots of folk music fans, here!

Who's hungry?

Fun for all ages!

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Louise Baty, folk music, festival, music, food, family-friendly activities, summer, kids, parents, parents-to-be, pregnant at a festival, 2016, day out, family day out

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