8 Welsh festivals to put on your summer bucket list


The Big reatret

Summer is nearly upon us and for many that can only mean one thing, festivals! As they say music is the source and combined with camping, good food, meeting new people and stepping away from the normal day-to-day reality, festivals are always a highlight on our summer bucket list, plus children of all ages love festivals and I say this from years of experience. 

While Wales doesn't have Glastonbury, it is often referred to as the "land of song" and for a good reason, with its rich musical heritage and is now home to some incredible medium and small festivals that are well worth checking out. Here are my top picks for the best Welsh music festivals of 2023

In It Together Festival, Margam, Port Talbot, May 26th-28th

Set to be one of the most diverse lineups of the year, In it Together Festival, despite being fairly new to the scene is shaking things up. You can expect to see Natalie Imbruglia, The Kooks, Anne-Marie, Kelis and The Vamps to name a few along with a fairground, immersive theatre and a children's area. They also have various camping options for a family field to glamping. 

Adult weekend tickets with camping is £186.15 and day tickets are £71.75 for adults and £27.75 for children.

The Big Retreat 1st-4th June

Located on the Pembrokeshire coastline, The Big Retreat truly has one of the most spectacular locations. It's also very much a hybrid festival that seeks to engage all your senses from adventure, well-being, taste, and music and nourish both your body and soul, this festival offers so much. A weekend ticket gives you access to over 300 experiences from wild swimming, bushcraft, yoga, workshops, and foraging, along with a stellar music lineup including Scouting for Girls, Toploader and a DJ set from Huey Morgan. My kids and I attended this festival in 2019 and had a blast and would highly recommend it, especially if you want to delve deeper into all things health and well-being. 

Adult weekend tickets including camping £219, family weekend camping £149 pp, under 5's free and day tickets are available.

food festival

Pride Cymru, Cardiff, 7-8th June

One of the most popular events on the Cardiff calendar is always Pride Cymru, which brings music, colour, love and equality to the capital. The march, which usually takes place on Saturday through Cardiff City Centre is free to watch and is fully inclusive and accessible to everyone.

The Festival part takes place on the ground of Cardiff Castle and you need to purchase a ticket to attend. There will also be a market and kids' area along with food vendors. They are still announcing the lineup but so far have announced that Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Claire Richards will be performing. 

Adult day tickets are £15, Child ticket £5 and Children under 5 free 

Vintage For Victory, Cardiff - Fri 7-9th July

This is truly unique, family-friendly, nostalgia-loving festival is one you won't forget. Inspired by the 1940's, 50's & 60's this festival you can expect some incredible vintage fashion and music. This boutique festival is now in its 6th year, taking place within easy reach of Cardiff city centre, in The Library Gardens, Whitchurch. 

While the music is fairly niche, there is plenty of it across two stages, with a very lively lineup that caters to all ages as well as Jive and Lindy hop lessons to get your dancing the day away. There is also going to be a full-size replica spitfire and hurricane aircraft, period vehicles and re-enactors keeping people entertained all weekend, along with a vintage fun fair, fashion, street food and big-screen outdoor cinema. 

Adult weekend tickets are £60, Youth (16-21yrs) £50 and Under 16's Free when accompanied by a paying adult. If you want to camp there is a separate ticket £45 for 3 nights. 

Beyond the border
Storytellers at Beyond the Border

Beyond the Border Festival, Carmarthenshire 7-9th July

The UK's biggest storytelling festival and this year celebrate 30 years of the festival, making it that little bit extra special. My boys and I have attended this festival twice, in 2014 and 2018 and both times we loved it, such rich and engaging storytelling, music, performances and food in stunning surroundings. 
Situated near Dinefwr castle, the festival is all about celebrating the diverse communities of Wales in the many languages of this land, including storytellers from Wales, the UK and the world. There is also an array of workshops, inspiring talks, outdoor arts, walks,  circus experiences and plenty of ways to unwind and relax, this is a wonderful family-friendly weekend in a unique location. 

Adult weekend ticket (camping not included) £154, Children under 17yrs £66. Camping pitch £22 per tent.

Steelhouse Festival, Ebbw Vale, 28-30th July 

If you like rock music then this festival is one for you! Celebrating 12 hard rocking years in a stunning location on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. Purposely with only one main stage to ensure no band clashes means you will get to see the whole line up and every night after the stage closes the beer tent keeps everyone going with Rock DJ sets. The headliners this year are Black Stone Cherry, Airbourne, Kris Barras and you also have the chance to get some merch signed at the Planet Rock signing tent.

You can also expect award-winning locally crafted ales, a fully stocked cocktail bar, street food vendors, camping within a short walk from the arena and the Mini moshers play pit kids area, making this a festival suitable for all ages.

Adult weekend ticket £145, Children under 14yrs £20, camping ticket per person £25

Green gathering

The Green Gathering, Chepstow, 3-6th August 

The original off-grid festival is one that everyone should experience at some point. We went last year for the first time and really enjoyed it, such a brilliant atmosphere and great for families. Four days of low-impact living, in a gorgeous location, with so much going on, every nook bursting with music and creativity and all powered by sun, wind and people. 

As I said there is so much to see and do at this festival, with over 100 incredible acts along with talks, workshops, community crafts and campaigns, permaculture, green market, organic food, kids areas, teen space, library bus and many more. 

Adult weekend ticket £130, Young Adult (16.17yrs) £80, Youth Ticket (11-15yrs) £55, Child (6-10yrs) £20 and under 5's free. Day tickets are also available.  

Between the trees, Merthyr Mawr, 25th-27th August

3 days of nature, science, music, dance and creative arts along the Welsh coastline. This family-friendly festival is all about reconnecting with nature in a stunning location. It has a stellar lineup this year including Seth Lakeman along with a medley of authors, speakers, poets and talks on things like conservation and sustainability, films, hands-on science workshops, immersive walks, creative arts and well-being sessions.   

Adult weekend ticket £135, Child (4-17yrs) £60, children under 4 free, camping pitch from £30

Welsh festival

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My 5 Country European interrail Itinerary with kids




Our 3-week Interrail adventure across Europe was one of the best things we have done together as a family. I had Interrailed a few times before having kids so I was especially excited to jump back on the trains with my kids. May. people seem to have the impression that Interrailing is for gap-year youths but that simply isn't the case, it's suitable for every age and children under 12 years old receive their interrail pass for free with an adult. 

In an earlier Interrail post, I go into detail on how to plan, book and ensure you have the right reservations, which is really important. But in this post, I wanted to focus on the route we took and where we stayed and a short overview of what we saw. I will do individual destination posts soon where I will go into more depth on activities, where to eat, see and do. 

1. Newport - London

As we booked an early morning Eurostar from London St Pancras which meant we needed to be at St Pancras no later than 8:30am, we felt it would be best to stay the night before.

Where we stayed - Premier Inn London St Pancras although we have stayed in YHA London St Pancras previously & is a cheaper option although had sold out, hence why we opted for Premier Inn, both are only a few minutes walk from St Pancras Station.

Highlights - We decided to have a full day in London, on a budget, with packed lunches at the ready, so this is really where our adventure started. We enjoyed a wander through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, the kids played in Diana's memorial playground and visited The Army Museum and Natural History Museum, all free & all fantastic. 

Paddington station
Us arriving into London at the start of our big adventure

2. London - Turin via Paris

We took the 10:22am Eurostar from London to Paris Gare Du Nord - with any Eurostar journey you need to arrive at least 90mins prior to departure to go through security. We arrived in Paris at 1:47pm local time (France is 1hr ahead of us).

We had exactly 1hr to get from Gare Du Nord to Gare de Lyon,  I purchased metro tickets on the Eurostar which I'd recommend as it saves you time faffing around trying to work out the ticket machines. The transfer is fairly simple as Gare De Lyon is only 2 metro stops away, leaving us with enough time to refill our snack supplies.

We then boarded the 2:43pm TGV InOui to Turin, taking a planned 5hrs 39m. The train wasn't the most modern high-speed in their fleet but had decent facilities, charging points and wifi. 

We sped through the French Alps which were incredible and while we should have arrived into Turin at 8:22pm, the train in front of us broke down in a tunnel on the French/Italy border & with no way to go around we had to wait.  This caused a considerable delay - around 3hrs. However SNCF the French railway provided everyone with bottled water and food boxes, along with arranging accommodation for anyone who had missed a connection. This was the only delay we experiences in our travels & we arrived at Turin after 11pm but in high spirits. 

Where we stayed - Combo Turin Hostel - Private family room with breakfast under £100

Combo Turin was the perfect base, within easy walking distance of central Turin, close to trams, great facilities, spacious rooms, fast wifi and great breakfast. 

Highlights - We loved exploring Turin, enjoying the street food, focaccia and gelato and exploring the Roman ruins and public city art, along with the cool architecture & spotting filming locations of the Italian job. We also visited Museo Egizio, an Egyptian museum with a huge collection of artefacts.

Combo Torino
Our room at Combo Torino

Turin Italy
Standing in front of Roman Ruins in Turin

3. Turin to Levanto

We left from Torino Porta Nuova (Turin has 2 main stations) at 10:40am on the Intercity, arriving in Sestri Levante at 1:19pm where we had a quick change onto a local train to Levanto, which only took 20mins along the gorgeous coastline.

Where we stayed - Nel Cuore self-catering apartment

We stayed a couple of nights at this gorgeous and centrally located apartment at a budget-friendly price (under €100 per night) as it was off-peak. Only a few mins walk from the beach, plenty of space, in fact, more space than we needed and a hotel nearby oversees this apartment so if you need anything they are on hand. 

Highlights - Levanto was one of the highlights of the whole trip, such an amazing place, with a stunning Italian coastline and very close (literally 5 mins train) to the Cinque Terre. An interrail pass also covers the Cinque Terre rail line, so no need to buy the Cinque Terre pass.  We also loved hiring bikes and riding through old railway tunnels to the town of Bonassola and of course swimming in the sea and eating lots of pizza. 

Levanto Italy
Exploring the streets of Levanto

Ticking off the Cinque Terre on our bucket list

Levanto - Florence via Pisa

Our initial plans didn't actually include Pisa but when we realised we had to change trains in Pisa we couldn't miss the chance of seeing the Leaning Tower. We took the 9am train from Levanto and arrived in Pisa at 10:15am, the station has luggage storage & trains to Florence leave regularly, plus you don't need a reservation from Pisa to Florence so can jump on any train. We took the bus from the train station to the Leaning tower, spent a good hour or two exploring and then walked back to the station, which takes around 25mins but is a nice way to see more of Pisa. From Pisa to Florence it's around a 50min train journey.

Where we stayed in Florence - Nuova Italia Hotel, we had planned to stay at The Social Hub, a cool hybrid hostel co-working space but due to a FIFA football match happening while we were there, it was sold out. However, we loved our stay at Nuova Italia Hotel, a family-run budget-friendly hotel within a short walk from the train station and the old part of the city. It was basic but the staff were friendly, it felt homely, had a fantastic location and the included breakfast was fantastic. Would certainly recommend this place. 

Highlights - Wandering through Piazza del Duomo, eating a lot of Gelato and having some amazing pasta, visiting the Di Vinci Museum, and indulging in all the amazing free street art and sculptures. 

Art in Florence
Checking out some of the free art in Florence 

Leaning Tower of Pisa
No shame, everyone needs a picture like this

Florence - Rome & The Vatican

We took the 9:15am high speed from Florence to Rome, arriving in the capital at 10:50am. We really enjoyed whizzing through the Tuscan countryside on the Frecciarossa train, which is their premium high speed and can hit a top speed of 300 km/h

Where we stayed - Meininger Roma Termini, a cool hybrid hostel hotel a short walk from the central station. While it may not be the best location it's perfect for those who are travelling via train as lugging heavy luggage across a city is no fun and it has easy access to the metro and buses. Of course, you can walk and we did but in general, Rome is a very large city so using public transport with kids is key. 

We had a family room which was large and spacious and at the time of booking Meininger was offering a 15% discount to family bookings so it came in at around £110 per night including breakfast and city tax for all of us. The breakfast had plenty of choices, the hostel was really clean, had a cool bar and chill-out area with pool and table football, the staff were helpful & there was also access to a communal kitchen. 

We also made sure to visit the smallest country in the world, The Vatican. Now there are lots of expensive tours you can take but you really don't have to. It's free to wander around  St Peter's Square and St Peters Basilica, although do arrive early to avoid the security queue for the Basilica and you can't wear shorts &. need full covering shoes. You do need to pay to go into the Vatican Museum and see the Sistine Chapel, we opted not to do this as it takes around 2hrs, long queues and while the kids loved exploring the Vatican and St Peters Square, I felt they would disengage on a tour that long, especially as we are not religious. 

Highlights - without a doubt, The Colosseum (we explored the inside without taking a tour - so much cheaper) and Roman Forum, more gelato, visiting The Vatican, Vespa museum and drinking Aperol spritz in the sunshine at a small cafe down a side alley. 

High Speed Train Italy
The high-speed train from Florence to Rome

Trevi Fountain
Visiting the Trevi Fountain in Rome

 Rome - Salzburg

We took the Nightjet train, having booked a private couchette, we left Roma Termini at 6:55pm and arrived in Salzburg at 6:49am, yes an early start for sure but night trains are such an adventure in themselves and doubled as a hotel on wheels. 

Where we stayed - A&O Hostel Salzburg Hauptbahnhof only a few minutes walk from the train station in a private family room. Such a fantastic and family-friendly hostel, with friendly staff, a kid's area, free wifi, work and chillout space, a communal kitchen, a cafe bar and an excellent breakfast (let's just say the pancake machine was a bit hit with the boys). 

Highlights - We really enjoyed exploring Salzburg, such a beautiful place. We had a blast reenacting the  Sound of Music in Mirabell Palace gardens, having in at the Toy Museum, taking in the incredible views from Fortress Hohensalzburg and eating way too much apple strudel. 

Salzburg Castle
The view from Hohensalzburg Fortress 

Salzburg Austria

Salzburg - Stuttgart 

We took a direct train from Salzburg to Stuggart in Germany, taking around 4hrs. We had initially planned to go to Munich but didn't realise we would be in Germany and France during their half term and there were no trains from Munich to Pairs (our final stop) so we headed to Stuttgart instead.

Where we stayed - Premier Inn Stuttgart City Europaviertel, did you know Germany has Premier Inn? We managed to get a family room in a brand new Premier Inn for £65 per night including breakfast and they gave us free drinks vouchers when we check in so fantastic value. The hotel was only a few minutes walk from the train station and close to the metro, buses and trams, in a central location.

Highlights - We loved using the super efficient public transport to whizz around the city, visiting the Natural History Museum, wandering around the most incredible library, exploring Bad Cannstatt (the oldest suburb in Stuttgart), taking in all the smells of the traditional food market and having one of the best meals of our trip. 


Stuttgart Library

Stuttgart - Paris

We had an early start with a very tight changeover in Karlsruhe (a 45min journey on a local train) before jumping onto the high-speed to Paris, a 2hr30min trip, we arrived in the French Capital at around 10:30am, leaving us with plenty of time to explore as we only booked 1 night in Paris but have almost 2 full days to take in the sights. 

Where we stayed - Generator Paris Hostel, this hostel has a good location near Gare Du Nord and a very hip and cool interior plus an incredible rooftop bar with views of Sacre Coeur. It is also welcoming to families although out of all the hostels, this is probably the only one we wouldn't stay at again, not for any major reasons but they charged for every possible extra (which other hostels on our trip didn't do), the breakfast was terrible (we paid for breakfast but ended up having to eat elsewhere) and it was a bit noisier than the others, saying that I still slept very well, as did the kids.

I'm would be very keen to try out MIJE Marais hostel and The People hostel in Paris, I've heard really good things about both of these and they don't overcharge for extras, have great locations and budget-friendly cafes on site

Highlights - cycling along the Seine, enjoying a patisserie next to St Martin's canal, watching dogs in a cute canalside dog park and of course walking up the Eiffel tower. We actually had a pretty budget-friendly time in Paris, mainly walking around, eating street food, and enjoying the family-friendly gardens and outdoor spaces. 

French Hotel Chocolate
Enjoying some hot chocolate at The Generator Hostel

The Louvre Paris

Paris - London

We had the whole day in Paris before boarding our Eurostar at 7:15pm, it was a very smooth ride back into London St Pancras, arriving in the UK capital at 8:30pm. As we used our "out" part of our Interrail, it also included travel within our home country for this day (you can only travel in your home country on your leaving travel day and return day). So we hoped on a Great Western Railway back to Newport in Wales, feeling so full and grateful for an amazing trip. 

Looking for more Inspiration

Our Globetrotters share their fantastic European Eurail Itinerary of travelling to 7 countries with kids, their post is really informative and worth checking out. 

On the Luce has some fantastic one-week European Itineraries on their blog, breaking down ideas and trips into bite-size plans and offering tons of inspiration and options for those looking to plan a European Train adventure. 

Moneky and Mouse have a fantastic post about their Interrail trip from Scotland to Sciliy with their two kids, it's a trip I would love to do in the future. 

Interrail Europe

*Disclaimer - Interrail provided us with passes (children under 11 go free) and our hostel in Salzburg provided a press stay -  however all rail supplements, food, activities, public transport and accommodation were paid for by myself. 


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