I was browsing online recently and came across the Bear Music Festival, “a summer camp, house party, music festival.” It may have been that description alone, or the fact that it touted itself as being family-friendly, or that it happened to be on the weekend of my husband’s birthday, or the idea of being in the High Sierra, tucked away from the world with the smell of pines, starlit nights and lots of music…whatever it was, we decided to go. We booked our camp, blocked the dates on the calendar, and emailed a few friends to see if they might want to join us. We have no idea who’s playing – in fact, we don’t really know much about the festival at all, but we decided it doesn’t matter. We are confident it will be a positive surprise and we will have a memorable birthday weekend.

This past weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle shared its Ultimate Guide to Summer Concerts in Northern California,  and with our plans to attend the Bear Music Festival, and BottleRock Napa Valley taking place in Napa this weekend, we thought we’d highlight some family-friendly music festivals. We realize it may be too late to attend some, like the Strawberry Music Festival, but if you’re looking for a good music fest to enjoy with your kids,  here are some great ideas (plus the Strawberry Music Festival takes place in the fall as well).

Strawberry Music Festival
May 25-29
Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley
One of the highlights of the Strawberry Music Festival is the emphasis on kids. A full lineup of music, arts & crafts, nature programs, dance & music workshops, storytelling, and more, will appeal to kids of all ages. In fact, four separate programs are designed for age-specific interests while other activities are appropriate for all ages, including adults! Sticky Fingers is for toddlers and preschoolers, ages 5 and under; Crafty Hands is for kids between 6 and 9 years old; Mid Kids is for ages 10-12 year;  and the For Kids of All Ages Kids is for everyone, featuring a variety of activities including musical performances, storytelling, the “Sunday Story Swap,” yoga, dance workshops (swing, contra, Caribbean, aerobics, and more), art & photography workshops, Fiddle for Kids and Adults, New Games, nature hikes, family sing-a-longs, and much more. The fall 2017 Strawberry Music Festival takes place August 31-September 4 in Westside, Tuolumne.

BottleRock Napa Valley
May 26-28
Napa Valley Expo, Napa
The Family Zone is back at this year’s festival, open all weekend from 11:30 am-6 pm. TActivities include face painting, punk hairdos for kids with wash-away color and temporary tattoos from The Parlor Hair Design. The Boys & Girls Club will be hosting a large games area with life-size versions of classic games like Connect 4 and Checkers. Plus, there will be button making, nature-inspired magic wands by Connolly Ranch and egg shakers with Scientopia Discovery Center. Look out for KIND bar representatives who will be giving out free bars just outside the Family Zone. A ticketed adult can bring up to two children under the age of six to BottleRock for free. All kids six and under must be registered for a Little Rocker wristband. To register your little one, stop by Little Rocker registration just outside of the main entrance on 3rd Street before you enter the festival. All attendees (including children) must have a wristband to enter the festival. Remember to bring proper ear protection to the festival for children as loud music isn’t safe for kids’ ears.

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
June 16-17
Kids 12 and under attend the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival free when accompanied by a paying adult. Kids Zone activities include Music Means ME!, a daily parade, face painting, arts & crafts, a bounce house, balloon artist, yoga, drum workshops, storytelling, Party Animal puppets, and more.

High Sierra Music Festival
June 29-July 2
Quincy, CA
Activities for kids include main stage acts with family sets, puppet theater, resident clown Gumbo Wobbly, Art House (where art projects are made with a bike), Sing-along Hut, bubbles with a unicorn, fun group games, water balloons and more. Shady Chill Zone offers an ideal rest area that doubles as a nice place to breastfeed for new mothers. The Rockin’ Nannies, a group of qualified educators, professionals and childcare providers, offer their services at High Sierra. They host a Rockin’ Slumber party each night and supply activities, snacks and TLC in a safe, fun environment while moms and dads enjoy some “grown up” time. h

California WorldFest
July 13-16
Nevada City, Grass Valley, CA
Kids are invited to play on the meadow, attend workshops for preschoolers through teens, create thematic art projects, hang out with other kids and join the spectacular kids’ parade. Everyone leaves with WorldFest art treasures to remind them of the festival all year long! Games on the Green will have chill-out area, book tree, folkloric bean bag toss (map of Brazil), rain forest table games, musical experience, mini-soccer, creative recycled toys, moving the skeleton hula hoops, beach ball mania and more! An array of workshops are available including specially designed little ones’ yoga, all age kids’ drumming, and a whirlwind of hula hooping. Children are welcome at any of the music workshops or jam sessions during WorldFest. The WorldFest Parade is an epic event for children of every age. Fabulous drummers and music makers lead the procession of costumed, decorated and excited revelry, highlighted by the art created at California Kids. The drummer’s jam at the end of the parade features an all ages dance circle of whirling bodies, stilt walkers, teens, jugglers and the young at heart!

Strawberry Music Festival
August 31-September 4
Westside, Tuolumne
See description above for spring festival.

Bear Music Festival
September 9-10
Lair of the Golden Bear, Stanislaus National Forest of Pinecrest
We’ll share more when we get back, but this is what we know. Taking place on 100 acres of the Lair of the Bear summer camp, the festival is complete with swimming pools, ping pong tables, dining halls, lodges, and campfire pits. While it isn’t exclusively a “children’s festival,” it is very family-friendly and performances are appropriate for most ages. During the shows on the main stages, parents have the option of dropping their children off at camp-style programs run by the summer counselors of the Lair of the Bear. Private babysitting can also be arranged in the evenings for additional cost. Passes include lodging, meals, and all performances and events that take place at the festival.