Today I’m sharing our top tips for taking kids to their first concert.
Concerts are something we LOVE in our household. As you’ll know if you follow me on Insta, we had a big weekend. Flea and I spent Friday night at the Taylor Swift concert in Manchester, and on Saturday we were at the Capital Summertime Ball in London.
We’ve been incredibly lucky to be at the Capital Summertime Ball for the past four years, thanks to Vodafone.
I always say it’s a perfect concert for kids. Not only are there 15 or more top pop stars at each gig, but it’s a relaxed all-day concert with plenty of time to stand up, walk around, get something to eat, or explore the arena.
I still remember the first concert I attended. I was 14, and my brother took me to see Deacon Blue at the NEC. I sang all the words, cried because I couldn’t afford a t-shirt, and loved the whole thing.
Weirdly, I was too self-conscious as a teen to go to concerts. I didn’t want to sing or dance in front of strangers! Maybe that’s why I’m making up for it now. And I’m determined Flea should enjoy live music whenever possible.
But what are our tips for taking kids to their first concert?
Plan Ticket Purchases Like a Military Operation
Chances are that the concerts your kids want to see are extremely popular. So sometimes you’ve got to think ahead to get tickets.
We saw Ed Sheeran in 2016 and 2017, and both times I got tickets through a pre-sale code. The first time, it was a pre-sale for people on the NEC’s mailing list; the second time for people on Ed Sheeran’s mailing list.
We also got Taylor Swift tickets through a pre-sale from her fan club, and Shawn Mendes tickets through a pre-sale for people on his app’s mailing list.
Basically, if you know a specific artist is going to be releasing tour tickets, join whatever mailing list you can. Sign up to websites, download apps. General release tickets are a complete crap shoot.
Download a Playlist
So you’ve got your tickets. What now?
Before a big concert, I make sure I’ve downloaded the album on Apple Music and we play it in the car. It helps us both learn the words. This means I can sing and dance, and embarrass Flea as much as possible on the night. WINNING.
It also helps her learn some of the songs that weren’t such big hits.
Prepare Children for What Happens at a Concert
When you go to see Justin Bieber, you’re guaranteed a fairly child-friendly concert experience. Well, unless you count the bit where he swore at the audience and stormed off stage for ten minutes.
With some concerts you know there are going to be lots of adults, plenty of alcohol and the chance of seeing some more adult behaviour.
My policy with Flea is that there are things you might see that are a bit crazy, but there’s a difference between things we see, and things we do.
But if she’s confused by anything, we can talk about it in the car on the way home.
Get Tiered Seats for Kids
Concert tickets aren’t cheap, and once you add in the price of transport, parking and the inevitable trip to the merch stand.
Why spend all that money for something you can’t see?
For that reason I always advise getting tiered seats when you’re with children. Not only will some venues not allow under 14s to have floor tickets, kids in floor seats usually can’t see much.
This weekend we were at the Taylor Swift concert, in floor seats. There was a little girl in front of me who started crying 10 seconds into the concert when she realised she wouldn’t be able to see a thing.
Can you imagine anything more disappointing than going to your first concert and not being able to see the stage? (As an aside we told her to stand on her seat in front of Flea, and we’d look around her).
Check the Layout
Another tip – consider calling the venue and asking about stage layout.
When we saw Ariana Grande we called the booking team at NEC and they told us there was a long platform joining 2 stages. This meant we could choose a seating block with a great view of both stages.
Have a Disaster Plan
Often when we go to concerts, I’ll buy a spare ticket so Flea can bring a friend. It’s quite some responsibility taking care of someone else’s child in a crowd of 50,000 people.
My rules are – no matter what, you stay together. Everyone stays where they can see me. And everyone has my mobile number programmed into their phones. We also have a meeting point where they know to go and stand in the event that we do get separated.
Holding hands might not be cool, but crying when you’ve lost your Mummy is even less cool. So on our way out of the concert, everyone holds on to a part of someone else.
Plan Ahead for Parking
The first time we saw Ed Sheeran live, I remember being really excited I got to park in the NCP right next to the arena.
When you come out of a concert at 11pm with tired children, the LAST thing you need is a two hour wait to get out of the car park.
Side note: always, always take a photo of the car park sign nearest to your car. Yeah, yeah. You’ll remember. Probably. Until the time you don’t.
As a matter of preference, I will always try and buy tickets through Amplify in Birmingham because they offer pre-booked, priority parking along with premium seats, a dedicated bar and separate bathrooms. The parking is the real perk, though. We can be out of a concert, in the car and back on the motorway in less than ten minutes.
Otherwise, I try to park away from the venue and walk. Be careful with this though.
We saw Taylor Swift at Etihad and made the mistake of thinking we could park and take the tram to the venue. The trams were delayed and over-crowded and we ended up arriving late, and having a 20-minute walk to the tram stop after the concert. Ugh.
Check the Set List
I’ll always check the set list for a concert online, so I know what the last song of the evening is. As the band plays the final notes of the song, we are OUT OF THERE.
Leaving immediately lets you avoid most of the crowds and you won’t get stuck in a jam trying to get through the exit.
Personally, I tend to let Flea buy a concert t-shirt as a souvenir. But one of my tips for taking kids to their first concert is to set a budget – and stick to it. You can usually check out merch pricing via the artist’s website ahead of time.
Although let’s not talk about that time Flea spilled her drink down herself at the Harry Styles concert and the t-shirt cost us almost SIXTY QUID. I’m hyperventilating at the mere memory.
See Smaller Gigs Too
Stadium and Arena gigs are fun. There’s a real thrill in seeing a global artist perform top 10 hits. But sometimes we go to smaller venues and that’s fun in a completely different way.
I’m a big fan of country music. This means Flea is exposed to lots of country artists. Last year, we saw Thomas Rhett in the 2,000 seater O2 Arena in Birmingham and it was A-MA-ZING. No assigned seats, but we grabbed a spot on the balcony and Flea couldn’t get over how close we were to everything.
So there you have it. Those are my tried-and-tested tips for taking kids to their first concert. If you have any experiences or advice to share, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!