Martin Roberts

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Planning your 2016 caravan holidays? Martin Roberts makes the case for festivals as fun, family-friendly breaks where you'll appreciate your van's luxuries

As a suggestion for the first outing in your caravan this year (if you haven’t done so already), let me throw you a curveball: how do you fancy heading to a hilly, muddy field in the middle of Somerset? A field with no electricity, no connectable water, no hardstanding pitches... oh, and about 150,000 other people.

“Sounds ideal,” I hear you splutter into your morning coffee. “Where do I book?!” Once you get there, how about queuing for hours to take your van across to a tiny, overcrowded island where drunken partygoers will continue to disturb you until the early hours? Sounding any better? Errrrr... no?

OK, then. Perhaps something more upmarket in rural Oxfordshire? Rubbing shoulders with the Chipping Norton set and more Hunter wellies than you can shake a cowpat at? Ha, now we’re talking!

In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m gently suggesting that, like us, you use your van as a base for enjoying some of the best festivals that the UK has to offer – from Glastonbury in Somerset, to Bestival on the Isle of Wight, to Cornbury in the Cotswolds near Banbury, and a raft of wild, wacky and wonderful alternatives in between.

We’ve been using our van to provide a haven from the mudfest that is Glasto for around 10 years, and now it has enabled us to take our kids with us. A two-person tent amid the sea of camping chaos where the majority of younger revellers sleep (do they sleep?) wouldn’t work for us and our children, aged five and eight. The festival itself is absolutely brilliant for children, but having somewhere homely to return to at the end of the day makes it a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Festivals such as Glastonbury and Cornbury have dedicated fields for family camping and caravanning, and you’ll be amazed by the tourers that you see there. These are not the psychedelically painted, flower-adorned hippy campervans you might expect. At times, the site looks like the forecourt of an upmarket caravan dealer, with twin-axles, self-levelling and LED lighting aplenty.

If pitching in a cow field is a gate too far, there are plenty of club and independent sites within a short distance of most festival venues; some even provide a free shuttle-bus service to and from the event.

It may have been a while since you last contemplated the delights of a music or performing arts festival, but the UK is blessed with some of the world’s best. From the north of Scotland to the furthest reaches of Kent and the south-west, and from the Scooter and Ska Rally Fest in Wellingborough to the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, there’s something to suit all tastes.

So maybe it’s time to dust off your tie-dyed shirt and your fringed pull-on trousers to explore what’s on offer, safe in the knowledge that you can return to your fixed-bed, power-showered, solar-enhanced luxury home-from-home for a glass of chilled wine and a hot meal at the end of the day.

See you there, man!

Visit Martin’s website for information about him, his books and his property training weekends, and follow his adventures on Twitter
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