Top 8 Family-Friendly Football Stadiums

Written by: tarig el-sheikh



Time to read 10 min

Are Football Stadiums Really Family-Friendly?

The first time I went to a football match as a young kid, the thrill was something I'll never forget. The atmosphere, the cheering, and the spirit in the football stadium was like nothing else. Recently, more and more children and families have attended matches across the country. Last season, 29% of Premier League supporters went to one or more matches with children, and 13% of season-ticket holders are now juniors. Football clubs recognise that support from the next generation can’t be taken for granted; hence, they’re now working harder than ever to accommodate them.

To find out just how family-friendly clubs really are, the English Football League  has been conducting mystery shopper-style visits by families to league clubs twice a season since 2007. Last season was one for the record books, with 66 football clubs winning a Family Excellence Award. While the overall picture is very encouraging, we want to give special mention to eight clubs that have set up innovative initiatives to make their football stadiums fun and safe for the whole family.

Here’s our list of the top 8  family-friendly football stadiums  in the UK:

Southampton F.C.
Image from Southampton F.C.

1. Southampton - St Mary's Stadium

Located in the heart of Southampton, they moved to St. Mary's in 2001 to stay true to the club’s tradition, as this is the spot where they were originally founded all those years ago. Here, the family fun starts three hours before kick-off, with a Family Zone area to keep the kids busy. With the club mascots Sammy and Mary hopping around, you can pose for photos with the club's furry friends. With football tasks and matchday quizzes to take part in, young fans can put their football skills to the test.

The laughter doesn't stop at kick-off, as during halftime, the club has chosen junior fans to take part in the game with challenges spanning from penalty shootouts to relay races. For a chance for your child to get involved, arrive at your seats roughly 30 minutes before the game starts. You can even score some family-friendly bargains with £1 match tickets if you sign up your youngster to their free Saints Club .

Aston Villa
Image from A.V.F.C

2. Aston Villa - Villa Park

Being one of the most centrally located sporting arenas in the country, Villa Park is no stranger to major events, having hosted the historic 1966 World Cup final. Redesigned and refurbished with the whole family in mind, the Family Fun Zone is always a young fan favourite prior to kick-off. The number of exciting adventurers is endless, from assault courses and basketball shootouts to face painting and a giant Connect 4.

There's even extra safeguarding practices in place to offer parents some further peace of mind. You'll be provided with purple wristbands for your younger guests, where you can write down your contact details. If the worst should happen, the child can easily show a steward or staff member their wristband.

Huddersfield Town A.F.C.
Image from Huddersfield Town A.F.C.

3. Huddersfield Town - John Smith's Stadium

Celebrating its 30th year in 2024, John Smith's Stadium is the proud home ground of football club Huddersfield Town. Being continually awarded the Family Excellence Award every year since its creation, their goal is to guarantee matchdays are full of family fun. It will be hard to tear your kids away from The Family Stand , with face painting, balloon modelling, and even player autographs up for grabs.

Don’t miss the  Community Hub , where young fans can snap photos in giant deckchairs and meet their pawsome mascot, Terry the Terrier. We can’t forget the games, from target shots to inflatable speed cages to foosball tables. Let your little one’s creativity shine in the colouring area, where they can draw masterpieces or write a letter to their favourite player. Older kids will have a blast in the Upper Tier concourse area with Xbox and Playstations to show off their virtual football skills.

On Saturdays, in the Upper Stand, junior fans can tuck into some free fruit to bump up their energy levels. If parents need a space to feed their tiny tots, staff can support by heating formula bottles or providing a discrete breastfeeding area.

Luton Town F.C.
Image from Luton Town F.C.

4. Luton Town - Kenilworth Road

Kenilworth Road, known affectionately as The Kenny, has been the base of Luton Town for nearly 120 years. When bringing your little future footballers, there’s a reserved family area so you can watch the match in a quieter atmosphere. If you let the ticket office know it’s your child’s first time being a "Hatter", they’ll be gifted a special "My First Luton Town Match" scarf!

If the weather's warm, stroll outside to the outdoor Family Zone , with a tarmac area jam-packed with outdoor games like Snakes & Ladders and Hopscotch. There’s even something for the older kids in the Hatter's Hideout , with Xbox One consoles for online FIFA battles. Equipped with a foosball table, a selfie frame, and a dressing-up kit, you can let their imaginations go wild. They may even spot Happy Harry and Hatty during their walk around the grounds. First-team players swing by the room on a regular basis to meet young supporters and sign autographs. Don't miss out on the free fruit available for some pre-game fueling.

Our personal favourite attraction is their newly launched Library Scheme , which invites children to borrow any book from their library collection to take home with them. If you're lucky enough to catch one of their Family Fun Days held several times a season, it's loaded with terrific events with balloon modelling, face painting, inflatables, craft activities, and live music.

Sunderland A.F.C.
Image from Sunderland A.F.C.

5. Sunderland - Stadium of Light

This breathtaking football stadium was designed to showcase Sunderland's historic industrial heritage in glass-making, shipbuilding, and coal-mining. The southeast corner has been transformed into a bright and vibrant zone just for families. This area serves up some matchday fun, where kids can score big with virtual football games, sit back and watch cartoons, and have their faces painted.

Featuring a large outdoor stage area, the live music will have your little ones dancing in no time. Make sure they give a hug or Hi-5 the furry club mascots, Samson and Delilah, who love posing for photos. Off the pitch, there's free Family Fun Days to keep the kids active over the school holidays. They can bounce to new heights on inflatables, aim to win on penalty shootouts, and draw a football masterpiece at the arts and crafts table. If you’re lucky, they could even meet one of the Sunderland players!

Norwich City F.C.
Image from Norwich City F.C.

6. Norwich - Carrow Road

Fans of the Canaries have been flooding to the grounds of Carrow Road to cheer on Norwich City football club for decades. Located just opposite the South Stand, the FanZone is a hit with young supporters of all ages. From football tennis, shooting challenges, and volley ramps - the area is buzzing with excitement. You can enter a number of competitions over the season to win special family prizes, including mascot experiences, football kits, and signed items up for grabs. Maybe you will stumble upon their cheery mascot, Captain Canary, while you are there!

If your tiny fan is three years old or under, you can sign them up for the Canaries Club for free. There's a range of goodies in store, such as a welcome pack, a free club T-shirt, and a card for their birthday! But the fun goes beyond the pitch, as their Junior Canaries website is packed with things to do. Your kids can get to know the squad, test their knowledge with a quiz, and enter giveaways to try to win free merchandise and tickets.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, your youngster can get into the football action with the Junior Canary takeover days . Between helping with the social media channels, preparing the football kits, and being the DJ for the day - it's the kids turn to manage the football stadium. To enter your child, fill out a quick form on their website within a few weeks of the takeover. At Carrow Road, the fun lasts all year-round, with seasonal parties thrown all through the season, from scary Halloween bashes to egg-cellent Easter events.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.
Image from Queens Park Rangers F.C.

7. Queens Park Rangers - MATRADE Loftus Road Stadium

MATRADE Loftus Road prides itself on being a family-friendly football stadium and was awarded the EFL Family Excellence Gold Award in 2023. Set on the Powerleague pitches on South Africa Road, make sure you don't skip the Academia Fan Zone . Open hours before kick-off, your kids can take on speed cage and archery or transform into their favourite characters at the face painting station. QPR Development Squad players often head up activities, allowing your little footballers to ace their football skills.

If that’s not enough, there’s a second kids play area called the Matchday Activity Room in the Lower Loft. Let their competitive side come out on the Xbox and foosball table, or see their creativity flow designing their own kit at the colouring in station. They have a designated family stand situated in blocks HL, JL, KL and LL, providing a quieter atmosphere but still with a close-up view of the football action. To make the day even sweeter, under-8s go free when accompanied by a full-paying adult.

Sheffield United F.C.
Image from Sheffield United F.C.

8. Sheffield United - Bramall Lane

The oldest football stadium in England still used to host professional football matches; it’s been the home of Sheffield United since the club's establishment in 1889. Kids will make a beeline to the John Street Family Stand , perfect to get them fired up before the match. Games, activities, and freebies - there’s no shortage of fun-filled things to do here. Be quick, as the first 500 junior fans to step inside will be given a free Sheffield United poster to take home! Spend time with the legendary pirate mascot, Captain Blade, who is always open to snapping a photo. Young fans can even meet a handful of the men's and women's first team players; remember to score an autograph from their favourite player.

With not one but two family areas, the Blades Family Hub is buzzing with kid-approved activities. You'll regularly find a competition or event going on, whether it's a FIFA tournament, a table tennis contest, or a football-themed quiz. You'll also find a snooker table, table tennis set, air hockey table, basketball shootouts, and more - all set up for some wholesome family rivalry.

If you are going to watch the Blades play for the very first time, you can sign up for the free Home Debut Scheme . A host will meet you upon your arrival, whisking you on a mini tour around the football stadium and guiding you to your seats. In addition, you'll have a unique opportunity to have a family photo taken on the pitch. And if that wasn't enough, your names will be announced over the tannoy and written in the matchday programme.

Tips for Taking Kids to Football Stadiums

Football stadiums can seem like a noisy and chaotic place for any child. Which can make it challenging for them to focus on the game and get into the footy action. As a parent myself who regularly puts my kid on my shoulders as we cheer on our local team - here are my tips for an easier family football match outing.

Pick Family-Friendly Stands

When selecting seats, opt for the designated family-friendly seating areas, which are intended to still deliver you an incredible pitch view but with a less noisy atmosphere.

Pack For All Weather Conditions

Notably, during the winter season, when attending a match outside for two hours, it's likely you’ll feel a cold chill. Make sure you’ve bundled up your kids with enough layers, and carry an extra jumper just in case. Living in the UK, you can’t forget your waterproofs in case there is a typical downpour! When summer comes along and the sun starts shining, you can’t forget the sun hats and polarised glasses. But I’d also recommend a small wind-up hand fan to keep little ones cool.

Bring Snacks

A football match can feel like a long, long day for any young fan. Keep them energised with snacks and drinks, and be sure to bring a few lightweight toys to distract them during those downtimes.

Protect Their Ears

Football stadiums are noisy events, with thousands of people cheering, singing, and chanting across the grounds. Children have thinner skulls and are more sensitive to hearing damage, which is why having young supporters wear protective ear plugs or muffs is a must.

Safety Cards

Preparing a safety card or wristband for your child to carry will give you some extra peace of mind in the unlikely event you get separated. Write down your name and seat number so your little one can quickly hand their safety card or show their wristband to a steward or staff member to get some help.

Stay Alert

Footballs flying in the air have a hard impact, which can cause injury if they hit you or your child. Particularly during warm-up sessions, footballs can be inadvertently launched from the pitch from multiple different angles. Stay alert to any footballs appearing offside, especially if you're seated in the lower supporter seating area, behind the goals, or near the corner flags.

Arrive Early

On certain match days, the football stadiums can be jam-packed with eager fans arriving to support their teams. Heading to the stadium early lets your children have a little fun in the kid zones, and you can avoid the crowds when finding your seat.


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