Phil; I haven't got any useful advice about alternatives to camping but, as for how long to go for, don't forget that, at longer, town-based festivals like Whitby, there's no need to buy a season ticket or go for the whole week. From Manchester I'd opt for Whitby and just go for one night or perhaps two. When I was trying to get to the occasional festival and juggling work and family, that's what I did. From Manchester you could set off for Whitby after breakfast and get there in time for the lunchtime/afternoon and evening sessions at the fringe events or buy a single ticket to an evening concert if that took your fancy. Stay overnight, take in a morning workshop, lunchtime and afternoon sessions or concerts and perhaps the first part of an evening singaround and you could still be home for bed. From my experience of family commitments, it's the number of nights away that are problematical, not the daytimes.