I have been to a few different festivals since I was 16, and as a result of getting stuck in mud, rained on, sun burnt and lost more than I’d like to recall, I have picked up a few tips and lessons learnt. Now that the British festival season is upon us I thought it would be fun to pass on some of these tips that I feel are worth bearing in mind.
1. Make a thorough list of what to pack
The first time I went to Glastonbury I searched online for what previous goers had advised to bring. The official websites of festivals generally also provide a list of the essentials. I find it useful to examine a few, and create your own list that is personally tailored to suit your own needs. Essentials include a tent, sleeping bag, underwear, wet wipes, money to last the whole festival, ID, a way to get there and back, and of course the precious ticket.
2. Research into where you want to set up camp
The big festivals have a variety of different campsites, that range from family friendly to being where the after parties are held. This is good to look into before you set off, as you don’t want to have little kids sleeping next to intoxicated youths partying, or if you want to be close to the action you might not want to camp in the family area that is generally further away and so quite a trek. It will also be beneficial as you can decide which gate to enter through, to ensure you grab a decent space at your chosen campsite.
3. Plan your times
The big festivals such as Glastonbury can be hell to navigate and to get from one stage to another. So it is important to plan out who you want to see, and whether you have to leave early or arrive late at some acts. Some people stay outside the main stage nearly all day to see the big act they’ve been waiting for. Personally I think this is a waste of a good festival, but these long weekends are designed for each individual to create their own experience.
4. Go with people you could stand for a long weekend
This is a little harsh, but everyone has friends/family who they know they could not be up close to for a long period of time without tension being created. Having to set up and live in a tent, being tired and hungover, and even the weather can all cause bad moods. So choose your festival buddies wisely: might your best friend be unable to stand the lack of shower facilities? Might your partner choose all the acts you’d hate to see? Depending on who you go with, a festival can bring you closer together, but it could also cause one of you to pack up and go home before the good bands have even started.
5. Embrace the weather
This also includes checking the forecast in advance. If you are going to a festival in Britain for example, it commonly rains and you will be outdoors nearly the whole long weekend. This does mean you shouldn’t pack nothing but denim shorts, lace tops and some flowers for you hair (looking at you boys) if there is predicted downpour throughout. Thanks to festivals wellies have a whole range of fabulous patterns and colours to choose from, and I would also advise a waterproof, as fellow festival goers will not appreciate an umbrella blocking their view. However if you’re lucky enough to enjoy glorious weather, do not forget the sun cream. But importantly, whatever the weather, make sure you find a way to enjoy the festival. You don’t have to cover yourself in the thick mud often found on site, or walk around wearing as little as possible, but it is always good to laugh at whatever Mother Nature provides to accompany the bands.
6. Talk to strangers
Possibly the only time I would ever argue against stranger danger. Well not completely, but at festivals everyone becomes much more friendly and connect over the joys of a summer festival. There is so much to bond over: the music, the booze, the crazy sights, figuring out how to put up a tent successfully. Everyone’s festival experience is unique, but it is also shared by all. We walk on the same mud, eat the same food, lose our friends together and for one weekend we are all the same.
7. Ignore the festival hipsters
By these I mean the people who have decided who are the best bands to watch, that everyone should go see play, regardless of whether you’ve heard of them or not. I am guilty of this, I do make fun of anyone who checks out Coldplay. But there are so many different bands and musicians across the weekend, and sometimes the only opportunity for you to see someone live. I saw Beyonce perform at Glastonbury, although I never listened to her music and her place at Glasto among all the rock bands and cabaret acts was questioned, but truth be told she was amazing live. Granted she had all the special effects to pull off a top notch performance, whereas brilliant but unheard of bands can only use their sound, but the important thing is that I enjoyed myself. So who cares what everyone else is off to see, choose what you want.
8. Go see a band you’ve never heard of before
Despite my complaints about festival hipsters, I do think it is worth anyone’s time to do this last piece of advice. A festival is an amazing way to discover your next favourite band, or a new love for a genre. Pick a band you like the name of, or if the description sounds interesting, or if a band is performing who you’ve always meant to give a listen to but never got round to it. Sometimes the best times are these times, because with no expectations there is no room for disappointment.
So these are my own tips, just one more batch to add to the collection. I never feel you can be fully prepared for a festival, because you can never know what to expect. Just ensure that good times will be had, and the best memories will be created.