Live music, getting drunk in fields, mud diving, interesting characters, over flowing portaloos, oh yes festival season is in full swing and for most it’s the highlight of their whole year. There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere at a festival, when the sun sets, the band you’ve waited to see starts up and the crowd roars. For a few short days you can forget it all and become engulfed by this magical festival feeling before getting back to reality.
Festivals are now more popular then ever with new smaller sites setting up in local places, and with the new festivals come new festival goers. Daunted by the whole camping, not showering, drunken lifestyle – panicked people turn to the internet for guidance on what to expect and what to bring.
With this year’s most sort after festival steadily approaching (that’s Reading Festival just incase you didn’t know), I thought I’d share my festival hints and tips with any first time festival goers. Preparing for an occasion like this is like a military operation, come prepared and you’ll have an amazing time, come unprepared and the whole thing will fall apart. With these few tricks and some essential packing I believe that you’ll have a weekend to remember.
Purchase a trolly – trust me you will end with massive red welts on your hands from carrying things. Usually the car park/bus depo is quite walk away from the campsite and if you are just relying on your hands to get your belongings from A to B then you should think again. If you are clever you will also be bringing a travellers backpack – on which you can hang many an object from its straps and zips like a human bucking bronco. Carrying your belongings can really dampen the start of your festival and put you in a foul mood.
Wellies – rain or shine these are your best friends. Walking over uneven terrain in shoes or (god forbid) heels will cause serious damage. I find if you are wearing wellies 24/7 then you get the right amount of grip and stability in any condition.
Baby wipes – this will be your daily shower. Not the most luxurious wash you’ve ever had but it gets you clean nonetheless. Trust me you feel ten times better after using these.
Toilet roll – it’s actually amazing how many people don’t bring toilet roll, yes it is supplied in the portaloos, but it runs out so quickly. People go into survival mode and instantly snatch whole rolls of paper if they are left in the loo. It’s festival gold-dust.
A little point for the ladies – if you are going to use a sheepee/whiz then please do it in the toilet. I can understand it’s easier than hovering over a cess pit of a portaloo, but nobody wants to see you lined up with the rest of the male population against a fence – it makes you look weird.
Airbed – a bit of a luxury yes, but totally worth it. You can pick one up in Asda for a tenner. If you’ve ever slept on a roll mat or ground sheet then you’ll know what I’m talking about, it’s hard, cold and will give you aching joints. You want to be at your festival best and not yawning – so invest because it’s well worth it. For the ultimate nights sleep get some earplugs as well.
A good sleeping bag – bringing a duvet is just a big no-no. It gets wet, they are hard to carry and to be honest you look like you’ve never been to a festival in your life. You can pick up festival sleeping bags from Millets which are specially designed for festival season, I brought one this year and they are spot on. For those who feel the cold I recommend bringing a jumper to wear to bed just incase.
A good tent – the best way to ruin your festival experience is to buy a poor tent. Two skin tents are a must, single skin tents will let in water and if you touch the sides when you stand prepare to get soaked. If you can afford a tent with a porch then buy one – it provides a nice shelter for your party when it pours. If you have a flag of some sort then attach it to the top of you tent so you can locate it within the hundreds.
A picnic blanket or ground sheet. There is nothing better than getting your friends to form a circle of tents around a central party point in which you can lay a ground sheet/blanket. A small patch in which you can all sit together is also a festival must, it forms the pre-party before you head off to enjoy the entertainment and a breakfast spot to laugh about the previous nights activities. Some people like to pop a gazebo up in this space – this is a brilliant idea however some campsites don’t allow them. Be warned, if you are leaving a gathering space then make it small enough so someone can’t put a tent up in it – lengthen guy ropes into the area.
Torch – walking, going to the loo, rummaging in the tent, sitting in a gathering spot outside the tent. A torch is a festival essential.
Basic clothes. It’s not a fashion parade, although you can still look good. If you pack your best clothes prepare to say good-bye to them. You will get laughed out of the festival if you are dressed up to the nines, it’s just common sense to be comfortable in that environment. Besides you will stick out like a sore thumb and possibly be mocked. Fancy dress is always fun, so if you want to dress up then let it be costume.
Bin bags – a clean camp is a happy camp so just bring some bags to pop your rubbish in (recycling and black sacks if possible!). They also double up as seats protecting your derriere from the damp ground, keep your clothes nice and dry, and in the case of wet wellies – stick your foot in a bin bag before popping it in the wellie.
Hat and Rain Mack – your hair will get greasy (unless you have dry shampoo) so a hat helps to hide the embarrassment. Unless you want to get seriously ill then I suggest getting a rain mack. I’ve been caught in a down pour with no rain mack and stayed soaked for many hours. Rain macks and festivals go hand in hand.
For those who can’t live without their phones – get a portable charger. There are usually charging tents at festivals but they are damn expensive and who wants to waste time in a tent charging their phone!
It goes without saying really but never leave anything in your tent that you don’t mind losing. There will always be those sorts of people who steal things from tents, they will be in and out before you know it. Bumbag, handbag, backpack, pockets – keep your valuables on you.
Food and drink – festival food is notoriously expensive so bring your own. I know everyone will turn their noses up but pot noodles are excellent festival food – quick easy and warm. You don’t even need a camping cooker – bring a flask, walk to the nearest tea/coffee stall and sweet talk them into giving you some hot water. Festival drinks are also expensive so take your own water and alcohol.
Last but no means least – music. It would seem odd to many that if you are going to a music festival that you would need to bring music of your own. But, after the main acts have finshed and you’re not quite ready for bed – the music comes in handy and provides a great end to a fantastic night.
So there you have it, all the hints and tips for a perfect summer festival. Enjoy.