Once a year the hippies of Northampton get their own festival, the Umbrella Fair. It's splattered on the wide open canvas that is the towns Racecourse like a drunken bum and free to enter and exhibit, funded by donations and good will. The crustie collective that run it have taken over the nearby Racecourse pavilion that used to be the Jade restaurant and now awarded the right by the local council to exhibit their alternative lifestyle once a year. That lifestyle seems to be one visit to an army surplus store, not washing your hair and gluing your hand to a can of super strength lager. God forbid if you cow tow to 'the man' and get a job! It could catch on.
10 music/performance stages
Massive children's and families area (The Racecourse)
Environmental area (That would also be the Racecourse)
Art & craft areas
Youth area (The Racecourse again)
Human rights area (Yep, the Racecourse)
Over 100 stalls
Delicious vegetarian food stalls
New this year - local history marquee
The hippies believe you can live an alternative lifestyle by not eating meat and using renewable energy, claiming the festival was run by 'wind, sun power and 'chip fat'. Judging by some of the locals walking around the tents and stands they were also running on chip fat. I hate to think how this lot running the show got energy from wind! Hope the visitors paid attention to the healthy eating marquees and strange aromas.
Most of the stuff on show was predictable green clean and psycho new age babble although no real effort was made to actually sell those solar panels and heat pumps. No capitalism here man! An old bloke with hair in his ears as bushy as his dog made a fence out of twigs and branches as the occasional person stopped and chatted whilst the next door borough council recycling bus people attacked people with black bags.
The gay and lesbian tent remained fairly empty, too, as rough and tattooed working-class men were beckoned in to buy stuff in the tent that didn't seem to have much to do with gay and transgender lifestyles. Needless to say only the liberal middle-class dare wander in. I'm always confused on why gay and lesbian types need to rant on and claim they are as normal and regular a part of society as everyone else (which they clearly are) yet take every chance to behave in the exact opposite at these events and parades by dressing up in pink, being outrageous and talking camp. I debated the point with the man in the tent on why exactly do you wear only underpants at gay pride events but the point was lost as he eyed my brown legs. The tent was pickup joint, by the looks. When I asked the butch lesbian lady why butch lesbian ladies chose to look like the men they clearly hate, her hatred of men only increased. I left the tent with the great haste of the president of the United States being whisked away after a particularly loud bang outside, being pelted with rainbow colored leaflets. Nothing wrong with two girls kissing each other, I shouted after! Being a gay man is genetic, of course, and fair enough, but you do feel certain types of women are making some sort of political statement, like vegetarians do, and their sexuality more of a choice. That question remained unanswered at the Umbrella Fair. If you want to feel the same you don't need a tent guys is my point. To be fair there was a straight man tent there. That was called the beer tent.
Plenty of students indulged at the event, as you would expect, acoustic guitars slung over shoulders with menace of pain to come like a Taliban and his AK47, with likewise poetry penned the night before for the likewise poetry tent. Can you imagine being stuck on a dessert island with a performance poet yapping on, praying that coconut you couldn't quite get to at the top of the only palm tree by day ten on the island would full on his or her head!
The wall of death substituted motorbikes for pedal power and so pretty naff and the only other daring challenge on site was pony chariot racing on a 50 meter course, hardly Ben Hur. The live bands were good although with TEN music performance areas with death metal competing with a Carpenters tribute act, the acoustic and jazz tent and man on a flute, there was no contest with the dressed in black angry looking sweaty teens amps very much going to eleven.
Things to do on the site were the sort of things Gwyneth Paltrow does in her down time, like laying down in a small marquee with Himalayan mantra music crashing over you and a hairy looking woman with a cardy on banging a huge gong, hardly relaxing. It was more like the torture room at Guantanamo! To be fair people gave it a go and proved popular, a rare escape from your bills and husbands bad breath. The yoga tent also proved popular although I was kicked out for my warm up routine that contained too many high kicks and flexes in such a small space. It's not a good thing to nearly spark out a hippy on their patch. Release the status hounds Sky!
If you have no interest in the alternative lifestyle really it was just a place to wander around at the weekend until sport starts in the afternoon. One or two onlookers succumbed to high pressure hippie sales tactics and came away with a dream catcher or a wind charm or two whilst others took it as an opportunity to chat up hippy girls, who never seem to wear underwear under their flowing home dyed dresses. There were lots of stands selling those cheap carving and friendship bracelet stuff from Asian and Central African sweat huts and absolutely no burger vans or brand fast food outlets on site. There was a chap selling gardening equipment with electric mowers and you figured he had missed the point on this one. But what you couldn't do is buy an actual umbrella there. But it didn't rain so it didn't matter.
Right so here is MY ultimate festival packing guide....You don't need to take it all obviously, but there's maybe things on my list that you won't think to take that could be useful.
****I asked the DooYoo team where to post my "top tips for festival packing" guide and they advised me to post it here, I have given it 5 stars as it is my list so obviously I find it really useful to ME but I know not everyone will so no offensive if you want to comment and give it your own star rating haha ****
*Make sure you have your tickets!!
*Take a bank card with you but maybe keep one in the car too (or if that is parked far away have one on you and make an arrangement to share cash with a friend should you lose your card), there are bank machines at most festivals now but the ques can be really big!
*Try not to have all your money on one place on you, pick pockets are still a threat even at a friendly festival
*If you are taking a bag or back pack in to the arena, be mindful of how easy people can get in it. If you have a back pack on use one with 2 zips so you can use a combination locking padlock to secure it shut. Use a combination lock on this as it means you can open it without having to have an extra key on you and sticky fingers can't get in. Once locked pull them round to the side, not top as that's harder to slide open if anyone has a sneaky go
*Buy a water proof pouch ( I got mine in semi chem - discount chemist - for less than £2) keep your camera/phone in it in your bag as rain can get though if the weather is back and water damage can be costly as well as losing all your festival photos
*If you can - leave any valuable jewellery behind, even wedding rings, once you are soaked, sticky, muddy it is too easy to lose things
Tent (checked and aired out the week before)
Pillow (Blow up or an old one from the house)
Blanket (good for extra layer but also handy to wrap round you when sitting at the camp site)
A small burner/stove and kettle ( I make my pots of porridge and hot water bottle with this, mines is smoke free cubes that burn, not gas, check rules of the campsite)
Bin bags (keeps your wee area tidy and can be used if any bags burst etc)
Twine (handy for using if bags rip, anything needs secured)
Small hot water bottle (not essential but if you feel the cold like me, it is ideal to get you through the night, filled using my little kettle on my camp stove)
Kitchen roll (I like to wipe down the insides of the tent each morning with this to reduce the condensation that builds up overnight, handy for other stuff too)
Plastic cup to drink out of
1ltr-ish size empty bottle (easier to transport if empty) so you can fill it with water to drink in the tent at morning/night, it's easy to get dehydrated and if you only have a plastic cup..... expect spillages.
Pots of porridge that just take water to make (I don't like breakfast rolls so this starts my day off good)
And anything else you think you might fancy. remember the venuw and most campsites will have hot rolls and fast food but the ques can be long and the prices will be high
Toiletries and other bits:
Shampoo/conditioner/hair brush (if you are able to use the showers, if not can be washed using big bottle of water poured over your head)
Kirby grips/bobbles if you need them
Razor (ladies don't like to have hairy armpits, you'd be amazed how many stubbly armpits you see when arms are aloft though! Yuk! Taking a razor means you can have a quick removal of stubble each morning)
Ear plugs (essential)
Paracetamol/Ibuprofen/Imodium/heartburn tablets (may seem over kill but don't think you can buy these at many festival venues, certainly not ones I have been to)
Plasters (a big box and have a few in your bag/pocket for during the day, Welly blisters are a killer!)
Packs of tissues (most toilets have loo roll but a pack of tissues on you will save you)
Bacterial hand gel (try and take a half used one as even if a whole group of people using it ALL weekend, my bottle only went down about an inch so don't carry more than you need to)
A mirror big enough to see your whole face in, so you can do your hair or make up. If you just have a compact mirror its really fiddly
A small pair of scissors (really handy)
Nail file (raggy nails happen lots when camping haha)
Towels (if using the showers take a couple of small old towels that can get flung in a bag or get left behind)
Make up (pack only what you need to use and don't mind loosing/getting muddy)
Travel size suncream - you never know!
Clothing: (have more than one coat/shoes so if you get soaked or sore feet you can swap over)
Pack a mac
Umbrella (essential for trips to the toilet from tent at campsite if raining)
Hat/scarf/gloves (it gets soooo cold at night in the arena if you are standing about waiting on a band so even on a sunny day I have these in my bag)
All outfits you think you will wear - try and balance this between having outfits approriate to the weather and not taking more than you need as it all has to be carried on your back!
Your outfits - When you pack your bag set out each days clothing (pants, socks, top etc) and wrap each days clothes in a carrier bag, squish down so all air out then tie up. This makes is smaller and easier to pack and if your bag gets wet or you are taking your stuff to the shower block you just pick your carrier bag up and go and it stays dry too. You can also use same bag to put dirty clothes in that night, tie up and pop away so no mess in tent from mud etc
Way home - For the car on the way home, make sure and leave a big bottle of water, dry socks/hoodie and something to eat. If you get stuck in traffic you want something warm to wear and something to eat and drink.
Padlocks - For the padlocks for your tent, you will likely have 2 to use as most tents have zips on 2 sides. Top tip on this is, split the keys, each lock usually comes with 2 keys. So split them so that on your key ring you have one of each and so does someone else you are with. Otherwise if one person loses all you are stuck, whereas if each person has one key each they can get in tent without you and also if you lose yours they still have a spare set. If you buy a set that comes with 2 locks they are usually same colour so identify what ones work for what lock with a spot of dif coloured nail polish on each lock and a spot on the corresponding key. So no faffing trying wrong key.
Meeting point - Set up a meeting point once you get in the arena. Phone signal is terrible in such crowded places, so if anyone gets lost make sure they know where to meet up. Pick something easily identifiable, like for example "the big wheel", but make sure and say something like "the big wheel facing the main stage" etc as each place is big so even if you get there it may be ages before you find the person. So set up a point and decide what direction to be facing.
Thats my girly top tips for festivals. I like to make sure and be safe and warm and once I know thats taken care of I can finally let my hair down!!!!
Happy (safe and warm) festival season everyone :-)
If you are going to a music/art festival, you need to take a few things:
tent (and don't forget the tent-pegs!)
warm sleeping bag
sleeping mat (the ground can be very uncomfortable and cheap tents offer no protection from stones)
baby wipes (you may not be washing for 3 days or more so these are a MUST)
deodorant (what, are you a stinker?!)
any medication you take regularly and keep it with you at ALL times
a mirror (well, you want to look good, right?)
toilet paper (need you ask??!)
condoms? - N/A for me as I'm a gay woman but I thought I should mention it anyway...
ear-plugs (seriously, bongos do not make for a good sleep and you may be needing to sleep in the day as your pattern gets messed up at festivals and these days, you get screaming babies on-site too)
paracetamol (for general pain)
sanitary towels (just in case, girls - they sell them at extortionate prices on the festival site)
walking boots or wellington boots (you will be walking miles over the course of the weekend - wear proper mud-proof and waterproof footwear!)
spare clothes (expect a variety of substances to get onto you at the weekend - you'll need to change)
waterproof anorak (a MUST)
waterproof trousers (a MUST)
sun protection (a MUST)
woolly hat (for nightime)
thermals (you'll thank me when you are the only one not freezing in the night when temperatures drop)
peaked cap (the sun is powerful)
a scarf (as above and it blocks wind and doubles as a mask for coping with chemical loos on day 3)
decent socks (avoid blisters!)
fancy dress attire (do it!)
NB) Don't take your expensive phone, camera or mp3 player! Take a cheap festie phone, a disposable camera and you won't need an mp3 player - you'll have live bands almost 24-7!
Off you go then and don't do anything I wouldn't do. May the force be with you...
I've been to Leeds Festival 3 times, although this was now over 10 years ago! I learnt a few things, and now, 10 years older (and hopefully wiser) I'm off to Download this year! My plan is to be prepared, and I would advise everyone else to do the same when approaching festival season. As a person allergic to grass, I will be stockpiling and dosing up on anti-hystamines, and other remedies (and even a scary infra-red device you stick up your nose for 5 mins a day). I will also be puchasing the dreaded 'she-wee' but no doubt it will be preferable to the UTIs of festivals past due to holding it in in the hope that I can manage without visiting the terrible portaloos for 4 days...(also note, I'll be taking cranberry tablets and taking cystitis relief powder with me!). I will also be making sure the tent is tested in adverse weather conditions before having to live in it for almost a week! If anyone has any further tips, I'd be really interested to hear - and I'll keep reading this discussion thread for inspiration!
I was a rather late-starter when it came to festivals, and for the first couple I attended, I struggled to really enjoy myself. Perhaps I'm just a wuss, but the combination of mud, sore feet, dirt, lack of home comforts, and the unbelievably smelly loos, were all too distracting for me to relax and appreciate the music and atmosphere. But as I became a little more experienced and used to the routine, I began to have much more fun - and at the more recent festivals I've attended, I've had a fabulous time, especially at Glastonbury last year.
Along the way, I've assembled a mental list of practical tips which I've found help make festivals a more pleasant and comfortable experience. Being a bit of a fusspot, my friends take the mickey out of my close attention to loo rolls and wet wipes - while they're busy letting their hair down and getting into the action - but I do think a few simple touches are really worth it. So here's my checklist, which might just be useful if you're a first-time festival-goer this summer.
ARRIVAL / HOW MUCH TO TAKE
Securing a prime spot for your tent is a competitive business, and it seems that no matter how early you arrive, virtually everyone else has beaten you to it. So it's really worth getting there absolutely as early as possible, to give yourself the best chance of pitching reasonably close to the arena, or the car park, or ideally both. If you don't manage to achieve this, prepare yourself for a walk of up to several miles from where you park, or are dropped by the bus, to your final destination. That's why I try and pack the minimum amount I can get away with. You really don't need a great many changes of clothes - a top for each day, and something to keep you warm. It's tempting to take piles of booze and provisions (at Glastonbury, I saw one guy with a full scale barbecue, complete with gas cylinder) but assess first how keen you are you to carry them all the way to your tent: those crates of beer will seem less appealing with every yard of the journey. Some people use trolleys, wheelbarrows, or even dustbins; but in muddy conditions, wheels are very hard work.
There are two approaches to your choice of festival abode. Last year, I invested in a good quality, if slightly expensive, tent from Blacks. It was a bit pricey at £75 but is much more robust than cheaper tents I had previously - easier to set up, stronger, will last for ages, and has some nice features such as internal LEDs. So you can either splash out on a 'proper' tent which will serve you well for many festivals - or instead buy a very cheap one (B&Q and big Tescos sell them for about £15) and regard it as disposable. That means you won't have the hassle of packing it up and lugging it home again afterwards, but on the downside it will probably be less robust. If you plump for this option, how you choose to dispose of your tent afterwards is a matter for your conscience. Glastonbury, for example, have a proper facility for dumping your tent: it will then get recycled or re-used. If you don't bother to pull out all the pegs when you strike the tent, bear in mind that they can be very dangerous for the livestock who will return to the field once you're gone.
As ever with festival packing, the issue is comfort v space/weight. If you have the budget, it's worth getting a good quality sleeping bag which will compress down into very small parcel, but still keep you warm - and will be breathable, and therefore not too hot if the weather is mild. A foam carry-mat to go underneath your sleeping bag in the tent is also highly recommended, to make the ground that bit less bumpy. Mats are very light. I also like to take a pillow, which might sound a bit of an indulgence (and takes up a lot of room in your rucksack) but in my experience is definitely worth it - I sleep much more comfortably with something proper to rest my head on. Alternatively, you could get an inflatable one if you have enough puff to blow it up.
This is an often-overlooked area when it comes to Festival planning, but in my experience it's crucial: if your feet hurt by the end of a long-day, those ninety minute headline sets will become torture. It's easy to forget just how many miles you will walk during an average festival day, especially if (like me) you try and see as many acts as possible. People usually say - make sure you take wellies, but I'd argue they are not the best option. Wellies don't support your ankles and become very tiring to wear and walk around in after a few hours. Much better is a pair of proper walking boots, which are not only just as waterproof as wellies, but way more comfy and robust. If it's dry, a comfy pair of old trainers are best. Flip-flops are a poor choice. They might seem light and airy, but they're far too flimsy to support your feet over all those miles, and they chafe. After wearing mine for a whole day at Glastonbury, I was left with a painful, bloody weal across my right foot.
KEEPING WARM AND DRY
It can get pretty cold in the evenings, and maybe very cold in your tent overnight. And it can rain - a lot. The trick is to take something which will keep you warm but not be too heavy and eat up the space in your rucksack. A good option is a proper outdoors fleece/rain-jacket: a fleece layer for warmth along with a thin waterproof layer, plus hood. North Face, for example, do one which is combined - you can separate the layers if need be depending on the weather. You might also want to take a spare hoodie to sleep in.
You need a mobile with you at all times to stay in touch with your friends and arrange rendezvous points if you split up or lose each other. But your phone battery charge is at a premium - your tent won't have powerpoints! Some festivals have stands where you can pay to charge your phone, but there are usually queues, and it's insufferably boring to stand there, waiting, watching a battery charge up. So my trick is to leave my iPhone at home - partly because I don't want it stolen or broken, but also because smartphones are very battery-hungry. Instead, I take two of my old handsets, smaller phones which use the battery more efficiently. I charge them both fully beforehand, and then swap the simcard between them after the first battery dies. I also use a phone for all photos - it's annoying carrying a camera around all day, and it's a very easy thing to lose or have stolen.
HYGIENE / LOOS
By the second or third day of a festival, I begin to feel rather smelly. But I have to content myself with the knowledge that everyone is in the same boat, and hopefully noone will notice! You can virtually forget any idea of having a shower over the weekend. Even if there are facilities available, they will in all likelihood be so far from your tent that it's barely worth the hassle, especially as the queues will be ludicrously long. Instead, take plenty of wet wipes and cleanse yourself as best you can with those. I also take a bottle of shampoo and try and sneak one proper hair wash at a water point - the water is freezing, and you hold up the queue, but both factors are justified by how much fresher I feel afterwards. I always envy blokes, who can strip to the waist outside their tent and wash their top half with a water bottle. Trickier for girls, unless you're an exhibitionist.
Men are also obviously in a advantageous position when it comes to the notorious festival loo arrangements - the stuff of legend. To say the loos are not for the faint-hearted is putting it mildly. All you can do is be brave, hold your breath, be as quick as you can - and never, ever look down. If you do, the diabolical sight will stay with you forever. There's not much else I can advise. At Reading, I saw one woman, queueing for the loo, who'd inserted ropes of tissue up both her nostrils - presumably to protect herself from the smell. Don't know if it worked, but it was an odd image - made her look like a walrus!
When you set off from your tent for the day, always take with you a generous wodge of loo roll - some of which you can use for seat-cleaning - and an anti-bacterial hand-wash. According to urban myth, some people take take Immodium before a festival to minimise the number of loo visits they need. Never tried this myself, but doesn't sound very sensible to stop yourself up for four days - especially when you consider how much junk you'll be eating, which leads me to...
Stock up on nutrition beforehand, because you'll be lucky to find any at the majority of festivals, where there's little alternative to relying for sustenance on what you can forage from the take-away stalls. These vary in quality, although they'll always be quite expensive. At Reading or V, you'll rarely find much beyond burgers, but Glastonbury (and more 'alternative' festivals) have a much wider-range, including better vegetarian options. I've never figured out how you can really take any of your own food - it's heavy, and will spoil. I usually pack a box or two of cereal bars, which are light and will give you a bit of energy in the mornings. At some festivals, for example Reading, you can walk into town and buy proper food (and queue in a pub to use a proper loo) - but the time it takes for the round journey is off-putting.
- A torch - very handy indeed, and take spare batteries.
- Sanitary products. A must, even if you're not expecting to come on, at the time.
- Smokers: I find myself smoking loads during festivals - even more than usual, I'm afraid to say! Loads of stalls will sell cigarettes, rolling tobacco, and Rizlas, but if you're fussy, like me, or want to save a little money, you might want to stock up in advance. I take a good supply of my favourite tobacco, as it's not always available on site. Also, at Glastonbury, Marlboros are not on sale anywhere (presumably on ethical grounds, as if the other fag companies are very ethical!) so Marlboro-lovers should be prepared.
- Campsite. If you're going to chill out with your mates by your tents, it's nice to have camp chairs - the comfort of getting a sit-down is worth carrying them from the car. A lantern also makes things more cosy, as does a battery-powered speaker dock for an iPod, to give you some music.
- Painkillers (for hangovers) and a few elastoplasts are also worth packing.
Hope some of this is useful for first-time festivallers. Although I've been quite detailed here, it's important not to worry too much about this kind of stuff. Instead, just enjoy the buzz and the music, and have a fantastic time!
Let's face it - the deciding factor of whether to go to a music festival or not is whether it's worth the money. With the average price of a music festival ticket costing £200, it's a big decision to make!
I've been to Radio 1's One Big Weekend (a music festival of sorts) and T in the Park in Scotland 3 times. I have camped once, and been a day visitor twice.
Compare to the likes of Glastonbury (capacity 177,500), T in the Park is much smaller, holding *only* 85,000 festival goers with Reading festival being a little smaller, holding 82,000 people.
I would never have put myself down for the festival type. Before I went to university I had only seen Wet Wet Wet, Will Young and Steps! Not quite the kind of bands/groups you would see at a music festival.
So in 2007, I decided to bite the bullet, part with £150 and go to T in the Park as a day visitor (Saturday and Sunday). I didn't camp in '07 because my friend literally lives 10 minutes away from T in the Park and isn't the camping type.
After a bag search (mandatory) and ticket scan, I entered the gates. It took my brain a little while to adjust to the layout and size of a music festival, but I soon learnt how every worked and had one of the best weekends of my life.
In 2009 I went with a different group of friends and camped! I was a little worried about how I would cope... not showering etc. But the campsites are very well decked out. We didn't stay near the entrance to the music festival and had about a 25 minute walk to our tent (we did this on purpose). I don't know about other music festivals, but I found that the campsite nearest the entrance are where the 'hardcore' festival goers camp.
The Portaloos' were kept immaculate were we stayed and I could not fault it in anyway. It was well lit, plenty of amenities, and actually quite quiet! I can't say as much about the toilets at other parts of the campsite....
At T in the Park there are showers available on the campsite, but I would suggest going at about 4am. My friends went at 7.30 and had to queue for 2.5hours. Should you want to keep your hair immaculate, there are straightners and hairdryers available but they are very costly to use.
My biggest worry about camping, was that I would have to survive on basics, but this isn't the case at all. You can buy phone chargers, hire lockers to put important belongings in... everything you could think of is available.
On the music festival site, not are there the various stages which are very well spaced apart, but there is plenty of food to buy - fish and chips, burgers, pizza, chinese, baked potatoes etc. There was a fairground. There was plenty to keep you entertained, that's for sure!
As music festivals are getting bigger and bigger, Glastonbury, Leeds/Reading, T in the Park, V Festival etc, are upping their game each year. T in the Park saw the likes of Eminem, Jay Z, Dizzee Rascal and Black Eyed Peas JUST TO NAME A FEW! 2009 saw Lady Gaga, Kings of Leon and The Killers!
Leeds and Reading (this year) had Guns N' Roses, Blink 182, Paramore, and Glastonbury managed to get their hands on Stevie Wonder.
Yes £200 is a lot of money to pay in one lump some, but if you consider that Lady Gaga would be a minimum of £50 to see, and Eminem and Jay Z charding the same... after 4 individual concerts, you would have spent £200! So these days you get to see some of the biggest artists in the world for hardly any money! It's not like they do short sets either. 60 - 90 mins is the norm for the bigger bands.
Children are allowed to attend music festivals with an adult, however, I would strongly advise not taking children with you. Some of the things I've seen have shocked me, so I dread to think what it would do to a child.
I love music festivals! I think its EXCELLENT value for money, you're guaranteed a good time (it's impossible to describe the 'buzz' from the crowd) and if you think you can cope with large crowds and camping, then I would certainly suggest going to a music festival.
This is my review on festivals in general, I have been to a fair few since I was 16 (I am now 21) so believe I have enough knowledge to pass on my experience, tips and general information.
First of all, I will start by saying, festivals are not for everyone, there is some sort of stigma attached that you will smell all weekend whilst there and will be uncomfortable for the duration. This is not true, I believe you can make your festival experience as clean or as dirty (literally) as you like. Just because you live in a tent for a few days does not always mean it will be uncomfortable, there are cheap options such as roll matts to sleep on that aren;t the best admittedly, but you can always go upmarket and buy an air mattress or even a fold up bed. The experience is completely what you make it and just thought I would say this first before I continue.
Although children are allowed at most festivals, id advise to not bring them, as some of the things that happen that cant be controlled could be unsuitable, it would also give you a bit of a break away from them, and will also be cheaper. Family camps are usually available however if this is not an option.
Festivals come in all sorts of sizes, large ones being events such as Glastonbury, which has now been going for a whopping 40 years! However there are smaller ones such as local ones which can be just as much fun also, but obviously not including big named bands. I have been to quite a selection of festivals, I generally prefer the busy ones and have therefore attended Glastonbury, Leeds, Rockness (Which is located in Lochness, Inverness, which is a gorgeous location to have a festival, highly recommended), Latitude, Sonisphere, Download, Global Gathering and a handful of smaller festivals.
I will now tell you a bit about each of these festivals in order to give you all a bit of an incite into what I like and what the festivals entail.
Needs no explanation really, you only have to watch the highlight son the TV to see how amazing it looks. Its host to some of the biggest acts in the world and over 25 stages! There is always something to do here, be it watch the bands, try some of the amazing food on offer, have a few drinks in the masses of different bars available, chilling out in the stone circle, a wild visit to Shang-ri-la and Trash City. There is just so much to do and 5 days certainly is not enough in order to see it all. If you have never been to a festival before, this is the DADDY of them all for sure!
Twinned with Reading (the original), I have been here for the last 4 years and just cant get enough. Its smaller than glastonbury and is host to about 80,000 people over the entire weekend which is usually the bank holiday weekend in August. This festival is more for people who enjoy Indie, electro and rock music and caters for the majority of people but mainly people in their late teens and 20's. Im 21 and still love it and I think I always will. Leeds has a lot of night time entertainment such as silent discos, campsite DJ's, which anyone can do if you apply before the festival. It also has a fairground in orange camp and lots of stalls to buy things such as clothes/camping equipment. Its an expensive one at about £200 for a weekend ticket including early entry and booking fee's. Highly recommended.
Located in the gorgeous Lochness, the main stage is in front of this lake and looks amazing. The only downfall of this festival is that it is so far away. Its cheaper than Leeds and Glastonbury at about £130 for a weekend ticket. This festival caters mainly for fans of dance, electro and indie music mainly. Its a good laugh as the Scottish always provide with entertainment.
This is a totally different festival altogether and one that I have been to twice. It is quite small as its fairly new and is very family orientated. It has been known to attract a lot of middle class people, but I have never really noticed really. Its hosts acts that aren't as popular as acts at the main festivals, but creates a relaxed atmosphere and has some lovely scenery. There isn't really much to do at night, except for those who want to go partying in the woods where there is a couple of hidden stages for late night DJ's. I enjoyed doing this at night as it was different and almost rave-esque.
This only started last year, and is for fans of Rock and Metal music. It is a very big rival to Download festival which is also for similar music. This festival had a lot of teething problems last year, the stages were all wonky and there was a distinct lack of entertainment and atmosphere at night. It seems as though there was nothing to do at night at all. Hopefully this will change this year.
As stated, very similar to Sonisphere but far more organised. Held around Donning-ton park race track, this festival attracted 100,000 people this year. There is lots of entertainment at night including the VK parties, fair rides, a mini village full of stuff to do including shisha. Definitely one to go to if you like alternative music.
This festival is a must for those who love dance music. It caters for all types including hardcore, dubstep, drum and bass, electro, house and also allows a few bands to play on the live stage also. The only thing I don't like about this festival is that it is only 2 days long and the first day doesn't usually start until 5pm. I feel it would be better if they made it a 3 day weekend festival instead. A fun festival to attend, but tiring with all the dancing.
There are many more festivals in the UK that cater for everything, theres even food festivals for all you foodies out there. There is also a festival guide magazine/book that comes out yearly that includes all the UK festivals, so this may be handy to look at if you need help deciding which one to go to.
So what should you take to a festival? Well a tent is usually a good place to start. Make sure you get a tent that is suited to you, theres no point having a 6 man just for one person as not only would it be a pain in the backside to put up, the nights get very cold and all the space around you will make you colder. I suggest a 2 man tent for one person, a 3 man for 2, a 4 man for 3 and so on, so that that extra space will be enough to keep your stuff in around you and keep you warmer at night. Id also like to stress that you don't go too cheap! If you insist on getting a cheap tent then PLEASE make sure it has 2 layers on it, else if it rains, all your stuff will get wet and thats not a great thing to happen. Argos are usually pretty good for tents during the summer months, but also check local camping stores as these often have some good deals on really good tents also.
Another tip is to make sure whatever sleeping bag you take, make sure its warm. Mines really thick as its for all weathers, its bulky to carry but its so worth it as I don't shiver at night unlike those people who take really cheap skinny Tesco's brand or something along those lines.
So what else do I recommend you take?
Toilet roll (you will need it, fact!)
Hand sanitiser (there will be no soap)
Blanket (for extra warmth)
Clothes (But not too many as you wont wear them all)
Baby Wipes (to wash with if you don't want to use the on-site showers)
Spare phone battery or spare phone
Food (mainly snacks, easy to cook stuff)
Drinks (Dont forget some soft drinks as well as your alcohol!)
Paracetamol (Trust me!)
Medication that you may need.
Poncho or waterproof jacket
What not to take...
Drugs or illegal substances, as checks are undertaken and you could get caught.
Too many clothes/shoes as you wont use them
Heavy items that you wont use
I also have some tips for you, that may be of use:
-take nearly empty shampoo's and toothpaste etc or miniatures as its lighter to carry and you can throw the containers away for when you go back home so your stuff will be lighter.
-Write down phone numbers you may need on a bit of paper so that if you lose your phone or it runs out and you cant contact anyone, you can use someone elses phone or a payphone to get hold of them.
-Unpack everything once your tent is set up, you will be thankful later when it gets dark and you cant find anything in your bag.
Festival working opportunities:
So sometimes times are hard and money can be an issue for some people and yet if you still want to go to a festival but not pay, there are ways around this. No, I dont mean sneak your way in or fake a ticket, I mean by working. Theres a lot of companys that offer festival work to people for either a wage or just for the ticket to the festival. I have done this on many occasions and have had mixed experiences.
The company that I have recently worked for are called 'Festaff'. I worked for them at this years Download festival and in return I got a free ticket, secure camping site and a meal per shift. I was part of the campsite information team and had to do 3x8 hour shift over the 7 days that I was on site. I missed 0 arena time. They are a decent company to work for and pay at most events. Please google them if you wish to work for them in the future. Also, no deposit was needed, instead I handed them my passport or drivers licence as a form of deposit and got it back when I finished my last shift. A fun company to work for and very understanding.
In the past, I have also worked for DC site services, this company seems to have gone a bit downhill in the last year as they lost a lot of contracts, however they still do a few events but a deposit of £225 is asked to cover the cost of the tickets (in case you do a runner). This is a one off payment however and covers all festivals so you can work as many as you want under that one deposit. Te good thing about this company is that they pay, however this can take a few weeks. Their jobs are also pretty grim, and include working 12 hour shifts picking up litter etc. on the plus side you do get 2 meals per shift, but then again you also lose a fair amount of the festival. I met some great people through this company, but don't work for them any more.
There are also other companies that want workers and one of the more well known ones is Oxfam. This is voluntary work that does require a deposit, but in return, you only work 3 short shifts over the festival weekend and the money that you would normally have been payed, gets given to the charity instead. Oxfam are all reliable and well known, so its very safe to work for them.
Another company that I know of is Flair events, never worked for them myself but know people that have and have received good reviews. Also SEP, again, not worked for them myself but know of people that have. SEP also do not require a deposit, but don't let you have your wristband until the bands start in the arena, which sucks.
Are festivals safe?
Yes and No is the answer to that. Yes they are in many regards, or rather, they try to make them as safe as possible, but its not guaranteed that on the last day of Leeds festival, you wont get your tent set on fire etc. security are on site 24/7 and are normally very good at controlling trouble and any problems that occur, but of course some things just happen. For example 'poo girl', yes google it if you dont believe me, but this girl dropped her bag down a long drop toilet (basically a cess pit) at leeds festival, tried to hook it out with her arms and got stuck. Of course this is humorous to us, but it did happen, people did watch and most people know about it, so much so it got on the news. This wasn't something I expected to happen, but it did, just like other things could, but generally its pretty safe to attend.
In order to keep as safe as possible, make sure you don't drink too much as to put yourself in danger, dont take anything you are not familiar with or think you cant handle. Make sure you report fires that are too big that are near you, as they could spread and put you in danger. Also, do not throw gas canisters into fires as these explode and cause bad injuries. These should be banned now anyway, but just be extra careful!
If you suspect someone is in trouble and cant get themselves to hep, tell security, you would want the same thing to happen to you right?
If you find anything that seems to be of value, please hand it in to lost property, treat people how you would want to be treated, at the end of the day if you lost your phone/wallet etc you would be gutted if someone didn't bother handing it in wouldn't you? Yeah? So do the same for them. There should be lockers available on site, though these can be a little pricey at about £12 for the weekend, but may be worth it especially to keep car keys and money in.
Travel to festivals these days is quite easy, there are various coach services to most major festivals, its worth looking on sites such as 'National Express' and 'Megabus' to see if they go to the city the festival is in as it may be cheaper to do it that way then get another bus to the site than actually getting the coach straight to the site itself.
There are also lots of trains running to various places and if booked early enough in advance, these train fares could be fairly cheap.
Another form of transport is of course by car, though this is the most convenient, expect to be caught in queues and with the price of petrol at the moment, could cost a fair amount. Also try to car share if you can, with others as this can cut down the cost and gain you new friends, just make sure they're not dodgy before you let them in, or vice versa.
Take enough money to get you through the weekend! Food on site is extortionate! Im talking £2.20 for a bottle of water/coke, and at least £4 for a burger. Noodles are now about £7 on site, so take enough money to cover your meals or make your own!
There are bars on every festival site, expect to pay around £3.60 for a pint of beer/cider and up to £6 for a spirit and mixer. Not cheap by all means but taking your own alcohol into the arena at festivals is not allowed and searches are almost always carried out. The only exception for this is at glastonbury, as alcohol is allowed everywhere there.
Take a bikini/swimming stuff if you want to go for a shower... As 90% of the time, they are communal and if you are like me, I don't particularly like the idea of getting naked in front of other people. Also, expect the showers to be cold.
Make sure you drink a lot of water if its hot, theres nothing worse than being dehydrated. Take an empty water bottle with you into the arena's and fill them up with the taps provided, yes there may be a queue, but t least you wont have to pay every time you fancy a drink.
Take a torch with you! This is very important in regards to using the toilets in the dark, they will be messy and I can guarantee that you will need the torch to see what you are dealing with. They also help to find your stuff in your tent at night and also help to see the flipping guide ropes on tents that are notorious for tripping over!
I have probably missed a lot of things out, and if you have any other questions then please comment and il add the answers in and make this guide a lot better and hopefully help a lot of people out.
Remember, being at a festival is a great experience, have as much fun as you can and forget about the outside world. At the end of the day, you have paid a lot of money for your ticket so make sure you make the most of it and have loads of fun with friends and family. If it rains, don't let the weather get you down, just brave it, play in mud puddles, you will all look messy anyway. Make sure you don't take anything valuable or if you do, sleep with them in your sleeping bag as thats probably the safest place at night as they are with you.
I hope this has been of use. Its taken me long enough :)
(FYI, i have posted this on a student website that has a forum on summer festivals, in case anyone comes across it and thinks its been stolen)
With the weather starting to get nicer again it can only mean one thing - the festival season is almost here!!!!
Being a veteran of several Leeds and Glastonbury festivals and being the proud owner of a Glasto ticket for this year I thought I would share a few thoughts on festivals, how to survive them and the important things to take!
First off, it is important to realise that festival sites are basically small cities so any possible problems you might get when wandering around a city, you could also experience at a festival. Now I am not saying this to scare people and personally I have never been a victim of crime at a festival but it is important to remember that whilst you might be there to have fun you need to keep your wits about you just in case these is some idiot there who wants to nick your phone or spike your drink!
Now the first thing to consider about a festival I think is how and when you are going to get there. Most festivals these days do not just open their doors on the morning the acts begin playing but usually about 2 days before. Personally I like to get their early to get a good camping spot and be able to camp with all of my friends and would certainly advise other people to do this too. I just couldn't imagine turning up to Glastonbury on Friday morning and trying to find a camping spot, it would be absolute hell and you would probably end up in a ditch or something!!!!
As I mentioned you also need to think about how you are going to get there. Glastonbury certainly now has a coach ticket option whereby you get travel included in the ticket price and are able to get on a coach at a nearby town or city and then get a coach back there after the festival has finished. Personally I have never tried this option but as long as you turn up on time it does seem a pretty good way to travel and certainly helps with your carbon footprint! Most festivals also have some sort of deal going on whereby there is a free shuttle bus from the nearest train station to the site and again this is a good way to travel whilst limiting the damage to the planet! However, most people still seem to drive to festivals these days so I would definitely suggest organising your friends and lift sharing as best as possible. Again, this makes it cheaper for everyone, a more fun journey and helps limit our environmental impact. Also, make sure you leave in plenty of time as traffic around festivals can be notoriously bad and a normal 2 hour journey could turn into 6 or 7 quite easily. Personally I would suggest leaving as early as you can because that limits the chances that you will arrive in the dark and have to put a tent up at night!!!
Now once you are there and in and have your tent set up it is time to start enjoying what you spent £200 on attending!
Festivals can be amazing places to go with friends and have fun, apart from all the bands to see there are loads of other things to do. Most festivals will have some sort of fun fair type rides, a huge selection of shops selling all sorts of crazy stuff from clothing to bongs, a huge selection of food and drink stalls and other forms of entertainment such as night club type places or comedy tents!!! Glastonbury especially is great for the "added extras" and pretty much there is something to do from about 10am right through to about 6am which is pretty awesome!
Now being a festival I guess the main reason for going there is the music so one massively important thing to do is get yourself a festival guide as quickly as you can. These are often free or for sale just as you walk onto the site and will contain the full line up details. It is then down to you to plan what you are going to do and who you are going to see. Now, it is worth remembering that depending on which festival you are going to the distances between stages can be vast (45 min walk) so you need to make sure you leave enough time to get from one place to another and way want to try and limit how far you have to walk as festivals can become very tiring very quickly as walking in thick mud in wellies isn't the easiest of things!!!
Now a hugely important thing about any festival is what to pack so here are what I think are the big essentials!
1) Tickets!!!!!! Please remember to take your tickets with you, how awful would it be to turn up after a huge journey to realise your tickets are "in your other bag" or something!!!!
2) Tent. You might not want/need one each but definitely make sure there is ample tent space for you and your friends! Also, bare in mind that if you fancy getting a bit frisky with a member of the opposite sex that it might not be ideal to have a friend laying down next to you!!!!!
3) Sleeping bag and roll mat! An absolute must if you plan on getting any sleep! Even better than a roll mat, if you have an air bed and pump bring that for ultimate luxury!!!
4) Wellies! If you are going to a UK festival then these are an absolute must! There is no way you would cope at a festival without these so make sure you bring a pair!!
5) Waterproofs! It's the UK - it rains!!!!
6) Food and drink supplies! Think about it, 5 days in a campsite where buying food and drink is very expensive?! Why not bring as much of your own as you can, obviously no fresh foods that will go off but canned food, packet food and general munch like crisps and chocolate are a great idea. I also make sure I bring some bottled water as it makes it easier to clean your teeth in the morning and that sort of thing. Alcohol is a must too if you are going to be drinking. Most festivals allow you to bring your own onto the campsite and some even allow it at the stages! As most festivals charge about £4 a pint and wine and spirits can be even more (if you can get them) it makes sense to stock up before you go at the supermarket!!! (Remember, you can't take glass bottles in so make sure beer is in cans and empty your spirits into plastic bottles before you go in!)
Smokers, make sure you take enough cigs to last you as they can be hard to find and even more expensive than usual at festivals. I find I tend to smoke a lot more at them too as you are up longer and partying the whole time without having to worry about the smoking ban too as it's all outside! Oh, and plenty of lighters as you are bound to lose them!
7) A BBQ! Bring a few portable BBQ's or a stove to cook your food on! No point bringing tins and packets and the like if you have nothing to cook them on!
8)Toiletries! Toilet roll is an absolute must (although Glastonbury often give it out for free) as you will not find it in the rather awful campsite toilets. I would also suggest taking baby wipes as these are the only realistic way that you are going to be able to clean your body for about 5 days which is pretty rank so you need something to help freshen up. Deodorant is almost a must to try and disguise and horrid smells!!
Ladies, personally I don't really bother with make-up at festivals because what's the point when you smell like hell and haven't washed your hair but maybe take a few essential bits just to look presentable! Also and this is a huge one, if there is any chance at all that you might get your period whilst you are there (and if there is, sod's law dictates it will happen) make sure you take sanitary towels or tampons!!! You really do not want to be wandering around trying to find somewhere selling those in an emergency! Personally I wear towels anyway but I would actually recommend even those that use tampons to consider using towels at a festival as the toilets are so rank that it can't by hygienic to change tampons in them.
Painkillers are also a must! 5 days of drinking are going to take their toll so make sure you have something to perk you up again the next day! Nobody is going to let you slum around in your tent all day so you will need painkillers to survive!
9) Warm clothes! Don't think just because it is June to August that it will be 30 degrees day and night! It might but it almost certainly won't and it can actually get very cold at night so make sure you have plenty of layers and some warm hoodies/coats!
10) Money!! As I said there is plenty to spend your money on so make sure you bring some. There will be ATM's there but who wants to spend there time queueing up for hours when you could have got some out before you went!
So there you have it, my guide to festivals, I have had some of the best times of my life at festivals and can't wait to go again this year but it can be a bit of a mission at times so being thoroughly prepared before you go is definitely a good idea!
Hope you enjoyed the review and please feel free to leave a comment and point out any essentials I'm going to forget to take this year!!!
It's winter - unfortunately there's no festivals around at the moment. But no reason to worry, for tickets are already on sale for some major British festivals... Download.. Reading... I'm sure V Festival will be on sale soon too. Lots of reasons to start wiping the dust off your tent and invest in some wellies soon (if you haven't already done so due to this disgusting English weather!).
So, what is a music festival? There really isn't any other way to describe other than lots of people getting together to enjoy the music they love. A range of festivals are available nowadays - jazz, folk, pop, and my personal favorite, rock.
At these festivals you'll find there might be a few different stages, with the main stage hosting the biggest bands/most well known bands. There's generally plenty of food/refreshments places, stalls that sell clothes and accessories, sometimes interactive stalls that allow you to play African drums, or even now competition stands where you can play Guitar Hero to win prizes!
Quite a lot of festivals take place over a weekend or a period of a couple of days, and with these the festivals tend to be next to a big field so the attendees can camp over. Here's where the fun starts!
Festivals are fantastic places to meet new people.. the reason for this is that not many people at festivals are jerks. Not many go to festivals looking for fights or looking for a bad time - everyone is there for a holiday - to chill, relax, and listen to some wicked music. With everyone in this mindset, it makes for a lot of easygoing people. Even at some heavy metal festies I've been to where the typical concept of a 'metalhead' is aggressive, violent, looking for trouble, etc, they've all been really friendly people. It doesn't matter if you don't look part, don't dress the right way or speak the right way, there's so many different varieties of people that everyone is unique anyway! Therefore festivals are the perfect places to go to meet some interesting people and have a fantastic time.
Let me introduce you to the festival I went to most recently: Download 2009. It takes place every year (for the past ten years) in June, and is situated in Doncaster, Derby. It mainly comprises of heavy rock music, metal, 'emo', hardcore rock and other similar categories, though they are expanding to a bit of drum and bass, having featured The Prodigy last year as one of their main acts.
Download takes place over a weekend, Friday night until Sunday night, and there is camping which opens from the previous Wednesday through until Monday. So quite a lot of people head down on the Wednesday to get into the festival atmosphere, watch the bands at the weekend then head home Monday.
I believe there were 70,000 people at Download 2009, so if you can imagine that many people in that place - yep, it was very crowded! The camping space was ridiculously big, and once they opened up the different areas for camping it was literally, "3.. 2.. 1.. CHARRRGGGEE!" to find a decent space to camp in. I went up in a group of 30 so you can imagine how difficult it was finding a space large enough to accommodate us all!
Download supports both big bands and small bands - big bands generally are assigned to the larger stages, whilst small bands can gain support in the small stages/tents. Every year Download takes applications from many small bands to give them a chance to perform on stage, sometimes with competitions, so this is a great way for unknown bands to make a name for themselves. Reading Festival does this too, and my boyfriend's band actually got to play at Reading on a small stage - unfortunately I didn't know him at the time but it's a pretty cool fact!
The three main bands who played the 2009 Download Festival were Faith No More, Slipknot and Def Leppard. That year actually sold out because of these bands: Faith No More had broken up years ago but recently formed back together, and I know many many people were excited about seeing them again. Slipknot always seems to be a hit within metal crowds, and Def Leppard, hopefully most of you will know, were a rock band famous around the late 70s and 80s! Yes, they are old now but put on quite a show!
Download has a variety of acts within the rock genre, never really touching pop or anything other than rock or metal though, so yes, they are margining out a lot of their market by only attracting metal fans. Despite this, there are always a variety of people at Download, from the weird and wacky to the completely normal, whatever that is!
Prices of Download tickets seems to go up every year. Last year, I'm trying to remember correctly!, I paid about £165. This included weekend arena entry, camping entry and parking.
Reading Festival is another biggie within this country, and this one has a lot more different music compared to Download. Reading covers plenty of different musical genres, and even features a comedy tent in case anyone wasn't interested in the music one night! Both Download and Reading are laid out fairly the same - main stage, two smaller but still big stages, then a few even smaller stages for lesser-known bands. Both festivals contain all the food/drink/shops that you'd generally find at a festival, so are fairly similar, the one difference being that Reading tends to be more family/child friendly. You don't find many children at Download, but because of the all different sorts of music at Reading, more families tend to go here.
Reading Festival is absolutely massive. It's also been around a lot longer, I think maybe 20 years now. Over time, many many big bands have played at Reading. Nirvana, Metallica, Faith No More, Radiohead, Placebo, Red Hot Chillis, The Killers, Rage Against The Machine, Iron Maiden and Green Day (just to name a few!). Some of them are pop artists, some rock, some metal, some grunge... a complete variety that can appeal to most.
V Fest is another well-known festival that takes place in Chelmsford. It isn't as old as the two mentioned above and not as popular, but as I live a 30 minute drive away from Chelmsford I feel strangely patriotic towards it! V is very pop orientated, so not really my cup of tea, but I feel like I should support it as not much else happens in Essex! Thousands of people do go every year and it has had some big artists perform - Razorlight, Snow Patrol, Fatboy Slim, Girls Aloud, Muse, The Strokes, etc.. I think the acts they have are mainly British artists, whereas other big festivals have bands from all around the world.
V Festival attracts a lot of families and is a lot cleaner in general than Download and Reading. The toilets generally are nicer too! I think the staff clean them a lot more regularly. There is a nice atmosphere at V, but I think I have more fun at Download and Reading, due to the fact that at V there are people of all ages, whereas at the other two there are more people my own age.
Some more well known festivals that I'm yet to explore are Glastonbury, T in the Park, the Isle of Wight Festival, and Bestival. They contain different kinds of music, so there is something for everyone. Aside from those, there are a lot of local festivals too, so it is always a good idea to check your local paper for mini-fests. I live in Essex and in the past year I've been to the 'Rock and Rave' Festival in Harwich which cost £10 entry and showed local bands, and 'Party in the Park' which was held in Colchester Castle Park. It was £5 entry and had a whole host of different things going on! Both were one day events so there wasn't overnight camping, but it was still fun and at least I didn't have to worry about putting up a tent!
Music festivals generally have a great atmosphere, intertwined with some great and interesting music. If you're a music fan then you really couldn't have more fun elsewhere!
Though so far I've made festivals sound really exciting and a great place to be, there are some downies to being at one. There are some obvious dangers (watch out for people spiking your drinks or trying to sell dodgy drugs - yes, I know I said everyone at festivals is easygoing but unfortunately wherever you go there are going to be dodgy people trying to use and abuse places like this, and take advantage of people who are having fun and unaware of dangers, so you must keep a watchful eye wherever you are). Theft is another danger at festivals because, as above, unfortunately there ARE going to be some jerks around who are looking for vulnerable people to take advantage of.
Some other poor side to festivals are the fact of how busy they get - if you're heading to one you must be prepared to wait in queues, queues, queues. For toilets, for the ATM machine, for the hotdog vendour, for campsite entry, for arena entry, etc, etc. If you're an impatient person then festivals are not for you!
Another down side is the walking. I'm quite unfit, yet at festivals I've had to put myself through walking at least 6 miles every day! The walk from the parking to the campsite is generally the worst, then the walk to the arena will take a good 45 minutes (generally), alongside walking to meet your friends, walking to the portaloos, walking to get food, walking to the nearest supermarket to stock up on supplies, etc. Make sure you take good walking shoes with you!
The lack of hygiene is probably the worst issue I have with festivals. As a generalised rule, girls like being clean, and I am one of them. I don't relish the thought of not washing for days, and although I've done it plenty of times at festivals, it still is not nice. This is a big downside, but as long as you prepare properly by taking some cleaning/beauty products with you, then generally you'll be okay.
You've heard about a few different festivals and a couple of dangers and downies, well now I'm going to attempt to give you some invaluable Festival Tips so YOU can survive when YOU head to your next festival! There are many different guides similar to this all over the internet, but I'm going to try and personalise this a bit more so hopefully it will relate to more of you.
I am a girl, yes, so this guide will, in fact, being more of a 'girls guide' to surviving festivals.
Tip No. 1:
Always take toilet roll with you. Not such a biggie for guys, but girls, I find this is a complete essential. Festival toilets ARE disgusting wherever you go, as they are simply portacabins/portaloos placed in the middle of a field. There are festival staff around who are meant to keep them clean, but in reality, the only times these toilets are clean are about 6 in the morning when they've JUST been cleaned thoroughly. Every other point in the day apart from that they ARE awful. Big festivals contain up to and over 100,000 people. With only about 50 toilets in a mile radius, that's 2,000 people to one toilet (if my maths are correct... :s ). Because, at festivals, people drink alcohol/other drinks a lot more than usual, I'd estimate they'd need to go to the toilet at least once every 2 hours. So... well, my maths isn't that great, but imagine how many times a day each individual toilet gets used. Toilet roll gets used up in SECONDS, hence why bringing your own is so important.
Also, a lot of fluid generally gets splashed on the toilet seat (imagine all the drunk guys using these toilets - of course they don't care about lifting the seat up), so plenty more toilet roll is needed to wipe the seat / lay down on the seat before us girls can sit on it! This leads me onto the next one...
Tip No. 2:
At my very first festival, I did not bring wet wipes. What a mistake. Baby wipes are ESSENTIAL to survive a festival. They are excellent in disgusting toilet situations, as you can wipe the seat around you before sitting on it.
They are also brilliant at cleaning yourself. At festivals, showers are a rarity. Download 2009 contained all of 10 showers for up to 140,000 people. I hardly saw ANYONE use these showers, generally only those who had actually fallen in a big mud pile therefore a shower was the only option. The showers are pretty rank, too. So yes ladies, that means no washing for up to five days in a row. Pretty gross? Well, yes, but once you're in a big field, getting close to nature, sleeping under the stars, completely surrounded by lots of others who stink as well, then you really don't notice you haven't washed in days!
For these situations though, wet wipes/baby wipes are ingenious. You can clean under your armpits, legs, belly, lady area, face, etc, are baby wipes cater for all body parts. So you can actually leave your tent feeling pretty refreshed.
Tip No. 3:
Bring a ground mat. I know, it's extra weight and baggage, but sometimes you simply do not get a choice where you are going to be sleeping ... there's a huge chance you'll have to find a space on some rocky/stony grass. Ground mats ease this pain and help you get valuable sleep at night so you've got your energy the next day for all the mosh pits!
Tip No. 4:
Wellies may look awful, but without them you'll have a rubbish weekend.
I've been to festivals where the sun has shined throughout, not a drop of rain in sight, but somehow, do not ask me as it is the biggest mystery, there WILL be mud. Thousands of people plodding over the same areas every day really ploughs up the ground, and in normal shoes (flipflops for me, as I had at my first festival) will get ripped to shreds, and you'll also get mud ALL up your legs, which is not a pretty sight.
Wearing wellies, or even just bringing them in the case of bad weather, really will save you from this awful circumstance.
Tip No. 5:
Expect the worst weather. If, quite naively as I've done, you checked the weather forecast beforehand and heard the weatherman say it's going to be great weather for the weekend, and then hastened to only pack your finest beach clothing, you will completely regret it once you arrive to find it pours with rain. Though it is a nice thought that you might be able to get through the weekend wearing only a bikini, and sometimes of course that is the case if you're lucky, more often than not it will be rubbish weather, so at least pack one outfit for the worst-case-scenario.
Coats are obviously quite heavy to carry about, so I'd suggest a thick hoodie, a pair of jeans and a jumper. At least you're covered in case there's a downpour.
Tip No. 6:
Girls, dresses + wellies = the ultimate festival fashion law. You look great and stay clear of mud. Problem solved :)
Tip No. 7:
Okay, so I've been leaning heavily towards girls' festival tips so far, I'll try and be a bit more unisex. Painkillers/aspirin is a big yes-yes for festivals. You WILL end up drinking heavily (more than likely anyway), especially if you're in a big group of friends. And once the chilly evening sets in, you realise the only way to keep warm is to keep those beers coming. The next morning will not be so pretty however, when you wake up in a sweaty tent, sleeping bag twisted around your body, feeling bloody awful. In steps a headache tablet to at least try and make you feel better!
Tip No. 8:
Most festivals do NOT allow glass bottles in either the camping area or the main arena where the bands are. Okay, sometimes they don't check, and you might get away with it, but how unlucky will you feel when you arrive at the festival gates having lugged all your heavy stuff a mile's walk from the car park, only to be spot-checked and be told you can't take your 24 pack of glass bottled beers in. I've known this to happen to quite a few people, and they've then had to try and drink as many as possible before entering! Even if you do that to try not to waste the beer, you'll still have at least another mile's walk to get to the campsite to lay down your belongings, and being drunk whilst doing that is NOT fun! Especially when it comes to putting up a tent!
Before you go, if you plan on taking alcohol with you, you should invest in some cheap plastic 1.5l bottles of water from a supermarket and pour all your alcohol into those bottles.
Tip No. 9:
Skint? Then work at a festival. Not something I've done personally, but you can actually apply to become a member of staff at places like Glastonbury, Reading and Download. Typically, you'll work one night, either picking up trash, being security at a gate, etc, but then you get to go to the rest of the festival for completely free - this is great for those who can't really afford the price of a weekend ticket.
Tip No. 10:
As previously mentioned, theft can be an issue at festivals, because everyone is so vulnerable to it. No one likes to leave without at least some expensive essentials: their mobile phone to contact their friends in case they get split up, their camera to capture the amazing memories of a festival, their wallet/purse so they can obviously buy food/souvenirs, I've even seen some people bring laptops and Nintendo DS consoles!
The easiest way to avoid being a victim of theft is to keep your valuables on your person at all times in zipped pockets, but even this isn't safe as in a crowded arena you're pushed up so close to people that if they slipped a hand inside your pocket you might not even notice! A few tips I have for this are: try and ask around family to borrow an OLD phone they might have, and slip your SIM card into it. That way, if your phone gets stolen it isn't the wicked new phone you've just bought but rather an old one that won't matter. For wallets, try and find a small one that will fit in the bottom of your pockets - and keep the bare minimum in it... your ID (if you look young you'll need ID to buy alcohol), a bank card for emergencies (but you won't want to take money out on the campsite - there are cash points but you have to pay through the nose for transactions!) and money. Try and keep some money in your purse, some in your shoe, and some in a different pocket. If someone nicks one lot at least you'll have a back up. Regarding cameras, sometimes it's best to get a cheap throwaway one because it's unlikely that those will get stolen. However, being a photographer, I understand the importance of getting good quality photos and you can't always get these with disposable cameras. So I do take my digital compact camera to festivals with me, but I always keep the strap wrapped around my wrist, and if I put it in my pocket then I hold onto it in my pocket! That way no one can steal it and also it's instantly in my hand if I need to take a wicked shot!
Tip No. 11:
Avoid meat at festivals. Burgers are generally okay - but chicken is a no no. Some of the stalls are a bit dodgy, and I've had so many friends eat bad chicken and then spent the rest of the festival throwing up, which is definitely a ruiner.
If you're in it for the long haul (all weekend) I'd recommend buying a cheap camping stove, a small frying pan and buying your own food. Most festivals are located near a giant Tescos or Asda, generally within walking or at least easy driving distance, therefore you can cook your own food. It's a lot safer and definitely a lot cheaper.
Tip No. 12: (this is probably most useful!)
WEAR your heaviest clothes on the way to the festival. I've already advised any festival-goers to at least take some warm clothing with you for wet weather and for the cold nights, and I've already mentioned that there will be a LOT of walking, particularly on the first day when you're searching for a good place to set up camp. If you wear your heaviest clothes, though it'll make you hot on the day, it'll mean your bag is nowhere near as heavy as it'd be if you packed jeans, jumper, wellies, etc. It took me a few festivals to work this trick out, and since then it's definitely made my life easier!
There are a few other obvious essentials: tent, sleeping bag, pillow, bottles of water to ease dehydration, sun lotion for those rays!, rucksack to keep all your bits in, wallet for money, etc, but I'd hope everyone has enough common sense to remember these without having to look online for it!
I'd like to reiterate festivals really are great places. They're perfect holiday getaways for those who love music, partying and meeting new people. As long as you're prepared then you can expect the best weekend of your life, with some amazing memories that will always be with you.
I LOVE FESTIVALS. There - I've shouted it out loud for all the world to hear. Where else can you meet some of the happiest, merriest people in existence? listen to a selection of the best bands of the moment? or just generally go crazy and soak up the atmosphere?. Festivals are the best events of the year, a time to let loose and have some fun.
I've attended a few festivals in my time, namely Reading (2003 & 2004) and Download (2006 and I'm going again this year! - 2009), both are amazing and I've had some of the best times of my life at these places. I'm especially looking forward to Download this year (although I'm also going to Leeds as well) because the line-up is incredible! so many old-school rock bands, I can't wait!.
The reasons why I love festivals so much is because I love to party, I love to meet new people and I'm incredibly passionate about music. I'm also quite a girly girl so living in a tent over a period of 5 days without proper private access to running hot water and lifes little luxuries does wear me down a little bit - hence why I always make sure I wash my hair every morning (yes, even with cold water when needs must!, I really can't stand having dirty hair) and I always wash my hands with a bottle of water and some of those soap leave thingies. The basic lack of hygiene you'll have to submit yourself to shouldn't be a deterrent though, because I can guarentee you'll have an amazing time over the course of the festival and will be gutted when it's over.
The atmosphere is electric, with thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people out to have a good time and watch their favourite bands. Everyone tends to be in high-spirits and it's very easy to chat to new people, loads of people are always coming over to my camp and just sitting down and randomly chatting to me and I do the same, it's a great way to meet like minded new friends.
It's also one big 24 hour party!, there's always something going on to entertain you so you'll never be bored. If you're not feeling some of the bands that are on then you can wander around the entertainment section and do a spot of shopping, watch some performers, see some comedy, even go to the cinema screen and watch a film. A festival basically caters for everyone.
The first time I went to a festival I was a bit scared and apprehensive as I wasn't sure what to expect, but I had the best time of my life. You hear all sorts of horror stories about things getting stolen, people getting hurt, etc... but as long as you keep your wits about you and don't get so horrifically drunk (or drugged up!!) that you're passed out in a mess on the floor then you should be fine. I've never had any trouble at any of the festivals I've been to *touch wood* and hopefully you won't either!.
Some of my best festival memories include singing along to "Paradise City" with thousands of people when Guns n Roses played at Download, and wandering around the Reading campsite in the early hours of the morning trying to find my tent, but ending up just sitting down with random people and chatting to them for hours instead. There's so many good things to experience at a festival and it's an experience everyone should have at least once! :).
I've been to Glastonbury from 2002-2008 and V Festival in 2001 and 2005.
I've always enjoyed going to Glastonbury. The atmosphere is fantastic, everyone is very friendly and there are so many different types of people there. If you find yourself falling over in the crowd while watching a band, people will help you up straight away. As you can go from the Wednesday, a couple of days before the bands start, it really gives you time to explore and see whats around. There's so many stalls, there's plenty of entertainment throughtout all the days with caberet and circus tents as well as a speakers area with politicians and various people talking about important issues. I have enjoyed every Glastonbury Festival I've been to, although I feel more and more people are going that aren't interested in what Glastonbury is about and just go because it's the thing to do rather than going to see bands or see what else is on offer. I am afraid Glastonbury is slowly losing its appeal.
That's the biggest problem with the V Festival, it seems to be full of people who aren't really interested in anything except going for a day out so they'll talk through the bands and generally be annoying. You also can't see what is on without paying a few pounds when you go in for a programme, it has always seemed very poorly organised as well with long queues and unfriendly staff. I would only go to this festival again if the line-up was too good not to go.
In general festivals are a great way to spend a weekend. I love music and this is what festivals are all about. I also love comedy and you get to see a lot of comedians. There's usually other entertainment as well. Camping is usually fun when you have a group of friends around as you can have a camp fire and sit around it and have a few drinks.
The only negative is the costs rise a lot year on year for festivals but then concerts in general are also rising. The fact that you get to see so many bands for that cost makes it worth it.
I've been to a few festivals, and until a few years ago, the Sesiwn Fawr (Big Session) which is held in Dolgellau, North Wales. This started off as another huge, free festival, held in the town square. Most of the shops shut for the weekend and all roads were blocked, and we had many super summers there. Most of the "big names" in the Welsh music scene were there, together with a couple of surprises from elsewhere in Europe.
During the course of each festival, the buckets would come round and we would gladly throw in our loose change "to ensure a free festival next year."
However, the inevitable happened. Firstly, they started charging. At the same time, they introduced an alcohol ban (apart from stuff you bought in the festival boundaries at inflated prices). Then, the big names came no more and it became the festival of the unknown artist. And to put the final nail in the coffin, they moved the location from the town square to a field on the outskirts of town. Talk about how to kill a festival.
Now, we just can't afford to go any more, and probably wouldn't want to anyway because the big names are obviously otherwise engaged. Since they started charging entry fees, the festival has lost one day (obviously because of diminishing interest) and really gone down the pan. What I wonder is, what happened to all the dosh I put in the bucket for "next year's free festival?"
Come back the days of good, free festivals. Not all of us are in good jobs and can afford to pay, but we all need a bit of summer fun!
WARNING- this is a pretty long review. Feel free to get bored and wander off halfway through.
I consider myself a bit of a festival veteran at the grand old age of 20, and Ive been reading some of the festivals in general reviews. I thought Id take a different spin on it and give a guide to how to survive festivals with at least some of your mental health intact, followed by some of my personal experiences sorry its a bit long! So heres my no holds barred guide to how to get through a festival in one piece (and hopefully still with your liver intact).
Things you should take
Tent- Where else are you going to hide your booze?
Sleeping bag- Most useful for sneaking illegal items into festivals grounds sorry did I say that out loud?
Ground mat- more comfy than lying on stony ground, although if you get p***ed enough it wont matter.
Torch- For climbing over those totally unnecessary guy ropes at 3am and avoiding falling asleep in the wrong tent (which you will probably do anyway).
Bog roll- lots of it. Useful for paper maiche, wetting and throwing at people, toilet rolling tents oh and possibly for going to the bathroom.
Matches/lighter- to set fire to the tents of the people Next door when they refuse to stop playing happy hardcore at 7am.
Water container- one of the huge square bottles of water that carry about 5 litres is a good idea, plus a small one for carrying about during the day
Sun block/lotion- sensible although this might seem wildly optimistic.
Rainproof jacket- much more realistic.
Bin bag- for sitting on when it gets wet and putting your rubbish in if you are have any sense of common decency, which evidently festival goers dont. Also doubles as a rainproof jacket.
Heavy boots/trainers/wellies- for wearing and hammering in tent pegs.
At least one complete change of clothing- There is always one idiot who thinks they can not change all weekend, forgetting about the fact that this IS Britain and there is likely to be rain/wind/snow/hurricanes at some point.
Money- this might come in handy, though I dont know what for.
Condoms- Because every hairy looking hippies look good when youre that smashed.
Booze- What? Of course its essential!
Plastic bags- for the inside of you shoes (put on a pair of socks, then a plastic bag, then another pair of socks then your shoes. Keeps your feet dry).
Tarpaulin- to sit on
Penknife- Not at T in the park thought unless you want it shoved through your eye by someone tanked on Buckfast and speed.
Basic Toiletries- Not totally essential, because if you abuse enough booze during the weekend you probably will not remember to use any of these, but for the sake of other people you should at least attempt to smell presentable. Note for the girly girls reading this, basic toiletries does not include a 5kg makeup case or two litres of Chanel perfume.
Plasters and painkillers- especially the latter. You will probably need morphine for your headache by Monday morning though, so dont expect miracles.
Vaseline- now dont be dirty. Great for when you wake up with dry lips after too much Somerset cider, and unsticking stuck zips. Also handy for situations where idiots decide to get their fingers stuck in glass beer bottles, as my friend done last year.
Camping stove- plus easy food like baked beans, pot noodles etc. If you know how to make Chai tea, take stuff for that too nothing better than Chai in the morning after a heavy night.
Portable CD player- will get nicked so get a cheapie!
Air mattress- if you can really be bothered it makes things way comfier until some idiot punctures it.
Chairs- try to get a few if you are going in a group., you always wish you have them when your sitting on the wet grass.
A camping mallet- boots work fine
Glass bottles- banned at most festivals but they dont usually check. They smash too easily and there might always be some nutter around who may use them as a weapon. Best to decant everything into plastic bottles as cans are messy for the cleanup crew as well.
Anything you are afraid of losing
Fireworks- Not really so funny if you set someones tent on fire, as I have seen happen (fortunately its occupant was out so we saw the funny side).
Three gallons of makeup- Youre not going clubbing at G.A.Y so get over yourself.
Festivals for girls
Whilst not a particularly girly girl, I dont particularly like wandering around looking like a troll. For both girly and non girly girlies to look their best, a few minimum bits and bobs will keep you looking reasonably cute.
Firstly, to avoid looking like a total idiot, avoid packing an enormous bag of clothes, makeup and total non-essentials. It just makes you look stupid and you will NOT look good after lugging it around for ages, unless you like sweating eyeliner all over your face.
Get one of those Ziploc food bags and fill it with the following essentials- one waterproof eyeliner pencil, waterproof mascara, one lip liner pencil (mixed with Vaseline works as lippy), Vaseline, and a book of that powder paper that takes shine off your face Superdrug do cheap ones. Pick one or two fave eyeshadows if you really fancy, but remember it will all slide off after a couple of hours. Forget the expensive face cleansing wipes get cheap unscented, unbranded baby wipes, they will do the trick fine. Plus a small bottle of moisturiser. This should stop you from looking TOO much like Swampy.
Festivals on a shoestring budget (or how to do the student thang)
Firstly, avoid the biggies like Glastonbury. On the off chance you are lucky enough to get a bloody ticket, you will be forking out way over a hundred quid. Instead look for smaller local festivals, The Wickerman in Scotland, for example, is a great example of festival that you have to pay under £50 quid to get into. They are just as much fun and usually friendlier than the biggies, and theres lots less crime!
A good way of getting free entry to festivals is working for your ticket. The biggies like Glasto have thousands of places for Oxfam stewards, plus car park staff and perimeter fence staff, plus litter pickers and the like. Usually what happens is you pay a deposit, work your shifts at the festival and then get your deposit back. This is a great way to meet new people as well as get lots of festival fun!
Take your own booze. Expect to pay well over the odds for alcohol at the festival. Try sneaking a little bottle into the main site as well, but if you get caught dont blame me. Take a water bottle for filling up instead of buying tonnes of water at £1.50 a pop while youre there.
If they are allowed, take a small camping stove and be prepared to live off baked beans, pot noodles and the like. Works out tonnes less than buying meals at a fiver each! Alternately take lots of drugs and dont eat at all (just kidding).
Stay away from the stalls. No-one needs an ironic Paralytic T-shirt or a giant Guinness hat.
Be enterprising. I know more than one mate whose made a fast buck at festivals by selling one of the following- Chai tea, spare tent pegs and hash cookies. If you get arrested for selling something naughty I take no responsibility!
Camp as far away from central area as possible. More people traffic means more pinching. Never tell people if you are camping alone. Dont bring anything you cant afford to lose. Consider things that arent costly but are valuable to you anyway favourite band t-shirts etc. My friend had a signed Franz Ferdinand T nicked and he was VERY upset, so old clothes only! Try and make your tent identifiable with flag poles or spray paint so you can find it in the dark when utterly wasted. However, use your noggin flying an English flag at T in the Park will get you scalped. Making friends with your neighbours will mean you can look after each others stuff. Dont padlock your tent if someone really wants in they can slash it, and a padlock just says lookie I have something worth stealing!
While sleeping hide your money in several different places in your tent, so if some gets nicked its not too tragic. Better still, sleep with your wallet in your pocket and zipped right up into your bag unless youve been at Michael Eaviss scrumpy you should wake up if someone tries to pickpocket you! Whilst in the main arena, have all your money on you in a zipped pocket or bag.
Make sure and drink a couple of litres of water in a day. Dont guzzle though as you will constantly be at the toilet. Using electrolyte powders to replace lost minerals and fluids is good, as is the odd isotonic sports drink.
If you arent a vegetarian, being one for the festival weekend is not a bad idea food poisoning abounds in places like this and any meat you do eat will probably be dog food quality.
If you get totally drunk you will spend your festival throwing up and sleeping did you really pay £100 for a ticket just to do that?
Pack for all weather conditions waterproofs and sun lotion (you never know).
For your own sanity do not arrive so late that you have to pitch your tent in the dark. Unless you like having the same stress levels as a Wall Street investment guy.
Contrary to popular opinion, festivals really are not a good place to try drugs for the first time. They are too loud, too crowded and too trippy.
Dont pinch other peoples stuff. People like you are what makes festivals crap.
Dont buy those bloody foghorns they are very irritating and asking for a slap. Same goes for stupid hats!
There is no need for guy ropes at festivals were in Britain not Cuba during hurricane season! All they are is a health hazard!
Guys, if you want to pee there are plenty of bloody urinals to visit. Michael Eavis nearly got prosecuted for polluting the water because of all the lazy swines who couldnt be bothered to find the toilets. DONT DO IT!
Please leave the place as you found it. Most festivals are situated in beautiful areas and lets keep them that way please!
Festivals rock. The first thing to know about going to a festival is DONT go just to see one band. The chances that they will cancel (ala Bowie at last years T in the Park) are not altogether slim. The great thing about a festival is the variety, You are bound to discover one new favourite band that weekend what with all the random music tents to wander into. The bigger festivals are great for learning new things everything from reverse bungee jumping to ska dancing, and being catapulted over the perimeter fence in a bid to get in free is also a new experience. The atmosphere at festivals is completely unbeatable, everyones so hyper and usually pretty friendly, its nice to be in a crowd of people that doesnt involve everyone scowling and avoiding each others gaze, as we are so commonly used to. Its also fantastic for meeting new people. Of course, the chances are you will never see them again in your life, but you can always bank on meeting some interesting characters at festivals.
You will undoubtedly see some hilarious, insane and ridiculous sights during your festival visits some of my favourite moments include seeing a truck dressed as an elephant driving slowly through the Glastonbury ground playing techno with girls dressed as fairies dancing on top, and seeing a pair of enterprising lads carrying a SOFA to their tent area at T in the Park. Not an inflatable sofa, a regular one. Without a doubt, my greatest festival moment was at last years Glastonbury, climbing up the hill at the back of the green fields. When you reach the top and turn around, all you can see is this enormous, beautiful site with ant-like people, thousands of tents and beautiful shimmering lights everywhere. I wish I could bottle that feeling I had and have it with me at all times!
For the more comfort loving types among us, festivals can be hell on earth. British festivals are more often than not muddy pits during a weekend of rain, gales and freezing temperatures. Festivals get really uncomfortable unless you spend your entire weekend trashed or are a very frugal person the lumpy ground, the cramp in the morning from sleeping with soggy jeans on, the freezingness of the early morning followed by the intense heat in your tent when (if) the sun comes out. Its definitely not a place for girlie girls high heels, lip gloss and Glastonbury just dont go! Some people get stupidly drunk and wasted and not only ruin their weekend, feel the need to ruin yours as well!
Travelling to and from festivals is a real pain, and the car park/bus station is ALWAYS miles from the nearest camping spot, meaning you have to lug a heavy bag for miles and miles which is horrible, because of course you wanted to arrive all fresh and clean knowing you wouldnt have a bath for three days, now youre sweating like a pig. My friend gets around this by taking a sledge to festivals and piling the booze in it easier than carrying it! Festivals are not cheap either, especially the biggies. You have to sell a kidney to get to Glasto these days, but if cost is a factor its worth checking out the smaller festivals like Scotlands Wicker Man because they are a lot cheaper, but being smaller are much more friendly, suitable for kids and dogs and nearly always have great music.
Having your stuff nicked is the nightmare of all festival goers. Our booze got pinched last year, luckily that was all that got taken. See my hints for keeping your stuff as safe as possible. Festivals have no small amount of health risks involved hypothermia, sunstroke, alcohol and food poisoning are all possibilities! What with the bad food and the toilets, youd expect more people to get sick!
On that note, the number one worst thing about any festival is the toilets. You know something is wrong when Portaloos are the best of several bad options. The slurry pits with the metal cubicles suspended over them are even worse yuck! There is always an idiot who thinks its funny to tip a portaloo over while someone is in it if you see one of these people scalp them. If only there was some way of stopping yourself from needing the bathroom for the entire weekend.
Some of my favourite festival moments
Watching the sun rise at Glastonbury 2004 right up at the top of the Greenfields. OK, so it was cloudy and it took a lot longer for the sun to come out than it should have done (in fact I believe it was about 8am), but when it did, it was truly spectacular its an incredibly beautiful place, even with the portaloos.
Orbital at Glasto 2004- I wanted to see their last ever gig at T in the Park, but sadly the Pixies were playing at the same time what kind of idiots made the schedule! Anyway, the atmosphere at Glasto was probably better, seeing as they played outside and the crowd was enormous and of course, their version of the Dr Who theme was pretty unbeatable. Truly the end of an era.
Snow Patrol singing Run at last years Glastonbury- The most evocative and gorgeous song Ive heard in a long while, not kidding you when I say a good portion of the audience were in buckets of tears.
Pixies at T in the Park 2004- Sadly I was a bit on the drunk side and cannot remember this as well as Id like, but it was still a wonderful experience, despite their reserved stage manner they have the ability to hold the audience totally captive possibly because Frank Black now resembles a young killer whale and takes up most of the video screens see you at the next reunion tour!
T in the Park 2002- everything about it was just perfect. The weather was beautiful, the line-up was perfect, and Idlewild singing their anthem American English just as the sun was going down was absolutely wonderful.
Cooper temple clause at TITP 2001 (I think)- Their first T in the Park performance, most of the baggy indie fans looked rather bemused as much guitar abuse and screaming went on upon the stage, but I loved every minute of it and they became my new favourite band. You gotta love a band with the daftest haircuts on the planet and a bassist called Didz.
Glastonbury 1998- Also known as The year of the mud. It was wet, it was horrible, it was disgusting, but it was my first Glastonbury and I had a bloody good time anyway! Needless to say the moving mud statues and mudmen did not discourage me from going again!
The Wicker Man festival- its always brilliant, just because its so small and friendly, much less scary than some of the biggies good for a virgin festival goer! Also the tickets are about half what you pay for some of the biggies.
And some of the worst-
Paul McCartney at Glasto 04- Sorry Paul, but you were bad. Really, really bad. Sort of like watching your embarrassing granddad trying to be down and hip with the young people. Pains me to say this, as I love Paul McCartney, but it must be said. I was a bit disappointed.
Coming home from Glastonbury 1998- do you have any idea what its like travelling home for around 12 hours in a Jeep that cant go more than 60mph, on the motorway for hours, absolutely covered top to toe in mud? I was in tears by the end of that.
Leeds festival- OK, it was the year of Metallica so I really shouldnt have expected much, but I found it all a bit intimidating. There was a lot of aggressive people around (even more so than at T in the Park, where everyone is smashed on Buckfast and looking for a fight), and way too many fires (camp fires, bin fires, peoples heads on fire, etc.) for my liking.
Losing a shoe crowd surfing whilst listening to Super Furry Animals- one of my favourite shoes. Which then got thrown at the Super Furry Animals. Not by me. Lesson number one learned: Girls should not crowd surf unless they want to get groped and lose many items of clothing.
Insects, and hail yes HAIL at Palgowan dance festival- Held in the sunny heart of Dumfries/Galloway (I.e. out in the middle of nowhere by a pine forest full of the biggest insects you have every seen), this was really more of a rave than a festival. But it was really out in the sticks, more so than most other festivals and as such the midges where an unbelievable nightmare. I came home covered in huge red welts I think they were vampire midges. And just to top off the midge bites, on the last day of the festival it starting HAILING!!!! I kid you not. Hail in the middle of August, after a boiling hot weekend. Trust the Scottish weather.
Im looking forward to five festivals this year Glastonbury, Glade festival, T in the park, Leeds and the Wicker Man. If you can stomach the rough living and the toilets for a few days, festivals are really worth the money and the squalor. I think its something everyone should try at least once, because you just cant beat a big music festival for the great people, the atmosphere and the music!
NAME OF FESTIVAL
Stainsby Festival is held every July on a field, in Stainsby, Derbyshire overlooking the M1, provided by Paddy Lane who stepped in to buy the site, after the previous owner Dot Brunt died.
This year's festival is on 17 July until 19th and I for one hope that the car parks are in better condition than 2 years ago! I had to be towed off and it took my dad and me all day Monday to clean it before its MOT!!!
The festival celebrated its 40th festival last year on the weekend and commemorative glasses for the 35th festival were made by local craftsmen in Chesterfield and were available for £2.
Due to the above problem, it was thought that the festival may have to close, because the site was not available and then one year the foot and mouth disease meant that they could not camp overnight - that year they held a one day event.
I have not been going for very many years, because I did not know about the event until I transferred from Chesterfield Division St John to Parkhouse, which covers this as a first aid duty, as it is in their area. However, it is such a big event that we often have to combine with several other Divisions in the vicinity.
The festival takes its name from the village of Stainsby which is close by. The site is at Stainsby near Holmewood, just off jnc 29 of the M1 and can be clearly visible from the Motorway and Hardwick Hall can be clearly seen from the site.
Hardwick Hall, a National Trust property, is near Stainsby Mill, another National Trust site, a former flour mill reopened for the public.
Hardwick Inn, a restaurant on the edge of Hardwick Hall's estate, sponsored last year's souvenir programme.
It was formerly a folk festival but now plays most music and has dropped the word folk from its official title. More details on www.stainbyfestival.org.uk
As this is a music festival, with its own campsite, there are plenty of facilities provided.
There are portaloos, (one set for female, one set for male and usually a unisex loo for disabled visitors). These sound worse than they actually are. There are the usual blue portaloos, with limited space and often no running water at the top of the hill. However at the bottom of the hill, there is are several trailers with about 4 toilets in each. These have running water, mirrors, toilet paper (if you're very lucky!) and steps to get in and out. There is also a disabled one with a small ramp to get in. For the year of the Mud (2007), it was virtually impossible to get to these though.
There is also a disabled parking area on the main arena site. The main car park is another field on the opposite side of the road to the main campsite area and apart from disabled vehicles, cars are not allowed onto the campsite field. However, there is usually a landrover style vehicle who assists with delivering people and their luggage to the main campsite. Be aware that this facility is only available on the Friday at certain times - and may be gone before you get there. If this is the case, you may be able to borrow a wheelbarrow!
There are several taps for water, a welfare and security team, St John first aiders are on site all weekend, activities for children including crafts (may be small charge for some of these), craft stalls, beer tent, dance area, milk and papers are available from the public information area and various food stalls.
The Public Information area deals with all inquiries; sells papers, milk and orange juice; makes announcements; reunites lost children with their guardians; collects lost property; and provides programmes (for a small fee) and other information.
Well, being as I am usually working I can not comment much about this but from my first year there was :
Toe-Sucking Cowgirls from Australia and they were superb. One of the other First Aiders and I were extremely impressed with them and said that we hoped they would come again sometime and the Welfare steward we mentioned this to agreed with us;
David Saw & Band, who appeared at Glastonbury;
Loscoe State Opera, a Derbyshire group, who again I thought were excellent. Came back for the 2005 event!
Twizzle; Jiggerypipery; Boo Hewerdine; Spiers & Boden; Celtica; Kirsty McGee; Dick Gaughan; Eric Bogle; Warblefly; Left Hand Drive-- also at 2005 event!; Caroline Kendall & Nuala Friedman; Serious Kitchen;
Seize the Day, another of my favourites, and other's too as they were "back by popular demand" as was Dick Gaughan.
One year the highlight for me were the Fridge Magnets with a clarinetist and the Huckleberries whose members play guitar, violin and drums. I do not know what I expected but the programme listed them as playing Irish, folk, American and other music but I was slightly disappointed as all they did was play - there were no vocals at all during the entire set - to my knowledge.
Another group I really enjoyed was the FOS Brothers - a great band with brilliant vocals and very popular - the marquee was full and there were plenty dancing in the aisles. In addition, there were people watching from outside the marquee. It had me toe-tapping - a very enjoyable set.
The Arabian dancing was great too. They danced on a metal style floor set up outside the willow circle and on several occasions the dancers were accompanied by a folk band with violins etc. This may have been the Fridge Magnets - but the programme did not specify this, so this is only a guess.
In addition for the children, there were circus performers available all weekend to teach plate spinning, diablo tossing, stilt walking etc.
I even went to the Chai Chapel and sampled the Chai tea. This tasted very much of cinnamon and had a hint of chocolate in it. It smelt very Christmassy - but was not to everyone's taste. Some thought it was too strong a smell and taste, but I enjoyed it. It cost a pound, though so one to try but not have regularly!
There is also a fire show where the wicker object created is at the end burnt. One year it was a wicker dragon, but previous years have been a Wicca Man, Baba Yaga's hut and in 2002 a beautiful Phoenix, a fitting choice as the event itself rose from the ashes. There has even been a Fox.
There were also workshops on dance, singing and musical instruments - one year there was bongos. Last year apparently it was banjos according to the programme.
I am usually involved with the children's activities as we sometimes have Belarus children from the Chernobyl disaster area with us on a month's trip. As they do not speak much English when they arrive I assist with them on the circus and other activities available.
There is a parade on the Sunday which the children show off their completed crafts such as Wicker Lanterns and flags and wander round the entire campsite before finishing off in the "Green Area" which is a wicker circle.
Dogs are allowed on site but must be kept on a lead, with the owner on the other end - some years we have dog bite injurys because someone was irresponsible enough to just attach a lead but allow the dog to wander at will, and this could ruin it for everyone next year. Be warned.
As a St John member, I do not pay - because the event can not go ahead without first aid cover and we are volunteers.
However, I believe that the price is pretty reasonable. The website said that it was £40 for the weekend if you paid before Jun 1st and £45 after that. If you just wanted to visit for one session they were as follows £13 Sat evening, £12 Sat afternoon, £10 all other sessions. (2004 prices listed above - check website for upto date figures)
Ticket Prices 2008:
Weekend (before June 1st) £50; Weekend (after June 1st) £60; Friday Evening £15
Saturday Afternoon £10; Saturday Evening £20; Sunday Afternoon £10;
Sunday Evening £15
The campsite is usually open from 12noon on Friday until 8am Monday. There are specific rules which campers must adhere to - all are set out in the free programme, which is sometimes available online. The main one being that you must wear the band provided on your wrist and show it if asked by a steward. FLASH YOUR WRIST!
1.Good for children - plenty to keep them occupied
2.Plenty of music and activities
3.Great stalls in the craft areas
4.Very hot on recycling - facilities are available for this.
1.It seems to be over far too quickly
2.I never seem to get to see the show, at least I can hear it!
We start planning for next year!
In 2005 the Festival chairman Tony Trafford said (2004) "People love the atmosphere of Stainsby Festival. Its intimate and relaxed." The fun is at Brunts Farm, Stainsby near Heath"
MORE INFORMATION FROM
46 John Street, Brampton, Chesterfield, the website www.stainsbyfestival.org.uk , or the dedicated information line 01246 559036.
It is always the third full weekend of July apparently, but this may alter due to other festivals some years so keep an eye out on the website or add your names to the mailing list either online or by contacting the above.
Am usually too busy tending to the sick and injured to really hear the artists each year but met several of them who had to be treated for a variety of reasons (e.g. heat related problems, stings, plasters for dancers feet, etc).
The Lost Padres sounded good and Jiggerypigery were brilliant. Could hear most of what occured at the Space and the drummers for drumming circle workshop were joined by one of our own.
This years' toilets were "Rolls Royce" style and were kept well stocked and clean by the male cleaning crew.
Thanks to all the Site Staff for their hospitality and assistance throughout the week and I hope I wasn't too much trouble and I am not barred from next year's festivities!
If you are visiting Stainsby next year, from my point of view as a St John member could you please ensure that you drink plenty of water (not just alcohol) so that you do not dehydrate, and if you feel dehydrated add a teaspoon of salt to 1 litre of water or 1/2 to a 500ml bottle of water and SIP it not gulp it (or have salt on your chips) to replace the sweat you lose dancing the night away!
Another good tip is to wear a hat when it is sunny to protect yourself from the heat. Put plenty of suncream on regularly and try to keep cool - I can recommend a bottle of cold water over the head - it did wonders for me.
We often have an all or nothing kind of weekend and if I seem to shout at you I apologise but we are often understaffed this particular weekend. We try our best to treat you for any illnesses or injuries on site so you can continue to enjoy the festival, but we need your assistance in that so don't overdo the alcohol or stay in the sun too long.
There was a lot of animals there this year as there was a Bear Hunt (or was it a Bare Hunt?) and in one year's closing ceremony werewolf was not alone, as there were loads of dancing wolves with flame throwers and even a wolf band! I particularly liked the Wolf banner and their Wolf flame picture. A bit scary for some young children but very entertaining for the majority of the people.
This occurred in the main arena by the Wish Tree and moved into the Willow Circle, and apparently some children got too close before they moved into the Willow Circle so please keep a close eye on your children, as there is usually a fire ceremony of some sort. The Willow sculpture (Wish Tree) was not burnt due to the very dry conditions this year.
Enjoy the festival and pop in and see us for a chat if you want.
I was busy in the first aid tent due to the weather conditions and due to the treacherous conditions underfoot didn't get to see many acts in person. I did see about 20mins of the first act Nathan Kaye from Australia with the didgeridoos. He was excellent and at least the main marquee was dry and warm! However I got called out to an emergency so didn't see any more!
I did see Seize the Day but got called out again, and heard the Lost Padres and Jiggerypipery (my favourite band ever seen at the Festival).
There were less casualties but those there were seemed more serious and difficult to treat under the conditions as every step you were in danger of losing your own footwear! We developed the Stainsby Shuffle and Stainsby Slide as our unique way of getting around the campsite.
Let hope this year - the 41st anniversary we have a green carpet not a brown one underfoot! Hope to see you there!
Having been to many festivals across the UK and Europe, I always return to my local festival, Glastonbury.
Having such a festival right on your doorstep is fantastic, big name bands, side-shows, plenty of beer tents and enough weird and wonderful sights to make you think you're in a remake of the Beatles "Yellow Submarine".
Everyone who has ever been to the Glastonbury Festival has a story to tell about what they have seen. The naked bloke who walked through their campfire one night, the bloke dressed as a rhino who got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled out by landrover, the old guy with a long beard and a stick who looks like Gandolf from Lord of the Rings, the countless entrepreneurs who sell their home made "fairy" cakes, I could go on but the list is endless!
No other festival that I have been to has come close to the atmosphere of Glasto, there is a real spiritual feel to the festival, which is set in the Avalonian fields that King Arthur is reputed to have used during his days.
Organised and run by Michael Eavis and his daughter Emily, and previously by Michael's wife, Jean who has sadly passed away. Michael and Emily keep the festival real and down to earth, there is a real community atmosphere as you look out across the fields at night with the camp fires flickering away, laugher, drunken shenanigans and a rousing chorus of "BO****KS!" fills the night, don't ask me why but it gets shouted randomly at first finishing with what seems to be the entire festival shouting it in unison, but a great Glasto memory, been going on for years!
What is a shame is a small minority, and it really is a small minority, of idiots who are intent on spoiling the festival for others. Security and the police are helpful at the festival and are usually on the lookout for these prats but as a result it is unwise to leave anything valuable in your tent whilst you are a way from it.
Arrive on the Wednesday to get the real festival experience, although the bands aren't playing until Friday, the camp site is open and you can go to as many as 30 free parties at night due to the market stalls that somehow morph into makeshift night-clubs, providing the beats until the big boys take over at the weekend.
If you've been to Glastonbury (or Pilton as we locals call it) before then you'll know what I'm talking about, if you haven't been before then it's something you need to do at least once in your life, but having said that, if you go once, you'll be hooked.
Leave on the Monday feeling very dirty, very tired and very buzzing!