Off to a festival this season? Check out our festival survival guide which includes tips and tricks to make the most of the music, partying and the camping.
It’s May, which means two things: Eurovision’s soon Spring is here and festival season is about to kick off. You’ve got tickets to see your Favourite Band Ever Plus Some Others on the Bill and you’re looking forward to a weekend of rocking out… but we both know that one doesn’t simply turn up to a festival. Not unless you’re actually on the bill, anyway, because if you are then you have a trailer and don’t have to worry about living in a field for three days… This is for those of you who are going to have to worry about that.
Things You Definitely Need
- Toilet paper, and something to carry it in when you’re in a Portaloo and don’t want to touch anything.
- Some sort of tent, preferably one you’ve tried out before you get to the festival.
- Hand sanitizer and wet wipes. Please. And deodorant – or at least wear some the day you go.
- Plastic bags. The bigger the better – for sitting on, sheltering under, and cleaning up your stuff with. Take only pictures and leave only footprints…
- A first aid kit, especially if you’re going to mosh or crowdsurf (FYI don’t be an idiot about that. Some people are small and/or weak and/or not interested in being used as a floor). Make sure you have plasters, painkillers, those pills that help if you’ve got an upset stomach, and feminine hygiene products. Partly because you might need to help out a friend, and partly because you might need to do this:
- Water, and a lot of it. Mosh pits cause dehydration 1000x quicker than every other situation on the planet. I’ve seen people who waited outside a venue for 12 hours get to the barrier then pass out from dehydration and exhaustion before the show began, and they hadn’t even been drinking. Think of festivals as a rock ‘n’ roll version of a sporting event – you want to enjoy it and get to the end in one piece!
- A lighter and a torch. You can make a lot of friends by offering them a light… plus matches get wet.
- Sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and a raincoat. Because it’s England.
- The ability not to be a total shit. If you’re going to get drunk or high, do it with your friends and please bear in mind that not everyone is looking to get off – also it’s really hard to tell someone’s age when they’re covered in mud and wearing a funny hat and you do not want to be that creepy guy. If you’re not having fun, try to remember that you’re only there a few more hours/days and soon you’ll be back in the office – don’t bring everyone down with you, unless they’re trying to give weed to kids or something (incidentally, event staff are your friends. They will always help you if you need them, but they also won’t tolerate bad behaviour, like good teachers).
- A marker pen and paper, to keep track of band schedules, to swap numbers/Instagram profiles, to thrust at your favourite singer… also your phone might die. Wear a wristwatch for the same reason.
Things You Definitely Don’t Need
- A large rucksack. Men’s clothing usually comes with large pockets, hence why women have to carry handbags, so use them… anything big and/or bulky will be a hindrance. For your bigger stuff, choose a bag that’s hard to pickpocket, but make sure you’ve got your valuables deep inside those pockets, preferably attached with a chain or belt – and make sure everything you use is waterproof!
- Canvas and/or loose shoes (or anything that will let in water or come off easily). Wear waterproof boots and make sure they fit. Boots are also an excellent place to put your stuff when you’re out and about; I know people who routinely use them to carry their keys, ID and tickets instead of using bags. I’ve heard stories about people wearing flip flops into mosh pits and ending up on crutches, so, you know, don’t take sandals.
- Your beard-grooming kit. Give your face a break… plus there’s no way you’re going to want to clean up, let alone have the facilities to do so. In fact, do not wear anything you’d like to keep clean or tidy.
- All that crap in your wallet. Take small amounts of money in keep it in different places so if your stuff gets nicked you don’t lose everything. Generally speaking, leave valuables at home.
- Big earrings/hair accessories/anything that can be pulled, ripped out or lost. I always wear gloves to shows to make sure my rings don’t come off, and I’m really aware that long hair can not only hit people in the face but can hurt if I’m wearing metal accessories. (I am assuming beards do not pose a similar problem…)
- All the food in existence. Unless you have dietary issues, you’ll survive on what’s on sale, and a lot of places let you bring little stoves so you can do the ‘feeding yourself in the wild’ thing.
- An ego. If you want to push to the front of a crowd to see someone play – tough, you should have been there earlier. The same is true of dancing in someone else’s space, ‘borrowing’ their supplies and queuing.
Things You Should Definitely Read Before You Pack
- Cassie Whitt’s concert survival guides. Cassie is a music journalist and seasoned show-goer, and wrote a guide on her blog a few years ago, interposed with anecdotes about falling onto the drum kit of her favourite band.
- The guide of the festival you’re attending. Each place has different rules and regulations – and although you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, you’re actually in someone’s field… Here are Reading’s and Glastonbury’s.
- Other people’s advice. Do you have any festival or concert survival tips? Everyone’s got a story or several, as well as their own must-haves (I always wear earplugs to shows because I absolutely hate that ringing sound from loud noise and my number one concert story is the time some guys gave my friends pizza while we sat on the pavement outside a venue in Camden. I would not generally recommend accepting food from strangers). The best show advice I’ve ever received has been from more experienced friends… sharing is caring, especially where camping in muddy fields is concerned.
Have fun and send us a postcard!