When I was recently challenged by Maximise to get involved in their Ultimate Festival Survival Guide, I absolutely jumped at the chance. I have loved going to festivals since I was to be found sipping warm Carling in a field at Leeds Festival as a teenager. Fun fact, I went to my first festival when I was 11 – watching The Verve and Green Day at V98. And it was there that my love of rocking out to music in fields full of strangers began in earnest. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to try a variety of UK festivals in a whole range of weather fronts, so thought I’d share my Ten UK Festival Commandments to help you plan your ultimate festival experience before this year’s summer season kicks in.
It’s worth pointing out that festivals come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – and what might work for a weekend in a wet, British field is not going to work for a desert celeb fest in LA (*cough*, Coachella, *cough*). My tips and tricks are all for festivals firmly based on British soil, where it is 99% likely it will rain, and will hopefully help your long weekend under canvas go a bit more smoothly!
Thou Shalt Dress For the British Weather
Yep, I sound like your Mum. But guess who’ll have the last laugh wrapped up and toasty warm while you’re freezing in your floaty kaftan and high waisted mini shorts? Me, that’s who. When it comes to festivals, I am much more about keeping my clothing understated, warm and (dare I say it) PRACTICAL and going all out with accessories – whether that be a floral crown, a glitter star on my face or a bandana around my neck. That way I maintain my style points and stay warm. And let’s face it, if it rains, all anyone will see is your oh so glamorous rain coat and wellies anyway.
Thou Shalt Embrace The Bum Bag
Ahh the humble bum bag. An icon of the 1980s and thankfully recently revived. A festival essential. What do I have in mine? Phone, packet of tissues, money, antibacterial gel and diarrhoea tablets. A gal can never be too prepared. They help you keep everything you need close by and still leave you two hands to fit a drink in each. Wahey!
Thou Shalt Not Forget the Baby Wipes
Ahh baby wipes. Invention of the Gods and number one festival requirement. Get a big pack, like a giant one. They are insanely useful. Clean the mud off your boots, wash your pits and bits, get the dirt out from under your nails, polish your sunglasses – there is nothing the mighty baby wipe cannot achieve.
Thou Shalt Buy A Bigger Tent Than You Need
The first time I camped at a festival, I was in one of those teeny tiny pods for two, sharing with a friend. There was just enough space for two sleeping bags and our backpacks. No chance I was going to get dressed without contorting myself into all kinds of shapes. Fast forward 10 years later and my tent is now designed for six people, but houses two, and comes complete with a porch, air bed and camping chairs. And I’ve never been happier. Yes it’s heavy and a chore to pack away, but what tent isn’t? The pros of ALLL the space and the ability to get dressed standing up far outweighs the packing pain.
Thou Shalt Camp Near A Tree
Now, this kind of goes against all natural instincts, but hear me out. Trees are useful for many reasons – their roots often provide a nice perch on which to rest your bum, they provide shelter during the rain, they provide something to cock a leg against if you can’t face trekking to the toilets and they’re useful markers to remember where it was exactly that you camped. I wouldn’t advise camping directly beneath one, but near one can’t hurt.
Thou Shalt Not Wait until You’re Desperate for a Wee
You WILL be drinking a lot of fluids. There WILL be a queue for the toilets. Don’t leave it until you’re desperate to join the queue otherwise you’ll find yourself squatting against a wall in despair. If you can afford it, pay for the luxury toilets. The queue will be shorter and the experience will be nicer!
Thou Shalt Take a Portable Phone Charger
Your phone will die. Simples. And I’ve heard countless stories of people taking them to those charging stations where you pay and them not working. Until the days when phones charge wirelessly (can that be soon please, technology gods?), you will need to take a portable phone charger. And don’t forget the cable. You’re welcome.
Thou Shalt Not Forget Plastic Bags
Honestly brilliant. Stick everything electronic into sandwich bags in case it starts belting it down and they will stay dry. Also great for keeping your toilet roll in pristine condition. As for bin bags, take a whole roll. You can sit on them if it’s muddy, put your dirty boots into them, clear away your rubbish, chuck your tent and sleeping bag in them when you can’t be bothered to roll them up and so much more.
Thou Shalt Take Plenty of Cash
The queues for cash machines on site are always horrendous. Take a decent amount with you, just stash it in different wallets and bags so if someone were to nick your wallet, they won’t get it all.
Thou Shalt Stash a Spare Outfit in the Car
If the weather is truly apocalyptic, you will always know that there is a change of clothes safe and sound in the car for you to snuggle into for the journey home. Comfy jeans, a warm snuggly hoody and some trainers are your best bet.
And one final word from me…
Playsuits are NEVER a good idea!
Festival toilets are not renowned for their comfort or their cleanliness. By the end of the day they will likely have run out of toilet roll and stink to high heaven. And if the festival site is muddy, expect that mud to make it onto places you didn’t think possible inside the portaloo. Just take a moment to picture what that toilet looks like. Go on, conjure up the smell if you can. Now imagine getting down to your bare arse in that smelly box just to have a wee. Not a good look. Playsuits are a big festival no no. Unless you’re super flexible and can pee out of the side. In which case, I salute you.
Have you got any tips to add?