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Festival Survival Guide

Katy Harrington sums up everything you need to know for festival season

Written by . Published on June 3rd 2011.

Festival Survival Guide

THERE'S Glastonbury and Download in June, Wireless, T in the Park and Latitude in July, the Big Chill, V and Reading in August and Bestival in September – to name but a few. Yes, festival time is here and that can only mean one thing – it’s time to forget your wellies, miss your favourite band, sleep in a damp tent (more than likely not your own) and incur a liver-related illness. Ok so that’s several things, but if you want to make the most of festivaling this summer, here are a few practical tips to see you through…



Few other people face the same sartorial dilemmas as the UK festival-goer when packing for a festival because we live in a climate where you can be sweating like a pig one minute and frozen to bone the next. With this in mind, it’s best to pack lots of light layers, spare socks and one seriously woolly jumper for when the temperature plummets at night (you won’t feel the cold when you crash out, but at 6am when the beer sweater has worn off, you’ll need something to snuggle up in).



Hardened festival types, with the constitution of a horse, believe your sole nutritional value over the entire weekend should be derived from a few packets of rollies, cans of warm cider and perhaps a stick of gum. This is impractical, (unless you are Keith Richards), but on the other hand people who arrive laden with Trackers bars, Capri Suns and dried cranberries to snack on are equally to be distrusted. This isn’t a cheese and wine party so forget bringing crackers and cubes of processed cheese (unless you want to be cleaning a thick Dairylea paste out of your rucksack when you get home). Try and avoid overpriced brown food (which usually turns out to be chow mein); there are plenty decent and tasty options at most festivals if you look farther afield, just don’t go for a chili burrito with everything on it after 18 beers – it will end in tears.



And lots of it. A famous Irish quote states ‘a pint of plain is your only man’, but that was written in pre-festival days and let’s face it, pints are expensive, cans are heavy, sprits come in glass bottles, so a box of wine is the best festival boozing option. Take the cardboard off and carry it round like a fetching plastic handbag, it’s fun on tap. Whatever your tipple choice though, remember to keep plenty of water in your tent for when you wake up in the morning and your tongue feels like sandpaper.


Young people! Your mum is blue in the face telling you that it’s a festival, not a fashion show, but the only festival your parents were at was probably Woodstock and they were more than likely naked and on acid. Festivals ARE fashion shows (blame Kate Moss). If you are one (and I mean one because there literally is only one of you left on earth) of those women who is happy to wear the same thing everyday and just enjoy the music…then good for you, but for the rest of us, festival style is part of the fun. Make a statement, but please ladies, no fairy wings.

Festival Etiquette

‘Etiquette be damned’ I hear you say, and while you don’t need to verse yourself in Debrettt’s A-Z of Modern Manners before heading off to the Isle of Wight, it is a good idea to be considerate of those around you (that means not urinating in the vicinity of your neighbour’s tent). Also, unless you have an ‘artist pass’ around your neck, please leave your guitar, lute or bongo drums at home, because mark my words – NO ONE wants to hear your version of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ at 4am, or at any hour for that matter. (Needless to say, setting fire to, squatting in or retching near anyone else’s tent is considered déclassé). So be nice to your neighbours, share your wet wipes and try not to leave a boot mark on anyone else’s face in the mosh pit.



If you have OCD or need to shower everyday, then go to a literary festival and stay in a hotel. In fact, if your personal hygiene standards measure anywhere above giving the pits a quick sniff in the morning, then steer clear of festivals altogether. For everyone else, the fail-safe tip to avoid shower angst (i.e. missing Fleet Foxes while queuing for a pathetic dribble of luke warm water) is…don’t have one. It’s three days people and you have baby wipes…you can do it. I believe in you.


Malheureusement, unlike showering (see Hygiene), visiting the little boys/girls rooms cannot be avoided so let’s just whizz (sorry) over a few basic festival bathroom rules: NEVER, under any circumstances sit on the toilet seat. Do carry wet wipes at all times and please try to be quick. (Girls – yes, that playsuit looked cute on the hanger in Topshop, but if it takes 15 minutes to unbutton, best not wear it. You, and your little bladders will thank me.)


Getting Around

The best festival advice ever is this: Get lost, wander, explore – you are basically in a massive play pen so don’t waste a second stressing about where you are meant to be and while you’re at it, kiss goodbye to linear time too. Avoid anyone who carries a laminated copy of the line-up like the plague, and if you do lose your phone, your map and all your friends then make new ones (not phones and maps, that would take ages), but it’s amazing how easy it is to befriend like minded (i.e. wasted) folk.


Miscellaneous Items

And by that I mean condoms. Bring them and for god’s sake use them, you filthy fornicators! Sorry, that’s the Pope talking. But seriously, even if you are in a loving, committed relationship, I advise using contraception because no child is going to thank you for telling them years later that the reason they are called ‘red camping zone’ is because that is the site at which they were conceived.


Health And Safety

Don’t get pneumonia, sunstroke, an STD or trench foot and you’ll have done well.


See you in the queue for the portaloos! 

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