How To Survive Festivals

Don’t miss-understand me, I know festivals are loads of fun, in fact they are the epitome of fun, with everyone there solely to enjoy themselves (or sell legal drugs i.e. coriander) and there’s a spirit of Community that normal life just can’t emulate.

What I don’t like about Festivals is how crap you end up feeling/looking, and how we all seem to have seasonal amnesia and forget that it RAINS IN SUMMER.  We pack suncream that smells like holidays and don’t remember that holidays are actually getting trenchfoot and losing all of our pants.

To combat this I have compiled a guide to help you feel less like a furry ball bag by the time you pack up your tent and incinerate your puke-covered sleeping bag.


As the curtain rises on your musical adventure your brain will be filled with idyllic memories of summers past.  That time at Reading when you kissed the bassist of the first band on the ‘WKD’ stage.  When you took the first hit from a bong while watching KT Tunstall and couldn’t get over the irony of your opposing cultural contexts.   OK that wasn’t strictly a festival, it was just her gig in Hyde Park and your mum picked you up so you had to cover yourself in Impulse spray for the journey home. But still – CRAZY TIMES.  This day will involve a lot of schlepping.  You will inevitably end up packing way too much stuff – you might only put a rasta hat in your bag but somehow it will magically weigh approx. 3 tonnes by the time you pick it up.

Tip 1
Make sure you wash before you leave the house.  And by wash I mean scrub mercilessly until your skin is smoother than a babies arse and you look like you’ve been dipped in ribena.  Avoid greasy mosturisers and don’t use conditioner on your hair.  The aim is to resemble a dried up prune as closely as possible so that you actually benefit from the sweat that will start to shine up your face and slick over your hair.

Tip 2
Get a tent that is easy to put up.  And by easy to put up I mean one where you blow on a neat square of material and it bursts open, perfectly formed, and embeds itself in the ideal bit of earth. Failing that just get one that you can put up while completely drunk, as you probably will have indulged in the car on the way down.  Or bought some coriander from the legal drug woman and are telling everyone you’re totally messed up while your friends look embarrassed and try to “accidentally” leave you at the phone charging stall.

Tip 3
Don’t get too wasted.  Who am I kidding, you’re gonna get so trashed you start to fancy your sister and think you’re Ghandi.  I guess what I mean is tell yourself you’re not going to get too wasted, because then hopefully when you wake up the next day with your face in a dreadlocked poo you will think “well if I feel this shit after not getting too wasted I should probably take it easy tonight”.   Survival is all about tricking yourself.

Go and see some bands.  The poor woeful musicians have made all the effort to get there so the least you can do is wander to the field and attempt to decipher their greatest hits through the crappy speakers.  Wriggling out of your damp sleeping bag and finding a squalid patch of grass 4 miles from the main stage is all worth it when you get a warm Magners in your sweaty paw.

Tip 1
Eating at a festival makes you feel like Princess Diana in a field of landmines.  The number of times I’ve opted for a safe option of humous wrap with roasted veg (yeah I’ve got fucking class) only to realize mid bite that it’s stale chicken curry wrapped in a tea towel.  You will have eaten all the food you bought for the weekend sitting in the car before it left the driveway, so you have to stumble through the myriads of smelly stews until you find one that looks do-able.  Give in to it, you’re gonna end up with one of those weird runny tummy aches that makes you run to the toilet holding your bum, so at least go out with a bang.

Tip 2
Stick with your friends.  I know one of them forgot to take off his jeans when he went for a late night pee and has smelled like a tramp ever since, and another one has fallen in love with a roadie who looks like father Christmas on crack, but they are your friends.  They will be there when you lose one of your shoes, and they will be able to remind you that it’s actually tied to your face.  They won’t judge you for thinking that it looked cool and they won’t tell you that pointing to it and saying, “I caught foot in mouth”, was hilarious enough to be repeated for 5 hours straight.  You need your friends.

The last day is for writing all those festival wrongs. So the 1 and only tip for DAY 3:

Lose your friends.  Stand up mid-sentence, turn on your heel and walk purposefully off into the crowd. Everyone gets lost on day three so you might as well be in control of it, and the best things about festivals are those horrific moments when you’ve lost everyone you know and are wandering around a field in the middle of some rocked out pagan holy land, desperately scanning the crowds for your mate’s penis hat.  You’re pretty sure the stars are planning to fall to earth and burn your face off, and your phone has turned into a hand grenade/is out of battery.  So lonely.

But then in one moment it will all turn around.  You’ll stumble across a nice group of smiley people sitting round a campfire, they’ll offer you one of those picnic stools your parents use at Van Morrisson gigs in Regents Park, and you’ll stay with them watching kids in tutu’s do poi, talking about the meaning of life and Beverly Hills 90210.  Filled with inner confidence you’ll set off with them to watch the last band of the weekend and will join in with their ironic skanking to Elbow.

Then through some kismet perfection you’ll bump into your friends and be so full of joy and gratitude that you don’t have to hang out with hippies anymore.  That, and that alone, is what festivals are all about.


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