Find out about them by experiencing it for yourself.
(You do however, have permission to read THIS advice, but THIS advice ONLY.)
So, a few years ago (summer 2014) I went to Leeds festival.
I’m not too sure how typical this experience was of British festivals in general, however I guess it was fairly typical, given that rather a rather large number of people were there and the weather was ‘British’ – occasional sun but mostly grey.
Anyway, before we went (my 5 girl friends and I) had a few little meetings to discuss a plan of action for the weekend. We took it so seriously that even one of my friends who was away in Canada at the time was summoned on FaceTime to make a virtual appearance. We had planned who would stay in who’s tent, that we would leave the empty tents at the festival when we left (to save carrying them home in our hungover states) and we even decided to bring my friend’s tent as a toilet cubicle/storage unit – don’t ask.
We had been told various stories about what our festival experience would be like, including ‘Everyone will either offer you drugs, be on drugs or both’, ‘If you split up from your friends you won’t be able to find them for the rest of the weekend’ and ‘My friend didn’t wear her wellies in at home before Vfest and after using them out there her feet were so blistered I swear you could almost see the bone.’ Now I don’t know about you, but I was fairly suspicious about these words of wisdom. I mean, if her feet were really that bad surely she’d have had to a) go home, b) go to A&E or c) be so blackout drunk that she didn’t notice her feet looked like they’d had a run in with a cheese grater and in that case ‘a’ and ‘b’ should also have been necessary.
Below is a list of the things we brought with us, with a brief description of whether they were a brilliant idea or a load of crap that just took up extra space in our bags. WARNING: this is NOT a list of skimpy/overpriced and impractical garments that I will pretend will determine whether you have a fab time or not. From my experience, festivals are not about fashion and looking your best, they are about having a laugh with your mates, embracing the rain and mud and sporting your best pair of sunglasses and a novelty headpiece that hides your greasy, unwashed hair.
Wellies – An obvious festival essential, given the unpredictable British weather. High socks were equally necessary – one of my friends only brought one pair of socks for the whole five days he was there (although he remembered to bring about 3 litres of cider) and soon started to regret his priorities.
Bottles of Water – DEFINITE ESSENTIAL. This may not seem wholly important – after all, there are water supplies on the campsites. However, it only takes one time of waking up hungover in a stifling hot tent with no water, to show you that leaving that six-pack of water that your mum got you from ALDI at home and bringing your monopoly set instead ‘incase we get bored’ was a HUGE MISTAKE. P.S. – I guarantee you won’t get bored at a festival, you will either spend your time recovering from a killer hangover, partying with your mates or taking various pictures of you and your friends in front of typical ‘festival’ backdrops – i.e. a ferris wheel, row of tents, field or – if you’re a hilarious individual – in front of the grotty toilets.
Speaking of toilets brings me to my next essential. Hand Sanitiser. Always useful for cleaning up mud-stained hands or for after you’ve visited the toilets of doom. Don’t however, bring a bottle each if there’s like a group of six of you. When have you ever used a whole bottle to yourself in four days? Never? Then you won’t be running out at a festival either. The same goes for things like make-up, suncream etc too. Don’t overpack these things.
Layers/comfortable clothes for all types of weather. You’ve only got so much room in your rucksack so be careful. It could be baking hot in the day and your stood in a sticky pair of jeans, wishing someone would throw some ice over you. Or you could be freezing cold at night and you’re regretting wearing that tiny short pyjama set on the off chance that a hot guy catches you in them, hoping that your mate might let you get into their sleeping bag with them because body heat is the only available heat resource. Don’t bring expensive clothing either – remember you’ll be leaving this in a tent and occasionally things get stolen.
If you bring anything electrical like a torch, BRING BATTERIES before you get there. On our first night, one of my friends had a fall out with the people she was sharing at tent with because remembering the batteries for their lantern was her ‘only job’ and she forgot. She then spent about two hours of her first night scavenging for batteries while we were partying away.
Approx. 2 litres of vodka/other spirits EACH in addition to various pre-mixed cocktails. Do not bring different types of alcohol each, even if the percentage is not that high. As you don’t tend to eat much at festivals, you can get drunk quite easily and a hangover is not ideal when you don’t have running water and the privacy of your own bathroom. *Remembers friend who continuously threw up into her own hands for about an hour because she wasn’t used to drinking and thought that downing a considerable amount of vodka was the right way to kick off the last night* GROSS.
Hair chalk/facepaint/glitter. Yes, Yes, YES. At first you’ll seem sheepish about applying it on your first day when people don’t seem to be interested in all that ‘cringey’ stuff. But just you wait until everyone’s had a few drinks. Then, everyone (including the guys) will now be your best friend, begging you to paint those ‘cool dots’ around their eyelids in neon yellow. A festival cliché but brilliant all the same.
Dry snacks. Nothing too exciting because you need to line your stomach for all that drink you’ll be consuming. Not gonna drink much? Well you say that now but just you wait!
Cheap mobile phone with a long-lasting battery & a decent camera. Not gonna explain this one, it’s pretty obvious why you’ll need these.
Plasters & tissues. Again, rather self-explanatory.
A large group of your best mates. If there’s loads of you and you’re arriving at different days/times, then fear not, pitching your tents in different camps is actually a good idea. We knew a lot of people who went to Leeds and before we went we were panicking that we wouldn’t all be together. Six of us camped in one site and another twelve in others, which turned out to be great because we got to know each other’s neighbours, it was fun to explore/hang out in other camps and if someone got on your nerves, you could go and chill somewhere where they were out of earshot. (No offence, but hearing about how little sleep you had for 4 hours straight can be a little annoying; we’re ALL tired here.) Also, you do bump into people at festivals, which can be both awesome and awkward.
A programme/lineup of all the acts. This way you don’t miss the first half of Foster the People’s set because you were applying the boys’ pink glitter face paint.
So, there it is. The only festival advice you should take note of! Of course, I am kidding, but if you’re excited about going to one this summer but people’s horrific stories are putting you off, don’t listen to them! Go and try it for yourself, you’ll love it. From my experience, festivals are pretty safe places and most people are just there to have fun like you. Make sure you go with a group of mates that you can rely on and don’t drink too much!
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