In the aftermath of the shambles that was Isle of Wight festival, where most of the festival goers left early due to muddiness [what exactly did they expect?] I thought I would restore faith in the tradition of the music festival or in fact any festival and pass on some of my top tips.
Undoubtedly those who were trudging home from Isle of Wight and willingly missing acts were under-prepared. It's never pretty if the weather turns torrential but, if you are well prepared you can make the best of it and embrace the weekend for what it is- a chance to enjoy non-stop music in the great outdoors.
Obviously, there are sometimes extreme factors that will defeat even the most seasoned camper but in general you need to be prepared for all occasions. Clever packing and a bit of know-how is essential. Once you have this bit down you can relax and just enjoy it to the max.
So here are my top-tips for festival-goers this summer
First and foremost your tent is your home for the next 2 to 5 five days so don't scrimp on the price. If you are a regular festival-goer it will be an investment. If your visit is a one-off look out for a good quality tent in the sale or online. You cannot chance taking a cheap, one-man or pop-up tent because it will disintegrate and leak at the first hint of rain. Securing it with guy ropes is sure to give it that sturdy edge against wind and rain.
Mark your territory and pitch with care. Choosing the right camping spot can make or break your festival experience. I recommend somewhere uphill if possible to lower the risk of flooding in the case of extreme rainfall. Get there early and pitch up straight away- you may be tired but it will be worth it, trust me. Also if you are in a group try to pitch with all of your tent doors facing in towards each other. Not only is it sociable- but it is better than all just going side-by-side as you create a little bit of security and a communal area. Don't take up ridiculous amounts of space as that's mean [where's everyone else meant to camp?!] and also someone will probably try and pitch in the middle of your space if it's too big. Have a few chairs and the tents in a circle to ensure that your group have a collective area.
Getting in early and finding the perfect camping spot will mean you can avoid places that are right next to footpaths [noisy]…or even worse the toilets [smelly].
Also a tent with a porch is essential. Not only do you get a little bit more privacy and security but also you can stand your muddy boots and wet clothes in there whilst you sleep in the comfort of a separate section.
Wellies. They have almost become synonymous with the word festival- particularly in the UK. Take them with you- yes they do sell them onsite but they're probably overpriced, poor quality and miles away- not useful if it is muddy from the moment you walk in.
However, in the next breath I will suggest to take an extra pair of shoes. Not in the name of fashion because festivals have become oh so chic darling but because they will be a necessity. If it stops raining or the mud dries up, or if you're lucky and it's not rainy or muddy at all, you may want to give your feet a rest from the trusty wellington boot- 5 days at Glastonbury in welly boots is almost impossible, not matter how well they fit or comfy they are. Go for a sensible shoe though; a walking shoe, Dr.Martens, ankle boots or trainers if it's completely dry.
Take cash with you. There will be cash points on site but few and far between. Probably a long walk, a long queue and a fee to get your money out. Figure out roughly how much you'll need for food and drink and take the cash with you and keep it secure.
Whilst we are on the subject of security, my advice is do not lock your tent in any way. It advertises that you indeed have some worth stealing. Just pack well and have a specific place for things like money. Don't leave stuff sprawled out and easy to reach and zip up your tent. Have a sensible bag on you so you can carry valuables like money and your mobile throughout the day.
Plastic carrier bags will be essential. Of course you are expected to respect your area and keep tidy so throwing away rubbish is just common courtesy. But also for keeping things dry, putting wet clothes in, sitting on them, using them as a hand cover to take off muddy boots- the possibilities are endless.
Watch out for flying projectiles. Sometimes people pee in a cup and throw it. There's not much you can do but you had better hope that whatever liquid hits you is cold and not warm. Oh and if you're someone who does that kind of thing - just don't ,yeah?
Pack light after all you are going to have to carry it all in and out again. But when I say light I actually mean sensibly. Do not take tons of unnecessary food, clothes, flags, shoes whatever you think you may want but then won't actually need.
Check the website before hand- you'll find tons of info on what you can and can't do and what you can and can't take in to camping and arena areas. This way you won't pack unnecessary stuff or be caught red handed with prohibited items. For example, some festivals do not allow you take your own drink into the music areas, so don't over pack your own booze when you'll probably have to spend money on it when you're there.
If you are allowed to take drink onsite do not take glass. Dispense into plastic bottles or pack cans.
These are my basic bits of advice that I think will serve anyone well, particularly for a first time festival attendee. And remember you are there to have fun, so just relax! A bit of rain or a portaloo never hurt anyone.
Also, here is my essentials list of what you need to take but you may forget, trust me you'll hail these items a godsend- you can buy most things onsite if you really do forget but it will be pricey.
•Smokers- enough cigarettes
•Any medication you need to take
•Ladies- contraception/tampons etc
•A jumper [it will always get chilly even if it has been warm]
•Toothbrush, tooth paste and a refillable water bottle
•Cereal bars/dry snacks
•Large water carrier/hydration pack