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Lessons learnt: Music festivals

This year might not be the same in terms of the amount of festivals going ahead, but it's still much better than last year when the whole industry had to shut down due to covid. As I write this 40,000 people are at Latitude in Suffolk, so I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane and share what I've learnt and the mistakes I've made.


I've been to a few festivals now. Rather than going on a girls holiday, I went to T in the Park (TITP) in Scotland instead. We went on the Thursday, and stayed right through until coming back on the Monday. It was amazing. This festival isn't held anymore, but I'd compare it to Radio 1's Big Weekend.



Since TITP, I've been to Boardmasters in Cornwall, Radio 1's Big Weekend (R1BW), and Leeds Fest.


Here's some things I've learnt from going to festivals, and tips I'd pass on if you're going to your first one soon.


Fainting


So you know when you're in a crowd and there's always girls getting dragged out at the front because they don't want to turn back and get out and instead they get security to pull them out at the front? Yeah that wasn't me. Instead, I was the girl getting dragged out UNCONSCIOUS because I'd passed out in the crowd.


This was at TITP, so I've definitely learnt from my mistakes. The problem was, we were doing 12-hour days stood at the front and because of this I didn't want to drink/eat much because I didn't want to have to go to the loo and lose my place. Well this was a big error.


In the break between James Bay and The Script (who were one of my favourites at the time) my friend felt me knocking against her from behind. When she looked round my eyes had rolled back, I had fainted and the crowd was holding me up. Well, what followed was me waking up in the health and safety tent, with the sound of The Script coming out on stage.


I was gutted. They were in my top five bands to see that weekend, and I ended up watching them from the back. It wasn't all bad though. My friends caught me the guitar pick!


Now I always get a big meal late morning, and take water into the crowd. Please don't be 2015 me.


Travel


Always plan ahead with this because you're going to be far from chipper on the way back so you need something easy (that you can sleep on) to get home.


We made the mistake of getting the festival bus for TITP which was fine in theory, but we ended up waiting hours (in a rainy field with no food) to get on the bus to return. Yes this wasn't our fault, but I'd always say sort your own way home after that experience.


If you ever go to Cornwall for Boardmasters, do not rely on trains. It takes FOREVER and the available services aren't big enough to deal with the demand. If you can drive to this one, drive.


Packing


Not to sound like a mum, but although festival fashion is great, be practical too. Don't wear anything expensive because chances are it will get ruined. Take a rucksack NOT a suitcase (you'll be surprised how many people I've seen dragging a suitcase through the campsites). And whatever you do, don't take brand new wellies that you haven't worn in. That was me. By the second night I had so many blisters and I was hobbling along like an injured animal.


Another thing I've learnt is to superglue your bum bag shut. This is because you're an easy target for pick pockets in busy crowds. They can have your bag off you before you've even realised. So glue it shut and then use the adjustable waist to get it on and off instead. This, or have something tied around your waist covering the bag.


Other things to remember with packing - portable charger, sun cream, non-meltable snacks, waterproof jacket, and tissues for the toilets (there is NEVER toilet roll).


Money


I won't dress it up, festival food and drink is expensive. Like any other event, the prices are high. When you're in there you just need to accept that and enjoy it though, because the food is so good. There is always so much choice and I treat it like a holiday, just embrace the cost! Of course you can take breakfast bars and snacks to keep you going, but you will have to buy stuff there too. To link back to the fainting story, after it happened I made sure to have a big meal late morning and that would keep me going until it was dark, then we would get a pizza on the way back to the tent.


Be aware of pick pockets, but that's just a general life tip to be honest. Girls - keep it in your bra. Boys - find somewhere safe for your cards/cash.


Preparation


This sounds so boring, but just doing a bit of prep with your friends beforehand really helps make sure you have the best time when you're there. Check out who is playing on what stage at what time, that way you can have a bit of plan and don't miss anyone you really want to see.


They'll be selling overprices programmes on site, so make sure you print off the lineup times before and map out your weekend.


What's next?


This year is a bit different for me. I've got a one-day festival in London which is definitely not a moshy one - All Points East. London Grammar and Celeste are headlining so I'm expected a much more chilled day. I was also set to go to another fesitval a few weeks ago but 'Freedom Day' was delayed so that got called off. Oh well, there's always next year!


Have a great time if you're off to any festivals this year!