Festivals - Things to take, plans to make

Here is a mini list (with links to more detail where necessary) of the actual vital stuff you need to know about the average festival.
  • Many music festivals are actually a cross between a summer fete, and a music festival.  Of course this means there is loads to do as well as listen to bands, things like comedy tents, films, shows, circus acts, craft areas etc including (often) activities for children, from as young as babies to teens
  • Camp sites.They can be hilly, and you may find the camping area is far away from the car park. Try and check the layout via the website for the festival and consult an Ordnance Survey map if you are keen. You will probably need a trolley to transport all your stuff from the car park. If you don't own one you can hire them at many festivals. Take the tent and minimal stuff on the first trip, find your spot (festivals rarely have defined camping spaces so they get crowded) and pitch the tent. Be polite to your neighbours, make friends, share a glass of wine, you never know when you may need their help! Tents can end up very close together, consider earplugs if you are a light sleeper, I also take an eye mask as my tent lets light in very early! The walkways between the tents are often lit with suspended lights and these may stay on nearly all night, it makes a trip to the loo relatively easy but can keep you awake if you pitch near them.
  • Hygiene and Toilets - everyone panics about festival loos and while they can be bad, they are usually OK. There will usually portaloos in the main camping
    area (these should be emptied regularly, but this might be in the early morning, don't camp too close or you'll be woken by the trucks arriving) They should be kept pretty clean. There will be washing facilities near them (cold water only). There may also be showers and posh flushing loos that you can pay to use. On the festival site itself there will be toilets, maybe even compost loos, daunting at first (they have a long drop under the seat!) but actually pretty nice to use. Bring your own loo roll, wet wipes and hand sanitiser - make a small pack of these items to carry with you. Personal chemical  toilets are not allowed in the camping areas as there is nowhere to empty them. Ladies may like to consider buying a Shewee. While there are showers they often have long queues and cost extra. For 4 days I tend to just shower before I leave home, use wet wipes at the festival and shower when I get home again. Take lots of wet wipes.
  • Do buy the festival programme, spend some time planning the stuff you really can't miss, try and spot times that you will be free for meals etc. leave space between acts if you can (unless they are on the same stage) as you need to move around the site, use the toilets and get drinks too! If you are a family, ensure everyone gets to see or do at least one thing they really love each day. Consult the map to plan travel between the tents/stages. Tents can get filled early so consider that in your plans, if you arrive late you may not get in.
  • Food. There will be lots to buy but it won't be cheap. Balance meals out with meals at the tent and take snacks. You can cook on small portable gas cookers outside. (check individual festival rules for cooking and fire regulations - some don't allow gas, some don't allow open fires)  Take things that are quick to heat to save time and gas, tinned food is a good idea, baked beans, hotdogs, chilli etc (remember a tin opener!). Most festivals have a No glass on site rule,  so no jars of pasta sauce, baby food, or bottles of wine etc. Bringing your own alcohol is allowed in some camping areas (there will be bars in the festival site, check the rules for individual festivals on alcohol quantities) and not in glass, think bags of wine, tins of G&T and cans of beer. Take snacks (especially for kids)  eg individual cartons of juice (there is drinking water available at lots of locations) packets of biscuits, apples, dried fruit, croissants, cakes (individually wrapped are great!) packets of crisps etc. 
  • Weather. Expect the best but prepare for the worst! Bring light clothing and suncream, sunhats and flowers for your hair too (yes even the men). But be prepared for rain, bring wellies and a waterproof jacket. As it's a festival, wellies, especially funky coloured ones, have become ubiquitous, many people wear wellies everyday regardless of the weather. 
  • Money. There are loads of ways to spend your money at a festival, from bubble wands to vintage fashion. Flower hair garlands and fancy dress. Try and stock up with the sort of things that will be popular (especially things for children) before you arrive, it will save you £££s. Things to buy before you go include; glowsticks, bubbles, furry tails, flower hair bands, fancy dress, balloons, diablos, hula hoops, frisbees (soft ones!) and sponge balls. If you run out of cash at a festival, there may be cash machines, but they will charge you a fee and there will be queues. Lots of the shops will take cards though. Don't forget - don't leave valuables in the tent, and at night keep phones and money in the bottom of your sleeping bag.
  • Fancy Dress. Some festivals have themes, check their websites. Most festivals have a wild and exciting 'anything goes' attitude to dress! Everything from ballgowns, morphsuits, jeans or suits, to nudity, bodypaint and glitter. Let your imagination run wild and be who you want to be for the weekend.
  • Rubbish. There will be lots of bins on site, in the festival itself and in the camp site. Take some binbags and keep your rubbish in it, keep your space tidy. On the last day check you leave your space clean and tidy. It will take you 5 minutes to clean your area up and chuck the bin bag in the rubbish area, Don't leave it for someone else to do. Paying rubbish clean up crews puts festival costs up, help keep prices lower (and animals safer) by leaving just a patch of yellowing grass behind.
  • Be flexible. Sleep when you are tired, eat when you are hungry. Wee when you are ....needing a wee! Don't stress over healthy food, or washing, or bedtimes. It is (sadly) only 4 days, just go with the flow and have an awesome time. 
Don't forget that while there maybe a medical tent or a first aid team, if you know you will need antihistamines, Calpol or any other medicines it's wise to buy before you travel, and bring them with you. Illegal drugs are of course still illegal - even at a festival
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