Every year, hundreds of thousands of people from all over travel to music festivals for a fun-filled, carefree couple of days with friends, to go and see some of their favourite artists and the opportunity to see others that they've not heard of.
If you've never been to a festival, it can seem a bit daunting if you are planning on going for the first time, especially as bad news travels fast and the media seem to get more of a story out of the bad news than good news. It is easy to imagine a nightmare scenario where all your possessions have been stolen, the tent has been burned to the ground, it's raining and you now have to survive the next 48hrs surrounded by drink and drug fuelled crazies who are determined to reign chaos across the festival site.
We, here at the Pandemonium Club, have attended quite a few festivals and we can assure you that most of the horror stories are exaggerated by word of mouth. We won't lie to you about it, there are bad people out there, in fact there are gangs that specifically target music festivals as the tents make easy pickings and with many people enjoying the festival being a little worse for wear it makes things even easier. However, please don't let these things put you off as with a few common sense rules to follow there is no reason why a visit to a festival should be anything but amazing fun and leave you with a variety of great memories and possibly some fuzzy memories.
The most obvious piece of advice means that you don't have pointless clutter to get lost/broken or stolen and if it does happen it is to something that can easily be replaced.
Each year at festivals we get a good laugh at someone who has found their limit and then vaulted past it with great gusto, these people can be found lying in a variety of poses for the amusement of passers by.
Sometimes these people are lucky and they just wake up with a sore head and realise that they have missed a couple of bands. Quite a few people aren't as lucky and get very unwell or taken advantage of by some scumbags and sadly a couple of people have died over the years due to the excesses.
As with alcohol (and anything similar you plan on enjoying) the festival has not negated normal rules, you still need some food and some sleep. The larger than normal quantities of alcohol you most likely plan on consuming do not get to replace eating something solid and the disco biscuits don't remove the need to sleep. You may not have the facilities for a full fry-up but getting a half decent breakfast inside you does set you up well for the days festivities. A little bit of planning and forethought go a long way and will keep you fuelled up to make the most of the festival. BBQ facilities are normally ok at a lot of festivals and it means you can get some bacon or sausages down you, add a couple of slices of bread and if you really want to treat yourself round it off with a tin of fruit and you will cope well until the drunken need for a burger kicks in.
Have a look at the weather reports in the days coming up to the festival and make sure you pack the required amount of sun cream, hats, wellies, waterproofs, warm jumpers, etc. Sun burn is never fun, at worst going to prevent you from getting a nights sleep and painful. Being cold, wet and miserable is not what you came to a festival for. All of these things are on sale at a many festivals but that is an expensive waste of beer money.
Regardless of whether or not its falling from the sky, the combination of standing around all day (if not moshing like a loony), sun and drinking your own body weight in beer combine to be the perfect conditions for you to get massively dehydrated. If you do start to get dehydrated neck a pint of water and remember to do so in-between pints, failure to do so will result in a far worse than usual hang-over and the possibility of missing the bands you want to see.
You are at a festival, not trekking through the DRC or on a private yacht registered in Somalia 200 miles into international waters, if it is illegal at home/school/work/play it is still illegal at the festival. Please do not ruin the reputation of your favourite festival by being caught by the authorities doing something stupid.
Remember the essentials when you go, tent, sleeping bag, ticket! Nothing will ruin the start of your festival experience like finding out the sleeping bag has gone mouldy or the tent has a snapped pole when you get to the campsite. Driving halfway there and realising that the tickets are on the kitchen counter-top is a big pain. Write a list of what you need, what you want and what you need to get sorted long enough in advance to fix problems. Once you've done a festival this will all become second nature.
Well there it is, our guide to surviving a festival, in short have a think about what you want and need beforehand, enjoy a drink or two, remember the weather can change and most of important of all, we hope to see you down the front showing the bands some support.
Article written by Pandemonium Tom, August 2013