Where were we? That’s right, we’d just arrived at the festival, taken a couple of hours to put up our tent, spent an extra hour practising our breathing and had a stand-off with a drunk in the mid-afternoon crowd.
Where better to start with my next survival tips than with the great, unpredictable British weather?
Let’s face it – it’s going to rain.
Let’s face it more – even if it’s not cast to rain, it’s going to rain.
My initial piece of advice on how to deal with the rain is to embrace it. The rain is nature’s way of helping the grass to grow and the plants to bloom. So, try to forget that your hair is sticking to your face and your nose is running so fast you can hardly keep up. Don’t worry that your tent could cave in or leak, leaving you to wake up in a puddle of dirty water. Don’t feel embarrassed when your wellies get stuck in the mud so entirely that you fall out of them in front of a large group of hysterical people. It really is just a spot of rain.
I may seem to be giving off the vibe that I have an aversion to rain, but throughout my experience of festivals, I have decided that there is one thing that’s much worse. I have experienced thunderstorms, torrential downpours and clouds so grey and low that you feel you could jump and grab a piece. Though, if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that it could be ten times worse – it could be sunny.
True, there’s nothing quite like sitting in the arena with your sunglasses on, a cold beer in your hand and a great band on stage – but you’ll soon forget the wonder of the hot weather when you’re waking up the next morning caked in sweat and choking on air so hot that you can feel your skin bubbling.
So my second piece of weather-related advice is, if you have a large tent with great ventilation (windows, a couple of doors), take it with you. Even if it takes a little longer to put up, you could find yourself in the middle of a heat wave, thanking yourself for being ahead of the game.
In the more likely case of rain however, take an appropriate waterproof coat and trousers and a towel for your tent floor. Or, go crazy and buy an umbrella hat – you’ll be the envy of anyone with a sense of fashion.
When you first arrive at a music festival, you will notice the amount of people struggling to heave three crates of cheap lager and sweet cider through muddy fields, with heavy bags on their backs and sweat dripping down their necks.
This act may seem senseless as you watch them struggling to breathe. But as soon as they settle down, they will snap a can open, lie back and bask in their triumph.
Though my primary advice is to join them and enjoy doing so, the life of a 24/7 festival drinker can sometimes become a bit of a problem.
Once you’ve run out of cans or become sick of the people drinking and belching at 5:30am in front of your tent, passing out drunk in the mud with no shirt on and throwing empty cans at people’s heads, you will hit the festival bar.
This is a strange experience, depending on which festival you choose to go to. If you head to Download Festival, for example, you will have to buy ‘beer tokens’ beforehand or it’ll cost you a bomb (I had a wonderful experience this year where, having paid for ten tokens, I received twenty. God bless rock & roll).
Meanwhile, at Green Man Festival the bar staff have a fun and rather peculiar way of celebrating every time a customer decides to opt for a pint of ‘Green Man Growler.’ They dance, clap and cheer you as you walk away, delighted with your choice. It really is great, until some unlucky bugger buys a can of Red Stripe & gets nothing in return but change from a fiver. This really ruins the mood.
Surviving the bar at a festival is kind of like finding your way through a slippery, humid maze with small kids crawling under your legs and people pouncing at you from every-which-way with plastic cups that crush at the slightest touch. Even when it’s cold, it’s hot and even when it’s dry, it’s wet. My advice: the most fun you’ll have in a bar is the minute you leave. Get your drink and get out of there – enjoy the open air, food stalls, games and open air cinemas! Why sit in a damp tent when you could be discovering a brand new favourite band?
Otherwise, just get your fold-away chair, a nice spot with a view and sip your beer knowing that you won’t have to worry about someone bumping into you, pushing you over or, god forbid, spilling any of your drink.
Next week, we discuss what happens after the headliners leave the stage and the night gets kicked into high gear, and what the queues at the loos can do to a person’s sanity. Happy camping!