DJ, presenter and serial gig-goer, Edith Bowman publishes a guide to musical festivals today (7 May). Tracking her own travels around fields full of music last summer, Edith Bowman’s Great British Music Festivals is both a personal account and practical guide to watching bands outdoors. To coincide with the publication she’s written us this guest column featuring her ten best festival survival tips.
1. Pace Yourself
I’ve lost days at various festivals over the years due to over indulgence/excitement at being in that environment. Yes have a good time but remember you are there for the duration and you are going to miss out on so much stuff if you don’t. There is nothing worse than being of being ill (alcohol poisoning) at a festival. I don’t have to go into any great detail I’m sure you can imagine the horror yourself.
2. Make Time For Yourself
Last year I went to Festival No6 by myself and had the most brilliant time. It’s the first time I’d been to a festival on my own and I would highly recommend it, for a number of reasons. It makes you talk to people and make new friends and it also means you can do whatever you want whenever you want. You are not being dragged to see a band you really don’t want to see.
3. Don’t make too many plans
I’ve done that thing where i’ve had the set times for the whole weekend and highlighted all the music I want to hear. As much as that’s a lovely idea the reality is one of two things. One, you never manage to get around to see everything as it always takes longer to get between stages than you imagine. And two, you give yourself no time to see anything new and make amazing discoveries. For me that’s one of the best things about festivals, coming across bands or artists you either didn’t know about or didn’t think you liked.
4. Have a doughnut
For me it will not be a full festival experience if I have not had some freshly cooked doughnuts. They are the perfect pick me up for any time of the day. First thing in the morning to help with that hangover. Afternoon, as a kind of dessert or latter that night soaking up the alcohol and giving you a sugar boost to help you push on through. Just make sure you wait or ask for the freshly cooked ones. Worth the wait.
5. Make it a holiday of it
For some festivals, not all of them but the likes of Glastonbury, Lattitude, Green Man, Bestival etc you really should make sure you are there on the Thursday night and don’t leave until the morning. You need to at least once, fully submerge yourself into the experience and by being there for a day I don’t think you can really do that. I’ve done it where we have booked in somewhere close by for a few days afterwards to help recover and acclimatise getting back to normal life.
6. Take a child
My son Rudy has probably been to more festivals than your average adult, and he’s only six. I took him to Bestival last year and he was the best festival companion I’ve had in a long time. Seeing that world through the eyes of a child is incredibly fulfilling and refreshing, their opinion and reaction to things will blow your mind. It also allows and reminds you to be child like and lose your inhibitions more than you normally would at a festival. And wear a Cape. We did.
7. Essential Kit
There are certain things you should always have with you to keep you alive and functioning, also presentable at a festival. I’m talking Dry Shampoo, a good hat, Sunglasses, Sunblock, Wet Wipes, headache tablets, earplugs, a good boot, a good rain mac and snacks. To be honest nowadays you could probably rock up to a festival with the clothes on your back, your ticket and a credit card and buy everything you need on site.
It’s the perfect environment to meet up with friends you haven’t seen in a while, especially if you have past history of festival going. For me so much of my festival memories are about being with wonderful people, a number of whom I don’t get to see as much as I used to. On the work side of things I was lucky enough to work with some amazing people and managed to make my way through half a dozen male co-presenters in my time hosting the coverage, each one left a different lasting memory. Sharing a tiny tin pot two-man caravan with Colin Murray at Glastonbury in 2003 will always make me smile when I think about it.
9. Go with someone who has never been to a festival
You are never going to experience that first time again, that first arrival, getting your wrist band, setting up camp, watching your first band, having your first festival pint. But you do get to see it through the eyes of friends who are going for the first time and that’s close enough and good enough to remind you to not take them for granted and to make sure you have the most fun physically and emotionally possible.
10. Don’t Mention the Weather!
It’s the UK, the weather is unpredictable, deal with it. If I see another weather report live from Glastonbury, and I happen to be on site I might have to throw one of my treasured fresh doughnuts in the reporters direction. Once you admit to yourself it’s likely to rain and rain hard then you can get on with enjoying yourself and making the most of it. Then anything that’s dryer or warmer than that is a bonus. We don’t live in the Californian dessert so it’s never going to be Coachella.
Edith Bowman’s Great British Music Festivals is published by Blink, and is out now.