Music Festival Checklist

From the previous post below (Beer for Breakfast @ Reading Festival 2012), I have come up with a list of items that one would need at a weekend festival. Whether you’ve never been to one before or you’re a regular- I hope this helps. I did a bit of research before I went to Reading  Festival and with a little help from my friends, I got by 🙂

 

And so… in no order of importance:

  • Tickets – Besides the (obvious) festival tickets, you will also need any relevant travel tickets too. Booking travel tickets for the bus/train in advance can save you money and is less stressful than waiting in long queues or risking the chance of not getting a seat. Don’t forget to book a return journey and plan how you will get to the station/s beforehand.
  • Cash & Cards – They say that you need at least £100 for each day that you spend at a festival. If you plan properly, it doesn’t need to be that expensive.  Festival ATM cash machines are normally surcharge machines and always have long queues. Don’t always rely on ATMs in the surrounding town/area as those are just the same. Budget your money for the days that you are there and withdraw the cash on the morning you leave for the festival. Keep your money very safe and split it into different pockets, in your shoes, in your bag etc. Take your card for emergency cash or if you simply run out.
  • Directions – If you plan on driving to the festival, find the best route possible and make sure that if you use a Sat Nav, that it works properly. Remember to pack your car park ticket! If you are using public transport, make sure you know where to go when you arrive at the station as it won’t be fun being lost with loads of things to carry. Make sure you know which entrance you’re allowed to use at the festival as you can end up walking for miles.
  • Personal Identification – For some UK festivals, having a form of ID is often a requirement to get in through security. For example, Glastonbury won’t let you in if your ID does not match the name on the ticket. This is to avoid fake tickets being sold and to abide to any age restrictions that apply. Check the festival terms and conditions in advance. Always read the small print.
  • Keys – Keep these in a very safe place. Car keys, house keys, gate keys, everything. It won’t be fun arriving home, salivating over the thought that you get to sleep in a bed and have a wash, and then find that you’re locked outside. If you are prone to losing things- ask a friend, family member or trusted neighbour to keep a spare set.
  • Camera – This is number one on my list for everything. I love taking photos and so at Reading Festival, I made sure that I had 3 spare batteries to last the weekend.  Also make sure that you’ve got a protective case and strap for your camera as once you drop it, you can basically kiss it goodbye. Check that your memory card has enough space on it and take an extra one for just in case.
  • Mobile Phone – Make sure that it’s fully charged and if it’s a spare/old phone- make sure you have all the numbers you need in it: Home, parents, family members, partners, close friends, landlord, taxi etc etc. The battery life is likely to run out if you stay over a weekend and use it a lot. There are usually charging points in the arena, but they will cost you around £8 an hour, so try and stick to texting and if possible- dim the brightness, turn off your 3G internet, turn off vibrations and switch it off at night to save the bars from decreasing.

  • Bags – if you decide to use a bag to carry your stuff around in at the festival, make sure you know where it is at all times. Divide your money in different pockets and remember it’s another responsibility to worry about. A lady at Reading  put her handbag on the sofa and went to dance in the guest tent- when she came back, her handbag was gone- along with her money, keys, everything. Not cool.
  • Wellies – These are the shoes that you will most likely be living in throughout a festival weekend. Don’t take new shoes or trainers as they will get ruined, and for heaven’s sake, do not bring high heels- they don’t mix well with fields. Wellies are relatively cheap (especially off eBay) and they do a good job in protecting you from the expected mud. You can get some really funky ones and they tend to last ages! Loud and proud!
  • Hat – If the sun is shining, you’ll be grateful that you brought a hat as there’s not much shelter at a festival. I’d suggest taking a winter hat/ beanie for the night time too as it will keep your head warm and may block out some inevitable noise when you are sleeping.
  • Waterproof Jacket – Even if it says that it won’t rain… it will anyway! It’s a festival tradition. The venues normally sell waterproof ponchos, but they are over-priced and don’t do a great job at keeping you dry!
  • Sunny G’s – take a cheap pair with you as losing a £150 pair of aviators won’t leave you smiling.
  • Glasses / Contact Lenses– Be sure to bring spares if you have them.
  • Other Clothes & Shoes – Organise your outfits for each day so that you don’t have to pack loads! Take an old pair of shoes to use to get in and out of your tent without leaving a messy trail from your wellies. Hoody, extra socks, clean clothes for the trip home etc etc etc.
  • Accessories – Festival fashion loves accessories! Hairbands, bangles, scarves, rings, flower garlands, furry animal hats, pendants and so on.

 

  • Tent – For obvious reasons, you would definitely need one of these. Before you leave, make sure that you have all the pieces and if possible, take extra pegs with. Make sure you know how to put it up too as they can be a little tricky. Also take a mallet/hammer* with to hit the pegs into the ground as it will save you time and save you from getting sore hands and feet. (* Some festivals may confiscate them, but it’s worth a try). Use a flag or fixed point to mark the site of your tent so you don’t get lost when you return in a drunken (what-is-going-on) state.
  • Bedding – Sleeping on the ground isn’t particularly comfortable, so if you’re lucky enough to have a blow up mattress- well, that’s a no brainer- TAKE IT!! If not, your bedding should include: A sleeping bag, roll mat and an extra blanket (believe me- it gets FrEeZiNg!). You can also bring a pillow, but to save space, just use your rucksack or a spare jersey.
  • Electrics – If you are going to be at a festival with plug power sockets, you can take your phone/camera chargers and won’t have to worry about running out of battery. Forget about taking hair dryers, straighteners, music docking stations and other impractical items.
  • Torch – Everything looks different at night.
  • Rubbish bags – These are really useful when you are packing up as you can put your muddy wellies and wet clothes in them so that they don’t mess on anything else. They are also useful for discarding rubbish in- who knew? 🙂

  • Toilet Roll Don’t be surprised when you don’t find toilet paper in the cubicles. Keep some in your bag or pocket for when there’s none available.
  • Wet Wipes – This is a MUST! Use them to freshen yourself up.
  • Toothbrush & Paste – (Alternatively, using cider for the toothpaste is always a great idea :))
  • Washing Essentials – Shampoo, conditioner and soap.  The shower facilities range at different festivals, but don’t expect comfort or luxury. HOWEVER, no one will judge you if you choose not to shower as you will be clean for about five minutes before you start smelling like the rest of the crowd. You’ll be amazed at how well the nostrils can adapt and personally, I think it’s more of a mission than anything. Wet wipes do a good job at giving you a “refreshed” feeling. But it’s your choice.
  • Towel– Take two if you have the space. (You can always use one as a pillow).
  • Deodorant – Festivals usually have a size limit on these sorts of things so a travel-sized one should do.
  • Hair Brush – Not essential, but will help detangle your hair after a shower.
  • Mirror – To use for when putting contact lenses in, applying make up, face painting and so forth.
  • Dry shampoo – if you choose not to shower, dry shampoo makes your hair look clean for an extra day or so.
  • Anti-bacterial Hand Gel – Use to clean your hands before eating or putting contact lenses in.
  • Sun Lotion – For when/if the sun shines.

  • Mini First Aid Kit – Plasters, burn cream, anti-histamines, anti-bacterial cream etc. There are First Aid points at the venues, but this is for when you’re at your tent.
  • Prescription Medicine – Make sure that you have enough supply of your personal prescription medicine such as inhalers, painkillers (be careful when drinking too much), insulin, heart medication, whatever.
  • Paracetamol or Nurofen – Again, this is a must for headaches or hangovers.
  • Berroca/ Booster Thingy’s – They will get you going for another day!
  • Contraception – Be safe people.
  • Food and Drinks – When camping at a festival, you are allowed to take your own food and drinks into the camping site. However, no glass is allowed in the site so make sure that if you take alcohol, that it’s tinned or in plastic bottles. Take energy drinks, cereal bars, crisps, sweets and other dry snacks with to get you through meal times. Festival food is ridiculously over-priced, but to be honest, it is a lot easier to fork out £8 for a burger than cooking one yourself. But if you insist on taking your own cooking materials, then good luck with that.
  • Water – that’s it.
  • Bottle Opener – Using your teeth to get that beer in your belly is never a good idea. Take a bottle opener with to avoid such- a key ring type is easy and cheap.
  • Pen Knife – This will probably come in handy more times than you think, but there is a chance that it too may be confiscated.

 

And lastly, arrive with an AWESOME festival attitude!!!

Even if you rock up to a festival without all of the above items (most likely to happen),  it’s not the end of the world. You will survive as long as you keep your good spirits up (with the help of  booze) and remember these things: You will  get back home at one point where you can get clean again. If you lose your friends- they will be found and if you see a porta loo set on fire- well, that’s normal too 🙂 Just roll with it and have fun!

Beer for Breakfast @ Reading Festival 2012

Two weeks later and I’m still recovering… what a light weight! But as a first time festival goer… I didn’t expect less. I feel like warm garbage juice now… but it was definitely worth it! Reading Festival 2012 was certainly a highlight of my Summer and I got to share it with my friend, Polly.  Just 3 weeks before the festival, I managed to get us some sweet as GUEST tickets. This of course meant that we had a better camp site (with less people) and had access to proper flushing toilets- WITH toilet paper… how posh are we?! The 3 weeks flew by and my crazy organisation obsession meant that Polly didn’t really need much for the  weekend. Plasters, berocca, funnel, mouthwash, plastic bags, paracetamol, mirror, wetwipes… you name it, I had it!

Friday, the first day of live music,  arrived and so did we. After a day’s work, we met  each other at Reading Station and trekked to the festival’s camp site, where finding a weekend ticket on the floor and getting £130 for it, proved to be a sweet way start to our weekend! We walked some more to find the optimum spot for our tent and needed to make a pit stop at the general porta-loos. Goodness gracious… I have never experienced such in my life… I felt dirty already and had been there for 5 minutes. We found a good area to pitch our tent (not too close to the toilets) and did an awesome job doing so. Let the good times roll!

After our wristbands were checked 4 times, we made it into the arena and the first band we saw on the main stage was Paramore. With a cider in both my hands, Paramore were pretty good. We then made our way around the arena- surrounded by people dressed as tigers, bananas,  superheroes, Elvis and so forth. We wormed our way into the NME/Radio One Tent to see The Courteeners and there was a large crowd in a tight space, which made breathing quite difficult… it was great 🙂 At the end of the set, we saw a bit of  our local talent on the Festival Republic Stage- The Subways are from the town I currently live in and they entertained a very supportive crowd. As neither of us were interested in seeing The Cure, we set off to get some more drinks and waited to see The Maccabees hit the stage. I don’t remember much of them to be honest, but I know it was good :).

Another perk of having guest tickets meant that we could enjoy the guest area once the arena closed for the night. Here we adopted an easy money making scheme by collecting the festival pint cups, where 27 cups earned us £2.70! Winner!! That could buy a half pint and we thought it would be handy towards the end of the weekend when we’d be broke.  The area had separate toilets, cash bars and a dance floor which had us hooked on until 3.30am. By this time, I was drinking Vodka like it was water and enjoyed every minute! Polly and I were starving, but by the time we headed off to bed, everything was closed and we had nowhere to go for our mega craving of pizza… with a roast dinner topping. Sad times.

We crashed out at around 4am and so our first day was over. We had 2 more to go…

After having one of the worse night’s sleep ever (due to being freezing cold and uncomfortable)… the sunshine poured into our tent and it was hard to stay asleep. So we got up and walked to Tesco to get some food and a lot of drinks. Tesco was rammed (of course) with a lot of hungover people (of course) and on normal circumstances that would be my worst nightmare, but as I was one of those people, I didn’t mind so much.

We made it out alive and headed over to Papa John’s to get  our dream roast dinner pizza!!! This however, was not on the menu. I have written a letter of complaint. Na, not exactly. We waited over 30 minutes for our Margherita pizza as the oven decided to break down. But it was sooooo worth it! Then we realised how much stuff we had to walk back with and tried to bribe a security guard: Pizza for the trolley? He didn’t budge. Taxi it was then!

We got back to the camp site and stuffed our faces with biscuits and chips (or crisps rather), until we started hearing a familiar song playing… It was Green Day!!!  They were  rumoured to be playing a secret show at the festival, but we didn’t think it would be first thing on Saturday morning! We grabbed our stuffed and headed for the arena where we found that any access into the NME tent was blocked off by security. Grrrrrreat!!

We didn’t miss out on them completely though, as the main stage was playing a video for those who weren’t in the tent. Green Day should have been on the main stage to begin with, but anyway. Then just  about twenty minutes before their set finished,  the main stage’s coverage was cut off as the first band of the day were ready to start playing. Ummm… PARDON??!!! At this point, every fan at the main stage was now even angrier and charged towards the NME Tent to try get a look at the last few minutes of the set. We were so close, yet so far.

We headed back to our tent again and filled up some bottles of vodka and cider then went to watch Blood Red Shoes  on the main stage, followed by a bit of  Mystery Jets. We then bought some ridiculously over-priced lunch: I had Chinese noodles and Polly had some offensive looking cheesy chips… with gravy. Just nasty. After chilling and looking around the stalls, the hours passed and we waited to see Miike Snow perform in the NME Tent. My new wellies were absolutely killing my feet and walking around wasn’t exactly helping… So I drank more 🙂 And they were all better for a while.

The Vaccines came on at 6.40 pm and I was really looking forward to seeing them and singing along. We got into a good position in the crowd, but soon found that we were surrounded by the most frustrating, inconsiderate people alive. We ended up moving about 5 times before giving up and heading out. The Vaccines were really good, but we were pretty annoyed which ruined the experience a little bit.

But the bad mood didn’t last long as I was bursting with excitement to see Florence And The Machine. The clock struck 8pm, the rain started pouring just before, and then the red-headed beauty graced the stage with her presence. Florence Welch and her band ploughed through an 80-minute set and all through the rain. This didn’t spoil her mood or performance though, as she was well overjoyed to be on the main stage at the festival- the first festival that she ever attended as a youngster. Before playing  ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’ she demanded  that her supporters give each other hugs and declared the crowd “a performance in their own right”. She wanted as many people as possible on each other’s shoulders, so I got Polly up on my shoulders and sang my heart out.

Her set also featured ‘Cosmic Love’, ‘Breaking Down’,  ‘Shake It Out’ (my favourite!) ,  ‘Never Let Me Go’ and ‘Dogs Day Are Over’, before which she told the crowd that they “had made her dreams come true”.  It was a magical, eccentric and goose- bump- giving performance. Florence And The Machine whisked us away on an intense trip, full of epic harmonies and love.

You can experience it too 🙂 Sorry about the quality:

Next up we had the amazing Kasabian. The rain had calmed down a bit… but it seemed to have affected the sound as we were not impressed with the sound quality at all. We stayed for a few songs, but decided to chip off to bed and were asleep by 11pm. Unfortunately, it was another awful night’s sleep for me. I guess it was worse as there were more hours to get through, but I survived 🙂

And then… the last day of live music… Sunny Sunday. We were looking forward to this day for one reason… Foo Fighters!!! We got up and organised ourselves for the day and waited for our 2 other friends to arrive- Sam and Raj. We had cider/beer for breakfast and enjoyed the glorious sunshine. Once Sam and Raj arrived, we started watching some bands on the main stage: Gaslight Anthem, All Time Low and Bullet for My Valentine. We then all joined in the crowd for the Kaiser Chiefs‘ set which I really enjoyed. Straight after them, The Black Keys played and the crowd started growing bigger and bigger as the Foo’s were just 1.5 hours away!

Polly then made a friend who we called ‘Coconut’ and Raj made him aware that he was REALLY cool to be with us. Why “Coconut”? Well, because Polly sniffed his big, curly hair which apparently smelled like coconut dry shampoo. I think that our beer, vodka and cider mix had something to do with that 🙂 We then showed Raj what it was like to be in a proper mosh pit… Oh how I love moshing! We  sadly lost Coconut in the process. Sniff sniff 😦

COCONUT!!!!

Then… the moment we’d all been waiting for… The Foo Fighters stepped onto stage to bring an epic three days to a triumphant close and opened with ‘White Limo’ then went straight into ‘All My Life’.  Working through a mammoth 26- song set over two-and-a-half hours, Dave Grohl announced that the performance would be the band’s last for the near future. As this was my second time seeing them live, I knew that the music would be incredible and we were all in for a GREAT show.

I kept telling strangers who hadn’t seen the Foos before that their lives were going to change… I was so right. It was indeed an AWESOME performance.  By this time, Sam had gone off to get as close to the front as possible while Polly and Raj went to the loo. I was surrounded by people who were there for a purpose- to rock their faces off and simply be absorbed into the sounds coming from the stage.

For the final song, a huge roar went up as Grohl said ‘…and this is how we end the gigs now.’ It could only mean one thing: ‘Everlong’. Their signature song proved more anthemic than ever, with fireworks shooting out from the stage to end an evening that will live (Ever) long in the memories of thousands of people.


And here we were… amongst 90 000 people and I was 20 metres from the stage singing my heart out to ‘Best Of You’. Sorry for the quality again- the cameras weren’t able to keep up with the awesomeness!!

A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!!  Well worth watching!

And that ladies and gentlemen… was the end of a simply wicked weekend! Sleeping in a bed that night was one of the best things !ever! and as a first time festival goer, I’d definitely do it again and would recommend it to those of you who haven’t been to a fest before.

Please enjoy some of my photos of the weekend 🙂

Until next time…

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