Summer is my favourite time of the year because we have long days, warm weather (most of the time), lush green countryside and festivals.
With the August Bank Holiday coming up in just a few days, I have been reminiscing about my first real festival experience; Leeds festival 2003 when Blur and Linkin Park headlined.
I just had to remind myself of the lineup by looking for an old poster on the internet. What a good line up it was
I remember heading to the main stage with my friend as The Darkness kicked off their set and holding my position in a determined manor until Blur walked on stage, probably some 10 hours later. My favourite band and I was at the front. I was meters away from Damon Albarn and it felt like heaven. It also felt like I was been crushed by a stampede of baby elephants but I didn’t care. I was at the front.
I was just 16 when I went to this festival. Looking back, it seems crazy I spent 4 days alongside tens of thousand of people. I was so vulnerable when I was 16. I went with my good friend of the time, who was the same age and camped with a few other friends but we were all so young.
A few weeks ago I was at Beat-Herder festival and many of the clientele seemed so young. Now I am older and wiser and understand the potential dangers of festivals to young people and worry what the young people will be exposed to. I then remind myself that I was their age once and the dangers were just the same then.
Going to festivals has been a big part of my life and has shaped the person I am today. Festivals feel like a world of their own, cut off from reality. I can truly relax and relieve my mind of any anxieties I face in everyday life. They provide the perfect setting to express your personality because anything goes at a festival. You can wear what you like, dance how you like, laugh as much as you like and sing as loud a you like.
I recently read this Female First post by Pryers Solicitors which lists dangers that single people should be careful of when attending festivals. Although I think all the points are valid, I think the explanations and advice could be a bit more detailed and apply to all festival goers, whatever their relationship status, age or gender. Using the same potential dangers listed in the post, here’s my advice for each one:
It can happen. There are people out there who are looking for easy targets so just be aware of your drinks at all times. Avoid putting them down while you dance and if you need to go to the toilet, ask a friend to hold it. The horrible people are looking for opportunities so don’t give them one. Although some of the symptoms of spiking drugs are similar to being drunk, the feeling is different. If you don’t feel right, tell a friend straight away and take a rest. If you still don’t feel right then tell a member of security. These horrid drugs can suddenly knock you out unexpectedly so it’s best someone keeps an eye on you.
I fell like a mother writing this but – watch how much you drink. Festivals are a fantastic place to be when tipsy but being too drunk at a festival can also be really miserable. Your friends want to have fun so don’t become a liability. That’s when bad stuff can happen. Friends who have also been drinking may not realise how drunk you are and wander off innocently, leaving you on your own.
Sun and/or hot weather combined with alcohol can cause hot exhaustion. I’ve suffered sun stroke at festivals and it is a weekend-ruiner. Having it come out of both ends is bad enough when you’re in the comfort f your own home. Imagine trying to rush to the portaloo when the queue is 5 people deep….! Yer, you get the picture.
Just take it steady. You have the whole weekend
Drugs are rife at festivals and people often get into all sorts of difficulties as a result. I’ve witnessed people paraletic on the floor, people been rushed to hospital in ambulances and been at festivals where people have died. You wot know what people are selling you. It could be anything. I’ve heard of cases where drugs have been positively tested for rat poison- that’s scary. Just avoid.
If sweaty, smelly tent sex is ok with you then at least protect yourself from STIs and unwanted babies. Being a hippy baby was cool in the 70s but imagine telling your child they are the result of drunken mistake in a field with someone you had just met. Take condoms with you or go to the medical tent to get some for free. They are FREE for gods sake.
Alcohol and adrenaline can turn some people into animals so just be aware that not all people get happy-drunk. Stick with friends, never go back to the tent by yourself and don’t be tempted to answer back to trouble makers.
Obviously there will be crowds but just be aware of how dangerous crowds can be. I’ve been at festivals where people have died from getting crushed. I’ve been crushed to the point I cant breathe and it is very, very scary. In general crowds are really supportive of each other and will pick people up when they fall but sometimes it’s impossible to escape.
It doesn’t matter which festival you go to there will always be thefts. Never ever leave valuables in your tent. Leave your tent messy and take everything out of bags so thieves have nothing to grab people. It isn’t uncombed for thieves to enter tents while people are in them sleeping. Keep your purse and phone in your sleeping bag so they cant get to them and if, heaven forbid, they come in while you are asleep. Stay still and pretend you are asleep. Let them take your things. You are in a sleeping bag and they have the advantage of having their arms free and are above you. If they panic they may punch you. This is a super scary thought but it happens all the time. Report any suspicious behaviour to security. Never use a padlock on your tent. If you see a padlock what’s yur initial thought? ‘oooh must be something valuable in there’. They will slash your tent then you will be left without your belongings and a broken tent.
8. Crowd surfing
Not sure why anyone would want to do it. It hurts. You can lose our shoes and glasses and, at worse, you could get chucked out of the festival.
9. Mobile phone
The best thing I have bought this year is this battery pack which was recommended to me by fellow blogger Zoe of Splodz Blogz. It cost under £20 and can charge an iPhone 6 times (I’ve tested this). I keep it plugged into my phone at the bottom of my sleeping bag on a night then it will last all the next day. If you are prone to losing things, you could take an old phone and put your Sim card in it. If you take your current phone please please please take some sort of insurance out before you go. But do be warned, not al insurance policies cover phones in public places such as festivals.
10. Risky business
If you see something odd going on, don’t involve yourself. If you are concerned for someone’s safety, make security aware. Don’t feel like a dobber – you may actually save someone’s life. It’s common for people to set portaloos alight and I witnessing them burn is horrifying; they collapse in a melted heap in seconds. It would be impossible to get out alive.
If you are a festival newbie or veteran heading to Leeds, Reading, Shambala or any of the other amazing festivals happening around the UK this Bank Holiday, remember to stay safe but most of all, have fun!