If you're wondering what are the wisest things to wear and pack for a festival, cast your eyes over my guide to practical festival fashion and what to take along.
I didn't think I was going to any festivals this year but when got a surprise message from my sister Annie saying she had guest passes to The Big Feastival I figured it would be foolish to say no.
Then as time drew on and I found myself with 15 minutes to get ready before Annie and my nieces arrived, I turned my thoughts towards festival fashion. I know festival season is nearly over for 2018 but my blog will still be here next year so here are the tips I came up with:
Things to Always Take to a Festival
My No.1 essential for any festival.
Wear it like a satchel across your body and you won't go far wrong. Money, phone and tissues go in here. I've had this DKNY bumbag for over 20 years! Dad bought it for me when he was visiting me in London on my birthday and he couldn't believe the price. But I think I've proved it was worth the spend, hey?
2. Lighting and Decorations
Head torch / nightlight / glow sticks / fairy lights / bunting / flag. If you're camping you undoubtedly need the loo at inconvenient times during the night. Find the loo and your tent more easily by lighting the way with a head torch.
Nightlights are great for the tent. I know candles are a fire hazard but I do love to take a little Moroccan lamp and some tea lights and watch the patterns it makes on the wall of the tent. Who needs hallucinogenics when you can lie and watch these flicker around the tent as you listen to Hawkwind groaning their hearts out in the distance.
Take fairy lights and bunting and a flag not only for creative decoration, but to distinguish your temporary abode so that you can spot it easily among the hoards of other tents. Take your flag to the main stage when watching bands so you can alert your friends to where you are and they can find you.
3. Loo roll / wipes / tampons / condoms (if you must indulge in casual sex before marriage)
Some festival toilets have toilet paper provided, as well as antibacterial spray. Others don't. And even if they did, they often run out and you're left to drip dry. That doesn't feel nice. Take your own tissues and have them with you at all times. Have enough on you for others who forgot to bring any. Condoms in case you get lucky but aren't quite ready for the responsibility of parenthood, or even more parenthood than you're already signed up to.
Cash is king. These days lots of traders do accept cards, however you can't rely on the signal for those card machines. And it's easier to budget with cash. If you take a card and then you see a sequinned cloak trimmed with neon fake fur, you are in danger of paying £130 to the grinning stallholder just because you get caught up in the moment and it looks so fabulous. Baby, this is going to look a whole lot different in Tesco than it does at Glasto, so take caution and cash and you'll be thankful.
5. Toiletries, Mirror & Glitter
Coconut oil is all you need in the way of skincare products (unless you're a fan of my lovely One Balm) and you also need lashings of lippie and heaps of waterproof mascara. Or go the whole hog and get some eyelash extensions before you go. Remember if you're pale skinned to get a spray tan or smother yourself in fake tan a day or two before so that you look bronzed and healthy (unless you love the pale look, which is also beautiful!). Take a small mirror so that you can top up on warpaint and put on a radiant face for all those festival photos you'll inevitably be in.
These are all the rage at festivals, and for good reason. They are so useful. These make lugging everything to and from the car and campsite a whole lot easier. Buy your own trolley in advance as they are £30 a day to rent at some festivals and you have to pay a £50 cash deposit. WTF? Buying one in advance is going to save you money and come in useful year in year out for all sorts of tasks. If you have kids, you can pull the trolley around the festival site full of everything you need, and then when the children get tired they can snuggle up inside it and even go to sleep while you carry on dancing, watching performances, drinking and having fun.
7. Tent and Warm Bedding
Camping is uncomfortable, let's face it. Make your tent a home-from-home by equipping yourself with a blow up mattress or at least a yoga mat, a lovely warm duvet plus a sleeping bag, so that extreme weather will not phase you. Take a sarong or sheet for the unlikely but beautiful prospect of sunshine and heat.
8. Friends & Family - but not too many of them
Share the experience with people you want to spend quality time with. These memories are what festivals are all about. Go with people who make your heart sing and who make you laugh. Don't go in too big a group as you spend the whole time waiting for stragglers, trying to find each other, or trying to get a consensus on what everyone wants to do. Everyone has a different agenda. Camping can produce fraught tempers and tension and sometimes full blown explosive rows. Go with laid back people who you love.
9. Camera / Phone
You are going to want to capture all sorts of images and moments. As well as remembering to be in 'the now', take lots of pictures. The phone can be useful when you're trying to meet up with people or call a cab, just don't use it to look up the weather forecast :)
10. Layers & Waterproofs
Poncho, leggings, shorts, long sleeved vest, anything with sequins, bikini, jeans, jumpers, waterproof clothing, thermals, umbrella, flipflops and wellies.
The weather is much more changeable over festival sites than it is in your normal environment. Official weather forecasts don't count or apply here. Festivals have their own micro-climate and weather is therefore constantly unpredictable. You must be ready to strip off at the drop of a straw cowboy hat and flaunt your sequins to the sunshine, and then cover up as you shiver under every item of clothing you thought to take along, feeling damp and bedraggled. I found a psychedelic silk scarf hanging on a fence by the loos so I added that to my layers and it was a welcome addition, warmth-wise.
Things Never to Take to a Festival
Jumpsuit, playsuit, catsuit - however you refer to it - you will regret wearing one at a festival when it comes to disrobing in the Portaloos or trench loos. Arms of the catsuit can get trodden on as you squat, or worse still, dangle down the loo. And bizarrely, the more complicated it is to take a trip to the ladies' room, the more you find yourself desperately needing a wee.
2. Set Idea of Schedule
This will go immediately out of the window if you take it along, so it's best to throw caution to the wind right from the start and let the festival carry you in its exuberant arms. Let yourself drift from one attraction to another. You may not be able to catch the bands you want to, but that's OK because you will stumble across some unexpected treasures and magical moments if you don't have a rigid plan and you can be flexible.
Drugs are for losers. You can have a great time without them and no come-down to deal with afterwards. You'll be aware and sociable instead of self-absorbed and you will be on the ball. You don't need drugs at a festival, or anywhere else. (Says the writer who indulges most nights in the legal drug known as alcohol.) If you think you need drugs to have a good time, drop me a line and I can recommend a good mindset coach to get your thinking to a healthier place and help you thrive without leaning on drugs.
The only attitude to take with you to a festival is an attitude of fun, kindness, sassiness, gratitude and positivity. If you have a negative, selfish, braggy, arrogant, bitchy or aggressive attitude either leave it at home or stay at home yourself.