My festival love affair

Posted on April 15, 2014

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A music festival

It’s light past 6pm, newborn ducklings waddle at the riverbank, trees are dressed in blossom and adults nationwide are silencing toddler tantrums with crème eggs. Spring has sprung – which means one thing only. Festival season is nigh.

There’s so much to love about this time of year but for me it’s the thought of the live-music-saturated-summer ahead that really ignites spring fever – and I’m not the only one. According to a study for Visit Britain live music events attracted a staggering 6.5 million people last year and drummed up (pun intended) £2.2bn for the UK economy.

Large-scale UK outdoor music festivals began in the 1960s with the likes of the Isle of Wight festival – hot on the heels of Woodstock’s success in the US – and the winning combination of weekend-long revelry and live music has dominated the British summer ever since. Glastonbury’s first ever incarnation was as the 1970 Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival, nowadays you can find everything from dubstep to Mexican ska blaring across the 900 acre site.

Tramping around a field for several days and nights with limited access to washing facilities isn’t everyone’s cup of chai tea. But I love it, and here are a few reasons why…

Camping. Forget ‘glamping’ and all that boutique accommodation nonsense. Teepees are for sissies. All you need is a £20 tent from Argos, the ability to endure the sensation of rocks against your spine and a positive attitude at 6am when the sun blinks itself awake and transforms your bedroom into a makeshift sauna. It’s not all bad really – if you invest in a decent roll-mat, some earplugs and accept that three hours is a reasonable night’s sleep then you’re in for a good weekend.

Food. Unless you’re happy to live off crisps and cereal bars all weekend, you really have no choice but to indulge in the tasty eats prepared by the absolute smorgasboard of food outlets on site and dine like a (fast food) king. There are plenty of healthier options for those revellers wishing to divert from a three burgers a day diet, but if you want a burrito for breakfast no-one’s going to judge you.

Wellies. A comfy pair of wellies are a festival essential – and a pretty fun excuse to wear ridiculous neon/stripy/polka-dotted footwear. In a perfect world you would spend the weekend frolicking in the UK sunshine while newborn lambs dance and rabbits sing, but grey skies will invariably make an appearance. It takes about three drops of rainfall to transform most festival sites into a mud-bath so unless you plan on developing trench foot, waterproof shoes are a must.

Surprises. Festivals are full of glorious, spontaneous moments of revelation. Driven into a nearby tent by the nose flute and tambourine toting effort on the main stage you happen upon a Californian four-piece who become your favourite band of the decade. Or perhaps you meet your future husband queuing for the portaloo, or discover an unknown talent for juggling flaming chainsaws while hanging out with a passing circus troupe. Whatever happens, a festival weekend is bound to be one crammed with weird and wonderful memories you’ll hold dear for a lifetime.

Feeling the love. Although you will come across your fair share of drug-addled party people loved up for all the wrong reasons, most folk are genuinely friendly and out for a good time so you’re likely to spend the weekend surrounded by lovely people, making new friends and soaking up the holiday vibes. Work troubles are checked at the door, if only for three days – and it’s impossible not to get swept away on the happy and carefree winds of the festival microcosm.

Fancy dress. Fairy princess costume languishing at the bottom of the wardrobe, unused and unloved, YOUR TIME HAS COME. Some festivals have a dedicated day and theme for fancy dress where it’s those that don’t don a costume that end up looking a bit silly, but even if this isn’t the case, if you want to spend all weekend dressed as a glittery badger, that’s OK.

Music. Last and certainly not least we come to what these wondrous outdoor gatherings were created for – the enjoyment and discovery of great, live music.  Over the years the UK music scene has proliferated into an unbelievably diverse cross-section of musical influences from across the globe, and nowhere reflects this more than the festival circuit. Whether you’re into death metal, happy hardcore or Mongolian throat singing there’s an event catering to every taste – and you’re likely to head home determined to look up a list of new bands as long as your leg.

So if you don’t mind getting a bit muddy and unkempt, can stand a few sleep-deprived nights, have a penchant for the weird and wonderful and, of course, adore music then you’ll probably already be found dancing in a field, pond or haystack this summer. If not, there are literally hundreds of festivals to choose from so why not trade your weekend getting sunburned in Cornwall for a few days of musical enlightenment? You may just surprise yourself.

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