I am half-sick of shadows
The girl's survival guide to festival-going.
If this is in the wrong place, please feel free to move it...article from The Times Online.
There are those who rock up to a festival with little more than a tent, a sleeping bag, a cool box full of booze and the enjoyment of getting away without washing for three days. And then there are those, who, like me, believe festivals don’t have to mean going without a few home comforts. Regardless of which camp you fall into, festivals are fantastic fun – but it can be hard going at times, even for the most experienced amongst us. However, with a bit of forward planning and sassy packing you can make your festival experience easier and more enjoyable. Our checklist shows you how:
Check your tent is intact before you go – even new ones can have vital things missing. It’s also useful to take a tent one-man size bigger than the number of occupants: the extra space will come in handy for your all your things and you’ll find it less of a squash when moving around. It also makes sense to distinguish your temporary home from the thousands of others by attaching a huge flag or a windsock to your tent or gazebo with a telescopic pole. I love the ones from www.skyblueleisure.co.uk .
While a tent may keep you sheltered from the wind and rain, unfortunately it offers little protection from uneven terrain, cold, damp, noise and light. As someone who once went to bed wearing her entire festival wardrobe in attempt to keep warm, was kept awake by noisy neighbours and seriously lost her sense of humour when the sun came up - take it from me, forward planning your beauty sleep will pay dividends when you finally tumble into bed.
Bringing something decent to sleep on is a good start. The blow up mattresses is a festival favourite, but after several times waking up deflated, I now take a lightweight roll-up travel “roly poly” futon £40 from the Futon Company www.futoncompany.co.uk that I cannot recommend enough. Invest in a good sleeping bag (don’t be tempted to bring a duvet, they are heavy and feathers get damp) and if you usually sleep with a pillow then bring a travel one such as Jetrest’s very comfortable fleece travel pillow, rather than creating a makeshift one that will probably give you a crick in the neck. Earplugs and Eye-masks are also useful, especially if you wake at sunrise or need a daytime nap - try moulded eye-masks that avoid contact with your eyes - they are super comfy and best of all won’t smudge your make-up. The jetrest travel comfort pack (£24.95) includes travel pillow, earplugs and eye-mask. www.thejetrest.com
Bring a picnic blanket to create an instant chill out area outside your tent and a roll up one with a waterproof back to sit on while watching the entertainment or resting weary festival legs. Find the best selection of picnic rugs and fleecy roll ups at www.letsbuyittoday.com (From £11.99).
Keep a lantern for your tent and a small torch for your pocket or bag. Being able to see where you are walking and what you are walking in is always an advantage?
The basic rule is, don’t take anything you cannot afford to lose and don’t leave anything of value in your tent. Unfortunately, there’ll always be thefts from tents whether they are unoccupied or not. Just avoid leaving wallets in discarded clothing or bags near the door while you sleep as this makes life easy for thieves: Keep anything valuable out of reach and hidden. For extra security – bring a padlock, despite some believing they only draw more attention to your tent; most thieves are opportunists so a lock will go someway to deter uninvited guests from “accidentally” stumbling into your tent. Most festivals have lockups if you need to secure items properly.
Over the course of the weekend, it’s inevitable that you or one of your friends lose each other. Mobile phone can be unreliable; batteries die, reception is poor and text messages will often take hours to be delivered: Avoid the frustration of trying to find each other in the crowds by having a set meeting point or arrangement in place should this happen.
You really have to weigh up how much you want to carry against how much you want to spend when you get there. Most festivals have numerous stalls selling delicious food to suit all palettes, however over the course of a weekend it does add up. Breakfast is the one meal of the day most prepare themselves - probably because trekking through a campsite and then queuing for half an hour for your first cup of tea of the day isn’t much fun. It’s also good idea to take snacks such as cereal bars to keep you going between meals and a 5 litre water bottle (which you can refill) for back at camp. Get yourself kitted out with an inexpensive portable stove such as the lightweight Campingaz portable bistro stove (£14.99), travel kettle (£8.99) and enamel mugs (£1.99 each) all available from www.Millets.co.uk/www.Blacks.co.uk.
Keeping Clean & Hygiene
With little running water to hand, baby wipes are a festival saviour. Bring several travel sized packets rather than one huge one so you always have a handy packet for trips to the loo (far more convenient than toilet roll; remember if you're flushing wipes to get ones designed for it such as Kandoo) and to clean your hands afterwards. It’s also wise to take a hand sanitizer such as Cuticura antibacterial hand gel (£1.35 Boots) which will kill any germs you might pick up along the way, particularly from animal fields. When it comes to the rest of your body most of us get to the point where a once over with baby wipe just won’t cut it. Unless you’re up at the crack of dawn or go at off-peak hours be prepared to wait and then wait some more for a shower. But I know from past experience that when that hot soapy water hits your tired dirty body, it’s definitely worth it. It’s also a good idea to bring a travel towel such as Life Venture’s Soft Fibre range which pack away into a tiny bag, absorb nine times their weight of water and dry eight times quicker than a normal towel. www.lifeventure.co.uk
Clothing & Footwear
Don’t just randomly pack – take clothing that you can layer, so you can to interchange between hot, cold and wet weather with ease. It’s also a good idea to take a hat, pocket pvc poncho (around £3) and a spare top in your bag to save you the (often) long trek back to your tent if the temperature drops or it starts to rain. When it comes to bedclothes, packing thermals and thick socks to wear in the middle of summer may seem a little extreme, but it can get bitterly cold at night, particularly at Glastonbury and The Big Chill, so come prepared. Sturdy boots for after dark and for the trek from car park to campsite (at Bestival last year we saw a girl attempt it in white stilettos – it wasn’t pretty) and Wellington boots should the heavens decide to open. A completely unscientific poll - inspired by comments from my boyfriend - reveal that almost all men find Wellie-wearing girls sexy although none of the guys I asked could put their finger on why. I think it helps if your wearing a little festival dress/skirt wellie combo, but who cares? Make walking in mud comfortable and stylish by nabbing yourself a colourful pair of the best in the business: orthopaedic-cushioned Wellingtons by Hunters. www.hunterboots.com
Sunglasses are vital piece of kit and up there in the top ten of festival essentials, (I actually bring two pairs). What type you decide to bring depends entirely on how much of your hangover you want to hide and whether you trust yourself with an expensive pair of shades at a festival. That aside, protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays should be as an important criteria as looking good, so try to wear quality lenses. Ray-ban Aviators - this season’s must have, are a great choice - they tick all the right boxes and reasonably priced. www.sunglasshut.co.uk However, should the thought of a mishap with a quality pair be too much to bear, Debenhams stocks a good range of inexpensive alternatives.
Despite being infamous for their downpours, UK festivals are often blessed with glorious sunshine, so don’t forget your sunscreen. As most festivals take place in open countryside with little in the way of natural shade, you’ll be exposed for hours. Using a cream such as Soltan Once (£11.49 Boots) is ideal - one application will see you protected for up to six hours, saving you the trouble of lugging a bottle around or returning to base to reapply.
Ideas before you go
Nothing like a tan to cover a multitude of festival sins. Of course your skin will eventually take on a darker shade with the dirt but before it gets to that stage, giving yourself a quick once over in advance with a quality fake tan will have you looking healthy, even if you don’t feel it. Epilate your underarms - shaving might see you through a day or so, whereas epilating will have you hair free for up to six weeks – and it grows back finer. Yes, it’s painful, but spending the festival with your arms pinned to your side in an attempt to hide hairy pits isn’t practical. Just remember to always do it before you shower and keep breathing throughout the process. Believe me, the results are worth it. Try Braun Perfection Body System.
Beauty regimes are certainly more of a challenge at a festival: Scrambling around in a tent, trying to cleanse, tone and moisturise isn’t the easiest of tasks. Fortunately, there are some fabulous products that require minimum effort and work wonders to compensate for the effects of late nights, little sleep and alcohol.
Make-up wipes are a lazy girl's favourite, No7 Quick thinking 4 in 1 wipes (Boots £6.25) are fuss free, as they cleanse, tone, moisturise in one go - making skin care a doddle even in the dark. If it’s beauty miracles you’re after then applying Guerlain’s Midnight Secret late night recovery treatment (£53) just before bed will save you from many a hang over pallor. It’s not cheap but the active ingredients stimulate oxygenation of the cells and will see you waking with the same rested and healthy glow that you would after a long night’s sleep so worth it’s weight in gold (for stockists www.guerlain.com).
In the Morning
Come morning, your tent will probably take on the characteristics of a sauna, so you’ll find it difficult to breathe, let alone sleep. Rather than dehydrating yourself further - get up, drink plenty of water, take a painkiller if you need one, clean your teeth, refresh bleary eyes with eye drops and put the kettle on. Other ideas to help support your body are taking Milk thistle to aid liver function and the amino acid 5HTP, which helps to counteract mood swings caused by lack of sleep and too much partying.
If you’re in need of further help then the fastest, most practical way to revitalise is by applying super quick fix masks to your face and eyes. You can’t go wrong with the superb Bliss Triple Oxygen instant energising mask (the home version of their legendary Oxygen Facial) which works in five minutes to brighten and freshen your complexion (www.blisslondon.co.uk ) and one of the three innovative reusable gel eye masks from DuWop (£16 for 3) www.Spacenk.co.uk . Follow with oodles of a good hydrating moisturiser and gently pat a long lasting gel such as ESpa 24 Hour Eye Complex (£38.50) www.espaonline.com around the eyes. People may scoff at bringing such paraphernalia, but festival facials will add little to your weight load and are easy, effective and keep you looking fresh. It also keeps you out of trouble before the entertainment kicks off at noon.
Keep it natural: less is definitely more, so streamline your make-up bag and only bring stuff you really need; something to cover the dark circles, lift your colour and brighten the eyes. Benefit's dinky “Realness of Concealness” kit (£22.50), which contains mini versions of their most coveted concealers and enhancers, and Some Kind of Gorgeous Foundation Faker (£19.50) will have your skin looking perkier in seconds. Follow with a touch of blush on the apple of your cheeks and a couple of coats of long lasting mascara (I swear by Kanebo’s 38 Degree Silk Performance mascara £14.95 as it stays put till water 38 degrees hits it) and you’ll be someway to looking like you slept for 8 hours and have been living clean.
While most can cope with slightly dishevelled and less than perfectly coiffed hair, few are comfortable being out in public with a greasy, frizzy mop. Hiding it under a hat is one solution; alternatively, you can try a dry shampoo or hair reviver. If however, your previous experience of such products are like mine: a) completely ineffective or b) clumps of dust that made you look grey and gave you dandruff, then give Klorane’s Oat Protein Dry shampoo (£5.45) a go. A quick spray and a brush through and this little miracle worker will revive your hair in between washes - giving it volume, shine and restoring it to an (almost) pre-festival freshness. Prepare to be amazed. (www.escentual.co.uk)
If you can’t make it through the weekend without a proper hair wash, a good tip is to apply a serum after conditioning. This will go someway to reducing frizz and keeping hair smooth in the absence of styling tools. John Frieda’s new Frizz Ease Thermal Protection Serum (£5.99) is ideal, as its lightweight formula won’t weigh the hair down.
Try not to overdo it on the first night and book the Tuesday off work.
god, what to ppl think when they write something like this? i hope u dont share this opinion, or else ur very unrealistic urself...
if u dont wanna sleep in a tent, if its too uncomfy for u and u want to take more things, just come with a caravan...but to buy all these things suggested in the article...u need more for the equipment than for the festival ticket, thats nonsense...
festivals are about 2-3 days of uncomfyness, of being dirty, of sleeping little, of loud ppl/music...if you dont like that, stay at home...thats my opinion...
bring on the headless horses, wherever they may roam....
Can't wait for the next festival - 8 days untill it now, I'm counting!
But it'll be 8 days in a tent, though, as I'm working at the festival to (gonna work in the bar), and the festival lasts 5 days.
Sacrifice is giving up something good for something better.
Last edited by ivypixie; 18-06-2007 at 11:52 AM.
Good advice there, re: most things, but (apart from celebrities)
Who really bothers with proper facial cleansing, make up or hair routines at a festival? Even Miss KM doesn't bother!
Anyway, my hints and tips
Tent. Especially if you are going to Glasto or other festies renowned for bad weather, it's worth buying a tent that has a porch and that is also high enough to stand up in. That way you can strip off any wet gear before you go into the inside of the tent. Especially invest in a double skin tent. Having tried to sleep in a two man single skin tent in the rain, it's hopeless. Anything you have touching the sides will encourage the rain to come in. Don't pitch it in a hollow or under trees. If you have to pitch on a slope, do it so you can sleep with your head at the highest point, it's impossible to sleep with your head at the lowest point. I disagree about padlocks, use the safe storage tents for your valuables instead, some people I know leave their tents open to prove theres nothing worth stealing!
As fairy said, if you can't stand tents, you can always pick up a cheap caravan from ebay, we met someone at Glasto who had done just that.
To help stay warm at night buy a foil groundmat that wll help reflect your body heat back to your body.
Clothing wise, don't go too hell for leather for that floaty festival hippy look. Long necklaces will get tangled round other festival goers in the mosh pit, floaty skirts will just collect mud. Again, I think KM got it right, a friend said to me 'if my legs get dirty I'll just wash 'em!' I agree with buying Hunter wellies, get some proper wellies, you can walk miles in a day at festivals, cheap ones can be really uncomfortable, get some with more support.
Have a good festival whoever is going to one!
Last edited by renferme; 19-06-2007 at 08:45 AM.
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