How To Survive A UK Music Festival

August 31, 2014|Posted in: Advice, UK

So over the past few weeks I’ve attended two music festivals: V-Festival and Reading festival. The former I actually won VIP tickets for on Twitter (courtesy of Muller Rice and the fact that I’m a lyrical genius) so this was a last minute addition to my summer calendar. I’ve never attended V before, but I have attended Reading festival a few times in the past, some days and once for the full weekend. So, I thought I know a lot of people have yet to break their festival virginity and so I’d write a little handy guide on how to survive a music festival.

Reading Festival Main Stage

Reading Festival Main Stage

For those of you that don’t know, V-Festival is a 2-day festival, mainly aimed at current pop/indie bands and artists with this year’s line-up including The Killers, Ed Sheeran and none other than Justin Timberlake. Reading festival on the other hand is a 3 day festival (with 2 extra days camping optional) marketed as an ‘alternative’ music festival with acts ranging from hard core old school rock bands such as Papa Roach and QOTSA, to dance acts such as the Klaxons and indie bands including We Are Scientists.

So here a couple of tips to keep in mind when attending these or other UK festivals this or next summer!

1)      Make a list.

This is my OCD setting in, but I wrote a list of what I needed to take, including things from the tickets, to the tent to what clothes I was going to wear. It’s handy, because if you’re like me you WILL forget something!

2)      Pack for ANY weather – it’s Britain, anything can happen!

Even though it could have been 28 degrees the week leading up to the festival, the weather can (and probably will) change. So pack for very cold conditions (i.e. extra hoodies and warm sleeping bag) as well as for a washout (i.e. wellies & raincoat/ponchos). But also remember things such as sun cream and sunglasses for when it (hopefully) gets brighter! I was very lucky this year and it actually didn’t (really) rain at both! Only at night when I was asleep or when we were packing up. Win.

Festival fashion. For when the sun is out...

Festival fashion. For when the sun is out…

3)      It can actually be a good idea to take a car!

When 2 of us went to V-festival we pretty much packed it to the brim as we weren’t sure of the area or what we could get when we were there. The difference with Reading festival is it is pretty much based just outside of the town centre (about 30 minute walk from the middle of the campsite) with a LOT of the local businesses soaking up the extra 100,000 customers and stocking up shelves.

4)      Don’t get TOO carried away, especially on the 1st night…

This is where I failed to take me own at Reading (but am completely blaming the disgustingness that is Mango Sourz…). You have to survive at least another 3 or even 4 days of full on action…and recovering from a sore head in the hot sun or whilst listening to a VERY loud band is not going to be any fun. And it won’t be fun for those around you. I luckily cured myself with some effervescent magical powder and a power nap – but sometimes it’s not so easy!

5)      Take a schedule of the acts and work out the main ones you want to see

We found the best thing was to use an online website called Clashfinder that lets you mark 4 people’s choices into a timetable and then print it out. Easier and cheaper that the £10 lanyard!

6)      Forget all healthy food or dietary compulsions but DO bring a BBQ for the first night/morning

Seriously, you’re not going to find any vegetables here and the healthiest food is probably considered the Ostrich burger that is then smothered with Jack Daniels onions and mayo (mmmm…). But bringing a BBQ and your own meats will save a little for the first day and a bit – and is a general festival must!

7)      If you are over 18 and planning on taking in your own alcohol, remember to decant it into plastic bottles

No glass is allowed in the campsite. And although V-festival was a lot more stricter than Reading at looking for this, it’s still not worth being caught and having to dump it. Plus in the long run it takes up less room and weighs less! Also, take red cups. Red cups make everything better! 😀

Red Cup!

Red Cup!

8)      Take toilet roll. Lots of it.

To be fair, V-festival was MUCH better than Reading. At least they had portaloos to a reasonable standard in our campsite. But at Reading, they have long-drops in the campsites. And if you haven’t seen (or smelt them) they are basically a giant skip with holes in hidden by doors. Probably the most disgusting thing ever. Trying to dodge all sorts of human excrement is awful, especially after a heavy night drinking. So, if you can, try to save yourself for the arena… Or pee outside your tent. Just remember. You will need toilet roll wherever. There is NEVER any when you need it.

8)      Just, chill!

The people pitched up next to you may be loud and look about 15. Or wanting to wake the whole campsite up at 6am to take shots, but who cares! Just let it go. You can’t control everything and to be honest you were or will be annoying at some point in the next few days! Wanna get face paint – do it! Want to dance in a mosh pit – do it (safely)! It’s kind of considered a mini holiday, so relax and soak up the atmosphere!


So there you have it! Have you been to any festivals this year? And do you have any good tips I haven’t mentioned? It would be interesting to know if international festivals would need different tips!


Amy is the founder of Currently residing in Reading, UK with a love of adventure travel, writing and photography - she pretty much writes about whatever the hell she wants!

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