You got your tickets after frantically ringing around with your friends on release day. You have that tent in the garage, you think. Just need to pack a bag and jump on the train now.
You’re ready – aren’t you?
What To Expect
A festival is like a small town and can be as big as one - the perimeter fence of Glastonbury is 8.5 miles long! Festivals bring people together to party with friends and escape for the weekend. To enjoy yourself and avoid some of the classic festival fails, it’s good to understand the environment you are going into.
- There will be queues - to get in, for food, drink and toilets
- It can feel chaotic at times
- It may be crowded
- People will be drunk, giddy and sometimes misbehaving
But that’s what makes it fun right?
Within a festival community we should all try and be a friendly face in the crowd. Whether you are going with one friend or a big crew, everyone will have a better time if we take care of each other. One of the ultimate buzz kills can be seeing other people having a bad time so help everyone to enjoy themselves.
Don’t underestimate how much festivals can test your endurance skills, especially when the weather is bad. It’s important to keep your wits about you and remember it’s a marathon not a sprint!
All festivals should have the following facilities on site:
- Water for drinking and washing
- Information points
- Bars and food outlets
- Medical team
- Welfare team
Facilities can vary, so check on your event website what will be available.
There is usually a general store or camping shop if you need emergency supplies but try and bring everything you’ll need by following our Ultimate Festival Kit List. There’s also loads of places to buy more fun stuff - fancy dress, glitter (biodegradable of course!), ridiculous hat anyone?!
Not all festivals have showers, and where they are available you might have pay for them, as well as providing your own towels and toiletries. Check your festival website for more information.
Most festivals have a welfare team who are there to offer support if you need them. They are experienced, non-judgemental people who can give confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs, sexual health, mental health and offer support if you need someone to talk to.
They will have a calm space if you feel anxious and may be able to arrange help if you find yourself stranded. They also care for lost and vulnerable people including children.
Welfare teams are not there to make judgements or get you in trouble. Their service is confidential so you can be honest with them about any problems you are experiencing and they will do their best to help you.
Check if your event has a welfare service and find out where they are located on site in case you or any of your friends need them.
Security & Stewards
Security are there to look after party goers, manage crowds and deal with any issues. Always listen to directions from the security team – your safety is their number one priority.
Festival stewards are often volunteers who give their time to help run the site in exchange for a ticket. They do lots of different jobs including directing people and traffic, manning information points, taking tickets, giving out wristbands and much more. Sometimes you might wonder why they are asking you to take a certain route or holding you at a gate but there will be a good reason. Events couldn’t run without them so be respectful and always listen to directions from stewards.
Getting Around Site
There’s going to be a lot of walking! Sometimes this will be on uneven ground and in big crowds. It’s good to familiarise yourself with the layout of the site and particularly the route between your campsite and the arena. If you’re mega keen you can download a map from the event website before you go – print it out and write your mates’ phone numbers on the back in case you lose your phone.
Event organisers spend a long time planning festival sites to make sure they operate smoothly and to keep everyone safe. Try to respect the rules:
- stick to allocated paths and tracks;
- don’t be tempted to climb over or crawl under fences;
- follow any one-way systems in operation;
- listen to stewards and event staff if they are giving you directions.
Some people arrive with a schedule of every band and DJ they want to see, others prefer to go with the flow and see where the party takes them. It can be easy to lose your mates so try and keep your phone charged to stay in touch (some festivals will have paid-for phone charging on site, check the show website for more information). At the very least, decide on a meeting point that you will all go back to. Choose a time and place to meet up later each day in case you get separated.
Wherever you are on site at a festival you should feel safe. Read more about Safer Spaces here.
With big events come big crowds - inside venues and walking around the site. It’s exhilarating to be part of a group of people all enjoying a special moment together, but sometimes it can also be a bit scary if a crowd grows quickly and people start to push or ‘surge’.
- Have an awareness of where exits are inside tents – not just the way you came in.
- If you are feeling anxious in a crowd, try and make your way towards the periphery.
- If you start to feel a crowd surge from one side, don’t push back. Move away from the pressure. Whenever there are crowd surges there are always lulls – a bit like waves along a shore they move back and forth. Try and use the lulls to move into spaces and weave your way to safety.
- Stay calm, don’t scream and try to keep your balance. If someone has fallen over, help them if you can without sacrificing your own safety. If one person falls over in a crowd, others can trip over them and create a pile up.
- When you’re navigating large crowds, be considerate to wheelchair users, parents with young children and other party goers who may have mobility issues.
- If you’re in a crowded space, check in with your friends regularly to make sure everyone is feeling ok.
After a year of social distancing, it may feel weird being close to so many people again in a big crowd. Although UK government guidelines not longer require people to remain socially distanced at festivals, some people may feel more comfortable choosing their own level of social distancing and this should be respected. Read more about how COVID-19 may affect festivals.
Coping With Festival Toilets
Coping with festival toilets is a rite of passage for any first-timer. If you’ve not been in one before - brace yourself, it’s not pretty.
Top 10 toilet tips:
- The first rule of festival toilets - don’t put your wristband on the hand you wipe your bum with!
- Accept that they will be grimy, especially if the weather’s bad. Always wash or sanitise your hands after you use them;
- Don’t make yourself ill by holding it in. A kidney infection is much worse than two minutes in a smelly toilet;
- It might be a short walk to the nearest loos and there may be queues when you arrive so don’t leave it to the last minute;
- Carry some tissues in your pocket/bag;
- Flush! Festival toilets sometimes start to block because people don’t flush them;
- Ladies, if you can’t stand the idea of having to hover, invest in some P-Mates. The disposable device that allows you to wee stood up. Be careful to tilt forwards though…
- It might be tempting to nip off into a dark corner for a wee but don’t. Love the site and help keep it nice for everyone;
- There are a smaller number of accessible toilets. If you don’t need to use them, stick to the standard loos;
- Beware of playsuits and onesies!