For many, going to a music festival is an excuse to go a bit feral. It’s totally fine to go without a shower for five days before that hot, scouring Niagara on the first night home which can only be described as a spiritual experience. Eschewing egyptian cotton for a sweaty sleeping bag, your morning flat white for a can of cider and that M&S quinoa salad for a gritty burger (probably horse) is what’s expected. By the fourth day you’re used to gross loos, legs aching from dancing so hard and ringing ears. You return home smelly, bloated and demented with loads of new friends and memories. But losing yourself in a field is not for everyone.
This weekend a deluxe festival kicks off in Hyde Park. Though there’ve been luxury areas at festivals for years – glamping and so on – this is the first on such a big scale. In a way it makes sense. The Isle Of Man, Sonisphere, The Big Chill, Hop Farm and other smaller events suffered from an overcrowded market and closed down over the last couple of years. Do fans want something more than a traditional music festival? Ian Forshew, boss of Wales’ Beach Break, thinks so. “The big festivals can become quite similar as they mainly compete for ticket sales through their line-up but ticket holders want more now,” he told the BBC.
John Giddings, boss of the Isle Of Wight festival, also observed fans do want “better food, drink and loos,”. It’s not just about rock ‘n’ roll, see.
Still, should music festivals be about pilates, empanadas and gelato, as offered in Hyde Park this weekend? As you can see from the pictures, the BST event looks pretty spectacular in a theatrical, clean and comfortable way. It also looks anathema to Glastonbury and other British music festivals (though I imagine Jamie Oliver and Alex James’s Big Feastival is similar).
Bon Jovi, the Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Elton John, JLS and Jennifer Lopez will perform and there are various areas – a ‘Village Green’ where you can drink real ale and watch live cooking demonstrations in the “M&S Summertime Kitchen” and a Carnival area with “samba, salsa and steel drums”. “There’s something for everyone with 3 bespoke areas designed to take you on a journey,” explains the website.
But, for me, festivals are about getting out of your comfort zone and witnessing something you wouldn’t during the 9-5 grind. Mayhem, madness, intensity, massive highs, massive lows, that’s what the most memorable experiences are made of. Not sitting by a fake village hall watching John Torode cook orzo and sun dried tomatoes. Escapism? Nah.
We want to know what you think. What should music festivals looks like today?