Despite the level of evidence to the contrary available to anyone with at least one eye and one window it’s May, which means our Great British summer festival season is on the way, and with it the annual barrage of festival ‘Dos and Don’ts’ guides, all extolling the virtues of first aid kits, wind-up lamps and taking enough bog roll to wipe the whole of Suffolk.
But these guides tend to merely offer practical suggestions to those looking to survive their inaugural experience – there’s a hell of a lot they don’t tell you. So we compiled some of the tips, tricks and warnings that are usually known only to those with a few festivals (and subsequent disastrous festival mistakes) under their belts.
1 Create your own en-suite tent
One small plastic bin (a tight-fitting lid essential) + one small watertight bin bag = one toilet. And while shedding ex-food in the same place you sleep might not seem ideal, it’s infinitely preferable to trying to precariously balance your chod atop the grim stalagmite that’s accumulated in each and every festival bog by the end of the second day. Dispose of the tent-nasties in daring by-night flytipping sorties or, if you’re feeling confident, Olympic hammer-throws which send the bag of grim arcing towards the unfortunate horizon.
2 Smuggling things by securing them to your person using tape is stupid
Whether it’s small packages of nefarious substances ensconced among the genitals or bags of wine wrapped around the torso like jiggly Kevlar armour, when it comes to removing the contraband from yourself you’ll realise that you’re actually a complete idiot.
Yes, that bloke with the beard who told you all those traveling tales seemed nice, but if you swallow those, chances are you’ll spend the rest of your evening as only a partial acquaintance of your jaw while humiliating yourself by dancing alone in a field for four hours, before waking up the next day in a hedge covered in the urine of all the passers by who gave you the drenching you probably deserved.
4 Avoid anyone described as ‘a character’
These people are usually the friend of a friend, and tend to arrive on the first day already blitzed half way to Venus. They speak solely in the drawling nonsensicles of an insurmountably pickled halfwit and will be the reason your group is asked to leave several of the better tents. They will also, almost certainly, piss themselves at one point. Ditch them ASAP.
Everyone at a festival stinks like an otter’s belly, tents are tiny, no one will dare attempt ‘the orals’, you’ll end up with a bottle of hand sanitiser sticking into your back like an agonising mugger’s knife and at some point one, if not both, of you will get cramp, meaning the activity must be temporarily abandoned in favour of flailing outside the tent like a chicken who was brutally kicked in the crotch the instant before it was decapitated. Therefore, sleeping with someone for the first time who you’d actually like to see again is a bad idea. Stick to established partners or randoms.
6 Taking drugs alone will make all your friends hate you
Have you ever tried to talk to a drunk while you’re sober? Annoying, isn’t it? Well multiply this indecipherable annoyance by 1000 and then you’re somewhere close to how your mates will feel if you try to verbalise the experiences you’re having if they are not themselves partaking. And FYI, if they say ‘you were so funny last night’, this means you were a dick.
Rental cars (a) aren’t that expensive, (b) are new and economical and (c) truly palatial compared to that wretched Saxo of your mate’s that rattles when it turns and smells of ham. But you obviously don’t want to have to drive. If you don’t yet have a licence this isn’t a problem, but if you do then it will be needed to add yourself as a named driver to the rental insurance. If you have ‘misplaced’ your licence, however, this can’t be done, leaving you to recline like a Roman emperor for both trips. You’ll be a twat, yes, but a comfortable one.
Even if the alternative is going home, it’s just not worth it. The changing winds dictate that you will end up downwind of it at some point, and waking up after the night before with a nasal passage full of that unspeakable funk will make you wish for the merciful scythe of Death. Sleeping downhill from the toilets is also obviously a no-no, because of rain, gravity, and then both.
9 Remember the etiquette of pissing in crowds
Waiting at the front of the main stage for four hours is sometimes necessary to see anything besides a fucking flag (seriously, flag-takers, why?) but nature will come-a-calling at some point, leaving a surreptitious urination as your only option. A sly dick or She-Pee into a bottle is the accepted standard. If you don’t have a bottle then you need to leave the crowd and relieve yourself in a toilet. Simply bladder-chundering like a peasant at a medieval theatre, all up the back of everyone’s wellies, is not acceptable and will eventually get you beaten up.
After a few beers we all get that surge of confidence, and if there’s a guitar nearby then there’s only one way it will end. But try to remember: it will be much more fun for you than for everyone else, your playing will be shit because you’re pissed, everyone else’s previously enjoyable conversations will be interrupted, and no-one but no-one likes a show off. Don’t be ‘that’ guy.