The time has come and the results are in! Hundreds of thousands of Irish party people venture to music festivals at home and abroad every single year. You’d think we’d be used to the great outdoors at this stage, but team Hot Press have seen enough upturned tents, broken ankles and sunburned shoulders over the years to prove otherwise.
The good news is that surviving a festival (or three!) is easy, when you’ve lived through as many blow-out weekenders as we have, and we’re more than happy to pass on our disaster-fuelled nuggets of wisdom to our fine readers.
Heed our words and you, too, will have an unforgettable al fresco weekend…
When it comes to packing for a festival, there’s a terribly fine line between getting it wrong and getting it right. On the one hand, once inside the festival gates, prices tend to soar, so coming prepared could save you a small fortune. On the other, the treacherous walk from car park or bus stop to your eventual resting stop is a long one, and it makes sense to travel light. As a general rule, take as little as you can survive with and nothing that you’d mind losing.
Keep to these items, and you’ll be home free …
Tent – for obvious reasons.
Sleeping bag – for even more obvious reasons.
Clothes – see our tips guide below.
Torch – a must for avoiding those pesky tent ropes and finding your way to the, erm, facilities in the middle of the night.
Refillable water bottle – you’ll thank us first thing in the morning.
Sun cream – the chances of a sun-dripped scorcher on Irish shores are slim, but we’ve been privy to too many lobster-coloured necks over the years to let you away without this one. Plus, it doubles as a moisturiser for when your skin is all partied out.
Loo roll – you should already know what to do
Toiletries – guys can get away with deodorant, toothpaste, a toothbrush and shower gel, but girls might want to add dry shampoo and a carefully edited version of their make-up bag (foundation, powder, mascara and lip balm) to the list.
Baby wipes – technically a toiletry item, but you’ll find a dozen uses for these suckers once you get inside the festival site, including the removal of mud from your many personal items.
Ear plugs – because there will always be that guy who thinks that blaring out the choons is the perfect way to celebrate the sun coming up.
Speakers – because you might be that guy (our current favourite,the Logitech Mini Boombox, is reviewed on page 83).
Lighter – it’ll make you very, very popular.
Medication – even if you’re not on any, you might want to consider a small box of painkillers for when the pumping up of jams gets too much.
Money – because you have much better things to be doing than waiting in line at an on-site ATM machine. Keep it in your socks for safekeeping.
Condoms – what’s that they say about music being the food of love?
Bin bags – to sit on, to keep things dry, and in a pinch, to fashion a stylish rain hat out of.
Alcohol – some festivals allow you to bring your own and some don’t (glass bottles are never permitted). Your fête of choice will have specific information about this on its website.
DRESSED TO MOSH
Fashion magazines tend to debate the nuances of festival style for pages and pages, but if we’re really honest, everyone ends up looking a grubby, scruffy mess by the festival’s end. At all but the most sophisticated of festivals, you can fully expect to be doused in mud, beer or lentil stew at some point, so now is not the time to dust off your Sunday best.
Comfort is key, but don’t let practicalities get in the way of having fun – if you can’t wear a lace unitard and Indian headdress to a giant party in a field, when can you? New festival-specific trends crop up every year, as floral, prints, neon, metallic, denim, tartan, fringe and pastel all get passed off as the hottest new look, but really there’s only one worthwhile rule of festival fashion; anything goes.
Just remember that nothing goes without the correct protection! Here’s what you’ll need to battle the elements…
Rainwear – sometimes a single jacket is enough; sometimes four different types of waterproofs, a twin layer of ponchos and a 100-capacity gazebo won’t keep you dry. If you’re Benicassim-bound, you’ll probably survive on a light rain coat, but for those staying on Irish shores, it’s best to err on the side of safety.
Something warm – again, probably not necessary for those heading abroad, but for everyone else, this is Ireland, dammit! Where do you think you’re going without a jumper?
Wellies – both the scourge and the saviour of the festival-goer, it’s worth splurging a bit on a comfortable pair of wellies or rain boots. After all, with any luck, you’ll be on your feet all day.
Socks – these will always get wet, so take multiple pairs.
Shorts – with pockets. Trust us.
T-Shirts – one for every day you plan on leaving your tent.
Sunglasses – the bigger and darker the better! A granny chain from your local pharmacy helps keep them on your person.
Something fun – a trucker cap, a flower headband, a crazy belt, a fringed crop top, a kick-ass backpack, statement jewellery, the oversized band tee you got at last year’s festival, some face paint…
FEELING THE PITCH
Camping is an essential part of the festival experience, but unfortunately, it’s also the part that inspires the most horror stories. Get it wrong and you’re in for a miserable few days; get it right and the word “soaked”, “obliterated” or “crying” need never appear in your water cooler stories on
These basic tips will help get
Go big – as a rule, chose a two-man tent for one person, a three-man tent for four and so on. This makes things like getting dressed and knocking boots much easier.
Do a test run – boring? Yes. Time-consuming? Yes. Embarrassing if your parents call around? Absolutely. But necessary if you want to be sure you’ve got a weatherproof place to stay.
Customise your tent – it’s a great conversation starter, plus, it makes it easy to find. A helium balloon or flag are nifty options, but if you have some spare time the week before, a dash of (non toxic) paint goes a long way.
Triple check your bag – poles, pegs and guy ropes are non-negotiables.
Choose wisely – the position of your pitch can affect your whole weekend. Avoid a spot near portaloos, speakers or on the main pathways, and remember, higher ground is best.
Face multiple tents together – that way you can stay dry and chat with your mates at the same time.
Make friends with your neighbours – the good ones will watch out for your stuff, share their biscuits and generally give you a warm, squishy feeling inside.
Keep it safe – big flashy locks will only tempt thieves; it’s best to carry valuables with you, or better still, leave them at home!
Be prepared – there’s nothing you can do if a monsoon hits the site, but gaffer tape and bin bags will help patch up any minor difficulties.
Festival food gets a notoriously bad rap, but the last couple of years have brought about something of a foodie revolution, with gourmet pies, organic wine and artisan cakes now a regular fixture of many outdoor soirees.
This means there’s little to worry about when it comes to matters of the appetite; stick to these few rules and you’ll find yourself in culinary Shangri-La…
Fill ‘er up – a festival is the closest thing you’ll get to a marathon in world of merrymaking, so carb-loading is essential. Pasta or noodles are perfect, and the veggie option is usually a good way to load up while cutting down on fat.
Snack throughout the day – munch on chocolate, cereal bars (we’re already addicted to the new Kellogs Rice Krispies Squares Rocky Road bar) or nuts to keep energy levels up and make the party last longer.
Take a chance on something new – we’ve got Irish festivals to thank for our first taste of ostrich burgers, Gubeen chorizo and red velvet
Don’t take risks with dodgy stalls – if it doesn’t taste right, it probably isn’t.
Needless to say, most festival-goers will have a drink at some point over the course of the weekend. Naturally, alcohol can add to the fun by helping you relax, but it’s also very easy to get carried away.
With this in mind, we asked our good friends at Drinkaware for some fail-safe tips on how to avoid overindulging, and they’ve come up with the goods…
Water – bring as much of it as you can. Alcohol will seriously dehydrate you and even a clouded sun will make it worse.
Drink at least one litre per day – there are plenty of top-up taps, but it’s best to visit them at night, as the morning queues can be horrendous.
No glass – the amount of liquids confiscated at festival gates every year could quench the thirst of a small town. Make sure to bring some plastic containers or bottles.
Pace yourself – have some water or a soft drink between drinks. You’ll feel better, look better and have a better chance of lasting the course!
Eat something – nothing makes
for a drinking disaster like an
Wrecked? – getting pissed isn’t pretty or smart. You’ll only end up wrecking the festival for your mates if they have to look after all weekend.
Hair of the dog – it won’t beat your hangover, it just prolongs the agony.
The secret to sobering up? – time. Whether sitting in a tent or standing in a field, it’ll take roughly two hours for your body to break down one pint of booze. Nothing – not tea, energy drinks, burgers and chips or an ice cold shower – can speed up
Beer goggles – want a weekend to regret? Then let the booze do the chatting up for you.
No strange mixers – don’t accept a drink from a stranger or leave yours unattended – you never know what you’re getting or what could have been put in it.
Go online – Drinkaware have just launched a brand new campaign called Rethinking Our Drinking, dedicated to promoting the art of pacing yourself. To find out more, see drinkaware.ie.
SAFELY DOES IT
The sun is shining, crack is 90 and your favourite band in the whole world are about to take to the stage.
You’re probably not thinking about what happens if you can’t find your car or your mobile phone goes missing, but keep these few tips in mind, and you should be able to avoid any festival disasters.
Establish a meeting point – agree on a place and time with your mates in case you get separated.
Report it – inform security staff of anything suspicious. You might just end up saving someone’s hide…
Watch your step – about 40% of injuries at festivals relate to the ankle or lower limb, so for the love of all that is good and rocking, keep your eyes on the road!
Leave it out – many festivals provide lockers for valuables, but, if at all possible, you’re better off going without. We understand that your various iGadgets have become an extension of your personality, but there’s enough happening on stage to keep you entertained without them.
Take pictures – of your tent, of your car, of your mate’s unfortunate attempt to do the sprinkler… the first two are to act as a handy visual aid if you get lost, the last one’s just for fun.