No matter what your music taste there’s a festival out there just calling your name. This year, there seem to be more than ever. Alongside the usual suspects - Listen Out, Soulfest, OutsideIn, and the festival season's February climax Laneway - as well as the New Years tentpole festivals Falls and Field Day, there are some new kids in town such as Fairgrounds, taking place at Berry with an absolutely incredible inaugural lineup. To help get you through I’m offering my top five tips to ensure that it’s a success.
Let's get the boring house keeping out of the way. When packing for that three day festival I like to play the “what if game.” For example, what if there’s no toilet paper? What if it's dark and I can’t find my tent in the drunken state I’m in? What if I’m hangover and want to sleep in but can’t cause the hippies are outside my tent singing? I ask myself these questions and try to think up what I could pack to save myself in any of these situations. The trick is to not over pack; we aren’t packing as if a zombie apocalypse is about to happen but you don’t want to be caught without the essentials. Here are a few: toilet paper, hand sanitiser, duct tape, head torch, garbage bags, lighter, scissors (cause we know someone always needs scissors), chargers, insect repellent, ear plugs, wet wipes and contraception ('cause you never know and you should always be prepared).
Water is key to one's longevity. I highly recommend taking a water bottle (empty of course as most festivals wont allow you to bring in liquids). If not save whatever water container you purchase, most festivals these days have a “hydration station” which offers free drinking water.
I know most of you won’t be consuming just water on the day, so make sure you have plenty of cash on you. Drinks are pricey and most venues can only serve mid strength beverages which you may need a few more to fuel your day. If you are planning to smuggle your own in I highly suggest researching, there are some very innovative ways, which I am in no way for the purpose of this article condoning. No matter what you do, please drink responsibly and remember to be a mate. No festival go-er left behind.
This is going to be one of the most important aspects of your festival experience. First plan to slip slop slap; we are talking sunglasses, hats, sun cream, zinc - which is great as body paint if you want to make it “cool”. If you don’t feel like being the 40+ patrol remember to go and see your local St Johns that are set up at the festival, not only are they there to keep you safe, but they will always have a sunblock station. So lather up, the only thing more painful then a comedown is being red raw and looking like a lobster.
Depending on what type of festival it is may determine your style of dress, e.g. Soundwave is usually black shirt, black jeans, black boots, black make up, this may not be the same look for the Falls Festival for example. Just don’t wear to many clothes, there will be sun, there will be dancing and you want to be free to enjoy it all and not having passed out from heat exhaustion.
My final tip is wearing something to stand out in the crowd. This is your time to shine. Accessories that are fun and will get you noticed (i.e eyelashes, face paints, stickers, glitter, ribbons, inflatable animals, things to wave in the air). Just think: a new friend is but a small trinket away.
Plan plan plan Get your hands on whatever you can, may it be maps of the camping grounds and the stages or set lists so you can start narrowing down what bands/acts you want to see. Set up a place for everyone to meet if people get lost or need somewhere to just chill out (my favourite place is the silent disco tent). Many festivals have a special iPhone app. This is your greatest pocket friend. Not only does it have all the above stored onto your phone, but it also includes a handy dandy planner that sends you a reminder plenty of time before the bands are set to commence their sets. It even alerted you of unfortunate clashes between sets.
As much planning as one can hope to do, it doesn’t necessarily always work at that way. So be prepared for the unexpected. You may go with a weeks worth of outfits and the reality being that you will very likely not shower for three days and spend an entire night covered in mud as it's been raining and you decided to go body slide through the puddles like everyone else. Try new things, be part of that living sculpture or crazy performance art piece, learn a new hobby like fire twirling or Himalayan chanting, go see that underground indie band that no one’s ever heard of - who knows, they may be the next big thing and you can spend the next year telling everyone how you saw them first.
Hopefully my tips will get you started thinking about your adventure. Just remember in the end its all about the music, great mates and making a life time of memories.