Heading out to a festival this summer? Before you jam some flowers in your hair and leg it out the door, have a look at our tips for having the best possible time.
1 – Let the train take the strain
Things that are fun at a festival: seeing bands, eating donuts, lying on grass, joining a drum circle (if you must) … you get the idea.
Things that are not fun at a festival: queuing in traffic, losing the car in the car park, digging it out of the mud using a broken drumstick (stolen from Azimuth, that guy you met in the drum circle) and driving home on two and half hours' sleep.
Public transport can be faster, more eco-friendly and convenient (especially with a Railcard) as festivals like Glastonbury, Reading and Download all have nearby train stations, usually with transport to the site itself available. And you can snooze all the way home.
2 – Plan ahead and save money
First, get your festival tickets as early as possible for the best value; last minute prices are hilariously high (and your ticket might not even be legitimate from tout sites). Get all the gear you need before you go, too, so you don't get held to ransom by the prices on site.
You can also save loads on transport by getting hold of a 16-25 Railcard and booking ahead. Going in a pair? A Two Together Railcard will save you even more.
3 – Wellies!
You'll be tempted to leave them at home. Don't. The rest of the country could be so dry that camels start roaming the streets, but festival sites will still conjure mud, especially around the toilets – and that won't be water on the ground. Buy wellies in advance, so they're cheap and more to your taste.
Happy feet = happy days.
4 - Don't sweat the lineup too much
You could obsessively pore over the lineup, doing trial runs between stages to make sure you cram in ALL THE BANDS over the weekend. But you'll just end up frustrated, never seeing enough of anything. Pick three or four highlights, then roll with the tide for everything else: sometimes the band you stumble across accidentally will be the highlight of your weekend.
5 - A nice sit down
It's a little known fact that there are no seats at any festival site, anywhere in the world, ever. OK, that may be pushing it, but you'll be amazed by how much time you'll spend on your feet and how tiring that gets. You could take a foldy chair thing, but just as good is a roll of bin bags. Fold a couple up into your back pocket and there you have it: portable groundsheet. And...relax.
6 - Water yourself
Try not to make every drink alcoholic: staying hydrated will give you more energy, reduce the risk of heatstroke if it's warm and stop your mouth feeling like a hedgehog is squatting in it. Take a small water flask (metal is best) and fill it up regularly – there are always water taps. It's cheaper, and you'll reduce waste.
7 - Don't rely on your phone
The battery will die, the signal will be frankly bizarre and the cost and queues for recharging intimidating. Make plans with your friends in advance, arrange times and specific meeting points (not 'at the front' if you actually want to meet them), and leave it for emergencies.
8 – The magic ingredients
Simple: wet wipes, sunscreen and chewing gum. One to freshen you up, one to protect you from the rays and one to chew while you're in the toilets. It helps with the smell, trust us.
9 – One jumper
Once the sun goes down it will get cold, including in your tent, so take a warm top layer. Big sites like Glastonbury have lots of outdoor stuff going on until dawn, all of which is more fun when your teeth aren't chattering.
10 - Just go with it
If it's your first time at a festival, the crowds, noise and the sheer time it takes to get anywhere or do anything can be daunting at first. If it gets too much, find a spot to relax and let it all pass you by; you don't have to do anything except watch the people. That's the point.
Don't forget you can chat with other members on our forums, too. Plan ahead, be safe, have fun! (And seriously, take wellies.)