HOW TO PICK THE FESTIVAL FOR YOU
Now that the days are getting longer, the sun (apparently) making a valiant effort to shine through the clouds and the daffodils are handing the torch to early blooming roses, it might be time to start thinking about your summer festival itinerary.
Unless you’re a seasoned festival goer who, through years of trial and error, has finally settled on your favourites, then here, in no particular order, are a few points to consider when making your choice:
1. Location, location, location
Whether you’re planning on hopping on a plane, renting an RV and getting lost in the American desert for a week, or merely bumbling an hour into the countryside for a few days, you might like to think about what you’re really hoping to get from your festival experience. If you’re looking for an all-out escape, it might be worth heading a little further away; though, that being said, most festivals are experts at fostering a decidedly escapist culture. Even so, there’s something about putting a bit of space between you and normal life to cement that sense of really getting away. Alternatively, you might prefer to be in easy reach of home – whether it’s to do with time constraints or merely to make things easier – and as they’re pretty well spread out over the country, you should easily be able to find one nearby.
In terms of your surroundings, you might be drawn to an affair that takes place in an area of outstanding natural beauty; or on the other hand, in a convenient field close to the M1. There’s also the element of weather; obviously there isn’t much you can do to predict the quirks of the British climate, however if you’re going on averages, further south might just get you a touch more sunshine. There’s also the option to combine your festival with some other excursion or site to be seen – making a real holiday of the event.
2. Make your heart sing and your feet dance!
Now we get to what might have seemed the most obvious first choice; the music. Many of the bigger, more commercial festivals will feature a few of the same, or similar, artists; worth considering when you’re looking at other distinguishing factors. There are plenty of choices in both the indie and pop camp; you can take your pick. There are celebrations of jazz and blues, trance parties and opera picnics. Rock or rave? Those too. The maelstrom of festivals out there means that whatever your preference, you can be sure of finding something to suit your tastes. Many of them will incorporate multiple genres too, so you can spend the weekend indulging in all your musical leanings. Be sure of the line-ups though before you book your tickets, otherwise you might find yourself wondering how you ended up in a trance rave deep in the forest…
3. From comedians to circus troops, authors to artists, and healers to hula hoopers; weigh up the additional options that might sway your choice…
Countless festivals have expanded their entertainment to a vast array of talks, workshops, screenings, stand up comedy and even circus performances; so if you’re needing a break from the music, you’ll discover an abundance of alternative amusement. It’s always worth having a look at their programmes on this front; you may well end up learning something useful like how to realign your chakras or catch a fish through ice. Festivals don’t just attract big names from the music industry; you’ll find lots of well-known authors, comedians and the like will also form part of the draw.
Wellbeing has become a huge part of the festival experience; certainly at some of the smaller ones there is big focus on re-energizing massages, on alternative healing therapies and the restorative powers of yoga and meditation, amongst others. If this is something you’re interested in, it may be worth comparing the different options on offer and choosing based on that…
4. What to do with the children?
For many of you, deciding what to do with the children will be a make or break moment in the decision process; cut that out by choosing a festival that has a good kids’ area. This doesn’t have to mean losing out on your own pleasure; you can still expect incredible musical line-ups for adults, whilst making the most of veritable utopias laid on for youngsters; with their own menu of music, workshops, activities and games. Treat them to a few days of building forts in the woods, blowing giant bubbles and rolling down the hill in an ecstasy of dizzy fun. Let them eat candy floss in the sunshine and relish the blissful merriment of childish games – which you’ll probably enjoy just as much as they will.
5. Big pond, little pond, find your fit
Size-wise, are you looking for an intimate, matter of hundreds, kind of party, or do you relish the enormity of thousands-strong crowds? There’s lots to be said for both ends of the spectrum, however it is still worth mulling over as you make your mind up. If you can’t decide, look for one that’s biggish but retains a sense of friendliness and individuality more commonly associated with small ones – then you can have the best of both worlds.
6. “People who love to eat are always the best people.”
It might sound silly to make your choice based on food; but hey, if that’s your passion, then go for it. Whilst some events will pour their attention into the sound and sight aspect of your sensory journey, others will add that ever so enticing element of taste. From gourmet feasts to vendors of world food, the gastronomic facet of your weekend pleasure should not be neglected. Especially for the epicures out there…
7. Igniting your imagination
If you’re longing to have your imagination stimulated by bizarre installations, extraordinary outfits and first-rate décor, then here’s yet another filter to go by when making your choice. Festivals do generally tend to represent some form of escape; a celebration of the good things in life, at the very least, so you will find that many create their look to suit this mindset. However, there are few that take it a new level; depending on your visual whimsy you may take your decision there.
8. Overall vibes
Finally, and perhaps more contemplatively than the others, you could consider the overall ethos and atmosphere each festival is reputed to have. It’s hard to put your finger on, but certainly, no matter the size, some will have a friendlier, more communal vibe whilst others retain a sense of impersonality; which might appeal to you depending on how you value anonymity and your own company. In terms of ethos, you’ll find some place a high regard on being eco-friendly, on giving back, community efforts, etc., whilst others don’t have the time for that. Going on your own principles, this may also be a guiding factor in your assessments.
9. And when the day is done…
We don’t like to state the obvious, but if you really want to make the most of your festival, wherever you are, be clever and make sure your boutique camping is booked. After long days of revelry, you’ll be unbelievably happy to be able to sink back into your memory foam mattress, pull your high-thread count linen up to your chin and drift away before the party begins again. Glamping is the only way to go when it comes to festival accommodation, so you can definitely let that swing your vote when it comes to it.
All in all, there are lots to think about as you pick your festival fun this summer. The most important thing of all though, is that no matter where you pick, you remember to have an absolutely outrageously good time. Surrounded by great music, good friends, (hopefully) sunny days and a general air of euphoric joie-de-vivre, it will be hard not to.