’Tis the season, and festival announcements are coming through thick and fast right now. But before you get caught up in the excitement of another festival season approaching, or start moaning about how Download isn’t heavy enough this year, let’s take a moment to appreciate how festivals can be both the best places you’ll ever visit- and the worst!
Why they’re the best…
1. They give you a taste of freedom
Whether that’s a feeling of independence on your first camping weekend away from your parents after your GCSEs or the sense of escapism knowing you’re staying in a field at least one hundred miles away from the office for a whole damn weekend, festivals provide us with a release. For 72 hours, we’re restricted by nothing more than some flimsy material held up by questionable poles and ropes you couldn’t quite put together, with the only limit on binge drinking and fast food being how overdrawn you’re willing to go on your bank account. You’re a totally different person out on that field, and you love it.
2. They are SO value for money!
When you think about the number of bands put on festivals bills in just one year, the mind boggles. Hundreds upon thousands of bands, some of which you’d hand over ridiculous wads of cash to see at suffocating, seated arenas where a pint of beer costs more than your last lunch date and you have to slog through the packed journey home just two hours later, broke and exhausted. Compare that to a festival, where the sometimes the headliners alone pay for the ticket, not to mention the countless other great bands you’ve caught and, whilst doing it, you can drink your own 2-for-1 cans of cider and decide whether you want to stumble back at a too-drunk-too-soon 6pm, or pass out somewhere with your face in what you can only hope is mud at 6am- the choice is yours!
3. You will create some of the best memories of your youth on a festival site
Unless you’re still rocking into middle age (in which case, we salute you), festivals are predominantly for the young- or, at least, the young at heart. Most of us start racking up our festival scars in high school, celebrating our exam results with our first ‘grown up’ summer holiday: a weekend of camping that your parents paid for on the conditions that you to text them three times a day from the safety point they made you arrange. This often carries on into our twenties (although hopefully with less parental involvement) and, by the time we’re thirty, we’ve created a somewhat hazy photo album of festival memories that include the likes of vomiting, pissing and sleeping in places you are not proud to admit (well, perhaps a little bit!).
Why they’re the worst…
1. You can never trust the line up
Sure, you hope you can rely on old faithfuls to give you a bill worth missing a rent payment for every year but, admit it, in hindsight there have been years you’ve gone based on loyalty to your favourite festival rather than the strength of the bands. But the big festivals are onto us, putting their tickets on sale before dropping a name and forcing us, in order to avoid the niggling anxiety that it might sell out, to panic-buy our ticket without even knowing what we’re buying a ticket for! If the line up lets you down, you’re out of pocket for nothing. Bummer.
2. It is SO NOT value for money!
Considering the aforementioned point- that we shell out hundreds for something before we’re even sure we actually want it- festivals are a complete and utter rip off. £200 to stay in a tent?! You could spend a couple of nights in London for that- spoil yourself with a fancy dinner, go see a show, spend an evening soaking up the culture… Wait, what? You’d rather spend that money staying in a muddy field for four days, stewing in your own sweat and going to the loo surrounded by the urine (and God knows what) of strangers? Suit yourself.
3. Some festivals are just TOO big
Oh, so you complained that seeing that band you love in an arena wasn’t intimate enough? Well, see them at a festival and an arena will feel like a cosy pub gig in comparison. You truly can’t win when it comes to getting a good view- if you’re standing more than 100 metres from the stage then you haven’t got a hope in hell of seeing anything other than big screens (basically watching TV that you could’ve caught on the highlights show at home). But fighting your way to the front has its own problems- being squashed by a plethora of people, being pretty much stuck whenever you need the toilet, food, drink, or any other basic human need that keeps you alive, and feeling the relentless push and shove from the thousands of people behind you once the band hit the stage, leaving you unable to enjoy the gig anyway. Honestly, what was the point in that?