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How to survive a summer festival

What is it with the British and our love of summer festivals? Sleeping outdoors? Paying through the nose for food you have to eat sitting on the (wet) grass? Being surrounded by glitter-covered people acting like teenagers (okay, so most of them are teenagers). 

Well, as a keen festival goer myself, I don’t know why they are so great, but they are! However, there can be some uncomfortable moments, so to make sure these are as few and far between as possible, I asked PR land for their tops tips for making the most of the festival season.

Be spontaneous

Caroline Gibson, account director at agency Smoking Gun PR: “Plan, plan, plan and then go with the flow anyway! With a festival like Glastonbury, where there are hundreds of music options at any point, you end up agonising over the line up on for weeks on end. I always try to make sure I’m not missing my favourite bands, but realistically the beauty of a festival is its spontaneous nature. This means you spend less time stressing and more time actually enjoying what you were there to do. This year my Glastonbury highlights were all things I hadn’t planned to watch or simply stumbled upon by accident, so get out of your musical comfort zone and experience new things.”

Get fit before you go  

Roberta Main-Millar, account director, Europe at PR agency The Hoffman Agency: “Ditch your desk at lunchtime in the run up to the festival and get fit. PROs can all too often eat lunch at their desk, but with all the walking and dancing you need sturdy legs and a strong core, so get working on that. You’ll find the added benefit is that you’ll probably be more productive from working out too!”

Forget FOMO  

Roberta Main-Millar: “Forget FOMO. Stage clashes are a fact of life, if you’re enjoying yourself then don’t worry about what’s going on at the other stages. On the flipside, if you’re not enjoying an act go and find something else – I wasted an evening watching Kanye just because he was ‘the greatest living rock star on the planet!’... apparently.”

Take two chargers  

Roberta Main-Millar: “Bring two portable chargers. Possibly because of the rubbish reception, batteries seem to drain faster at festivals, so you will need to charge your phone. The queues at the recharging stations can be one of the worst places to be (only beaten by the long drop toilets and medical tent). I know I’d rather be watching the performers over power levels.”

Leave no trace

Rachel Proctor, head of digital at agency Milk & Honey PR: “If like me you’re on a journey to becoming an eco-warrior or are in the midst of Plastic Free July, a festival may seem like an impossible task! Glastonbury led the way this year by banning single-use plastic and 99% of tents being taken home, but how can you play your part?

“Come armed with your reusable bottles and fill up at water stations. Make sure to bring a carabiner to hook it onto your belt loop, bumbag or unicorn outfit. Go one step further and bring a reusable cup to ensure that every drink is guilt free.

“Even us eco-warriors want to let loose so don’t forget the biodegradable glitter and solar powered fairly lights to keep you sparkling day and night. Making sure to pack biodegradable face wipes to clean it off and start all over again.”

Forget day tickets

Advice from the team at agency Fuel PR: “Try not to push yourself too hard by attending a large festival if it’s just for just the day as it can be overwhelming and exhausting, start with a smaller festival or if you want to brave a bigger one then consider camping overnight. Festivals that offer a variety of activities are worth staying over for, it’s also worth researching before you go and creating a to-do list so you maximise your festival experience.”

Pack clever

The Fuel PR team also suggests packing lightly and carefully: “Carrying a bulky bag is no fun when you’re under the sun all day, and some festivals have strict bag restrictions so try and fit things into a compact backpack if possible. Travel size and multi-tasking toiletries, a reusable water bottle and snacks will make life easier. Other must-have items include a lightweight raincoat  in case of rain, high sun protection and a hat to avoid over heating or sunburn.”

Smoking Gun’s Caroline Gibson has a further top packing tip: “This one top tip could make getting ready to face the day a whole lot easier. When packing your rucksack make sure all individual outfits, including corresponding underwear and accessories, are packed in a (biodegradable if possible) plastic bag. This means that in the morning you can simply pull out a bag and have everything you need for that day's outfit in one place, with no rooting around. Not only does this minimise the time you have to spend in the tent if it suddenly turns into a sauna when the sun rises, it also helps to protect the clean clothes in your rucksack from the rain if the festival is a washout.”

Case study

Work hard, play hard

PR agency Bottle went to a festival to play as a team, here its managing director Natasha Hill gives her tips for festivals with work colleagues:

“Last year, as part of our Summer School, we decided to fill our welly boots, at Wilderness Festival.

“How did we prepare ourselves for a weekend sleeping under the thinnest of Go Outdoors tent-age?  Here’s a few of our top tips for anyone daring to combine a work party with a festival:

  • One man’s meat is another man’s poison – camping isn’t for everyone. Nor is glitter. Solution? Buy up the full stock of glitter, jewels and tattoos that Amazon can offer, believe in the herd mentality, and pray the team fall in love with their glitter-bombed sleeping bag.
  • Once bitten, twice shy – if it goes wrong, the team might never have faith in your 'fun’ activities again. Fail safe plan? Get everyone involved in the planning, on the premise that if it is a wash-out disaster, you all go down together.
  • Hope for the best, prepare for the worst – what’s the worst that can happen at a UK festival. Oh yeah – it pisses down for four days. Preparation? Nadda. That’s one thing you can’t plan for because even with the most plentiful supplies of waterproof kit, rain at festivals will dampen the mood to some degree. So, you’ve just gotta pray – and send love letters to the lovely Carol Kirkwood. She’s a weather god, right? “

As you read this I will be at my first, but not last, festival of the year. My top tip? Make sure you have got comfortable bedding. A good night’s sleep is difficult to achieve, but well worth the effort.

Have fun!

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