For someone who loves drinking, music, getting muddy, dressing up, and festering in filth, it certainly took me a while to finally experience my first real festival. This year, however, I bit the bullet and got myself to Bestival. And guess what? I bloody loved it!
1. Fancy dress and glitter are necessities
Basically, if you’re thinking of taking anything boring to wear, don’t bother. I packed my amazing sequin dress (pictured above) and a frilly swimming costume to wear as a top, but everything else was pretty standard, and therefore didn’t even make it out of my rucksack. We also covered ourselves pretty much head to toe in glitter, so much so that I’m still finding it in more crevices than you’d care to imagine. You can go all out at a festival, so make the most of it!
2. The food is expensive but incredible
We took a little bit of food with us, but hardly touched it because there was such an amazing range of street food at Bestival! My highlights included crab on chips (an Isle of Wight delicacy), incredible crispy duck wraps, giant veggie burgers (pictured below) and more hog roasts than you could shake a stick at. A meal costs between 6 and 10 pounds, but the food was such a huge part of the festival for me that it was well worth budgeting a little extra for.
3. Rain isn’t always a bad thing
We experienced every possible element over the weekend at Bestival, and although we were lucky enough to have beautiful sunshine for the most part, we were hit with 12 hours of heavy rain on the Saturday. Thankfully, we all had waterproofs and wellies, and had pitched our tent on a hill to avoid flooding. I am now blessed with the memory of raving off my tits in a downpour whilst watching the Chuckle Brothers on the main stage, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
4. Toilet paper is like gold dust
Make sure you pack your own. Other essentials include hand sanitiser, earplugs (they literally saved my life), baby wipes and an air bed. You’ll thank me later.
5. It’s not all about the music
Much as we loved watching the likes of Years & Years, Major Lazer, MØ and The Cure perform, we also made sure to allow time to check out everything else that Bestival had to offer. From secret forest raves to an inflatable church and the biggest bouncy castle in Europe, it’s just as much fun to step away from the busy main areas and go off the beaten track!
6. It’s fine to do your own thing sometimes
You don’t always have to stick together as a group – in fact, you’ll have a better time if you’re up for splitting off and doing your own thing when you want to. You don’t want to risk missing your favourite new band just because everyone else wants to watch a DJ you’re not that bothered about! Just try to stay in (at least) pairs where possible, and communicate well to make sure you can find each other later.
7. …But do make sure you look out for each other
It’s a good idea to establish a meeting place every time you enter a new area, so that if anyone does want to go elsewhere (or gets lost by accident), you won’t have a nightmare trying to find them again. Ideally the spot will be near to both food and a bar in case you have to wait a while and need to get more drunk (naturally).
8. There will always be arseholes
It’s just a fact of life that when 40,000+ people get together, you’re going to get a couple of dickheads turning up. They might jostle you in the crowds, they might be unnecessarily rowdy, or they might do something worse like try to rob your tent. Take proper precautions and look after your belongings, but for the most part just try not to get dragged into their shit – if someone is causing trouble, try to keep away from them and don’t let it spoil your fun. If necessary, you can always inform security and they will deal with it. It’s not worth risking your own safety or being thrown out altogether.
9. …Just make sure you aren’t one of them
Be aware of the people around you. If you’re trying to find your friends in a crowd, say ‘excuse me’ and ‘thank you’ and try not to push too much. Expressing yourself is all well and good, but try to keep the arm-flailing dancing to a minimum when you’re watching a packed main stage act. Get to know your neighbours at your campsite so that you can help keep each other safe, and all-in-all just don’t be a dick (life motto right there).
10. There’s a medical tent. If you need it, use it!
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. One of our group hurt their leg a bit on the first day and thought they were silly to get it looked at, but the nurse said that it was 100% a good move. Had it been left, it would have only got worse, and nipping it in the bud meant that it was quick and easy to treat. They aren’t there to judge, so no matter how much alcohol (or anything else) you’ve consumed, they will be happy to help you!
11. Bumbags are EVERYTHING
Take one. They keep all of your valuables as close to your person as possible, and mean that you don’t have to rummage around in a rucksack every time you need your phone. I carried on using mine for about 3 days when we got home – they’re just so bloody useful!
12. You’ll all be gross – just roll with it
Nobody showers and everyone smells like a farm, so you forget about it after a while anyway. I was worried about my hair looking greasy, but my lovely friend Sarah put it in French plait braids which kept it tidy for the first few days, and on the last day I took them out and got these amazing 80s crimp-waves (see below). A bit of dry shampoo and a head scarf later, and I was good to go!
13. There is literally something for everyone
We wanted forests full of gays raving to drag queen DJ sets, and that is exactly what we got. I’m sure it depends where you go, but no matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it at one of the many festivals across the UK. I loved Bestival for its inclusiveness, music variety, size (it’s relatively small), and LGBT friendly vibe.
14. Worried about smuggling alcohol? Don’t be
Honestly. That really isn’t their main concern – as long as you haven’t got glass or a bag full of weapons you’ll be totally fine.
15. You WILL need time to recover – plan ahead!
I took one ‘recovery day’ off work, but to be completely honest, I came back almost a week ago and this is the first day I’ve started to feel even vaguely human again. I also woke up on my first day back feeling incredibly tempted to just down a cheeky can to take the edge off, but I think that’s probably to be expected following 5 days of drinking nothing but warm cider, straight gin and Red Bull.
Bestival, I want to thank you for taking my festival virginity. You were amazing, and I can’t wait to see you again next year!