FESTIVAL SURVIVAL GUIDE
For some customers, your event may be their first experience of an outdoor show or festival and some may be very unprepared and ill equipped to cope with the conditions; some will over indulge in alcohol or possibly experiment with drugs for the first time; some may have unprotected sex and a significant number will end up requiring help from the Welfare or Medical/First Aid services. This guide may be reproduced in part or in full by event organisers and promoters, changes and additions may be to suit individual events but the idea is to get as much information to customers on tickets and on web sites so they know what to bring and how to keep safe.
A GUIDE FOR FESTIVAL VISITORS
So - surviving the experience - what do you need to know?
Preparation - some stuff to do before you're ready to go
Security - on site security and stewards - what you should know
On Your Way - what to do en route and on arrival
Your Stuff - how best to keep it safe
Pitching Your Tent - some useful tips
Your body - keep it safe - it's yours and you have choices
Drugs and alcohol - be wise, be safe, take care
Keeping clean - not easy, but perfectly possible
Toilets - infamous - can you survive them?
Clothes - keep cool, keep warm, keep dry and keep your style
Noise and Special Effects - enjoy and keep safe
Fire - not a good idea, why?
Children - fun for all the family?
Crowd Safety - keeping safe in a dense crowd - crowd surfing and moshing
A Final Word - Have a great time!
There’s loads of info here from people who’ve been there, lived it and survived to tell the tale. Some it is pretty basic but sit back, have a cuppa and hopefully you won’t have any festival nightmares.
Don't buy your ticket from a ticket tout, whether online or on the street. Lots of people get ripped off buying forgeries - it might look like the real thing to you but it won't do to the people on the gate. Many unwary people have found this out to huge personal cost, disappointment and inconvenience - like how do you get home if all your friends are inside the event for the weekend?. The best advice is to check the event’s website for their information regarding ticket sales. It really is the most reliable place to spend your hard earned dosh. Likewise, don't buy wristbands outside the venue - they will be forgeries or stolen.
Check out the festival’s website before you go. It's important that you know what to expect with regard to what the Terms & Conditions (T&Cs) are. Most organisers have a whole huge list of rules and regulations about what you can and can't do. Although festivals have had a reputation as being an 'anything goes' affair this is no longer the case and there are some basic rules to ensure everyone's safety. For example, many events have a ban on sky lanterns, which can cause fire when they land in campsites or neighbouring farmland.
Think about how you're going to get there and plan the best way to travel for you (and your family, friends) - train/coach/car – and book your ticket well in advance as it can work out much cheaper and you can be sure the seats won’t be sold out. If you're travelling by public transport, make sure you get a return ticket. Although you might be sad the festival is over, you'll be even more frustrated if you can't get home. The seats may all be sold out, you may have no cash left and probably you’re exhausted from all the fun you’ve been having. If you do forget and end up getting into difficulties, you could phone a friend or relative - they can call National Rail Enquiries 0347 48 49 50, or go online www.nationalrail.co.uk, or go to their local train station and pay for your ticket for you to collect at the station nearest to where you are. You won't be stranded for quite so long, but this does all take time to organise and if you’re at an unstaffed country station, then it could be very difficult indeed. Welfare services on site might just be able to give advice in some way depending on each event, but they will not have any money for you. If you are aged under 18 (you shouldn’t be there without an adult, but sometimes people get separated – we understand that) then local Social Services will take some responsibility. Welfare or the Police should have contact details for them – even on a Sunday or Bank Holiday. However, if you're over 18 (unless you’re classed as ‘vulnerable’) then nobody has any legal responsibility for you and you will be on your own - so best make sure you've covered all your bases before you go.
If you plan to travel by car, make sure your vehicle is roadworthy and running okay. Roadside assistance can be very expensive at these events. If you plan to hire a vehicle, check the T&Cs of the insurance. Some policies exclude visits to festivals. Make sure you have ample fuel, water and oil because many sites are miles from the nearest garage and don’t forget to have directions or a map of how to get to the site. SatNavs can take you to the general area but sometimes then to the wrong end of the event entirely! Also be aware that sometimes Police are checking vehicles, and their drivers, for roadworthiness on leaving festivals.
Don’t forget where you park! It can get easily forgotten when you’re excited to get to all the action. Most places will have some kind of colour/row code to help you. Park where you are instructed to park by the stewards, keep to a low speed (this should be signed) on the site and keep a close look out for pedestrians and children, who often wander without looking. Do not block the emergency fire and access roads. These will also be marked. Parking in restricted areas both on or off site may lead to your vehicle being impounded and will incur the payment of a large fine in order to get it back. It will also be a major hassle when you’re tired and just want to get home and have a nice hot bath.
Think about where you want to stay for the duration of the festival. The vast majority of people camp but some choose to stay in a hotel or go for bed and breakfast. If you do want to stay somewhere off site you will need to book well in advance – as soon as possible really. Places are block booked months in advance by people working at the event and the media.
If you are staying on site check out parking/camping arrangements in advance so that you know what to expect and what's expected of you. For fire safety reasons you should not be allowed to camp near your car. Be prepared to do some walking/carrying. Travel light is the best advice! Some events do not allow caravans, mobile homes or "live in" vehicles on site or if they do they may restrict them to special areas - usually at extra cost and miles from the main part of the site - check in advance.
Some events now offer ‘deluxe’ accommodation. If you can afford it, why not? However, be aware that this is sometimes sited on the edge of the festival or even just outside it, so be prepared for long walks every day.
If you haven't got a car, have you checked out how far is it to and from the site to the bus/train station/pick up point? Is it walking distance or will you need a taxi? Does the festival run a taxi or bus shuttle service to the coach or rail station? What are the times of this service? People sometimes arrive too late and get stranded! If you do need a taxi make sure you've got some telephone numbers with you (written on paper – you can’t rely on having phone battery - let's hope a kindly soul will call one for you) and discuss the best pick up option with the firm before you go to the event.
It may sound obvious, but check your tent before you leave. Is it in good condition? Does it have a ground sheet? Is it waterproof? Have you got enough poles and tent pegs? Do you know how to put it up? Do you have a camping mat and a thick sleeping bag? It usually gets very cold at nights so these items are essential and will make a significant difference; a camping mat under you will prevent a lot of heat loss. If you can buy a blanket at the event (usually under a tenner) then do so. It will keep you extra warm and will be worth every penny. When camping, remember to take a torch. You will need it to avoid guy ropes, pot holes, look for things in your tent and find the loos. If you’re bringing your own food, then don’t forget a can opener. A water container (you can get collapsible ones with taps these days!) will be something you'll be well happy you thought to take. PS Remember to air your tent as soon as you get home if you want it to be in good condition next festival.
If you take medication for any illnesses, make sure you have enough to cover you for the duration that you will be away from home (and take it in its original packaging as proof it's for you - just in case) If you have a medical condition that might cause severe problems make sure your mates know what to do in an emergency and wear a medic-alert bracelet or necklace so that people know what to do if you lose consciousness and there are no mates around who might know what the problem is. If you have a severe illness then maybe pop by the medics to introduce yourself, just in case. Consider taking a basic first aid kit with you.
Take enough money to get you through. It is unlikely you will find a cash point on site at many events and even if you do there will be long queues and you will have to pay a fee. Some on-site cash machines/ATMs do not recognise all cards. Some events do not allow re-entry if you leave the site to find a bank or for any other reason. Always make sure you stash enough cash to get you home after the event. Pick pockets LOVE crowds. Carry your cash and phone in a pouch round your neck UNDER your clothes.
Be aware that some events encourage you to use a 'beer tokens' system - this means that you purchase beer tokens which you then redeem later for drinks. Be careful if you do this. Sometimes the beer tokens are valid for one day only and you might find you’ve spent your whole weekend allowance on now worthless tickets. So, be very aware; read the T&Cs and if you decide to go for it, make sure you know what their rules are.
Some events keep the litter down by offering a refundable cup or bottle scheme. You bring back the beer cup/bottle and you get a little money back. If you are saving up refundable cups to the end of the event, then make 100% certain you know where and when the refunds are given. You will not get your money back once the bar or exchange point is shut.
Don't forget some basic essentials! You will probably need a rucksack to carry all your belongings.
Plastic bags (for dirty clothes etc)
Take a good sunscreen and sunglasses. (Don't forget that sunscreen whatever the weather forecast says - even an hour’s sun can give you a nasty sunburn and you can still burn if the sky is cloudy. Most people work inside these days and our skin isn’t used to the exposure.)
Wash stuff - deodorant and toothbrush/toothpaste
Change of clothes for the way home.
ON SITE SECURITY AND STEWARDS
The people who work for stewarding and security on site are there to make sure that the event runs smoothly and safely for everybody. If they confiscate things from you then they have been told what is allowed and what isn't allowed by the festival organisers. It will be in the festival’s T&Cs which are supplied with your ticket, so read it! You can of course put in a formal complaint to the festival organisers and local authority licensing department if you feel you have been unfairly treated. Welfare can help you with this. Please remember that the workers on site are people too - sometimes poorly paid or volunteers and who may have been working for long hours in miserable weather conditions. Their job is to make the event safe and fun for everyone. Be nice!
The prime reason for Security or Stewards in the “pit” area in front of the stage is not to prevent people getting on the stage. In fact, they are trained as a rescue team to help those who are distressed on in trouble in the crowd. It’s not cool to throw things at them, you may find you are on CCTV and being ejected from the festival.
Security and Stewarding personnel will be in proper uniform and they will have clear identification. If you do get into any conflict with them at any time, try to keep your cool and make sure that you make a note of their name and number. Also, try and get contact details of any witnesses. At an event held on private premises, the owners or the licensees (usually the event organisers) have the right to eject anyone who is causing offence or being a nuisance, but only such force as is reasonable can be used to do so.
Once away from the festival you may wish to follow up your complaint by writing to the festival organisers and to the local authority licensing department. Obviously if an offence has been committed you should report it to Police. If the incident is serious you may need to seek legal advice and if you have been injured seek medical advice immediately.
ON YOUR WAY!
Some events issue maps and travel details of how to get to the site and other useful bits of information, always check out festival web sites in advance - it really does help to know where you're going! Event sites are always more confusing when you actually get there and surprisingly sometimes the signage isn't quite all it could and should be.
Check out the weather forecast (though don’t rely on it!) - it might be hot and sunny where you are now but all that can change. You will be walking miles one way or another and if you haven't got that waterproof and it rains...you will be wet and cold for a long time and it could affect your health. Wet denim is worse than useless in this situation. Wear sturdy shoes/boots. Canvas trainers, flip-flops/thongs will not look after your feet walking around an uneven greenfield site. Even the humble welly boot isn’t designed to be worn in hot sunshine for long periods. Even seen ‘welly burn’? Not nice.
If you are in the country side, follow the country code and respect local people and property. Aside from any other consideration, you want this festival to continue and to be able to go again next year. Don't do things to put the Entertainment License in danger. Keep to foot paths and don't climb fences, walls, trees or hedges. Close all gates, respect all plants and wild life, drive with care on country roads and don't block gateways when you park.you're walking along country roads (festival sites are usually in the middle of nowhere) always face oncoming traffic and wear something bright and reflective when it's dark and ideally use a torch. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code
Festival attendees may arrive over a period of several days to a festival site, but remember that frequently everyone wants to leave all at the same time and the result is traffic chaos! Best to resign yourself to the situation and be prepared for a long wait in long and boring traffic jams both on the way in and on the way out of a festival site. Play some music, chat to your traffic queue neighbours and chill - losing it won't change the situation and will only make you feel uptight and harassed. Make sure to fill your water bottles before you leave the site and go to the loo!
If you want to get a prime camping spot with enough room for all your mates to be together, you'll have to get to the site at least a day before the event starts. You don't want to end up with a long hike at the end of the night and you do don't want to be camped near the toilets! Getting there early will give you more choice and options about where you'll camp. However, be realistic. Some people try to rope off their own little area for one or two days to allow all their friends to arrive. This won’t work in the long run and will make you unpopular with your neighbours.
Only hand over your ticket at the gate on-site or wristband exchange (as appropriate) Beware bogus officials off site 'checking' tickets, they may try to rip you off. Staff are always in uniform and have ID on them and you will probably have to pass through some kind of identifiable gate or barrier - do remember that lost tickets or wristbands WILL NOT BE REPLACED, not under any circumstances - so take care of yours.
Some events publish downloadable site plans or apps on their web sites; get one in advance if you can. There should be a guide in the programme or available from the Information Tent. Find out where First Aid/Medics, Welfare and Campsite steward services (all as appropriate) are located, then if you need them quickly you can get there straight away and relatively easily.
Arrange a meeting point and time – say every 1 or 2 hours on the hour - with your friends preferably before you get lost! Best not ‘behind the mixing desk’ - unless you like wandering around with 50 other lost people in the dark. Always choose somewhere well-lit and not too crowded. Bear in mind that an "official" meeting point may not be accessible when the arena is closed (this does not apply at all festivals). If you do lose someone and you haven't made arrangements beforehand, try the Welfare tent or the Information tent and hope they have the same idea! Remember that 'festival time' is different and allow plenty of time to get from A to B.
Mobile phone networks may not receive a signal well on some sites – so it can take a while (sometimes days!) for texts to get through. Sometimes there are points to recharge mobile phone batteries but often there aren't - so bear that in mind. We recommend STRONGLY that you write down on a good old-fashioned piece of paper your emergency contact numbers. One for your friend on site and one for home (preferably a landline). Keep it in your pocket at all times. Welfare will help you make contact with people in an emergency situation. Alternatively, you might find message points at Welfare or Information where you can leave messages for friends.
If you have a car, remember that festivals also attract thieves. Thieves will gather anywhere that they think will give them an easy option. The car park will be their first target - so try and stick to a few basic and simple rules and you should be able to keep yourself and your belongings safe and secure.
Always remember to turn off your lights, close all windows and lock all your doors. It might sound obvious but people do tend to forget this when in the laid back atmosphere of the festival - thieves know this and are ready to take full advantage! Use vehicle security devices and don't leave anything valuable or visible in your car - in fact, don't leave anything. A glove compartment can look like Pandora's box to your average thief, so empty it and leave it open to dispel the mystique. If you can take a spare set of car keys, do it - give one to a friend for safe keeping.
Alternatively, some events have lockers/left luggage where you leave your car keys (and house keys, bank cards etc) securely until you need them again at the end of the event. A surprising amount of keys get lost at the average event and it is a nuisance and very expensive to get replacements. Make a note of your phone's IMEI number in case you lose it.
Identify a fixed reference point that will help you find the car – a tree or pole, for example. Do not assume the ‘big red van’ will still be parked next to you at the end of the event! Many large festival sites have a number or colour code system to identify car park, so make a note of these.
Some items are banned or restricted at many festivals and concerts (check out websites for their T&Cs before you go) and don't even think about taking banned items that will probably include:
Professional cameras and recording equipment (to prevent bootlegging)
Wax garden flares and candles are a real safety hazard: people can get quite severe burns from hot wax.
Fireworks, Pyrotechnics and Chinese or Flying Lanterns.
Weapons or anything that can be construed as a weapon.
Glass and Styrofoam containers.
Illegal drugs of any kind, including those formerly known as ‘Legal Highs’ (New Psychoactive Substances) and Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas)
PA, sound systems and drums (to prevent breaches of noise limits).
Dogs and animals. A festival is not a good place for your pet, the sights, sounds and vast numbers of people can really freak out your pet and then they might run off, they can bite people, or cause problems for farmers (who might well shoot them)
The flying of kites and balloons is often prohibited especially if overhead power cables run nearby.
Aerosol Klaxon horns are not only anti-social but can also damage the hearing of persons nearby.
Disposable Barbecues can present a serious fire risk as can gas stoves and these items may also be prohibited.
Knives, saws and axes (yes some people take saws and axes to festivals to cut fire wood, they don't realise that "green wood" will not burn and that fires are often banned for safety). It's not good for the environment and the local farmers and land owners won't be pleased if you go cutting down their hedges and trees.
Some cans have ring pulls that can be totally removed from cans; these are very dangerous to farm animals that live on the site the rest of the year – the same applies to plastic spoons and cutlery, if broken and discarded those pose a serious danger to animals and these items are often banned for use and sale by traders at events. Please use the refuse and recycling facilities available to dispose of your rubbish. Someone has to clean up every piece rubbish after the show is over and the condition of the land could affect whether the festival is allowed to go ahead next year. There is no such thing as a disposable tent. Either take it home or PACK IT and donate to one of the various salvage operations that many events have these days.
Some events do not allow you to bring food or alcohol onto the event or parts of the event such as the arena, so check in advance. Large flags and flag poles are also banned from many sites as they can be dangerous but also obstruct the view of others behind.
We can't stress this enough - don't bring anything to a festival that you can't afford to lose. If you do bring valuables either carry them with you or use left luggage or a property lock up if they are provided. There is NO way to make a tent secure!
PITCHING YOUR TENT
It’s a good idea to get some practice at home in at pitching your tent for the first time especially if you have to pitch it in the dark! Choose your location wisely - it might be easier to find your tent by a path or hedge, but people are more likely to stumble over it… or worse still, urinate up against it. Make sure you can recognise your bit of the site by fixed landmarks like lighting, colour codes or trees or poles - you could also try decorating your tent with flags or paint. Do remember that things can look very different at night and when other tents have moved and other people have arrived and set up - it's amazing how your little bit of landscape can change when you're not looking!
Try and pitch your tent on level well drained land. Just remember how much it has rained at some festivals. Steer well clear of rivers, streams, ditches lakes, ponds etc – they could contain some very nasty infections and if it rains, could quickly turn your campsite into a swamp.
Camping festivals do have reasonably good security, so tents thefts are becoming rarer, but sadly do still happen to a very few people – especially on the first couple of nights when people have more money and, maybe, more to drink so their guard is down. Get to know your neighbours so you notice if ‘strangers’ are wandering around looking in tents. If you have any suspicions alert stewards/security immediately. Your safety is their job. They will be happy to help.
When you do crash out – if you have any valuables still with you, like your phone, don’t leave it in a jacket pocket where the jacket can be easily grabbed. In fact, don’t leave all your worldly goods packed neatly in your back pack either. You could wake to find the whole lot has gone. Split your stuff into various hiding places when you sleep just in case you're unlucky enough to be burgled in the night. A padlock on the zip will not help either. Thieves have no problem slashing your tent to get at your stuff.
We strongly advise you not tackle a thief - at the end of the day possessions can be replaced, but your well-being is paramount - you are worth more than a few 'things'.
Be a bit careful if you wander around alone at night - fortunately assaults/muggings really are very rare - just bear in mind that they do sometimes happen and be just a little aware of where you are and who's around you. Do not accept drinks from strangers. We have known people be ‘spiked’ with serious consequences.
If the worst happens and you are attacked in any way go to Security/Stewards, Medical, Welfare or Police straight away - and remember that it's not your fault so go easy on the self blame thing that we all do... the person to blame is the assailant. Remember that there are people around on site who will help you get your head back together in these circumstances. There are some great Welfare services around who are experienced, non-judgmental and they really do care - don't hesitate - speak to them - you really are not on your own if bad things happen.
It simply isn't a good idea to get piercing and tattoos done at festivals, or for that matter just days before you go. New body piercings and tattoos need careful looking after in the early days and are much harder to keep clean at festivals so even if the stall where you got them was clean you'll be putting your health at significant risk at a festival. Tattooing and skin piercing is usually banned at most festivals as a condition of the Entertainment License. If you think you might go ahead and do it anyway make sure you've got some surgical spirit with you and keep the area scrupulously clean - and we mean clean - infections just aren't where it's at and will ruin your festival experience. If you really want to get it done, try and do so at least six weeks in advance - that way you'll know you're all healed and ready to show it off to the world as a thing of beauty and not a pus-filled horror show.
Try to eat at least one hot meal a day and drink enough non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated drinks. You should be having a piss at least three times a day - any less and you might well be dehydrated. Being dehydrated makes you more prone to feeling tired/irritable and having headaches - not what you want after shelling out at least £300+ of your hard-earned cash to have a good time. It is vitally important to get at least one hot meal inside you daily because your core body temperature drops a bit when you’re living outside for a few days.
Yes, you might be used to nipping round to see your mates at 9pm in just a T-shirt and shorts and feeling perfectly fine, but by 9pm after spending the whole day outside – even on Day One – you will be feeling cold and miserable. Bring warm clothes!
There should be FREE drinking water points across the site and the campsite (near the toilets) and the water should be safe to drink and clearly signed to this effect. It can't be over stressed - DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. If it's really hot, stay in the shade as much as possible, use sun-block and cover up exposed skin to prevent painful burning and sun stroke with its flu like systems. A good range of food and drink is usually available at most events but prices are often high - so remember when you budget for the festival you will need to eat and drink - sounds so obvious but it's so easy to forget the basics. You’re looking at around £5-£12 per meal.
Above all, don't be pressured into doing anything you don't want to do - it's likely that you could lose some of your inhibitions during a laid back festival, but make sure you're with your mates and that you're looking out for each other. Talk to each other before you go so you know if your mate’s gone off on one and s/he will know if you have too. Do not feel pressured into doing drugs or drinking excessively if you don't want to - you don't have to be out of it all the time to have a good time. It’s a marathon not a sprint! Hopefully you know what your limits are and what you are comfortable with. Don't let anyone make you feel you should be doing something you don't want to and just because others might be doing stuff. Iit doesn't mean you have to as well. We are all different and have different limitations. What's okay for your mates might not be for you and vice versa, so never ever pressure someone into doing anything they would rather not. Welfare can give you confidential advice about alcohol and drugs to keep you safe before you take anything. No-one will say you have been to see them. Or there are plenty of websites that give good advice about keeping safe when drinking or using drugs. We should say here that no-one is condoning illegal behaviour, but we do live in the real world and recognise that using drugs and alcohol is a choice some people make for themselves – even if it is ‘only the once’. We think it is better people know the facts in such situations rather than rumours from dealers and mis-leading gossip. See the ‘Drugs and Alcohol’ section later in this document.
Same goes for sex - so you meet Mr or Ms Adorable, whom you've been looking for all your life. You don't have to have sex if you don't want to. If it's right, they'll go at your pace - it's all about respect, right? You do not have to lose or sacrifice your own values in order to fit in or be accepted. Remember - be yourself and do what you want to do and not what anyone else might think you should do.
And if you do go for it? Make sure you use a condom - there is no way of knowing who has or hasn't got a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and there is a much higher risk of contracting an STI than you might think - statistically (and worryingly) STIs are very much on the increase. It's easy to become embroiled in the 'anything goes' atmosphere of a festival, but you do need to keep yourself safe ALWAYS carry a condom and ALWAYS use a condom. It doesn't matter if you are on the Pill - the Pill will NOT protect you from STIs. And no matter what you might be told you can contract a STI and get pregnant if you are a virgin.
The risk you take if you have unprotected sex is not just about pregnancy - you may also pick up or aggravate conditions like:
HIV, which can lead to AIDS
Pubic lice (‘crabs’)
Not really the lasting memory you really want to take home from the festival is it? - There are only two ways to keep yourself safe from STIs - one is total abstinence! The other way is to always use a condom or barrier protection like dental dams when having oral sex
Welfare might provide free condoms and confidential advice about sex and related issues such as HIV or other problems. Emergency Contraception (‘The Morning After Pill’) may be available at First Aid for a small charge or use a local pharmacy. Depending on which pill you take, you have either 5 days or 3 days to take it, but always the sooner the better. Or you have 5 days to see a doctor to get an (Intrauterine Device) IUD as emergency contraception. But remember condoms not only protect against pregnancy, but STIs too.
If you feel you have been pressured into sex or have been assaulted, then do not be afraid to seek help from the onsite Welfare team or the Medics or the Police. Even if you were intoxicated at the time, remember that it was not your fault. Both men and women can be sexually assaulted, so don’t be afraid to get help if this has happened to you. It is really important that you get checked for HIV & other STIs. HIV can take up to 3 months to show positive in a blood test, but if you can start a course of treatment (Post Exposure Prophylaxis or PEP) within 72 hours of possible exposure (the sooner the better), there is a high rate of success in preventing infection - although no guarantees. It should never be viewed as an alternative to using condoms however.
There are many helplines available for you to contact after the event, so don’t be afraid to open up. Talking does help. You can find their details online.
www.supportline.org.uk For women & men - some very useful info
www.survivorsuk.org For male survivors
While most people have a great and safe festival experience, there are a very few who do not - for a whole variety of reasons. Some might be experiencing existing depression, anxiety or other mental health difficulties and find that the festival makes it worse when they expected it to make them feel better. Some might have a bad experience with drugs. Some people feel overwhelmed in such a strange place with crowds of strange people. Some feel suicidal and some just find that the pressures of life suddenly get too much to handle. Don't feel ashamed if you just can't cope - and please remember the reason you are feeling so bad is because the pain you are feeling at the present time is greater than the ability you have to deal with it just at the moment. Welfare services are there to help you - don't be afraid to ask for help if you find that you need it. The Samaritans too usually go to most festivals - they will listen to you and they will not judge you.
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
The reality is that a lot of people tend to drink quite a bit at festivals - try to know what your limits are! You are the best judge as to how much is enough. You know how your body reacts and how your mind reacts - respect what your body tells you. Don't drink on an empty stomach or mix it with drugs, prescription or otherwise. Seriously - if you really overdo it you can get alcohol poisoning and that can be a serious, if not fatal. You will need medical help if this happens, but you will be at risk as even your close mates might not recognise the warning signs - especially if they are out of it too. This might sound boring, but it is a good idea to temper it with non-alcoholic drinks and food. You’ll have more fun in the long run and you’ll remember that great band you wanted to see.
Silly things are much more likely to happen when people get very drunk, like accidents, losing or quarreling with friends and getting lost. If one of your mates does drink too much, don't leave them alone or let them wander off (however annoying they might be, and we do know how annoying very drunk people can be) Encourage them to re-hydrate by sipping water. Super-charged energy drinks will only dehydrate them further and may even make things worse. If someone does pass out, lay them on their side with a clear airway (the recovery position) and send someone to get help while you make sure they stay in this position. Recovery position
NO DRUG IS 'SAFE'. Festivals are definitely not the place to experiment with stuff for the first time. You might not get the effect you expect, and you can easily put yourself at great risk. Even if you think you're used to a particular drug, you may get ripped off or sold some dodgy gear, or maybe something much, much stronger than you’re used to. If you don't know what it is - don't take it! Current advice is to do your research first and look after yourself by CRUSH IT - DAB IT - WAIT. Try a tiny bit first; wait for 1-2 hours to see how you feel before taking any more. If you feel unwell, don't t take any more. Don't rely on other peoples' experiences with certain pills and powders - although they might look the same, they might not be. Also, people react differently to the same thing. And things could get very dangerous if you mix with alcohol or prescription drugs. If things do get bad, if you do freak out or want some information, then get to the Medical or Welfare tent or to the Samaritans. It's a safe haven, you won't be judged, no-one will preach to you and it will provide a safe space if you're having a bad time - it's absolutely confidential. You will not get into trouble and you can feel safe being completely honest about what you have taken. It will help people to help you. Keeping hold of the packet can help medics or drug testers identify what you have taken.
'Legal Highs' (Novel Psychoactive Substances) were made illegal in 2016. NPS can make you feel very unwell. People have died from taking them. Remember that ‘legal’ never did equal ‘safe’. N2O – also known as ‘laughing gas’ or ‘nozzies’ can also affect some people badly, particularly if done to excess. Get all the latest drug info HERE. The Priory Hospital has also produced this useful information HERE
A needle exchange might be found at Welfare and/or Medical at some events. Remember, if you do inject, dispose of used needles in a responsible manner: don’t leave them lying around where others may accidentally come in contact with them with possible disastrous results.
If you find a needle/syringe on site – don’t touch it. Inform a steward, who will know how to safely dispose of it.
OK - so not easy at your average festival, but not impossible either. Try taking a bowl to fill with water from the taps. Better still take a water container - you can find some cheap collapsible containers with taps that are just right for this situation - fill it up in advance and you have instant personal washing facilities. Please don’t hog the water tap washing your hair! It will flood the whole area and won’t make you popular with the queue behind you. If you must wash your hair, then fill a water container and do it away from tents, footpaths and places that could get muddy causing you or others to slip. Alternatively, get your hair as you want it before you go (dreads, plaits and extensions will get you through brilliantly) or take a hat or scarf to tie fetchingly and create your own individual look! As far as fashion goes absolutely anything goes at a festival and you can get away with crafting your hair in ways You'd never dream of in any other situation - so have fun with it and don't stress.
FESTIVAL TOILETS AND WASHING FACILITIES
Wet wipes are a good standby for hands before and after eating and absolutely essential for those dodgy toilet moments! Personal hygiene is absolutely essential at a festival which - let's face it - is a prime breeding ground for nasty little germs.
Girls – Sod’s law says that your period will start just in time for that festival weekend, so make sure you take enough tampons/pads with you even if you’re not due ‘on’. Wet wipes (unperfumed to avoid irritation) will be indispensable for use both before and after that loo visit. Make sure you've got some pain killers on you if you're prone to cramps - just don't take too many (festival ‘time’ works differently, remember) and be wary of mixing with alcohol.
Deodorant is essential and perfume can mask a multitude of sins! Don't forget your toothbrush! Just don't okay - all that excess will leave your mouth feeling like the inside of a festie toilet, so you will so need to brush your teeth! Chewing gum might help but it only helps so much.
If it rains it will get wet and muddy – and so will you! There is nothing you can do about it, so just accept it. Just make sure you've packed a spare set of clothes to get you home.
Don't forget to take a towel! Microfibre ones are cheap, very lightweight, dry quickly and do the job brilliantly.
What can we say about the toilet situation? You're gonna have to ‘go’ at some stage - do make sure you wash your hands after. Remember you really don't want 'festival tummy'! We know that some people take anti- diarrhoea pills to try and delay the inevitable but this can make you pretty poorly after a few days of not ‘going’. Toilets are usually stocked with toilet paper but we advise taking your own as it always seems to have run out just at the time you need it.
While we're on the subject, please use the toilets - don't urinate in the hedges - can you imagine the environmental damage caused by 100,000 people urinating in the hedges? (Not to mention the health risks) It's not big, it's not clever and it's not funny. It's another thing that puts the future of the festival in jeopardy. A very large annual summer event was prosecuted under environmental health laws - and to be honest there's not much excuse for it at this one where there is a wealth of facilities.
Portaloos are found at most festivals with the advantage that they flush and they have locks. The disadvantage is that they do stink - especially in the heat. You certainly don't want to be touching anything if you can help it and will have to perfect your hovering technique (so much easier for the boys in general!) Please pump/flush BEFORE AND AFTER. It stops them getting blocked because it helps your waste slide down.
'Long Drops’ are used at some events - they have the advantage of being more open and tend to stink a bit less - sometimes they have a lock on the door - sometimes not (which can be a bit off putting) but the open nature does make for a slightly 'better' toilet experience. They are basically stalls positioned over a large pit - we would advise that you don't look down!
Compost loos are great. They really don’t smell if you use them as directed and you’re doing your bit for the environment. Some events even have urinals for the girls. You will be issued with a funnel and have a chance to practice your aim!
Most festivals do have some form of washing facility adjacent to the toilets nowadays - use them. Always wise to make sure you have a pack of wet wipes on you as well though.
Please leave the toilets in a good state if you can. If everyone did that the whole festival toilet situation would improve hugely.
Travel light. You really, really don't need more than the basics and you don't need the Jimmy Choo's - they just aren't de rigueur for this occasion and you WILL be walking/dancing for hours or days. When it starts to rain as it usually does at some time during these events, and when you find yourself facing a several mile hike to get to where you want to be - there will be tears.
Boots, strong waterproof, hiking/walking boots are a really good bet, even if the weather's great and the ground dry - when it gets dark and you're trudging back to your tent trampling and tripping over all manner of unpleasant things - you'll be really glad you got those boots! Have you tried trudging out of an arena at night in a flimsy pair of flip flops? Sprained ankles, cut feet and all manner of unidentifiable squish between your toes…
Whatever you wear on your feet take them off when you go to bed - wet feet = 'trench foot'. This is not nice, not nice at all! Avoid at all costs.
Waterproofs are an absolutely essential item - they take no space and weigh nothing. Use a bin bag, if you’re desperate! Take a spare pair of trousers so you've got a fallback if anything happens to your fave 'wear everywhere set'. Jeans/denim are no good if the weather is wet - they have a tendency to soak up the water, get very heavy & cold and take forever to dry out. Go for stuff that's versatile, a sarong is a great standby item, wear them as a top, headgear (hides the hair you haven't been able to wash), tie as a skirt or dress if the sun puts in an appearance! Adds an extra layer if it chills down and can look really cool.
Combats - short style combats are ideal. Layers - think layers - several light layers like a thin t-shirt with sleeves or a thin hoody is better than one thick jumper - also you can tie them round your waist when it's hot and pop them on when the sun goes down. Take a couple of your favourite t-shirts and a warm jumper, hoody or fleece for when the sun goes down... it will get chilly even if it's been stifling all day. Another emphasis – it gets cold at night!
So the basics would be one complete change of clothes which will get you through the weekend quite nicely but do make sure you have something to travel home in - what looks great on site at the festival may look a tad conspicuous en route home - and if it's been a wet one you'll be covered in mud. That spare 'going home' set will be a lifesaver.
NOISE AND SPECIAL EFFECTS
High sound levels can do serious permanent damage to your hearing. Don't stick your head in the bass speaker bins until your ears bleed! If you think you have hearing damage do get yourself some medical advice as soon as you get home. Think about wearing ear plugs. Disposable foam ones are best in an outdoor environment.
The smoke, fog and vapour from special effects units used on stage should not cause you any problems, but strobe type lighting effects can cause epileptic fits in those who suffer from photosensitive epilepsy. Venues will announce if they are using this so you will have time to get yourself away from the potential problem.
Lasers and Ultra Violet lighting are the two remaining effects that cause problems, so don't go looking directly into the beam of a laser or you may suffer eye damage and U.V. lighting can cause skin problems like sun burn.
The conditions listed here are very rare indeed and control systems are usually in place, the main control is keeping people at a safe distance and issuing warnings.
Campfires are banned at some events due to the crowded conditions and dry land so don't bother - it's a danger and a hazard to everyone. If camp fires are allowed do not dig a pit for the fire, just build a small manageable fire on the ground and never leave it unattended, ensure it is out before you go to bed. Never use fuel such as petrol or flammable liquids to light a fire. Oil burning appliances are not recommended.
Many people suffer burns and serious injury from camping stoves at events. Keep cylinders and stoves upright when changing cylinders; never change gas cylinders in your tent, near naked lights or when smoking; and never attempt cooking inside a tent. You risk carbon monoxide poisoning which can be fatal.
A fire can spread through a festival campsite in minutes with possible catastrophic consequences - take real care. Tests have shown that gas from camping stoves can travel a long distance across the surface of the ground so to prevent fires tents should be at least three meters apart if possible. A torch is the safest form of lighting, don't use candles or flares, not only are they a fire risk but hot dripping wax can cause serious burns. Discourage smoking inside of tents especially the smaller type of tent, these can burn in seconds!
If a fire does start or get out of control, MOVE AWAY. Do not add things to make it burn more strongly and NEVER pressurised canisters, like deodorant sprays. Make room for the fire stewards to deal with the problem. At many festivals, Fire Points are provided, these are often equipped with buckets and a supply of water in case of fire: please do not use the buckets for your rubbish or steal them for your own use, you could save a life.
FIRE SAFETY TIPS
Never take a BBQ into a tent, awning, caravan or motorhome.
Never use a fuel-burning appliance to heat your tent or awning. Gas and kerosene heaters – unless they are permanently fitted in a caravan or motorhome – should only be used outside.
Never run a gas, petrol or diesel-powered generator inside a caravan, motorhome, tent or awning.
Don’t cook inside your tent or awning, unless there’s an area specifically designed for this purpose and you’re sure there is adequate ventilation.
Don’t use any other gas, charcoal or liquid fuel appliances inside a tent or awning. Gas-powered fridges and lamps, for example, also need plenty of ventilation to prevent them producing poisonous carbon monoxide.
Don’t rely on a carbon monoxide (CO) detector to keep you safe in a tent or awning. They may be useful at home, in a caravan or in a motorhome, but they are not designed for the conditions found in a tent or awning.
Always have gas appliances you take camping or in your caravan or motorhome serviced regularly.
Taking kids to festivals can be great fun and most of the major festivals cater really well for the kiddies - but remember if you do take your children YOU are responsible for them. Here are a few tips on how to manage the festivals with children:
If you have children keep a close eye on them at a festival - kids have a nasty habit of getting lost very easily and very quickly. Do all the safety things you would normally do going out, but be aware that there are lots of things to attract your child out of your sight. In case they get lost make sure that you know what they are wearing, including any toys with them and shoes. Taking a photo each day will help a search. Tell them what to do if they get lost - find a police officer or a steward (show them the uniforms on arrival). It's a good idea to put a mobile phone number on the child somewhere (a wrist band, or sticker on t-shirt), so that if they are found you are easily contacted. Adults sometimes lose each other in crowds - imagine how much more frightening and confusing that is for a little one? Don’t think it won’t happen to you. Contact Welfare or a Steward/Security or the Police on site if you have lost your child and they will help you get reunited. Let someone know as soon as possible to get the festival’s procedure started. All events have a Safeguarding procedure in which all staff are briefed. Emergency announcements from the stage are not always necessary. Please trust the system in place and stay where you are directed.
Some (but by no means all) events have special facilities for children including crèches, play areas and children's entertainment but that does not mean you can just dump the kids off for the weekend; you will almost certainly be required to stay with your kids and the children's facilities are usually closed by early evening. It will be considered ‘neglect’ if you turn up to collect them late or intoxicated and Police may well be informed of this.
Some events have age restrictions or are not considered suitable for kids - check the T&Cs in advance. Pick the right festival. The best festivals for kids are those which include more than bands alone - so look for events that are more rounded with arts and crafts or world music. Often these events will have specific stuff for kids laid on.
Make sure you really do want to take your child/children with you. Remember that you are going to miss out on a few things if they go with you and there is no point in going to all the trouble of taking them if you are simply going to feel frustrated at the end of the day. You'd be better off trying to arrange a babysitter (even if it means going for less time) and having a blast on your own. The idea that you can do everything you want to with children in tow is a wrong, unless you are prepared to let your kids suffer.
But remember, they are still only kids (even young teenagers) and are therefore more vulnerable to all the dodgy aspects of a festival site: big crowds, loud noise, drugs, alcohol, drunks and crazy people.
Be prepared and make sure you have everything to provide for their needs - take anything to the festival that your child is unhappy without.
Most babies through to 13 year olds are pretty flexible, but if there is a dummy, teddy, pillow or toy that your child relies upon, then take it to ensure plenty of relaxing times. Having said this, you should never take anything to a festival that you are not prepared to lose - so you will need to be incredibly vigilant if there is a 'special' item that your child can't live without - you really don't want to traumatise them for life!
Chill out - remember that you are on holiday, having a break, trying to relax, and so are your kids, so let the kids have a good time. Try to strike a balance between keeping a routine (like mealtimes and bed time) and spontaneity. Let the festival and your kids guide you. Children will lead you into spaces that you have never dreamed of visiting before which is great - it makes the festival experience fresh.
Take a potty or a bucket with a lid - the toilets can be too much for kids of all ages to cope with, so an alternative can be invaluable.
A young child is best transported in a rucksack baby carrier as a pram is tricky to push over fields and rough roads. Also the baby can see from this vantage point.
It's a good idea to play some of the music your child will hear at the festival before going. Then they will recognise it and enjoy it all the more.
When seeing bands with smaller kids don't go too near the front of the stage as they will be put off by the high volume of the music and the busy crowds. If you stand a bit further back the kids will enjoy it all the more. Also be aware of the fact that kids can't see what's happening on the stage and they have little patience with listening alone. Baby ear defenders are not expensive, protect their delicate hearing and are a responsible choice.
Make time for your child and they will be much more tolerant of the things that you want to do. e.g. an hour in the kids make-it tent followed by a band followed by an ice cream will hopefully mean that your child is fulfilled and so are you.
Take plenty of sun block/hats and light coloured t-shirts for a hot event or wellies/waterproofs and spare clothes for a wet one. Don't forget medication if your child is dependent on it for any medical condition.
When you go to a festival or outdoor concert situated on a green field site you can guarantee that it will be very crowded indeed and at times you might find yourself right in the thick of it. Wherever there are dense crowds there is potential for a disaster. This is particularly so in a music festival situation. That being the case it really is wise to be just a little bit aware of what's going on and the best way to keep yourself safe.
Do not keep pushing yourself further and further into an already dense crowd - crowd collapses and crowd surges do happen – and people have died as a result. n these very densely crowded situations you are putting yourself at risk of compressive asphyxia (intense pressure that stops you from breathing). Everyone wants those the prime positions and most people don't think of the potential consequences this might have if things go wrong.
A few ideas to keep you safe in mass crowd situations (or as safe as possible - no event can be completely risk free.
Arrive at the venue/stage in plenty of time to familiarise yourself with the setup and layout. Check it out to see where the exits/gates are; also check where the welfare services, information and medical services are located
Inside a venue check out where the emergency exits are and as you find the place you want to be for the concert make a mental note of the nearest exit to your party, preferably look for a different exit -- NOT the main entry/exit because if there is a need to get out fast most people will make for the main one and the crowd there will be very intense.
Make a decision with your mates as to where you will meet up or make contact if you get separated - either inside the venue/performance area if you just lose each other or outside the venue/area if something happens there - that way you all know what you will do and how you will make contact.
Most people want to be near the front of the stage for their favourite acts. This results in some dodgy situations and there have been numerous 'near misses' in this area. This can be one hell of a dodgy place to be and if something goes wrong you won't have much time. You can't rely on security to get you out - pit teams are good but they are not miracle workers and it's very unlikely that they'll be able to get into the crowd to get to you in time. In a crisis situation you may only have 3 minutes to get out - think about it - is it really worth it? Remember - crowd collapses can occur anywhere in the crowd but why increase your risk by forcing yourself into an already overcrowded situation?
What are the ground conditions like? Safety will be compromised with changing weather conditions. What seems okay on a fine sunny day can change rapidly and unpredictably if adverse weather conditions enter the equation. When the ground becomes sodden you might find it hard to walk and if you're on a slope it's easy to fall over. If the crowd pressure becomes intense or surges occur, you can get into difficulty pretty quickly. If barriers haven't been correctly placed they may give way. So be aware of where you are standing and what the potential problems might be - if necessary move to a better space.
To avoid the crowd's inevitable rush to leave following a performance consider the possibility of leaving before the end of the show - you may miss the last number but you will get out much more easily and safely.
If you do stay to the end, try and hang back in the arena until the mass eases a little bit - it might just help you out if things look too hectic and Security shouldn't force you into what you consider to be an unsafe situation.
CROWD SURFING AND STAGE DIVING
Should you or shouldn't you? - Well there are so many (quite serious) risks associated with these activities that most venues are now banning it - so aside from the risk to yourself and those around you - you run the risk of being ejected from the arena - a lot of venues are operating a 'three strikes and you're out' policy. It isn't just about the risk to yourself - it's also about the risk to those around you who don't want to do. People do get hurt in the mosh pit, even if by accident.
Surfing and diving are great ways to lose items from your pockets such as money, credit cards, phones and tablets. Lost Property and Welfare become gridlocked after a lively act because everyone is trying to recover the expensive smart phone they have lost or their wallet with tickets home, medication, camera, money and credit cards, many have even lost one shoe or a boot and then find travel by foot very difficult. Do you really need an expensive smart phone at a festival? A few days away from Facebook will do you no harm at all so why not take a cheap throw away phone if you really need to make an important call and leave your expensive items at home where they are safe?
A FINAL WORD
It may be possible to delay your departure until the rush has subsided but remember, if you're a driver do not attempt to drive until you are sure you are safe to do so - alcohol or drugs take many hours to get out of your system. So make sure you're okay and plan how you're going to deal with it in advance - just don't over indulge the night before if you're the designated driver.
Have a good time! Festivals are really special. Let's keep it that way.