The birth of a new year, for people of my age, usually raises the prospect of choosing which whirlwind festival weekend to embark on. Following the realisation that taxing AS Level exams will come to a close at the end of May or beginning of June, my friends and I, after studying the line-ups judiciously, chose to buy our tickets for the Leeds 2014 music festival.
Attracted initially by the enormous talent of the Arctic Monkeys (even my mam plays AM on repeat in her car – she can recite every lyric to ‘Snap Out of It’) and the emerging talent of rock gods The 1975, we logged on to Ticketmaster and forked out £230 for the weekend festival ticket and the ‘early bird’ camping ticket. The combination allowed us to travel to Leeds on Wednesday and come home on the following Monday. After the excitement of seeing the funds vanish from our bank accounts, it began to dawn on us that there may be a number of possible disasters awaiting us at our first festival. Having heard horror stories of slashed tents, mud pools and £5 sandwiches, our fears were ignited.
In light of this, here’s some advice I was given on avoiding potential traumas. A friend of mine informed me of some basic festival dos and don’ts, including:
- Don’t station your tent on the outside of the camp
I was told the repercussions of setting up your tent on the outer edge of your allocated camp (in whichever colour it may be, excluding Brown, which is the quieter camp) can involve drunken people collapsing on it, dropping glass bottles in its vicinity, or worse. Attempt to position your tent in an inner secluded area – surround yourself with companions if you can. Obviously someone’s got to be on the outer edge; just make sure it’s not you!
- Buy or make a novelty or luminous flag for your tent
At extremely few stages of the festival experience will you be sober enough to locate your tent, especially if it is near a similar tent or is a dark colour. See if you can buy a flag or object with a memorable design on that will stick in your memory despite varying levels of inebriation and fly it proudly from the top of your tent, attracting your attention from as far as a few hundred yards away.
- Bring an enormous quantity of your own food and drink – cereal bars, crisps and Pot Noodles will withstand being abandoned in a clammy tent for the longest time!
I am told food and drink can be exceptionally overpriced at festivals such as this, therefore, I have been advised to bring a stash of dry foods to keep you going across the five days. If you are to find yourself in a dire situation on the verge of poverty, I hear the Salvation Army tent can offer a bread roll and a cup of tomato soup for just £1, as well as providing water for your Pot Noodles!
- Prepare yourself for disastrous toilet hygiene (unless you want to fork out a further £30 for the so-called ‘Seat of Luxury’ facilities)
Ever seen the infamous Slumdog Millionaire scene involving a young Jamal crawling through a thick mass of faeces in desperation to get an autograph from Amitabh Bachchan? That is what comes to mind when I imagine the toilets of Leeds Festival, and I hear this is not miles from the truth! Apparently, the toilets are surrounded by a valley of human excrement and, it goes without saying, they smell horrific, so it would be sensible to position your tent at a considerable distance from the toilets.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom; the ‘Seat of Luxury’ commodes and showers can be purchased for a slightly steep £30, but may improve your festival experience tenfold. Having access to perfumes, straighteners, hairdryers and mirrors may increase your vanity but make you more comfortable to be at the front row of the Main Stage, only to find a BBC camera whizzing past your face.
- Team up with your friends when you’re venturing out of the campsite and bring cheap mobile phones or walkie-talkies to communicate across long distances
At the risk of sounding like a mother, make sure you stay together when migrating from the campsite. Remember that festivals are hugely busy places – that girl with an orange anorak you find yourself following may not be your friend Sophie and then you’re in rather hot water. This is where a cheap mobile (it could easily get lost so please leave your iPhone at home) could come in extremely handy – top up your Samsung with £10 credit before you leave, and maintain communication links across 5 days of your festival fun.
- If you are travelling by MegaBus, arrange your journey as early as possible as these prices can ascend at an astonishing rate. If you are getting a lift from a parent, make sure you, to all intents and purposes, book them in advance!
The MegaBuses are notorious for rising in the blink of an eye – check them on a Monday and they can have potentially doubled by Wednesday. If you are certain that you are arriving by the Cross Country Coaches, make sure you and your friends book your tickets as soon as possible. If you choose the bog-standard coach to Leeds, it will arrive at the Leeds coach park, therefore you will find yourself having to board another bus to take you directly to Bramham Park. You can alternatively buy a direct link coach straight from your current location to the festival park – I live in Newcastle Upon Tyne and the price for a return seat on this bus is currently £17.50, which is reasonable, but likely to increase dramatically over time. On the other hand, if you can convince your kind parents to chauffeur you to the festival, make sure they are happy to do this and that arrangements are made for each of your friends – no one wants to be in the position where they’re the only person without a lift to Leeds!
6 ½. Save some pennies after buying your ticket – obviously this is a highly expensive process!
After sharing this untried and untested advice, I would like to share my own wise words. I have listed this as a half point, with it not coming from a confirmed source, but trust me anyway! After shelling out the substantial savings, the accumulation of Christmas and birthday presents, ensure you save a pound here and there for general expenses. In our militaristic style, my friends and I have enforced a rule where each person has to put £2 in our ‘Leeds tin’ each week, including holidays. We have calculated that, by August 13th, we will have over £300 to buy our extensive food and drink supplies and camping essentials.
From each of my sources for wisdom, I have been told that the festival atmosphere is beyond comparison and will generate unbelievable memories. I for one cannot wait to launch my festival experience – I’m sure you are the same!