Picture: Sara Hannagan

How to survive summer music festivals like a boss

Ah, music festivals. Slices of heaven and hell in one marvellously complex layer cake. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been to a few in your lifetime, or perhaps you’re newly minted adult (welcome, friends!) wondering how you’ll manage to come out of the multiple-day ordeal on top.

Fear not! This user-friendly guide will help you make it out of the mire alive, and with your dignity intact.

1. Don’t worry about the prices of food and drink. Live large. You’ll need it.

Pinballing between stages and yelling until your lungs are overcooked biscotti takes its toll on even the most seasoned festival-goers. There’s nothing like a few cold beers on a hot day, but you’ll want to remember what you’ve seen so don’t forget the bare necessities of life. Stay hydrated and well-fed. Your future self will thank you.

2. Protect yourself from sunburn (and humiliation)

It’s all well and good to rock out in the sun, but if you don’t slip, slop, slap the only thing you’ll be rocking is a bottle of aloe vera and an embarrassing story to tell your workmates on Monday. Ridicule and sunburn are arguably two of life’s worst experiences, so why would you risk it just to save time or look cool? Slapping on a hat and sunscreen takes all of five minutes, and most festivals have a free sunscreen station so there’s no excuse.


3. If you’re camping, don’t forget the essentials

So you’ve arrived at a festival way over yonder, and are all set to take in some sick beats with your friends. Then you realise you forgot the tent pegs. And the tarpaulin. And the Aeroguard. Never mind a snake in your boot; if you neglected to pack such items, you’ll be more worried about the hole in your pocket as you’re forced to shell out for resupplies. On top of that, remember to pack a few changes of clothes. This is a festival, not an episode of Man vs Wild.

4. Buy the merch, wear the merch, become the merch

Like the joys of food noted above, merchandise is something to be bought and cherished with reckless abandon. A festival isn’t something you look back on thinking, ‘Man, do I regret spending all that money.’ You’re there to create memories. As such, it helps to have a memento (or two, or three) of the occasion, and if it doubles as a piece of clothing, even better. Your favourite artists will appreciate you buying an official T-shirt, too, as most of them aren’t making as much money as you think they are. Think of it as an act of generosity.


5. Don’t be a jerk

So you don’t like a band that’s playing. Quite a probable scenario given the range of talent on offer. But also consider the fact that this artist may well be having their first big break, and other people might be more into it than you. If the music isn’t your cup of tea, just head to another stage or use the time to have a bite to eat (see Tip 1). Remember why we’re all here, and don’t be a jerk.

6. Riding on someone’s shoulders isn’t as easy as it looks

You know those photos where the people’s champion is riding high on the shoulders of a friend, being cheered on by the crowd? Chances are if you try the same you’ll last all of 10 seconds before being called down by security, or worse, meeting an undignified demise after your mate loses their footing. Not only will your moment of glory be lost forever, but you’ll frustrate those around you as you amble down in a less-than-spectacular fashion. Perhaps not the moment of greatness you were imagining.

7. Don’t think you can tank two festivals in as many weeks

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you party as hard as you can throughout the three-day extravaganza that is Southbound Festival, before backing it up at Falls Festival a few days later. Good call? Great call. Kind of. Any energy you think you’ve regained after a few days off won’t last long. Within half a day your back will ache, your eyes will be swollen with tiredness, and your legs with give out from under you. Okay, so maybe we’re exaggerating, but you’ll sure be looking forward to some R&R after that superhuman effort.

8. Relax and have a blast

Now that the essentials are sorted, it’s time to go forth and have some serious fun.

Tell ’em, Billie Joe.


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