The Unreliable Guide To… Summer festivals
Regardless of your age or musical tastes, there will be a festival this summer that tempts you. Whether it’s jazz in the Botanical Gardens, or hardcore trance in a secret forest location west of Byron, there will be some demented soul in your acquaintance who will persuade you to forget all your usual comforts and spend hours, or even days, ‘enjoying’ yourself outside.
You’ll forget that last time you missed the highlight act because you were in a shadeless seven-hour queue for the one, fetid portaloo. You’ll forget that you contracted a rare form of botulism from a suspicious snag sarnie, and that a tick lodged itself up your bum. You’ll forget you caught pneumonia from an unexpected southerly buster, or almost died of sunstroke. And I haven’t even mentioned drugs or that suspicious fizzy piss known as ‘festival beer’.
Yep, festivals are awful, but if you are still determined to go to one, The Unreliable Guide has some tips and tricks to make sure you survive:
Choose Your Dealer with care
Festivals are often magnets for chancers who want to sell you food, booze, coffee and drugs that are inferior, unpleasant or downright dangerous. If the laws of the land and the festival permit it, take in your own supply of chips, chardonnay, Ecstasy, Bacardi Breezers or mull. If, and this is often the case, you are not allowed to BYO drug of choice, you can choose between a dedicated session of imbibing before entry, or seriously reconsidering what chemicals you need to get you through the day.
Prepare for all seasons
Despite our view that it’s always lovely here, Australian summer weather can be very fickle, veering between debilitating 40˚C-plus heat to wild, soaking storms lashed with icy southerly gales. That’s bad enough if you are at home watching ‘The Block’ with the AC on full, but if you are stuck in a field full of dancing idiots you’ll find weather extremes can be very uncomfortable. Check the weather forecast carefully and at the very least pack a hat, sun cream, loose clothing, a warm waterproof jacket, beanie, gumboots, icepick, compass…
Have a meeting place and stick to it
If we want to find our friends we usually just phone them, but at many festivals I’ve attended there’s been patchy or even no reception. Plus, phones can get lost, run out of battery or get pinched. I lost everyone on the first day at the UK’s magnificently vast Glastonbury Festival and didn’t find them until I got home a week later. This can actually be brilliant – you will definitely make new friends – but if you’re keen to keep tabs on the ones you already have, you need a plan. Agree on a meeting place as soon as you have the lie of the land and stick to it. If you lose each other, arrange to wait there for five minutes on the hour, every hour. Eventually you should catch up with everyone.
Finally, The Unreliable Guide suggests you forget the crowds and the $12 plastic pots of bad beer and just stay at home. Festivals are awful.