Just like the United States during the summer, the United Kingdom has countless music festivals. From Glastonbury to Bestival and Isle of Wight to Reading/Leeds, there are festivals for all types of music throughout the warmer months. However, if you're interning in UK and attending a music festival, it can be different than attending one in the states. Weather and climate are two things that need to be accounted for, but there are also small cultural differences that should also be factored in.
Music festivals are such a massive part of the summer in the U.K. that if you find yourself traveling through during the warmer months, you will definitely want to check one out. It doesn’t matter what your taste in music is, there is a festival for everyone. Each one is unique and has its own built in culture. Here are some general tips to keep in mind when attending a U.K. festival.
“Wellies,” or as we call them, rain boots
More likely than not, if you go to a music festival in the United Kingdom, it will rain. It will get muddy as a result, and you will want to be prepared. Rain boots may be cumbersome but are necessary in the event that it starts to rain. Most festivals will sell them on site, but they will be really expensive. Be careful though, rain boots are a hot ticket item at festivals, and sometimes, unattended pairs can go missing. It’s best not to bring a pair you spent a lot of money on or are particularly attached to.
“Loo-roll,” or a we say, toilet paper
Depending on what festival you hit up, there could be hundreds of thousands of people there. Most of them last at least three days, so imagine what the bathroom situation will look like around day three. Or even day two. It is better to be safe than sorry. Pack a few rolls. It will come in handy for other things as well.
You don’t want to get stuck without money at a music festival. There are tons of merch that needs to be bought, ciders that need to be consumed, and weird food items to try. Sometimes at big events like this, the ATMs will only allow you to use cards connected to UK bank accounts, and if you have your foreign card, you are out of luck. Bring extra cash with you - just remember to keep it safe. Rock a fanny pack (although do NOT call it that while you are over there). All the indie kids do.
Most people camp at English festivals. Unlike some American festivals where you can stay at a hotel near by, festivals like Bestival require you to stay on the campgrounds the entire time. Unless you spring for the expensive VIP treatment, showers will be hard to come by. Sometimes you can find a spigot, but the line will circle the grounds. Take a deep breath, and accept the fact that every one else isn’t showering either. Instead, take a “festival shower” by using baby wipes.
Not just for the music, but for sleeping. Unlike some American festivals where the music stops promptly at 11pm and resumes the next morning, there are usually things going on all night because festival goers are on the grounds 24/7. Sure, you will want to participate in everything, but you will have to sleep at some point, and it will be tricky with the dance tent raging right next to yours. Pop in some earplugs, get a few hours of shut eye, and be ready to party on the next day.
It may be summer, but depending on where you are, it will get cold at night especially if it is raining. You may think that extra sweater (or as the Brits say, “jumper”) will take up too much space in your pack, but you will be glad you have it once the sun goes down. You don’t want to wake up freezing and unable to get the much needed sleep you will be craving by day three. If your friends say, “You won’t need it. It’s summer,” don’t listen. Pack a pair of long pants as well.