All festivals have different personalities; they all leave you with a different sense or memory. Glastonbury, for example, is early-morning mist hanging over thousands of tents in a verdant valley. Leeds and Reading are the electric excitement of youth. Download Festival is a black guitar, played fast. V Festival is pints of piss being thrown and T In The Park is a can of Tennents and an axe.
Last year, I was being driven to Glastonbury by the producer of our film The Festival, Claire Jones, when she started to tell me about where we were camping. As well as being a brilliant multi-award-winning producer, Claire is a festival aficionado, and as this was only my third visit to Glastonbury I was interested to hear what she had to say.
Her friend Lucy, she said, always arrived the day it opened and had pitched her tent and her friends’ tents on this hill behind the park stage. In the middle of the tents she erected a gazebo, which everyone could sit under and gaze out over the whole of Glastonbury. “I can’t wait for you to see it," said Claire. “It’s the most beautiful spot. It’s magical.” Just then, with impeccable timing, a text came through from Lucy: “Someone’s done a shit in the middle of the gazebo.”
And that, in a nutshell, is the festival experience: expectation, beauty, friends and human shit.
With that in mind, though, here are my five genuinely excellent top tips that I have picked up from two years of visiting lots of festivals and talking to all sorts of people while researching my film The Festival. You’re welcome.
1) Switch to 3G
You’ll arrive, have no signal at all, but then miraculously if you switch your phone to 3G you will have signal all weekend. Then enjoy it when you run out of battery. Because at some point your battery will run out. Tip 1a) is don’t queue at one of the charging stations. Worried you’re missing something fun – which you will be, it’s a festival – you’ll get bored and leave by the time it gets to 20 per cent (which will run out in about five minutes anyway).
2) Don’t take drugs
Trust me, you don’t need to take drugs to have a fun time at a festival, and the chances of having a weekend-ruining panic attack while high are themselves high. If you are going to take drugs – and let’s face it, you probably are – then get them tested beforehand. There are loads of drug-testing places at festivals now, and for the sake of waiting five minutes you could save your friend’s life or, more importantly, your own life.
3) Dress appropriately
As I’m writing this for GQ I thought I should impart some sartorial tips I’ve picked up. The first is that for all the ladies reading this, you’re doing great – no real need to step the festival game up at all, all pretty much good on your end. It’s the men who need the work. Very, very rare to see gents well dressed, so this year I’m upping my game and would suggest you all follow. The gents’ wardrobe for 2018/19 festivals is "Young Farmer". We’re talking green wellies, green cords, one of those weird kind of cream checked shirts with a thin red check that posh people wear, a flat cap and a tweed waistcoat. Absolute killer. Imagine how baller you’ll feel wandering round a festival looking like you own the fields? And if people ask if you’re the farmer you say, "Yes, of course I’m the fucking farmer."
4) Go and see the other band
Last year I was so excited to see Radiohead, but everyone I was with wanted to see Major Lazer. I complained, but Major Lazer were amazing. And so much fun. The year before that I wanted to see New Order, but everyone else wanted to see Adele. So I went to see Adele. OK, so this tip doesn’t always work, but broadly I’m going to keep this as suggestion number four.
5) Don’t shit in gazebos
Can’t believe I even have to mention this one, but it appears I do.
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