Family Festi-Values: a beginner's guide
We've just returned from an amazing weekend at The Green Man festival. This is my fourth festival and second with my son, who is now four. I think I actually prefer going with a child now as I approach 40. I do have the odd envious pang when I see young 20-somethings partying but love the smug feeling the next morning when the night's casualties are making their way back to the tent. This is fascinating and makes you feel in touch with the 'youth' even though my days of getting drunk and rolling in the mud in a pack-a-mac are far gone.
Each time I go to a festival I make a mental list of things to do differently next time. We learnt lots of points from this experience as the rain and mud threw a few challenges our way. If you get the good weather, festivals are absolutely brilliant and when the sun shone this weekend it really was amazing. They are a chance for you to let yourself go; to forget that you are a square rule follower who enjoys nothing more than browsing through the Joules and Boden catalogue with a cup of tea. My friend's daughter, who is 11 said that she can really be herself at Glastonbury. This is a fantastic experience for her, as being a child approaching her teens there is so much pressure to conform to what everyone else likes. If you ever get the opportunity to go to one with your family I would highly recommend it. The activities for children on offer are designed to make them appreciate the outdoors, be confident as individuals and appreciate diversity. Not things that are often focused on in mainstream education.
So to benefit you from our failings this year I have compiled a list of tips to make your first festival visit run smoother.
1. Know how far the car park you're using is from the campsite you've booked
Our car park was the opposite end of the site from the family camping area that we had booked. The stewards were not helpful at all and didn't even know the best way for us to walk. To avoid this stress at the beginning and end of your stay make sure you look at the site's web page before you go. I would highly recommend that you camp in the nearest campsite to your car even if it's not what you have booked. So long as your tent is not right by the main stage you will be fine.
2. Pay to hire a trolley for your bags
At The Green Man these were £5 for half an hour but we had to pay £10 as our walk was so far. We nearly didn't pay it and tried to carry our stuff. How we would have regretted that! It was £10 well spent. It is worth taking a couple of spare bungees if you have them as the company only provided you with one and our load was a bit wobbly.
3. Be prepared
We took a small tarpaulin that I bought from Poundworld that was invaluable. We used this to sit on the wet ground when we were out and about and also for covering our stuff when it was on the trolley. Camping chairs are also very useful for you to watch the bands in comfort (obviously all the young folk are moshing down the front by the stage - where there is more space!). We had torrential rain at times and my fashion anorak did not make the grade. Next time I am buying a waterproof all in one. I saw a brilliant one and asked the lady wearing it where it was from. She said it was B&M bargains and as soon as pay day comes I am going straight to my local one to purchase it for next time.
4. Pack some food
Festival food is usually fabulous but notoriously expensive so we took some of our own food. Dry items such as crisps, cereal bars, nuts, biscuits and fruit. I packed wraps for the first two days for lunch and then we ate out on the evening. This worked out really well, especially the morning that it tipped it down and we couldn't be bothered to leave the tent and saved us lots of money.
5. Layering is the key to dressing
We all know how unpredictable the British weather is and if you're at the other side of the festival site and it changes you don't want to have to walk back to your tent to change. Layers solve this. Think dresses with leggings under and cardigans. That way you can strip down if the sun comes out after a rainy morning. And always have your waterproofs on you! That said think glamour. Under their waterproofs women wear pretty dresses, lots of jewellery and don't forget your lippie. Festivals are an opportunity for you to wear something you would normally be a bit shy about. Next year I shall be sporting more sequins and brightly coloured tights!
6. Have things to keep your kids entertained at night
If there is a bubble shop take them there and invest in a bubble gun or something similar for about a tenner. it will be money well spent! I did not realise how much kids love them. They will play with them for hours! Also a family who sat next to us last night had loads of glow sticks which kept the children quiet for about two hours. They bought them from Poundland which is a brilliant find as you could pay at least five times this amount at any festival.
7. Relax man!!
Above all else relax and take in the vibe. If it rains, so what? You've got your pack-a-mac. Festivals really do allow you to express your inner rebellious side. People don't know you so get into it; have your face painted; talk to strangers; dance and have fun.