One of the best things about living in London is the year-round live music on tap. But the Summer months in particular come alive with throngs of festivals big and small swarming with international music-lovers wearing denim cut-offs, silly accessories and trademark wellies – Hunters if you’re a purest, anything else if you’re not.
So many festivals allow for festival-going to become a hobby, and this hobby doesn’t have to even stop in the UK, with most of Europe throbbing to the beat of all kinds of sounds.
This year my festival of choice was the Isle of White Festival in June, headlined by golden oldies such as Tom Petty, Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen. Not maybe my first choice, but good ones to tick off the list.We left London in a friend’s car and got on an early evening ferry, nervous of the torrential downpour around us. It was fifteen minutes from the port to the Festival grounds, but the docksman informed us it was taking some people two hours due to the crowds and heavy rain. Eight hours later (seriously) after precarious bush loo visits, memory games and a few sneaky snakebites (make your own here) we were towed into the grounds by a tractor, the mud road barely even visible in the swamp that was the parking field.
Trekking to our tents, luckily set up by friends the night before, we flopped onto our blow-up mattresses and tried to sleep while the tent thrashed against gale-force wind and sideways rain. I think the wind was winning. Not quite rock star, but quite necessary.
The next day I was awoken by general camp site noise and my fellow festivaller grinning as she handed me a snakebite. “Er, I think I need some tea…” Scanning the wasteland of muddied tents and collapsed gazebos in the welcomed sunshine, I spied the toilet cubicles and the nearby tea seller and squelched over to both.
It was Friday, the opening day of the bands and in the afternoon we joined thousands of others as we inched towards the gates into the festival grounds. We were held there as the big top had to be secured due to the persistent wind.
Eventually they gave the okay and the crowd slid forward, mud past the ankle in many patches as a cast off of the 24 hours of rain.
The next few days culminated in lots of live music, meeting some fun and crazy people and listening to some great music. Elbow got the crowd swaying, Noel Gallagher did a brilliant set, Pearl Jam delivered and Bruce pulled out all the stops with almost 3 straight hours of performing.
A few days later a tired bunch piled back in the car, drove just 15 minutes to the ferry terminal and headed back to London, stopping briefly at Macdonald’s to pick up an egg Mcmuffin and marvel at the wonderful flushing loos.
Be warned – festivals are somewhat addictive. You might think slumming it in the mud with filthy ablutions sounds horrendous, but there’s a sense of camaraderie in a jolly crowd singing along to a variety of different artists that is uplifting and it won’t be long before you’re looking for the next festival to throw your tent at.
Do not leave home without:
- Bin bags, loo roll, hand-sanitiser, wellies (for UK), suncream, hat, sleeping bag, air mattress, wet wipes, breakfast bars, ear plugs, raincoat. But you can also pick up almost anything at festivals these days.
You’ve already missed most of the big UK festivals, including Lovebox, Lattitude and Download, but other UK Festivals you can still catch include: