In about five days, I’ll be in the car on a four-hour trip to Donington Park, Derby, ready for this year’s Download Festival. I’ve been going since 2014 with my family; for my fourth year of Download, I’ve decided I’m enough of a pro to write a short guide to festival preparation! Important things will be in colour so that you can skip to those if you want to be quick! But there’s a list at the very bottom if you’re that lazy. ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ
I’ve been going every year with my mum and my sister since 2014 when I so desperately needed to go to see Fall Out Boy (and others, of course). My family have been going for much longer than I have, however. This was before I began to like heavy metal rather than pop-punk.
What are you going to need and do to survive a festival?
Sun cream/lotion, because you’ll get really burnt. Saying that, you’re also going to need a waterproof raincoat and spare clothes because the weather can’t make its mind up. Last year was the first time in years that it didn’t rain at Download, and of course we forgot sun cream and I got burnt in ten minutes.
If you forget those, don’t fret! You can find clothes, sun lotion and rain ponchos in market stalls. There’s also a lot of shelter often if you need it, but be prepared for none just in case.
It’s a good idea to bring good shoes. Don’t just try to look good, be comfortable! If you look good while wearing it, great – as long as you’re comfortable. I cannot stress enough how sore your feet get after just a couple of hours of walking. You’re probably going to be doing 20,000 steps a day. Remember to take short breaks often, sitting down somewhere, because once your feet ache badly they won’t stop for days. We like to bring camping chairs with us to stop every-so-often. There was a year at DL where it was so muddy, there were little mud rivers and we couldn’t sit down – as a compromise, we took some abandoned and muddy camping chairs to use temporarily.
If you’re going to be camping with a tent, bring extra tent pegs!!!!!!!!! And extra pillows for the hard-ass ground. I only camped for one night on the first year I went, and we didn’t have enough tent pegs. After that experience, we slept in the car. My 10-year-old self wanted “the full festival experience” but after having to sleep on what was a twig poking my ass and several stones in my back, I was done. We slept in the car. Another interesting thing that happened was I said goodnight to my mum and sister and a random (probably not sober) guy said goodnight back. Alright.
One thing you’ll definitely notice about camping at festivals is it’s always loud. There were the people still in the stadium screaming at 3am, people stomping down the pathways, and drunk people calling out “Allan! Allan! Steve! Steve! Steve!” and I’m not joking. While it was hilarious, a girl needs her sleep!
You’re going to need a load of spending money. And I don’t just mean the child loads like £50, I mean a couple hundred at LEAST. You’re going to see loads of stuff you like but will never use, but you won’t buy it because it’s stupid. And then you can’t stop thinking about that thing until you make yourself feel guilty for not buying it. And then you go and spend extortionate amounts of money on something you’ll probably never touch, but it’s worth it because you like it. And then you find it two years later and decide “wow, this is actually cool, I’m going to use it!”
If you’re one for being right at the front, or near any speakers, then bring ear plugs. Do you want to go deaf? Thought not. It’s much louder than closed-off concerts because instead of playing for 200 – 2000 people, they band are playing for much, much more, depending on whether or not they’re headlining or are more famous, etc.
Never get tattoos and piercings at festivals. I used to think, wow, I’d love for my first tattoo to be at Download! And then I watched a YouTube video (by nibblesofficial) on why it’s bad. It’s more likely to get infected and be lesser of quality. Worthy tattoo and piercing shops/parlours are cleaned every hour, or every couple of hours, to keep it sanitary, and needles are changed, etc. They probably don’t have good quality needles or sanitary gloves at festivals. It often gets muddy, too. Do you want bacteria to make your face swell up because it’s gotten in your new lip piercing? No, you don’t.
Usually you’re not allowed to bring food or alcohol into festivals. If that’s the case, then you can buy food and alcohol inside the arena. The reasoning for this is that glass bottles and packaging is forbidden because it’s dangerous; Download sell their alcohol in either cups or plastic bottles (depending on what kind of alcohol. Wine is sold in plastic bottles accompanied by a cup or two, but beer is sold in just cups, etc)
If you wear makeup, it’s gotta be waterproof. A) it’ll probably rain. B) you’ll get sweaty if it’s too hot. It’ll smear down your face either way. No further comment needed.
If you’re drinking, stay hydrated!! Even if you aren’t, make sure you’re hydrated! Every year my sister gets the worst hangover due to not eating enough and being dehydrated (though this time she’s vowed to be sensible)
- Bring sun lotion
- Stay hydrated
- Use waterproof makeup, if any
- Bring ear plugs
- Bring camping chairs
- Bring tent pegs
- Practice squatting for those gross porta-loos
- Bring excessive amounts of money
- Bring spare clothes + a rain coat
- Bring comfortable clothing and shoes
- Take breaks from walking and sit down every once in a while
- Get too drunk or hung over
- Get dehydrated
- Bring food or alcohol into festivals (like Download and Coachella) where it’s prohibited
- Hurt people, or you’ll get kicked out
- Forget essentials, especially things like your phone
- Lose your money or card
- Get tattoos or piercings at festivals (they’re way, way more likely to get infected and not be as good in quality. Do it at a tattoo parlour)
- Underestimate the raw power of the weather’s bipolar attitude
- Bring weapons to the arena or campsites (goes without saying)