Monday 23 May 2011
I love music festivals but I do not I'm afraid *whispers* like camping very much. It's basically a toilet/ shower/ getting changed while crouching issue. Also living out of a rucksack, never being able to find anything, everything starting to smell either of festival or of hand sanitizer (which is obviously a wonderful invention) issue. I do see the sleeping outside, fresh healthiness of it all (though actually I got a cold after my last festival last year) but for all the lung fulls of sometimes very fresh air there are the hard bits of ground in your back, getting soaked and waking up feeling like you are in the Wizard of Oz in the middle of the night and your house is about to take flight parts.
So generally I find staying up as much as possible is the best solution- and I must say having a camper van did seriously, seriously soften the blow (though you do feel a bit shame faced walking through the tent section at a rainy festival).
However I do like to do things properly and I'm getting very excited about music festivals this summer so in the spirit of getting in the spirit here are some camping essentials and my list of the festivals I think look best this year.
Firstly End of the Road festival in Dorset is astonishingly good this year. It would be on my list without even knowing the bands playing for many reasons, the tipi tent, the cider bus, the light up dance floor in the forest, the woodland library that lets you borrow books for a year (I'm taking one back this year) and so on. it's also a short train ride and pretty ride through glorious countryside on a coach and you are there. This year you can also see Midlake, Laura Marling, Joanna Newsom, John Grant, the Unthanks, The Leisure Society, Caitlin Rose, Willy Mason and more- and you will no doubt find loads of new acts to love because it's that kind of festival. Go for Thursday too because last year there were secret sets by Willy Mason and Darren Hayman and why would you want to miss those things?
In a similar vein but in the hills and mountains of Wales is the glorious Green Man festival. Green Man is worth going to for the Chai Wallah tent alone. You could happily spend the entire festival there drinking chai and dancing to the kind of music that makes you want to keep going even though your feet hurt like they've never hurt before. Also recommended for a great cinema tent where I enjoyed Ponyo last year with marmite toast and tea in my pyjamas. The lava bread burgers by the Green Man pub stage are also worth going for alone.
Also in Wales and much earlier is the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts which I have obsessively wanted to go to for years and have still not been to. I don't think this one involves camping but it's not the reason I want to go so much, it just sounds like heaven for people who love books and the arts. I will be in Sweden (ash cloud permitting) but if you are going I am very jealous and would love to hear all about it.
Back over in the West Country is the Daddy of all the music festivals Glastonbury, which needs no introduction. This year it's all about Paul Simon if you ask me- but I'm not going so it'll be all about Paul Simon on tv for me.
I also think Open House Festival in Belfast, Deershed Music festival in Yorkshire and Latitude in Suffolk sound pretty ace.
If you are doing the festival sleep over thing then I love these Seagulls and Anchor sleeping bags (found via Cup of Jo). I can't vouch for how warm they'll keep you and stuff but they look pretty. (I am also told an air bed improves camping considerably but I've never fancied taking one on a train).
If you are a reluctant camper like me but would like to try harder, or an enthusiast who wants to find interesting places to peg your tent then the cool camping website and books seem like a very good place to start.
(the pictures above are from the End of the Road festival website).