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The Real Festival Survival Guide

Jack Rayner on how to get by at Glastonbury, Cornbury, Boomtown Fair, Wilderness, Rewind, & Dekmantel


A dizzying celebration of artistry, hedonism and music ranging from gypsy folk to acid techno, if you’re off to Boomtown make sure you’re sound of mind and prepared for a serious party...Also, wear the most ridiculous outfit you can muster – the only people looking out of place at Boomtown are in t-shirts and jeans

Anyone can write a festival survival guide – Just googling those three words brings up hundreds of results, including typically bleeding-edge, heavily researched advice from the NHS such as “find out where the site's medical centres are when you arrive”.

This is all well and good, but what if you want your guidance to be a little more specific?

As a seasoned festival veteran, I thought I’d step out of the ordinary and offer a few survival tips tailored to your choice of destination.

Whether you’re looking for a pleasant blast from the past at Rewind, a perfectly curated weekend of innovative dance music at Dekmantel or a head-spinning descent into sheer madness at Boomtown Fair, I’ve got you covered.

Glastonbury

The godfather of festivals, with a population larger than Oxford, an attendee of Glastonbury should definitely invest in some decent walking shoes. Set over 900 acres, getting lost at Glastonbury is a rite of passage, so I’d definitely suggest buying a festival program with a map and making sure you keep hold of it. There’s nothing worse than trekking to Shangri La only find that your mates have already left for the John Peel stage, a mile and a half away.


Cornbury Music Festival

A slightly more refined affair, anyone who’s going to Cornbury should take advantage of their civilised surroundings and pack a picnic and a few boxes of wine. Whilst catering at Cornbury is second-to-none, there’s nothing like cracking into your own supply of adult beverages before heading off to the arena to catch Tom Jones. Hunter wellies optional but recommended.

Boomtown Fair

A dizzying celebration of artistry, hedonism and music ranging from gypsy folk to acid techno, if you’re off to Boomtown make sure you’re sound of mind and prepared for a serious party. If you’re sure you can hack the session, bringing along a hand trailer will be a godsend when you’re trekking your remaining possessions up the infamous Matterley Bowl hill on Monday morning. Also, wear the silliest, most ridiculous outfit you can muster – the only people looking out of place at Boomtown are the ones in t-shirts and jeans.

Wilderness

Sister festival of the stunningly beautiful Secret Garden Party, Wilderness is an elegant, gorgeous spectacle that manages to present some of the country’s best stage design whilst remaining fun and unpretentious. However, to really get the most out of Wilderness I’d suggest booking a banquet – there’s nothing more satisfying than punctuating a messy, decadent weekend with a five-course meal. Ball gowns are not unheard of.

Rewind

The UK’s first and best 80s festival, Rewind is the perfect setting for a nostalgic weekend, with a stellar lineup including Peter Hook and The Human League. To get fully into the spirit of things, I’d suggest packing a rucksack full of lurid shell suits, fluorescent leg warmers and shoulder-padded jackets. If you’re really committed to the 80s vibe, throw your self-consciousness to the wind and book yourself in for a perm.

Dekmantel

Amsterdam’s premier underground dance music festival has expanded this year to include a sensational night program to complement their renowned daytime event. Dekmantel continue to stick to their guns in terms of music quality and selection and as such, the most essential item to bring is an open mind and a finely tuned pair of ears. Aside from that, making sure you’ve got enough money to fully immerse yourself in the experience is crucial – as will all foreign festivals, you don’t want to end up too skint to buy food on the journey home. 

- Jack Rayner

 

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