Music festival survival guide

Simon ParkinIf there's one thing worse than bad weather at a summer music festival, it has to be bad health or being unprepared. From waterproofs to first aid, SIMON PARKIN offers the ultimate survival guide.Simon Parkin

If there's one thing worse than bad weather at a summer music festival, it has to be bad health.

So if you're one of the millions of people who are heading to one - or more - of the UK's hundreds of festivals this year, pack your first aid kit as well as your waterproofs.

The obvious side-effects of over-indulging in alcohol and drugs may leave festival-goers feeling less than their best, but there are many ill effects that can spoil the party.

Neil Broadhurst, operations director for Events Medical Services, which provides medical cover for Latitude, says: "We get a wide range of all sorts - people get cuts, there's fainting because of dehydration, and vomiting and diarrhoea because people don't wash their hands properly."

As well as bumps, scrapes and dehydration, other common festival ailments are twisted ankles "because people don't look where they're going - they're gazing around looking at other things, like the bands".

Broadhurst says there are often very bad cases of sunburn. "Quite often, even if it's sunny, they'll go to the arena at the start of the day without putting suncream on, and they're out all day without thinking about it, until it starts to hurt much later."

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Warm weather can also cause problems with insect bites for festival-goers, and such bites have been a particular nuisance at Latitude, which is held by a lake.

At the other end of the spectrum, wet weather can lead to cases of trench foot, which can occur when feet are wet for a long time, causing tingling, swelling and pain.

Broadhurst warns festival-goers to be prepared for the vagaries of the British weather, with sensible clothing, suncream and water, emphasising: "It's all common-sense things, but when people go to a festival they sometimes seem to throw common-sense out of the window."


t Don't trust the weatherman - This is England, prepare for rain at all times. It may be boring, but packing wellies and a raincoat can be a godsend.

t Get your bearings - Have a look around, especially where the best food stalls and toilets are, and have a meeting point in case you lose your mates. Mobile signals can be poor.

t Pick the right tent pitch - Avoid anywhere near the toilets, think of the smell. And its damp underfoot, it'll probably flood if it rains.

t Make your tent stand out - Will you be able to tell the difference between a thousands of identical green tents? In the dark?

t Travel light - No-one wants to be weighed down by piles of stuff, or fretting their best gadgets will be nicked from the tent. Take the essentials only.

t Don't wear your best gear - Your fantastic designer outfit may look great when you arrive, it won't when you leave - take our word for it. Cheap and worn in is best, with some funky festival accessories.

t Be open minded - The big name bands are obvious highlights, but the best times are often to be found in the quirkier more offbeat attractions.

t Have fun - The best festival experiences are when you go with the flow. Don't let petty niggles get you down and don't be a music snob.


t Tickets - You'd be surprised how many people forget.

t Tent - Take one with room for two, you never know!

t Condoms - See above.

t Torch - Vital for finding the tent. Wind-up is best.

t Toothpaste, baby wipes and dry shampoo - It maybe a losing battle

but you'll want to preserve some semblance of personal hygiene.

t Toilet rolls - Tales of festival toilets are legendary, don't be a victim.

t Paracetamol - It may look shifty when you're taking them, particularly if you're sharing. But the reality is relief from a hangover rather than raving.

t Money - Daft as it may sound it has been known for festival-goers to forget. Who wants to spend the weekend begging?

t Camera - Disposable is best to avoid constant worry that it'll be trashed or nicked.

t Ear plugs - Sounds boring, but who wants to hear bleep techno at 5am?

t Sunblock - On the off chance the sun might shine.


t Head-torch - Look deeply uncool but when you're crashing around looking for an unlit toilet in the dark you'll be grateful of a head torch. The Cree waterproof model is better than most. �29.95 from Argos.

t Waterproof bag - Nothing kills the festival spirit like a damp sleeping bag and clothes. Stuff your belongings in a waterproof pack liner that seals tight and even floats. Waterproof backpack dry tube 60-litre, �39.99,

t Kathmandu deluxe eye mask and ear plugs - When enough is enough, block out the keepers-on and sleep. From �3.95,

t Glow sticks - Handy beyond the front row of the dance tent, string them up in your tent to find it in the dark. Three from �1.95.

t Toothbrushes - Three days without, who are you trying to kid stinky breath? Kathmandu do a funky compact three-pack that neatly packs away so they can be stuffed into a tiny pocket. �1.99,

t Solar-powered charger - There are no power points to recharge your mobile in the middle of a field. Solio Hybridd, �39.99 from John Lewis and Argos.

t Portable speaker system - Speakers to a music festival might seem like taking coals to Newcastle but a small inexpensive iPod/iPhone system will help to keep the party going. �34.99, HMV.