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Friday, 9 September 2016

LIFESTYLE | A newbie's guide to Reading Festival

As I blogged last week, recently I attended Reading Festival for the first time.

I didn't know what to expect and, even though I was attending with my friend who had been before, I certainly wouldn't consider her an expert.

We had a lot of fun but of course there are a lot of things I wish we - or at least I - knew before going. So here's my 'newbie's' guide to Reading Festival, with some tips you should keep in mind if you're ever planning to go.

Lifestyle | A newbie's guide to Reading Festival; Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Reading | Reading Festival | Music Festival

If you want a good camping spot, you have to arrive early. We arrived late Thursday afternoon and had no choice to where we camped - there was space in one camp only at this point, even though the festival didn't start to the following day. A friend of Briony's arrived early on Thursday and got a somewhat decent spot, so I'd suggest arriving on the Wednesday or early on the Thursday. It's a faffabout, but you could always arrive Wednesday afternoon, set up your tent whilst it's not busy then leave the campsite to spend the evening having dinner or a few drinks in a local pub - you don't necessarily have to spend the whole time on the campsite and can come and go as you please. The town centre is a mere 20 minutes drive away. Alternatively, if there's a group of you going, take it in turns. One year, send a couple of you to go up early and set up everyone's tents or at least mark out the spot. The next year, send someone else.

The way Reading Festival falls is that it ends on a Sunday and most people travel back the following day on the bank holiday Monday. This was do-able, but I do wish I'd booked an extra day off, just to catch up on sleep and allow my body to catch up. It was probably worse for me because we had a long way to walk from where we were camped, but I have discovered there is also such thing as Festival Flu. My throat still hurts now whenever I sneeze! Again, it probably feels like a bit much taking nearly a whole week off work but it really depends on whether you want to do so or not to get a decent camp which isn't a far walk, has a nice feel to it and has semi-decent toilets. It's not necessary, but having been the once, it's likely to be something I'll do next year.

This one is a tough one because every camp has it's positives and negatives. From my personal experience, I would not suggest Brown camp (the toilets there are the worst) and only choose White camp if you're willing to put up with the walk - because it is a long walk. White camp was kind of quieter than others, which was nice when it came to sleeping, but saying that, there were points that I wish I'd stayed in another camp with more of a welcoming atmosphere. Likewise, with some of those camps, it might be a bit too much. I guess this one is just something you'll learn as you go along, but in conclusion, the Brown camp's toilets are the worse, and the White camp is a long walk away from the arena (but is closer to the cars so you don't have to carry your stuff so far).

Oh god, this was the worst. I'm weak enough as it is, let alone when I'm carrying luggage a long way. My advice would be to pack light, don't use a suitcase and maybe use a little pull along wheelbarrow or use one of those metal things used for luggage in an airport. A lot of people seemed to be successful with these.

Just the usual, but wellies are essential, even if you just keep them in the car. Most stuff you can buy there if you forget it (or buy in the town centre) and I'd even suggest waiting until you're all settled before heading into town and THEN getting a crate of beer or whatever. Keep valuables on you at all time - don't leave them in the tent - and anything else keep in the car, locked. People do steal from your tent. We didn't have this at White camp, but I heard it happened in others. Oh, and a blow up bed is ESSENTIAL. My back still isn't the same from sleeping on the floor...

The free Reading Festival app was a complete lifesaver for us because there were so many acts we wanted to see and we couldn't remember all of them, let alone their times, where their sets were and any clashes. Plus, it reminded us 15 minutes before any set AND it was thanks to the app that we knew You Me At Six were doing a secret set!

Take some time to look around and find out what tent is what. Don't do what I did and go to the wrong tent for 21 Pilots, feeling like the cat that got the cream because no one else was there yet and you thought it was just because they 'weren't that big in the UK yet'. WRONG. Thank god I headed down early AND asked someone if I was in the right place, because I only just managed to run to the right tent and slip in to a somewhat decent spot. I think had I not realized in time I would have cried.

Not really, ha, but do be aware that there are nice genuine toilets in the arena and that it's just portaloo's elsewhere. Really, you only need to use camp toilets first thing in the morning and at late at night if you've had a drink and the arena is closed, so if your night is ending, stop drinking for like, half an hour before you leave and have a final pee in the arena toilets. This'll help avoid the nasty portaloo's.

Glitter looks great (although I do feel it's more suitable for a festival that isn't a music festival, still, can't complain) and more importantly, it covers up the bags under your eyes! But it is a bitch to get out. Over a week or two on, I'm still finding random bits of glitter on my body. I would 100% suggest getting your hair done however, especially if you're not able to wash it. It looks great and can be made into a style that keeps it out of your face, which is ideal if it's hot.  

Finally, have fun. Although this guide should help, you learn by doing, y'know (as Turk would say in Scrubs). Although I wish I knew all this beforehand, it didn't ruin my weekend or even put a dampener on it. It was fun camping and learning all this first hand. And anything you don't think of, you can buy there from a camp shop, or in Reading town centre. So, if you forget something, don't fret - it's all part of the experience!
Have you got any tips for Reading that I may have forgotten? Let me know!

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  1. These are all great tips I could have definitely used before going to my first festival. I've survived Glastonbury so next on the list is Coachella I guess. Ha!

    - Elodie x

    1. Thanks! Wow, Glastonbury is one of the big ones. I'd LOVE to do Coachella one year too x

  2. I meant to go to Reading festival this year but missed it :( Thanks for all great tips!

    1. How come? It took me years to go! And you're welcome! x


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