One thing that can send you mad (especially at the more corporate festivals like V)is the way security will refuse to let you take bottles over a certain size into the arena, and will remove the lids of any smaller bottles. This effectively means you have to buy new bottles of water during the day.
The easiest thing to do to avoid this is to take a few spare bottle lids with you in your bag. Once security have removed your bottle's cap, you'll have a handy one to replace it. Now you can refill your bottles at leisure. No dodgy V-Water for you.
Very useful for navigating yourself among the maze of tents, particularly when you need to go to the loo in the middle of the night! Cheap, tiny and hardly weighs anything- no excuse not to take one.
Any outdoor gear shop like Blacks, Millets, etc
A truly great camping experience requires no old wives truths or well-seasoned tips. There really is no hidden secret to ensure a comfortable sleep or hangover-cure-on-the-run; (well, there certainly isn’t for rejuvenation after a night at the infamous Lost Vagueness – adieu!). That is, apart from that which can’t be bought or borrowed. The only thing needed for a British festival is nothing other than sheer determination, a large portion of PMA and on very rare occasions a gritted smile.
Think Bestival 2008, even worse Glastonbury 2006. Trust me, there is no rain mac I haven’t tried or wellies I haven’t bought, only to be soaked to the skin and bone-shivering cold.
No, there really is nothing that can equip you, apart from that solid British determinism true to us all ( see September 1940). UK festivals are certainly not for the fainthearted, but when thawing out the trench foot in a hot bath on return, there really is no greater sense of achievement.
Most people plan to camp nearest the stage with the best line-up, or perhaps near the gates for less of a walk, or near the toilets for midnight emergencies or perhaps near food stalls etc… this is wrong!
The only thing you should be considering when planning a potential festival campsite is where you will end up at the end of the night. There is nothing worse than dragging your drunken wreck of a body half way across a dark campsite riddled with pitfalls, guide ropes and other hazards at 3am.
Think about it and find the tent area that will be open the longest. Camp nearby. This way at that ungodly hour when you finally decide to head to bed you can even crawl your way back if need be.
Forget paying hundreds of pounds and travelling for hours to go to an overcrowded flooded field with stinking toilets and overpriced food. Start your own festival which can be as small or as large as you want - well OK, it's unlikely to be that massive. It is however a rewarding and fun project and can consist of a barbeque, a bonfire, a guitar and some friends. There are however hundreds of bands and DJ's out there willing to do things for free. For the last couple of years my friends and I have organised a little festival called Beekstock - everyone puts in £20, I get all the money and spend it on renting a sound system (last year we splashed out on a 30,000 watt motherload), getting lighting, stocking a bar etc, and the results can be amazing. OK, so it takes a lot of organising, but if you've got a some time off, go for it!
Pohoda is a weird festival made up up of a mix of pro-life groups, ravers and the Slovak army who seem to help organise it. It takes place on an airstrip, half of which is still used during the festival so you get to see planes and helicopters coming a bit too close to the crowds.
In the past it has been headlined by The Streets, Fatboy Slim and The Prodigy. This year is as diverse as past ones with Traivs, Basement Jaxx, Alabamba 3, Hot 8 Brass band and Pendulum to name a few of the artists.
It's a lot cheaper than English festivals and sunshine it pretty much guaranteed. Plus they have bungee jumps, climbing walls, lots and lots of inflatable games like lifesize table football and very nice hog roast!
If you're over 25 and like to party hard (festival starts at 8pm, winds up around 5am with the main acts on at 1am) but still value a few good hours shut-eye do yourself a favour and rent an apartment. They're not cheap for what they are - approx 200euros each for a week in Beni for a two twin bed, one lounge apartment with sofa bed and a balcony. However you won't regret it because;
1) day time temperature regularly tops 35/38 degrees. No one can sleep in that, especially under canvas in the sun.
2) In said temperature, a proper and private shower is a wonderful thing (albeit camping showers are remarkably good too).
3) you can chill your beer/water in the fridge/freezer.'Nuff said
4) you can relax in your own personal shade between festival/swims. If you camp, you need to find any bit of shade in town you can - you will see campsite refugees scattered in any bit of shade around parks/beach town.
5) you can make your money go further by cooking at home
If however you do decide to camp, bear in mind the following:
1) Buy a beach umbrella on the first day - approx 10-15 euros on the beach and will be a godsend - it can be errected by your tent for daytime snoozing, or on the beach to prevent sunstroke.
2) Campsite toilets are cleaned frequently and excellent compared with UK festivals
3) Take a couple of decent swimsuits/bikinis - easiest to have a shower in, and you will wear nothing but this in any daylight hours you're awake in
4) ear plugs. Get them free from the festival or bring your own unless you want Surrey's finest students keeping you awake all night
A final word on getting out of Benicassim. You need to fly into Valencia, Barcelona or Alicante and train/bus down. Highly recommend Valencia as closest with best connections. If you can, ensure you have one night in valencia on the way back. The bus (most reliable) is notoriously packed and it can take literally four hours to queue up to get on a bus to make the 40min odd journey. Don't even think about getting the train no matter how early - it's a massive crush, desperately hot and uncomfortable.
1. Do I like to party in a big way?
2. Am I WELL up for a laugh and partial to a bit of fancy dress?
3. Do I like snow and beautiful mountain scenery?
4. Does speeding down a slope and stopping for the odd rum hot chocolate with strudel sound perfect?
If you answered YES - and you really should do - then SNOWBOMBING is for you!
Imagine 4 adrenaline packed days of pure fun. The festival is one of the friendliest I've ever been too - people are there to really burn the candle at both ends. Go hard or go home is the slogan of the weekend and the energy is infectious. Dressed in some of the most imaginative costumes, people from all over Europe and beyond take over this Austrian resort and go wild.
All I can really say is if this appeals then DEFINITELY go! This is something you won't be able to do in 10 years unless you are REALLY hardcore, so go now before the thought of 4 days without sleep is too scary!! this is possibly the best weekend of your life.
Between the 9th and 24th of May there is a walking festival on the Isle of Wight. There are lots of events on the website. Island Cottage Holidays have a special selection of self-catering cottages and holiday homes.
The Sacred Music Festival is excellent and well worth the trip, but is difficult to get to due to the limited, expensive and indirect flights to Fes from the UK. A UK company called Naturally Morocco arranges tailored trips throughout Morocco, including the Sacred Music Festival. They suggest flying to Marrakesh (with train to Fes) because flights are cheaper and nonstop. They will arrange all of that and they have a great selection of riads to stay at. Whilst in the north, it is well worth having time to see some of the mountains, coast or another city.
You can buy tickets at www.fesfestival.com/2008/index.php
If you like music, and you can't quite bring yourself to fork out your life savings for a ticket to one of the UK festivals, then go to Hungary in August. The Sziget festival is simply brilliant. It's held on a stunning island in the middle of the Danube river just out of the centre of Budapest. They always have a varied programme of music, in 2007 this included the Killers, the Hives, Chemical brothers, Faithless, Nine Inch Nails, Pink and Razorlight to name but a few. They also have great world and dance music, and local Hungarian music. but even better than the lineup is the civilised way in which the festival is organised. You can get to a clean toilet at any time. The food is delicious, cheap, and easily available. Everyone is really friendly. A lot of the island is a beach, so you can walk around in bare feet and really feel like it's a holiday too. Accommodation is easy, either on the island - or do as we did and rent a beautiful and cheap apartment in Budapest itself. It's so easy to get to and from the island. Don't miss it. Get there before anyone else finds out about it!
Óbudai Island, Budapest, August every year. www.sziget.hu
Food and drink festival between 5 &15 October 2007. Thirty five bars, restuarants and shops around Chorlton and Whalley Range are taking part. Chorlton joins other areas of Greater Manchester for the annual Manchester Food and Drinks Festival.
All over Chorlton-cum-hardy. For more information pick up a festival brochure from outlets including - Barbakan, Pad-chorlton, Unicorn and Wild at Heart
Throughout Ireland people of all ages and occupations prepare for the Galway races with a fervour that is almost religious in its intensity.
Budgets are planned, holidays are arranged, and business is scheduled to conform with the sacrosanct dates of the annual week-long festival.
Leuven is Belgium's best-kept secret. You can find it 20km east of Brussels. The capital of Flemish Brabant, it has a lot to offer within walking distance.
The historic centre contains "Belgium's longest beer counter", and the "Oude Markt" (Old Market), where nearly 40 cafés await you.
Rather handily, the only other outlets on the square are two pharmacies.
Just round the corner is the Great Market, or "Grote Markt" - scene of one of Belgium's finest buildings, its 600-year-old town hall with hundreds of statues adorning its façade.
Turning right we come to Muntstraat, a cosier and much less commercial restaurant street than the Rue des Bouchers in Brussels and further up, Hogeschoolplein (College Square), where you can sit and eat salads which look like mini-gardens at De Werf restaurant and guest house.
In Naamsestraat, De Clijne Taefel restaurant offers the finest grilled food in 450-year-old decor.
400m further on, you come to the Great Beguinage (Groot Begijnhof), a Unesco World Heritage site, where an order of nuns lived in a self-contained village. It is now maintained by the University of Leuven, along with most of the other major buildings in the town.
Another very nice building to look at is the University Library in Ladeuzeplein. It was gutted during the war, but lovingly restored with help from other colleges and universities which pledged money for its reconstitution. All the names of those establishments which helped renovate it are grafted onto the pillars and walls of the building.
If you come on Saturday afternoon, the bell ringer performs a concert from St Pieters church in the Grote Markt, audible throughout the centre.
There are many festivals and events all year round, but here are a few:
Easter Folk Dance festival
High summer gastro-event:
City centre rock event:
Short Film Festival:
There is also a Christmas market in December and a yearly autumn market on the first Monday after the first Sunday in September. There are plenty of places to stay, and much to do in the surrounding region:
Tervuren, Brussels and Antwerp are very close by.
Take the E40 from Calais straight there. Follow signs to Brussels, take the ring road round the capital and drive for a further 20 minutes.
By train, 30 minutes from the Eurostar terminus.
If you're on a budget and want to see lots of Fringe shows, the Free Festival offers an annual series of free Fringe shows - over 130 different shows are programmed for August 2007.
It makes a change from the usual high ticket prices!
I never realised Catalonia was different from Spain. It has its own language, culture and traditions and some of the most incredible festivals I have ever seen. One of the most authentic I saw was in the Pyrenees Mountains in July. 150 locals ran down the mountain side carrying enormous flaming logs to ward off evil nature spirits. From the valley we saw a red snaking line, and when the log bearers reached the village music started and everything went haywire! There are so many other awesome festivals, with human castles, devil fire runs and giants. Definitely try to see one as these are authentic real life rituals, some of which are 1000 years old. Pagan traditions are definitely alive in Catalonia, so if you're a Travel Troll like me - head out of Barcelona into the rural Catalan villages.
There is a company that organizes small group trips to Catalan festivals for English and Spanish speakers: www.cultourabcn.com
Nit in Vela is Valencia's answer to the White Nights that have taken pace in other European cities, such as Rome, Paris, Madrid and Barcelona in recent years.
On the 31st of March, from 8pm, for over eight hours several of the major thoroughfares and plazas, and particularly the Rio Turia, Valencia's wonderful Park, will see over thirty spectaculars. From theatre to music to dance to acrobatics and fireworks. It's all to celebrate the beginning of the America's Cup, which takes place from April to July in the port.
The historic centre of Valencia, For much more information on the event and all things Valencia. www.thisisvalencia.com/newinvalencia.html
Carnival Wednesday (after Shrove Tuesday) in Pipa is a hoot!
Usually all the tourists from nearby Recife have gone home and it's party time for the locals. For the last six years the local men have all dressed up in drag and partied up and down the main street from the early afternoon into the night. It is hilarious and really good fun.
It may not have the glamour of Rio or the music and dance of the carnivals in Recife and Salvador but it is solid good fun.
Weird and wonderful inner-city music festival that has been compared to Sónar in Barcelona. It takes place over the first weekend in June each year. The focus is on Stokes Croft as well as other venues across the city hosting gigs. The spirit of eclecticism means the festival organisers want you to hear music you wouldn't have previously chanced upon, be it experimental electronica, Brooklyn punk rock or folk ballads. There are workshops and Venn Radio which broadcasts the festival highlights over the weekend.
Various venues in Stokes Croft and around Bristol;
One of the most loved places for hippies, lefties, backpackers and young artists: the Forest Cafe, run by a DIY collective of artists, is the best place in Edinburgh to hang out in a non-capitalist fashion and meet like-minded people.
With free internet access, an art gallery, vegan and vegetarian food and stunning entertainment and events during and outside of the festival, this is the craziest place in town for dissidents and thinkers.
No matter if you want to watch films, read the latest protesting leaflets, or drop off your clothes and old books in the free shop, the Forest is the space for you. Just around from the university, it constantly changes.
It’s usually open from about 11am -11pm, licensed - sometimes with bring-your-own bottle - and during August it’s open till 3am. Also, it sells famous organic heather ale and seaweed beer.
3 Bristo Place, EH1 1EY;
tel: 0131 220 4538;
bus stop: 2, 42
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