A few essentials to help festivals be more comfortable:
Take some tarpaulin to sit on in case its muddy and a blanket for warmth in chilly evenings or to act as a roll matt.
Mobile phones are useful for locating lost friends and also take an old handset for when the battery dies to avoid queueing for hours to charge it up.
Most festivals have good food stalls (Glasto' green fields have great healthy options) so don't bother with a stove. Nuts, fruit cereal bars and chocolate are good to keep you going though - and a three litre box of wine!
If you need a tent, its worth getting a three man for two people, as there's room for all your other stuff and get one with a porch to keep muddy boots away from your clean stuff but in a dry area for the next morning.
The obvious tip is toilet roll, baby wipes, bin bags and antiseptic hand gel.
Comfortable wellie boots (see the funky wellies website) and a good rain jacket for bad weather - shades and suncream just in case you get lucky with the British weather.
And don't take anything you value too much in case of loss, theft or weather damage - I lost a great pair of shoes to the Glasto flood of 05!
The best way I have found to enjoy UK Festivals in recent years has been as part of the Workers Beer Company. Charities and Trade Unions that support WBC are asked to provide volunteers to work the bar at various festivals around the UK. You donate your time for free and WBC pays your wages to the charity that you are volunteering for. In return, you get a separate camping area, vouchers for two meals a day (in your camping area) and vouchers for two drinks once you have finished your shift. A win-win situation if you ask me!
You don't get to see every band that plays, but the banter behind the bar is always good fun and you get to see more bands than you would working in your local. See if a charity you support is part of WBC and get invovled!
What do you want from your festival experience this year? Great music? Chilled vibe? Sunshine? Great food? Better prices? A beach on the doorstep? The best holiday you've been on, with the added bonus of the worlds biggest bands and djs at your disposal every night? I can't recommend Benicassim more highly. The best combination of beach holiday and brilliant festival, with camping thrown in for a ridiculously good price (and lilos available from any shop in the gorgeous little town, to make the tent experience that bit more comfortable.) And all on the beautiful Spanish coast. What more could you ask for? Leave your wellies at home and pack your suncream instead - this is not your usual festival experience!
Bestival is a fab fancy dress festival where people are laid back and it isn't too big. Yes last year was a complete wash-out, but overall because Bestival is in early September it has a brilliant sunshine record, which really helps with the party spirit.
We all know to take loo rool and wet wipes, but some less obvious tips for festival goers are:
- Take dry shampoo, or specifically Batiste Tropical. It's an amazing conditioning spray that takes away any greasiness and makes your hair full bodied and shiny. It's usually used by old ladies but don't let that put you off
- Take wine in a box and once finished, use the bag inside as an inflatable pillow to sleep on
- If you can carry them, fold away chairs are a god-send at festivals
- Dig out your sparkly sequin bolero or jacket: great for the cooler UK evenings but keeps you looking like you've made a festival effort
- Always bring a bikini, you never know when the sunshine will come out, but also useful for the festivals that have saunas. A good sweat in a sauna will cleanse you for the next night of partying
- Pitching your tent in the quiet zone can be great if you need a good night's sleep and to be fresh for work on Monday
- Take a small over the shoulder handbag so you can put all your valuables in there, sling it across your body and dance the night away!
- Choose a festival that has the right party vibe for you. It doesn't have to have the major headlining bands and you never know, at a smaller festival you may get to see the next big thing
Bestival is at Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight
Set in and outside the castle, young European musicians and dancers intermingle and perform everywhere and anywhere. Just join in or listen to the incredible modern/ medieval French music that plays on throughout the sunshine and throughout the night.
Bagpipe drones and hurdy gurdy rhythms continue to entrance.
A lovely festival in early July.
Comité George Sand
7 avenue George Sand
36400 La Châtre - France
It's a festival I used to go to a lot when I was younger with a few Parisian friends.
It's a traditional instrument festival which on first hearing about sounds quite one dimensional but it's great!
It's set in a small village in the centre of France always over Bastille weekend in July.
It has free camping and there are always free gigs/stuff happening in the local bars in the village centre.
At night the chateau and trees are lit by fairy lights and while the musicians play everyone dances on woodern planked stages. A magical summers night to be had.
...walking along Southbank is one of the most beautiful ways to see various sites of London.
Starting from the London Eye, overlooking the Thames, Houses Parliament and Big Ben.
The Royal Festival Hall in particular, is an excellent meeting spot and place to chill... sometimes you get art or music for free in the foyer :) and there's a cafe and bar for refreshments!
There are plenty of tourist-friendly/child-friendly restaurants around here, big chains such as: Waggamama, Strada, Giraffe, also a pretty big "eat" (with great sandwiches, juices etc,.) a bookshop and music shop too... plus a regular book market outside the BFI, in the summer various free events outside, well worth checking out this area and just walking, walking, walking...
I took a trip to Mali in January this year. Our aim was the festival au desert, a Tuareg music festival north of Timbuktu in an oasis called Essakane.
Our journey was a bit ad hoc; arriving in Bamako, travelled by bus to Mopti, then boat from Mopti to Timbuktu, then 4*4 into the desert to get to the festival. On the way back we travelled via Mopti again, but headed into the Dogon country for 3 nights and four days of walking, before busing back to Bamako via Segou.
The festival was absolutely indescribably amazing, plus the fact that most of the tour groups that head out that way had been cancelled because of travel warnings in the area, so the ambiance was perfect! I particularily enjoyed evenings spent listening to the music around campfires. The people of Mali were welcoming, kind and generous, which made for a fascinating and dusty adventure (of which there are too many places/people to pick a favourite)!
If you are looking for the classic combination of tapas and flamenco in Seville (without being surrounded by hoards of tourists), then head
to Peña Pies Plombo. Food is authentically Andulasian - we tried the chorizo, the chickpea-based stew potaje, the pringá (a meat feast for pork lovers), plus the seasonal dish of papas aliñas which even has its own song. Only open to the public in the evenings, there is a small stage for live flamenco performances while photographs of Spanish greats Cameron and
Paco de Lucía cover the walls. The
bar is hosted by enthusiastic Loli who is always keen to start dancing, especially when accompanied by her husband, Paco. Reassuringly, his Spanish guitar playing is more convincing than his wig.
C/Dársena, 22. Tel: 954905964
At the annual East Neuk Festival it’s always music that leads to the interesting new discovery of places off the beaten track. Beyond the cries of the seagulls, the lapping of the waves and the chatter on the golf courses this beautiful coastal region of Fife resonates with a magical heritage deeply rooted in mystic sites and secret places. Whether in the deep recesses of an ancient cave, an eerie woodland dell, a candle-lit cliff-top church or the windowless dark of a local scout hut, you're sure to find yourself in the perfect place to appreciate and immerse yourself in the music on offer – from electronica to classical, from Stockhausen to Beethoven and Brahms.
Just an hour's drive from Edinburgh
Near Cluj-Napoca, the village of Negreni ('Fekete to' in Hungarian) transforms into a vast open-air market on the second weekend of October. People arrive from far and wide to eat spicy sausages, drink lethal fruit brandies and catch up with gossip. It's a great place to find ancient musical instruments, crafts, antiques and local colourful characters.
Negreni (Fekete to)
25km west of Huedin on route 1/E60.
Buses and trains from Cluj-Napoca will be packed at fair time. Try hiring a car.
There's quite a few places to see jazz in Glasgow, these are the ones I'd recommend both for the music and the bars.
Every Saturday 5-7pm The Griffin: 266 Bath Street (just off Sauchiehall St)
Every Sunday 9pm:The 78: 10-14 Kelvinhaugh Street.
Every Wednesday 8pm Mono: 12 Kings Court
Every Thursday 9pm The Beer Cafe: 78 Candleriggs. G1 1NP
It is a music store where you'll find very rare CD's that are hard to find in the US/UK and a lot of other places. Just check the link if you don't believe me.
This wonderful Chinese style bar is certainly one of the best in this lovely city. With great music, the best wine list in town and some incredible food at very reasonable prices it is quickly becoming the insider's choice in KL. Located just around the corner from the ShangriLa, it has 20 wines and champagnes by the glass and a menu you will not find anywhere else. This includes a great burger, steamed Wagyu beef (absolutely delicious), a scrumptious cod in miso and some great solid staples as desserts.
Level 2,Menara Hap Seng, 1-3 Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03 2078 9908
Monorail staion:Sultan Ismail
If you fancy combining two of the most fun activities in the world, snowsports and clubbing, in a beautiful Austrian village with a few thousand like-minded fancy dressed loons, this is your bag baby!
For 10 years now at the end of the season the amazing Austrian resort of Mayrhofen gets transformed into party central. The crack Snowbombing team take over virtually every hotel and venue for miles around and pack them full of the hottest DJs and bands you can think of providing a frenzied atmosphere of piste by day and beats by night. To drop a few names from this year's line-up, we've got the legendary Fatboy Slim, Dizzee Rascal, Reverend and the Makers, Grandmaster Flash, Fabio & Grooverider, Zane Lowe, and the list goes on...
If you're serious about your riding you'll find 625km of pistes, a world renowned funpark, and the Tux glacier, offering piste and off-piste action all year round. Just don't be put off if Batman or a herd of boarders wearing only their pants pass you on the slopes!
And my hottest tip for Snowbombing? Get accommodation in the Hotel Strass! This is the epicentre of the whole festival. Three of the main apres and nightlife venues are in the same building, it's right next to the lifts, one night of the week there is a street party right outside, and it has a naked sauna in the basement - the perfect way to wind down and make new friends after a hard day on the slopes or a hard night on the tiles.
This is the place when you're looking for free events like parties and museums in Berlin. Perfect for low-budget travellers. These are the events locals go to. Even real Berliners don't know everything you can get in Berlin for free. Most of the content is german, but can be translated at the bottom of the page.
Haight Street - legendary. The Red Victorian - legendary. So where else to stay in San Francsico? Great, quirky B&B, think peace and love people! The decor is weird to eclectic but I think it gives you that 'authentic, hippie feel' if that's not a contradiction in terms.
In the mornings you eat brekkie and have 'conversations' with other guests on a wide range of topics, you can drink coffee in the peace cafde or just chill out. Best thing is it's slap bang in the middle of Haight St (ignore the gap on the corner of Haight and Asbury - what a travesty.) Head to Amoeba Records for discount CD's or to trade yours for new albums. Seriously, it's the best store in the world.
Imagine its 1966 and your in the heart
of the rocking reeperbahn ... Sweat, German beer, psychedelic rock and hotter than the sun - it had me from the moment I stepped through the door. Literally like stepping through a time warp, very loud live music and a real mixture of different types of people. You really feel like you're in Hamburg.
Reeperbahn - Hamburg
This is a brilliant bar decked out Aborigne style - think great log benches, animal furs on the walls (fake, I hope) and a really charismatic hosts. He plays digeridoo music and it's low lighting and cave-like atmosphere make it really cool place to hang out.
Really don't expect a bar like it in a modern resort like Tignes.
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