How to survive hot and wet festivals - a guide to extreme festival weather
As the seemingly unending winter weather finally looks like it has come to an end, thoughts for many will be turning to digging out that battered tent, filling a backpack with an inappropriate selection of clothes and heading off for a long weekend at one of this summer's UK music festivals. Although festivals are all about getting mucky, having fun and seeing some world-class acts, when the weather is particularly hot, windy or wet, even the most confident campers can be thrown out by unexpected challenges. In this PAAM volunteer recruitment blog, we proffer a few top tips to help you survive festivals in style whatever the weather.
Be ready for rain
Nobody wants to think it's going to happen, but being surprised and unprepared when the heavens inevitably open can make for a soggy sensibility. Although dancing around like a North American Indian celebrating the success of his efforts to summon a downpour might be fun for a few minutes, being soaked to the skin can very quickly cause a sense-of-humour failure. Waterproofs take up very little space, double up as picnic blankets and are less uncool at festivals than in the real world, so listen to your mum and don't leave home without one! If you really are too cool for a cagoule, consider the more nonchalant option of a poncho. Who doesn't love a poncho right? They keep the rain off and double up as fabulous make-shift tents when you find yourself looking up at the stars trying to remember what your name is. If you've gone to the other extreme of preparedness and packed waterproof trousers, be sure to wear shorts underneath. Legs wrapped in jeans wrapped in plastic do not go well with dancing!
Flip-flops are a lovely idea, but keep in mind that mud has a tendency to steal un-secured shoes. Whether it is dry or wet, three days in flip-flops can result in blisters, bruising and possible trench-foot, so stick to what you know and go for closed-toe shoes or (dare we say it) Tevas! It's also a good idea to invest in a sturdy pair of Wellington boots. We advise you buy them now; retailers aren't silly, and as the summer events creep closer, the price of festival essentials will also creep up. As well as keeping your toes snug and dry as nature intended, a rubber boot also makes a fabulous bottle holder or repository for bits and bobs in a tidy tent. You will also thank God for your closed footwear when you go to the toilet. And while your £120 trainers may look cool for about three minutes after you arrive at the campsite, they'll be in the bin three minutes after you return home.
When the sun does peep out, respect it for sunstroke's sake! A few days of blazing rays is something few Brits are used to, and even under cloud cover the UV can be punishing. Slap on the sun cream like it doesn't cost the Earth and never stoop lower than factor 15. Find shade as often as possible and use it. This may be difficult in the middle if a field, so a hat with a brim is a wise investment. Bear in mind that you're going to a music festival, so make sure your headwear is as flamboyant as possible. Umbrellas are also useful for keeping the sun, and apparently the rain, off weary heads. Sunglasses are another must-have festival item. Not just a trendy accessory, they will protect your eyes from the UV and stop you squinting in the sun and getting a headache. Sunnies are also the perfect disguise for those unavoidable bloodshot festival peepers.
Drink (not the cider, you fool, water!) as much and as often as possible. Dehydration is not fun, sexy or cool and is one of the main reasons why people have less fun than they expected at scorchingly hot music festivals. Pack as many electrolyte rehydration sachets as you can carry for the mornings, and make sure your bladder is full of something other than Strongbow and Sambuka before you turn in for the night.
Stay high and dry
Keep your clothes dry if you want to avoid feeling like a sulky toddler. Even if it's blisteringly hot during the day, the morning dew will soak anything left outside your tent. Keep all clothing inside, including your shoes, and never underestimate the power of the plastic bag. In any weather, a few bin bags are a real boon. They can be turned into nearly anything, including seats, ponchos, jaunty hats and waterproof storage units. They're also quite handy for putting rubbish in. Festivals offer a brilliant opportunity to dress in ridiculous outfits and show off, but while running around in pants and a cape is amazing while the sun is up, it's not quite so amusing at 3am when you can't find your tent and you're wondering how much drier and warmer it might be in a hedge. Take as many clothes as you can and if possible pack with four-seasons in mind - thank god the layered look never really went out!
Tie down that tent!
Don't be fooled into thinking that it's just the sun or rain that can cause festival fallout. A sudden gale can take even the sturdiest abode by surprise, so make sure your tent is firmly pegged down before you party. No-one likes to see their makeshift home tumbling across a field into oblivion, so take precautions before the wind picks up. And talking of tents, do remember to check you have all the bits in the bag before you leave home. A missing pole, groundsheet or flysheet can really dampen your mood - and everything you brought with you - if you arrive onsite without all the trimmings.
Admit you'll get dirty
Whatever the weather, festivals are outdoor events and it's unlikely you'll get a proper wash until you get back home. Expect to be covered in copious amounts of mud, grass stains and sweat, and that's only if you're lucky! Unless you fancy queuing hours for a shower, the best you can probably hope for wash-wise is a bucket of water over your head, so keep wet-wipes, toilet paper and hand sanitizer ready to draw at all times. It may be a back to nature type of adventure, but smelling like a warmed up Portaloo isn't going to make you any friends.
Although the countryside is often advertised as a healthy place to be, city slickers and allergy sufferers should pack antihistamine tablets if they don't want to spend the weekend crying. Hay fever season is no fun for anyone but bees, and streaming eyes can be seriously annoying when you've paid a small fortune to 'see' your favourite band. There may also be a few beasties that want to sting or bite you, so make sure repellent has a place in your party pack. As this is Britain, absolutely nothing can be done to predict the weather. Anyone setting out for a few days of festival frivolity should therefore be prepared for conditions spanning everything from very hot to very cold, passing through very wet and very windy on the way. All eventualities will however be a breeze for those that remember to pack the essentials….and a sense of humour!