How To Survive A Music Festival In Style This Summer

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How To Survive A Music Festival In Style This Summer

Words by Ms Flora Henry

23 June 2024

Festivals can be places of euphoria, joy and freedom. Where social norms are out the yurt window, wearing glitter is as standard as wearing underwear and a cider and crisps for breakfast is 100 per cent acceptable. For many, they’re places where epiphanies are had, relationships formed (and tested) and lifelong memories made. But they can also be overwhelming. Big crowds, minimal sleep and sore feet. A lack of routine and overindulgence in disinhibitors can empty our mental and physical batteries fast, often resulting in further overindulgence in disinhibitors. Today, we’re more aware of the relationship between self-care and mental health. However, rules tend not to exist at festivals, which can negatively impact our wellbeing.

While it may sound obvious, preparation will help ensure you have the best possible experience. And no, that doesn’t mean bed by 10.00pm and no crisps for breakfast – we’re not here to ruin your festival. Preparation is simply to ensure we can all survive the best time of the year, in style.

01. Don’t neglect your mental health

Just because your out-of-office reply is on, you still need to protect your peace of mind. An organisation called blink provides mental health support at festivals in the UK. Mr Mike McAdam co-founded blink when his own mental health deteriorated in 2017. He was unable to get the help he needed and life spiralled, resulting in him admitting himself to a private psychiatric hospital. This is where the idea of blink was born.

The blink tents offer a place to chill, mindfulness activities and a safe space to talk openly about mental health, as well as access to free professional talking therapy sessions with qualified psychologists and counsellors. “When people go to festivals, they like to experience new things, whether that’s music, art or food,” McAdam says. “It’s a setting where people are more open-minded.” The anonymity and relaxed nature of blink’s offering has been especially appealing to men.

One such man is Mr Dominic Eldred-Earl. Last year, he came across a blink tent at a festival. “After a 45-minute therapy session, I managed to identify a specific blocker that I hadn't realised till now was from past childhood trauma,” he says. “I’ve been able to work on it and reframe my thinking of various things.” This encounter led Eldred-Earl to continue receiving counselling beyond his festival experience. He is now a volunteer for blink and will be at festivals with them this summer.

The adrenaline rush and endorphins at festivals mean you’re often riding on a high and it’s easy to overshoot boundaries and burnout. Eldred-Earl’s top tip for knowing when you need a timeout is to be aware of behaviour changes. “If you notice you are becoming a bit more irritable, a bit short with people or you’re unable to make decisions easily or process stuff normally, it’s definitely worth taking a step back,” he says.

It’s often easier to notice this in friends, so look out for each other. Make space for those conversations. “Sometimes you just need the ability to offload,” Eldred-Earl says.

02. Dress to impress (and be comfortable)

Festivals allow people to dress in way that simply isn’t socially acceptable in the office. And sure, go for full-on Bakhtinian glory. But a key lesson most festival goers will learn at some point is the importance of comfort. Aged 15, at my first Glastonbury, I thought that I knew best. After a rainy week, the new sneakers I’d chosen to debut at Glasto (thus had _never _worn before) were destroyed by mud, taking my feet down with them.

“I usually try to blend comfort and style, “ says Mr Farid Sena Hounkponou, a Personal Shopper at MR PORTER. “I suggest starting with lightweight, breathable T-shirts or a casual shirt made from cotton or linen. You can also go for a tank top if you plan to show these hard-earned gym gains. Ensure you add a personal touch with graphics, band merch, statement print, tie-dye or any vibrant colours.”

Ms Lauren Cochrane, fashion writer for The Guardian and author of The Ten, advises doing some extensive research before packing your bag. What’s the site like? Where will you be staying? What’s the weather forecast? She also suggests a summer shirt (Casablanca style) would be a solid staple “because it brings a look without being too complicated and can be layered with basics like white tees if it’s a bit chilly”.

For bottoms, Hounkponou suggests a comfortable chino, denim or any activewear shorts for daytime. For cooler evenings, cargo trousers or joggers. Outerwear is also essential. Think light jackets for unpredictable weather, and stylish overshirts or denim jackets for layering.

Footwear should be sturdy yet comfortable. Durable sneakers or lightweight boots are ideal for rainy days or rough surface venues. And, it goes without saying, be sure to road test them first.

And don’t forget accessories: a hat (bucket hat for fun, cap to protect from the sun), a lovely pair of sunglasses – Hounkponou recommends coloured lenses – and a lightweight bandana. A crossbody or belt bag to carry all your little essentials to prevent losing anything is a must.

If your festival is taking place in the peak of summer, “leave heavy materials like leather and fur at home to avoid overheating,” Hounkponou says. “Avoid excessive jewellery as it can appear a bit over the top and be easily lost.” And don’t forget suncream.

Cochrane also reminds us not to take anything that’s too precious. “You never quite know what is going to happen at a festival, so wearing something that is usually for special occasions is probably not the best idea.” You’ve been warned.

03. Look after your body, too

We all know how intrinsically linked our mental and physical health are. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to look after yourself without having to run 5k every morning or avoid booze completely. Mr Will Agbo, personal trainer and founder of WA Performance, recommends three tips to optimise your festival experience and offset the inevitable comedown feeling that sometimes follows.

First, stay hydrated. The risk of becoming dehydrated at festivals is high due to hotter temperatures, long days on your feet and higher alcohol consumption. “An electrolyte drink is a perfect addition to counteract the loss of fluids and minerals that occur,” Agbo says. He’d recommend taking tubes of electrolytes with you and having one with some water each morning before the partying starts.

Second, try breathwork. “Indulging more than usual will place the body into a stressed state,” Agbo says. “This is the sympathetic nervous system at work. This state can increase anxiety, stress and low mood so to reduce that we want to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as rest and digest.”

Breathwork is an easy way to do this and accessible for all. Agbo recommends taking up to 10 minutes every day to practise some controlled breathing, inhaling through the nose before a long exhale through the mouth. The goal is to decrease the heart rate and place the mind and body at ease. Perfect while enjoying some afternoon sun, even just for a few minutes.

Third, don’t underestimate the power of a nap. “Sleep deprivation is real and can have a big impact on the experience,” Agbo says. “A 20-minute power nap in the day will help to recharge your energy, mood and relieve that hangover.”

04. Don’t let the Fomo win

It can be tough when it looks like everyone else is having the time of their life and you’re feeling a little flat. But try your hardest to switch off the Fomo antennae and be present – and don’t feel pressured to see every act on the bill. Because when you’re reminiscing years down the line, it’s how you feel in yourself and the magical experiences you share with friends that will make you smile.