Thank god for summer festivals. Thinking about theses potential up-coming music and arts parties keeps me sane throughout the last few weeks of winter with cabin fever. Even if I only make it to one festival annually, it will be just enough to sustain me through to the following year. However I MUST make it to at least one.
Ironically being married to someone in the music industry I am not at all into music on an intellectual level. Infuriatingly for any of the avid muso types of this world, I like good quality music but couldn't tell you one specific genre I love the most. It just depends on the day (I only hope the husband finds this refreshing). Festivals, for those people similar to me - are the perfect opportunity to discover loads of incredible new acts - which you can then feel passionate about because you saw them live and they were brilliant - but then go and dance, pint of cider in hand to the familiar sounds of Dolly Parton.
Creatively, people tend to really shine at a festival. Friendly faces chat to strangers, people bounce around, dressed how the hell they like - usually the sparklier the better. The art and sculptures put up at these events are absolutely stunning to see. There are always beautifully painted silk flags elevated high, billowing in the wind adorning the festive landscapes. Mad little nooks are made to explore, created by clever artists that know how to transform the ordinary into the magical. If anyone ever has a chance to see the Arcadia spider (often at Glastonbury) - an industrial style, huge aracna structure that holds the DJ high above the crowd - simultaneously blowing fire out from the sides, then I recommend you go. English festivals are usually filled with such a mix of styles ranging from Hippie-flowers-in-their-hair types to underground dance tribes - you can't help but soak in the wonderful, craziness of it all. I often feel that a festival is like a sparkly 'at its' best' microcosm of the world.
If you are in the festival, playful-spirit, it is absolutely fun whether the sun is shining or not. Of course there's nothing quite like wandering around on a sunny day, lying in a field listening to music with the sun our faces - but if it's cold and rainy then it's still great too. Wearing something waterproof, huddled together on a plastic sheet, attempting to eat some hot-food perched on a paper-plate on your lap, whilst getting muddy - is actually hilarious. This is a playground for grown-ups where we can legitimately feel like kids again. Forget about looking a certain way - just get out there and get your hands a bit dirty. The English are particularly good at this, we don't expect good weather, so when we do get it - we treat it as an absolute bonus and then literally nothing can stop us from grinning. Whatever the weather, I think a major part of the fun is just being outside all day and then finally retreating to a tent which is still basically outside. One year I remember a huge storm just as we were heading back to our tents. It absolutely poured but the tent was dry and the sound of the rain outside created that incredible atmosphere that can only occur when you are just a sheet of canvas away from it all.
I get particularly excited to see all the beautifully decorated mobile restaurants set up at these events. I absolutely love street food, being on a train in India taught me about the beauty of deliciousness being sold through windows at each stop. Since then I have always been seeking that perfect veggie-samosa. So these festival cafes with mostly good quality food and always very thoughtfully-catered towards hangovers fill me with happiness. These days it is pretty typical to come across fresh juice stalls for help with the morning-after detox. In fact it pretty much astounds me how the organisers usually think of everything, virtually managing to design a village - with everything you could imagine you might ever need. Phone charging bars, post boxes, even camping equipment in case you forget yours.
Most festivals are brilliantly becoming more family orientated these days, I adore the fact that I can take my two little ones along and I hope that they will love it just as much as I do. There are some events that are particularly well organised and focused on child friendly activities, so much so that it is becoming more and more popular to bring the children along too. I imagine that nothing could be better for enriching their souls than seeing all the adults around them relaxed and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
I do know people that can't stand the idea of festivals, in fact I have one friend in particular that has a physical reaction when I mention the word. She cannot hide her disgust as she screws up her nose. If this sounds like you, then do stay away... Fingers crossed the loos will always remain just about hideous enough to keep those types at bay.