Over the year’s I have been to an abundance of music festivals ranging from single day ones like Slamdunk, Butserfest, Takedown (rip) and Hit The Deck (rip) to weekends in the UK like Download, Sonisphere, V, Glastonbury and Reading/ Leeds, but I’ve also been further afield to Groezrock in Belgium, Rock Im Park in Germany and Warped in New York.
For me, there’s something about music festivals which makes me a little giddy with excitement and as the season is pretty much over for the year I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the last 10 summers which I have been heading to festivals.
Most people head to their first festival when they’re 15-17 but I had to wait until I was 18 as my parents just weren’t happy me going before then so a week after getting my A Level results I filled up my rucksack and made my very first pilgrimage to Richfield Avenue to Reading Festival, a festival which would make up such a huge part of my festival experience. The start of the festival didn’t start well with the group of people we were going with deciding to ditch us, us having some difficulties getting our granny trolly of alcohol down the stairs of Euston Square tube station and having two days of slight boredom before the music started.
Yes, festivals are inherently about the social aspect and spending time with people you love and having some drinks, but ever since I started going it would always be about the music for me. I’d be the person who would be up and dressed ready for that band who were opening at 11am, and I’d be the one who wasn’t fussed on getting passed out drunk in the evening making the following morning a complete write-off.
Between 2008 and 2016 I didn’t miss a single Reading and Leeds festival but this year was different and for the first time I didn’t spend August Bank Holiday weekend in Reading and instead was on the other side of the country in Blackpool at Livewire Festival seeing the legendary Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff perform.
Thinking of other festivals I’ve now been to Download Festival every year since 2009 and I have been very lucky that my first year was my only one in the communal campsite. 2010 saw me win a competition with Kerrang Magazine where I got two guest passes, 2011 saw me get a guest pass through my wonderful friend Claudia to cover the festival for her music website, and since then I have been to the festival with Hit The Floor where I have managed to take photos, interview some really interesting bands and experience live music as it should be, in a muddy field.
Image taken by Graham Berry at Reading Festival 2016
Sonisphere was short lived with just one experience before it pretty much disappeared, although it was Biffy Clyro’s first ever festival headline set and paved the way for their headlining ways. I am so happy that I was there to experience their virginal appearance even if the weekend was marred by an ex-boyfriend and petty shenanigans. Glastonbury has been a spread out affair with my first experience back in 2010 where all we cared about was music and my next experience being in 2016 where I explored more and music wasn’t the be all and end all.
I was a pop princess at V Festival a few times around 2009/2010 seeing some amazing acts that I’d struggle to see elsewhere including an amazing headline performance by Eminem, something I’m still itching to see again. I went back in 2016 which was an experience but something I wouldn’t completely rule out doing again.
To be honest day festivals are where I feel the UK does things best with Slamdunk being pretty much my favourite weekend of the year and another festival I’ve experienced every year since 2009, with the past 4-5 years seeing me do two dates every year. Year after year the organizers end up creating a lineup which is so varied and amazing that I end up running around venues year after year going crazy seeing some of the best bands with the world has to offer. Sadly quite a few day festivals like Takedown and Hit The Deck has disappeared, but it must be tough putting on a festival.
Image taken by Jemma Dodd at Slamdunk Leeds 2017
Further afield I’ve been lucky to experience three totally different festivals, Groezrock was a full out punk festival which put me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to listen to band’s I wouldn’t usually, Rock Im Park last summer had an incredible lineup but was marred by some travel and weather issues, and Warped Tour in New York in 2016 was one of those bucket list musical experiences, and something I’d love to do again at a different venue.
There’s still quite a few festival’s I’d love to go to so hopefully I’ll manage to cross at least one of these off next summer. If you’re thinking about planning next summer check out this interactive music map and start planning summer 2018 (it will be here quick enough). It will give you an idea of what festivals are close to you. Go Girl will also be publishing a 2018 edition so be sure to revisit it when you start planning next year.
Driving to festivals can be a good option as you can fill the car with all your festival essentials and cram your friends in too. If you’ve been putting off getting your driving license why not make it a goal for next summer so you can avoid the cramped trains and hit the o[pen road. And while you’re at it why not try out Go Girl for a provisional car insurance quote before you go to make sure you have adequate insurance. I’ve driven to so many festivals now and have always found it easy, just make sure you have a great playlist ready.
Have you been to a festival before?