My Relationship With Music Festivals

My Relationship With Music Festivals

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.

download festival

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.

biffy clyroImage 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.

CounterfeitImage 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?

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Music festivals are like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. Here is My Relationship With Music Festivals

This post was written in collaboration with Go Girl but all thoughts and opinions are my own


  1. August 30, 2017 / 4:11 pm

    I’ve never been to a music festival, but I always go to concerts and just feel like I come alive when i’m there. I totally get your love for festivals. It’s one thing to listen to music on the daily, but it’s a completely magical thing to be there with a band and listen to them play right there in front of you. Plus, I bet they make for great memories and experiences!

  2. August 30, 2017 / 8:52 pm

    That’s definitely something I miss doing now that I have kids.. I haven’t been able to get to a musical festival in years 🙁

  3. August 30, 2017 / 9:39 pm

    I’ve never been to a festival before but I would love to as they seem so much fun! Hopefully one day!!

  4. August 30, 2017 / 9:46 pm

    I have never been to a music festival before but they look like so much fun! I need to go to one day.

  5. August 30, 2017 / 10:19 pm

    I have never ever been but have wanted to for years!! Its on my bucket list!!! Sounds like so much fun x

  6. August 30, 2017 / 10:33 pm

    Oh I love festivals and had a great time this month at V Festival . I am happy to hear that you have been able to go to so many music festivals, where do you plan to go to next? x

    • Rhian Westbury
      August 31, 2017 / 8:48 am

      I’d love to go to Boardmasters, Bestival or Boomtown in the UK so hopefully I’ll manage one next summer x

  7. August 31, 2017 / 8:51 am

    As someone living in Reading, I have a love/hate relationship with the festival. I loved it when I was younger (like 14-15), my friends and I would go for the day, usually the Saturday (and get the night bus home). Then when I was 19 I started camping at the festival – though used to always go home every day to shower (haha!), which was fun, but by the time I reached the age of 23, the festival had lost its appeal. I felt too old there, the music just wasn’t the same, AND after all the alcohol, food, new festival outfits etc, it ended up being more expensive than going away for a week somewhere all-inclusive! Plus my priorities changed when I got a mortgage lol.

    I love the fame that the festival brings to my town, but nowadays I hate that over the August bank holiday weekend everything in town is either sold out, completely full or the price has been ramped up mega bucks. I try and get away from Reading over the August bank holiday now if I can! x

    • Rhian Westbury
      August 31, 2017 / 8:58 am

      I totally agree with you about the change in the festival. As soon as I hit about 22 or so I felt too old for the festival too, the people that go there and generally younger than most other festivals and too many of them act like idiots x

  8. August 31, 2017 / 9:15 am

    I was at V to see Eminem perform – it’s a great chance to see a lot of acts together x

  9. August 31, 2017 / 12:46 pm

    It’s bizarre how different we all are as I love a concert and live music but the thought of a festive makes me go all cold and shivery!

  10. August 31, 2017 / 5:19 pm

    I love going to music festivals too! Sadly I’ve had to attend a number of funerals this year so I went to only one in Croatia but next year we are planning to visit a few throughout the year. I loved living through your pictures and memories however 🙂

  11. August 31, 2017 / 6:50 pm

    I have never been to a music festival before or any for that matter and I am so jealous that you’ve been to so many already. I hope to attend in the near future.

  12. August 31, 2017 / 8:13 pm

    I’ve never really been to a bit music festival, but I’ve never been hugely inclined to. It may be fun to go to a few when the boys are a bit older though.

  13. September 1, 2017 / 1:55 am

    I would love to go to a music festival. Definitely in my bucket list. I’d love to experience the great energy and music altogether. Rock On!

  14. September 1, 2017 / 7:53 am

    Sounds like you are a seasoned festival goer. I’ve only ever been to one day ones. x

  15. September 1, 2017 / 8:04 am

    I’ve never been to a festival, I get all the jealous feels but I don’t know if I’d like the crowds. Sounds like you’re an avid festival goer – you must have some amazing memories!

  16. September 1, 2017 / 8:55 am

    i would love to go to a music festival in fact i would love to take my family ive seen so many child friendly ones lately

  17. September 1, 2017 / 3:56 pm

    I haven’t been to a festival in a long time, but as my two kids get older then who knows, maybe I’ll make a return!

  18. September 1, 2017 / 6:56 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to a Download festival before and although I think I will like it I don’t think the whole aspect of camping and being dirty completely puts me off! But I think its one of those things I am going to have to try at least once!

  19. September 1, 2017 / 7:47 pm

    Arrghh I am still a music festival virgin! Its not because I dont want to go but it seems as it has been a lot of thing coming in my way! I would love to see Bob Marley live!

  20. September 1, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    I have never been to a music festival, I know that’s an awful thing to say! lol but I’m gonna work on my social life.

  21. September 1, 2017 / 10:54 pm

    I love festivals, I have been to V, creamfields and download. Now I have the toddler we tend to head to family festivals instead

  22. September 2, 2017 / 7:37 am

    I’ve never been to a festival like this. Looks very interesting x

  23. September 2, 2017 / 9:38 am

    Wow you’ve been to so many different festivals! I’ve been to Reading twice, my first time was when I was 18 too!

  24. Helen
    September 3, 2017 / 8:50 am

    Festivals are a way of life for me too. Leeds & Reading definitely holds a special place in my heart. Glastonbury is on my festival bucket list so I will definitely try for tickets for that next time.
    I agree that driving is the best way to get there, it’s much easier to load the car up and you can use it as an extra / secure storage point too.

  25. September 3, 2017 / 9:30 am

    I used to be a huge festival goer but nowadays there must be really great shows to make me go. I don’t want to travel to them so city festivals are more convenient for me now.

  26. September 3, 2017 / 3:44 pm

    I have never been to a music festival before but it is interesting to hear about your perspective on them!

  27. September 4, 2017 / 11:53 am

    I have not been to a music festival in years, but planning on it next year, It is so great to be surrounded by like minded people and makes a great day or days out.

  28. September 4, 2017 / 6:06 pm

    I’ve never been to a music festival. They look like fun but I don’t know if I’d like them. I’m not really big on huge crowds like that.

  29. September 4, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    That’s an impressive amount of festival going! I’ve only been to Glastonbury but would like to try some others. Would loved to have seen will smith and dj jazzy Jeff!!

  30. September 5, 2017 / 5:56 pm

    I do love music festivals, I wish I’d gone to more this year but I’ll definitely go to a few next year!

  31. September 9, 2017 / 7:01 pm

    I don’t like to go to such festivals though, but would love to listen to music on iPhone. Music is something with my day starts but music festivals are not made for me.

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