The First-timer’s Guide to Leeds Festival!

In the summer of 2014 I decided that life was too short to not have some things ticked off your bucket list in your 20s. I was approaching 23 and getting worried that I haven’t experienced some of the things that I should have done by now.

One of the things on my bucket list was to go to a large camping festival, so I took the plunge and bought weekend tickets to Leeds Festival. I must admit I was nauseatingly nervous every time I thought or spoke about it, I had heard so many awful stories of people being set on fire, people dying from taking too many drugs, cars in the car park being blown up, and tents being destroyed. To make myself feel better I stayed in Brown camp, it is the furthest away from the arena therefore is the most mellow campsite out of them all.

I did visit the other campsites, as I had friends and my brother in Red camp, some friends in Purple camp, and some friends in Green camp. Green camp isn’t too far from Brown camp, and is not too much of a crazy campsite either. If you don’t want to be too far out, but still want to have a bit of a party then I would suggest camping in Green. It seemed like a fair enough campsite with moderately normal people in it. Purple camp was near one of the main entrances so I don’t suggest camping there, it is very grubby and the tents are EXTREMELY close together! All I can say about Red camp is if you decide to camp there…good luck. It is very cramped and I don’t think anyone actually gets a wink of sleep. On the last night I suggest not having a drink and driving home/arrange transport home after the last act. I know it is the last night, but it is also when it really gets crazy. If you are the kind of person that like’s to be crazy then I am sure you would enjoy it but I definitely wouldn’t.

My boyfriend and I shared a 3 man tent as we had a lot of stuff with us, and the porch wasn’t big enough for it all. I would recommend getting a tent slightly bigger than you need, this gives you enough room to do the wet-wipe-wash and get changed every morning and night. You can keep your personal belongings in the main part of the tent, and your drinks, food and cooking equipment in the porch compartment. Make sure that you pitch your tent at the top of any hills/dips and that you don’t pitch up anywhere near the toilets. This prevents any water running into your tent if there is any rain and any drunk people falling into your tent whilst you are sleeping. Make sure your tent isn’t too bright, this attracts the attention of people who like to mess around with or ruin people’s tents.

A lot of people buy their food at the festival, or even simpler just don’t eat. I wouldn’t recommend doing either of these, the food at the festival is very expensive and also not very nice, and you need to eat something over the weekend so you don’t become a total drunk wreck every day. I saw many teenage girls at 1 o’clock in the afternoon completely out of their faces on the floor, presumably they had started drinking far too early, and not had enough to eat. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a “how not to enjoy yourself at a music festival” guide, but I am simply suggesting that you look after yourself, that is all, and don’t go wandering off on your own as the festival is very large and you are likely to lose all your friends.

I am afraid I am now going to have to discuss the loos. Ok – now – you have to fully prepare yourself to endure an experience of poo smells, wee smells, and other gross stuff while you are at one of the festivals. The campsite loos are the worst things I have ever seen, and the worst thing I have ever had to experience. They are metal cubicles with no roof, over a massive hole in the ground. You can see right in to the hole so do not look down whatever you do. Also don’t think about the person in the birdseye box right behind you, they can see you doing your business. My only guess is that this is in case someone is doing drugs or something in there. I did see some people with their own loo seat, which is a pretty good idea in my opinion, as towards the end of the festival I was reluctant to sit down on the seats provided (they were barely seats, more two pieces of wood screwed on to metal). My suggestion is get to the arena loos as early as you can as they are usually much better. They are a bit more monitored and kept “cleaner” than the campsite loos and are actually proper portaloos so nobody can see what you’re doing.

Sorry about that, but that was an essential piece of information that must be shared.

Don’t forget that you aren’t allowed to take any glass, professional cameras, aerosol cans, or lighters into the festival grounds. I got told to take my nail varnish back to the car (a 5ml bottle of nail varnish – it didn’t even cross my mind that it wasn’t allowed, but then again…WHY I took nail varnish to a music festival I do not know).

Ok so after all my waffling, here is the list:

  1. Suncream – it can get sunny and you could get burnt, but this is England so don’t take a huge bottle, just take enough to last if it is sunny all weekend.
  2. Lots of spare pairs of pants/knickers/underwear – you might get a bit wet if it is raining really badly, or if you sit on the floor between acts during the day.
  3. Comfy and WARM clothing – As a girl I wore leggings and long tops all weekend, and just layered them up if it was cold…Don’t forget hoodies, jumpers, tops, AND SOCKS!
  4. Picnic blanket/picnic chairs – you can take chairs to sit on or take a blanket to sit on. You will find yourself getting tired legs if you stand up all day!
  5. Normal Clothes for sleeping – I would suggest using jogging bottoms and a jumper for sleeping in, it gets very cold over night. Also a hat and a scarf helps to keep the heat in your body.
  6. Wet Wipes – I took 300 wet wipes and we used most of them! There are showers there, but they are not individual showers and probably cold water, so we used wet wipes to clean ourselves.
  7. Roll on de-oderant – and girls if you want to disguise the not-showered-for-days musk smell, maybe a body spray that comes in a plastic bottle, like the Ted Baker ones!
  8. Other toiletry bits – Bit of makeup and hair bobbles if you’re a girl (I trust you girls to get everything you may need…). Guys, whatever you guys like to put on yourself.
  9. Toothbrush and toothpaste – by just brushing your teeth you will feel much cleaner in a morning. It is worth taking some chewing gum too, to keep the freshness throughout the day and avoiding dry-mouth stench! Bleugh!!! 
  10. DRY SHAMPOO! – THIS ONE IS IMPORTANT, SO IT DESERVES CAPITALS! Guys might not be so bothered about this, but if you’re a girl there is nothing worse than feeling greasy haired!
  11. Cooking Equipment – Hexi Stoves are great, you are not allowed gas canisters so we took Hexi Stoves. They lit up easy enough and they’re not too expensive. Make sure you get plenty of Hexi blocks to last the weekend. Metal pans, cups, knives and fork…all available from camping shops!
  12. Food – Make sure you have enough food to last you for the whole time you’re there. Take tinned food, food that you add water to (like cuppasoup) and hot chocolate was my saviour!
  13. Drinks – I know it is a tradition to have an alcohol driven weekend but make sure you take some soft drinks too. A crate of soft drinks is a good one, or bottles of juice to add water to!
  14. Washing up equipment (Washing up liquid, scrubber, tea towel) – there’s a tap and drain facility that people use to wash up their pots and brush their teeth in. Yes it’s kinda gross to brush your teeth in the same sink that people wash up their pots, but as long as you don’t let your toothbrush touch anything it should be fine!
  15. A pen and small notepad – I know this sounds ridiculous, but I wish I had jotted down all of the bands I saw, because now they have all just merged together…I saw too many! I obviously remember the main ones I wanted to see, but not really the ones in-between! AND if you bump into any band members you may want to ask for a cheeky autograph!
  16. Disposable Camera – You don’t have to take one, but I wish I did…my phone ran out of battery so I don’t have many photos!
  17. Wet weather clothing – you will need wellies, coats and rain coats. Trust me!
  18. First aid kit – just in case you hurt yourself!
  19. Money – it is very expensive to buy drinks and food in the arena, so budget carefully as you will find yourself spending far too much. You can’t take your own drinks in to the arena so if you’re one of these people who like to get utterly plastered then drink lots first, either that or spend too much.
  20. Emergency bank card – There are money machines there, but they charge you to use them. Take your money out before you get to the festival and take your bank card just in case you have an emergency. Leave it somewhere safe!

Most of all, have a good time and enjoy it. If it is bad weather then forget about it and just embrace it…at least you will remember it as “that time it constantly rained and we got absolutely soaked”. To be honest, sometimes it’s better to have bad weather as I think we remember the occasion a bit more. If it was sunny you would just say “oh yeah it was good, nice and sunny”. If it is raining then you can at least laugh at yourselves drenched in photos afterwards.

Have fun, stay safe and stick together!

Peace out!

E.

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