How to survive a festival hen do in style
Endless live music; colourful entertainment; delicious food and a crowd ready to party: there’s no wonder brides are choosing to combine their hen party with a festival for an epic weekend.
These ready-made parties, however, can present a few challenges. Mention the word ‘portaloo’ and some ladies will run 10 miles to avoid it. The truth is, we all have different degrees of tolerance when it comes to all-night partying and ‘roughing it’ for the weekend.
With festival season underway, Maximise hen weekends, asked carnival-loving bloggers to share their tips and tactics for surviving festivals. Here’s a selection of some of the most useful suggestions, so whether you’re a festival first-timer or have a few events under your belt, prepare to rock out in style with some help from the pros.
Jennifer, Hello Jennifer Helen
Embrace the bum bag – An icon of the 1980s and thankfully recently revived, the bum bag is a festival essential. What do I have in mine? Phone, a packet of tissues, money, antibacterial gel and diarrhoea tablets (a gal can never be too prepared). They help you keep everything you need close by and still leave you two hands free for holding drinks.
Go big on the tent- The first time I camped at a festival, I was in one of those teeny tiny pods for two, sharing with a friend. There was just enough space for two sleeping bags and our backpacks. No chance I was going to get dressed without contorting myself into all kinds of shapes. Fast forward 10 years later and my tent is now designed for six people, but houses two, and comes complete with a porch, air bed and camping chairs. And I’ve never been happier. Yes it’s heavy and a chore to pack away, but what tent isn’t?
Dress down, but accessorize up (for the weather) – I may sound like your Mum, but guess who’ll have the last laugh wrapped up and toasty warm while you’re freezing in your floaty kaftan and high waisted mini shorts? When it comes to festivals, I am much more about keeping my clothing understated, warm and (dare I say it) practical and going all out with accessories – whether that be a floral crown, a glitter star on my face or a bandana around my neck. That way I maintain my style points and stay warm. And let’s face it, if it rains, all anyone will see is your oh so glamorous rain coat and wellies anyway.
Milly, Mini Adventures
Get yourself a portable phone charger – When I first started going to festivals, I always used to take along a cheap phone (RIP Nokia 3310) that would last for days on one charge. But now I like to share a bit of the weekend with friends and family back home, and love seeing posts from others at thefestival too. Now, while I’m all for putting your phone down and taking in the bands, with most festivals providing apps with helpful info, having a smartphone with charge is generally a pretty useful thing. How else will you find out that your fave band are doing a secret set? One of my best investments (for day-to-day life as well as festivals) has been a portable charger – I get around 3-4 charges out of this one. It’s small enough to throw in my backpack and cheaper and more convenient than using the charging tents every night.
Bin bags are amazing – And not just for making sure your campsite doesn’t look like an explosion at a landfill site by Saturday morning. Oh no, the humble black bin bag comes in plenty handy. Whether it’s for separating your dirty clothes (very handy when you take five pairs of identical black pants and gag at the idea of the ‘sniff test’), muddy boots, a makeshift poncho or perching your bum on when the floor’s damp, take a roll of them along with you and you won’t regret it. And you’ll make lots of friends wanting to steal one too.
Stash some clothes for a clean exit- When you jump aboard a train full of non-festival folk dressed in their suits with good hair, you’ll suddenly become VERY aware that you’re emitting that very specific odour made up primarily of fields, sweaty bearded men and portaloos. So take some comfy, clean clothes wrapped up in a plastic bag ready to change into once you’re offsite. You’ll thank me for it, and so will everyone else on public transport.
Research your destination – Despite being a bit of a festival ‘veteran’, this year I actually went to my first European festival, Groezrock. It was brilliant, although I was woefully under prepared, particularly for the journey home. So if you’re heading abroad make sure you get your plans sorted in advance (including working out exactly how to get home and allowing lots of extra time for it), making sure your phone and bank card are set up to work abroad if you need them, and learning a few useful phrases in the local language. E.g: ‘where is the bus station’, ‘is there a camping shop here’, ‘what’s your cheapest beer’….
Kimmie, Adventures and Sunsets
Protect your ears – When you are groovin’ for days at a time to the world’s best sound systems, and you do it multiple times a year, it actually really does take a toll on your ears! I denied this for a while, but nowadays sometimes I legitimately feel like I have gone a little bit deaf from all the festivals and shows I go to. So now I am smarter and try to protect my hearing, because, well, it’s kind of something I would like to keep for a long time. I recently bought some high fidelity earplugs that preserve the sound but protect your hearing, and they’re also clear and not too visible!
Keep belongings safe
Locks – if you’re camping, lock your tent. It’s a great precaution and super easy if you have a combination lock that your campmates know the combination to. You can also lock main zippers of your backpack shut if you will be wearing it all day and need to carry some important stuff around!
Zips – Open bags are a no-no at festivals. Super dense crowds are unfortunately a pick-pocket’s playground, even if stealing is against any and all goodfestival vibes. Make sure your bags all have zips, and keep your most valuable items (money, phone, cards) in the innermost pocket of your bag.
Phones – don’t keep them in your pocket! This makes is too easy to fall out or get stolen, especially while dancing in dense crowds, or after a few drinks. This is another reason why I love fanny packs (bum bags) – they can be locked and safe right at your waist!
Meeting Points – Before going off into the venue for the day, maybe pick a meeting point at which to meet your friends if you get separated. Don’t pick meeting points too close to any tent or stage, or in areas that are very likely to be populated; pick something away from the rush. Make sure it’s foolproof and specific, and that you would not be able to miss each other! Use the same meeting point for the whole weekend, and use it to meet up after different shows too.
If you’re interested in attending a festival for your hen do, check the festivals and events covered my Maximise hen weekends, they cover everything from the colossal Oktoberfest to the truly bizarre Spanish festival, La Tomatina.