Festivals in general
Right so here is MY ultimate festival packing guide....You don't need to take it all obviously, but there's maybe things on my list that you won't think to take that could be useful. ****I asked the DooYoo team where to post my "top tips for festival packing" guide and they advised me to post it here, I have given it ... 5 stars as it is my list so obviously I find it really useful to ME but I know not everyone will so no offensive if you want to comment and give it your own star rating haha ****
*Make sure you have your tickets!!
*Take a bank card with you but maybe keep one in the car too (or if that is parked far away have one on you and make an arrangement to share cash with a friend should you lose your card), there are bank machines at most festivals now but the ques can be really big!
*Try not to have all your money on one place on you, pick pockets are still a threat even at a friendly festival
*If you are taking a bag or back pack in to the arena, be mindful of how easy people can get in it. If you have a back pack on use one with 2 zips so you can use a combination locking padlock to secure it shut. Use a combination lock on this as it means you can open it without having to have an extra key on you and sticky fingers can't get in. Once locked pull them round to the side, not top as that's harder to slide open if anyone has a sneaky go
*Buy a water proof pouch ( I got mine in semi chem - discount chemist - for less than £2) keep your camera/phone in it in your bag as rain can get though if the weather is back and water damage can be costly as well as losing all your festival photos
*If you can - leave any valuable jewellery behind, even wedding rings, once you are soaked, sticky, muddy it is too easy to lose things
Tent (checked and aired out the week before)
Pillow (Blow up or an old one from the house)
Blanket (good for extra layer but also handy to wrap round you when sitting at the camp site)
A small burner/stove and kettle ( I make my pots of porridge and hot water bottle with this, mines is smoke free cubes that burn, not gas, check rules of the campsite)
Bin bags (keeps your wee area tidy and can be used if any bags burst etc)
Twine (handy for using if bags rip, anything needs secured)
Small hot water bottle (not essential but if you feel the cold like me, it is ideal to get you through the night, filled using my little kettle on my camp stove)
Kitchen roll (I like to wipe down the insides of the tent each morning with this to reduce the condensation that builds up overnight, handy for other stuff too)
Plastic cup to drink out of
1ltr-ish size empty bottle (easier to transport if empty) so you can fill it with water to drink in the tent at morning/night, it's easy to get dehydrated and if you only have a plastic cup..... expect spillages.
Pots of porridge that just take water to make (I don't like breakfast rolls so this starts my day off good)
And anything else you think you might fancy. remember the venuw and most campsites will have hot rolls and fast food but the ques can be long and the prices will be high
Toiletries and other bits:
Shampoo/conditioner/hair brush (if you are able to use the showers, if not can be washed using big bottle of water poured over your head)
Kirby grips/bobbles if you need them
Razor (ladies don't like to have hairy armpits, you'd be amazed how many stubbly armpits you see when arms are aloft though! Yuk! Taking a razor means you can have a quick removal of stubble each morning)
Ear plugs (essential)
Paracetamol/Ibuprofen/Imodium/heartburn tablets (may seem over kill but don't think you can buy these at many festival venues, certainly not ones I have been to)
Plasters (a big box and have a few in your bag/pocket for during the day, Welly blisters are a killer!)
Packs of tissues (most toilets have loo roll but a pack of tissues on you will save you)
Bacterial hand gel (try and take a half used one as even if a whole group of people using it ALL weekend, my bottle only went down about an inch so don't carry more than you need to)
A mirror big enough to see your whole face in, so you can do your hair or make up. If you just have a compact mirror its really fiddly
A small pair of scissors (really handy)
Nail file (raggy nails happen lots when camping haha)
Towels (if using the showers take a couple of small old towels that can get flung in a bag or get left behind)
Make up (pack only what you need to use and don't mind loosing/getting muddy)
Travel size suncream - you never know!
Clothing: (have more than one coat/shoes so if you get soaked or sore feet you can swap over)
Pack a mac
Umbrella (essential for trips to the toilet from tent at campsite if raining)
Hat/scarf/gloves (it gets soooo cold at night in the arena if you are standing about waiting on a band so even on a sunny day I have these in my bag)
All outfits you think you will wear - try and balance this between having outfits approriate to the weather and not taking more than you need as it all has to be carried on your back!
Your outfits - When you pack your bag set out each days clothing (pants, socks, top etc) and wrap each days clothes in a carrier bag, squish down so all air out then tie up. This makes is smaller and easier to pack and if your bag gets wet or you are taking your stuff to the shower block you just pick your carrier bag up and go and it stays dry too. You can also use same bag to put dirty clothes in that night, tie up and pop away so no mess in tent from mud etc
Way home - For the car on the way home, make sure and leave a big bottle of water, dry socks/hoodie and something to eat. If you get stuck in traffic you want something warm to wear and something to eat and drink.
Padlocks - For the padlocks for your tent, you will likely have 2 to use as most tents have zips on 2 sides. Top tip on this is, split the keys, each lock usually comes with 2 keys. So split them so that on your key ring you have one of each and so does someone else you are with. Otherwise if one person loses all you are stuck, whereas if each person has one key each they can get in tent without you and also if you lose yours they still have a spare set. If you buy a set that comes with 2 locks they are usually same colour so identify what ones work for what lock with a spot of dif coloured nail polish on each lock and a spot on the corresponding key. So no faffing trying wrong key.
Meeting point - Set up a meeting point once you get in the arena. Phone signal is terrible in such crowded places, so if anyone gets lost make sure they know where to meet up. Pick something easily identifiable, like for example "the big wheel", but make sure and say something like "the big wheel facing the main stage" etc as each place is big so even if you get there it may be ages before you find the person. So set up a point and decide what direction to be facing.
Thats my girly top tips for festivals. I like to make sure and be safe and warm and once I know thats taken care of I can finally let my hair down!!!!
Happy (safe and warm) festival season everyone :-)
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Coventry Ricoh Arena
Last November on a wet and cold evening I bought two tickets to see Bruce Springsteen at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry which seems so long ago but after having finally been to the concert last night I can say it was definitely well worth the wait! My husband is the Springsteen fanatic having been to see him about ten times and knows every ... word to every song he has ever written. I do like him and have seen him previously at the Birmingham NEC where he performed with his Seeger Session Band and at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium along with the E Street Band but this one was by far the best for me.
The tickets are not cheap at just over £75 with the booking fee and the admin fee and whatever else fee they choose to add on but the concert lasted for three hours and ten minutes which included 30 songs all performed by Springsteen and the band with no breaks.
As my husband wanted to get somewhere near the front we started queuing at 3pm for the gates to open at 4.30. The weather forecast was heavy rain from 4-9 and true to form it started to rain quite heavily at around 3.30pm but this only lasted for around an hour. There were adequate toilet facilities while we were in the queue (I actually came out quicker than my husband which is very unusual at a venue like this), and the usual fast food and hot drinks kiosks to keep you going.
As we went through the turnstiles we were given a red wristband but wasn't quite sure why, but when we went onto the pitch realised that this allowed us to go into the pit area right at the front (although it was called the Gold Circle area which sounds much nicer). I spoke to a steward who said that the first 2000 people were allowed in this area. As you can imagine my husband was like a child at Christmas as he would be so close to his hero. A further wrist band was provided if you wanted to leave this area to get drinks, go to the loo etc. The drinks are not cheap but are probably on a par with other venues like this and there were plenty of bar staff to serve you.
The show started at just before half past seven and soon got the crowd up dancing and singing to favourites from the last 35 years. During the show Springsteen and band member Steven Van Zandt paid tribute to actor James Gandolfini who died on 19 June who also came from New Jersey and they played the whole Born to Run album dedicating it to him.
As usual Springsteen played to the crowd and collected several placards from fans with suggested songs for him to perform and requests to go onto the stage. He picked two young girls who had requested to dance with members of the band and a girl who had written "I would look good playing your guitar" who actually did play alongside Springsteen. A woman had the pleasure of dancing with Springsteen but the best for me was a young man who had written "Give me a man hug Bruce" who was invited onto the stage and hugged Springsteen as if his life depended on it which I found quite emotional .
Springsteen genuinely looks happy when he is interacting with his fans and is frequently touching hands and taking things offered him when he is on the stage. He comes across very passionate when he is singing and you believe every word he sings.
The only downside was the price of parking which was £20 and was on an uneven grassed area at the side of a social club and although it was quite near to the stadium we waited for an hour and three quarters until we could get out due to the volume of traffic.
I must add that at 63 I think Springsteen is a very sexy man and I think he has definitely improved with age. Also I hope I have his energy at that age as I was shattered just standing and dancing and he was running around the stage for the whole time. All in all a fantastic night and will definitely go to see him live again. Five stars from me.
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Isle of Wight Festival
Until last weekend, I was a festival virgin. Never having felt the attraction of mud, burnt sausages and free love, I had let the likes of Glastonbury, V and Leeds/Reading pass me by quite happily. However my family hail from the Isle of Wight and many of them still live there so, when there was talk of having a reunion at the festival ... this year, I only half showed an interest. The promise that I wouldn't have to camp and that I could stay at my cousin's flat nearby (I know, I know, camping is all part of the experience, but there was no way I was doing it!), made me a little more receptive to the idea. The final persuasion came in the form of The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, The Killers and Bon Jovi - the headline line up that could have been planned for me alone.
So, armed with wellies, poncho, sunglasses, shorts and a camping chair (this is the problem with the UK, you have to pack for all eventualities and so can't go lightly), I headed off across the Solent on the Red Funnel for my first ever festival and I have to say I enjoyed it. I'll only talk about this year's line up briefly because that will obviously change, but I'll use this review to tell you all the things you need to know about festivalling from the point of view of a total novice!
A Bit of History
The Isle of Wight festival has been going in its present form since 2002, but it gained worldwide fame during 1968, 1969 and 1970 when huge headline acts and even huger crowds caused unprecedented notoriety. It was the unexpected estimated 600,000 attendees in 1970 that caused parliament to pass the Isle of Wight act. The act banned gatherings of more than 5000 people on the island and effectively ended the Isle of Wight festival.
After much organisation and change, the festival was restarted in 2002 with an attendance of just 8000 people who enjoyed watching The Charlatans and Robert Plant. Since then the attendance has steadily increased, thanks to crowd pullers like The Who, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, Kasabian, REM, Snow Patrol, Prodigy and many more and the Isle of Wight Festival has once again cemented its place as a great festival - the start of the festival season in fact.
Location and Getting There
The festival is located at Seaclose Park, which is just outside the main town of Newport, in the centre of the island. It is actually a very convenient location. The obvious way to get to the island - unless you are rich enough to land there in a fancy pants helicopter - is by ferry. The Red Funnel goes from Southampton to East Cowes, which is about a 15 minute drive from the festival site. The ferry isn't cheap and it gets considerably more expensive around festival time so you'll need to bear this additional cost in mind when planning a trip to this festival. There is a shuttle that runs from the ferry to the camp site which is really well organised and easy to use. There were a lot of problems last year (mainly thanks to the rain in the preceding days) that meant that there were huge queues getting to the campsites from the ferry but they have quite clearly learnt from their mistakes and the whole thing was very smooth this year. They actually make the roads around the site a huge one way system and there were very few queues this year, even right after the ferries landed.
Like I said I am not going into too much detail because the acts will obviously change from year to year. There are three stages; Main Stage, Big Top and Dance Tent. To give you an idea here is the line up from this year (2013):
Friday - Palma Violets, Everything Everything, Jake Bugg, Emeli Sande, Paul Weller and The Stone Roses.
Saturday - Tank Trap, Willy Mason, Ian Hunter and the Rant Band, Laura Mvula, Bonnie Raitt, Bastille, Ben Howard, The Macacabees, Bloc Party and The Killers.
Sunday - The Bear Social, Little Angels, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Newton Faulker, The Boomtown Rats, Paloma Faith, The Script and Bon Jovi.
Friday - T'Pau, Levellers, Lianne La Havas, Fun., Delilah, Ellie Goulding and Rizzle Kicks
Saturday - Crystal Seagulls, Willy Moon, Lawson, Little Mix, Devlin, Monsta, Friction, Modestep, Zane Lowe, Sub Focus
Sunday - Resonate, Tracer, Republica, Kodaline, Imagine Dragons, Kids in Glass Houses, Young Guns, Imperial Teen, I Am Kloot, Blondie
Friday - DJ Future, Secondcity, Faith SFX, Russ Chimes, Mistajam, Youngman, Benga, Madeon, Example
Saturday - Thick As Theives, Star One, Nikki Beatnik, Beats and Swing, Mt. Woolf, Night Works, Ghostpoet, Alex Metric
Sunday - Luca Pilato, Alexis Raphael, Waifs and Strays, Gorgon City, Roses Gabor, MK, Mosca, Huxley, Miguel Campbell, Derrick Carter, Less Foss, Damian Lazarus
If you are camping, the Big Top is also open on Thursday night with a few extra acts. The acts this year were The Blockheads, The Farm and The Happy Mondays all of whom I thought were brilliant. Even if you are not actually camping, you can pay the extra for a camping ticket so you can get in to see these bonus acts and since it is only about £15 per person extra, I think it is a no brainer and it is absolutely worth paying the extra money.
The Killers put on a fantastic show but I am biased because I love Brandon Flowers! The Stone Roses were exactly as I'd imagined they would be, which was brilliant. I was surprised at how lack lustre Bon Jovi were to be honest; I thought they would be really good but they were a little disappointing. The same goes for Paul Weller as he insisted playing a lot of songs that even his biggest fans would find tiresome, the crowd went wild when he finished with A Town Called Malice though! I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of acts that I didn't think were my kind of thing as well; Newton Faulkner did a fantastic one man cover of Bohemian Rhapsody, The Script put on a good show, culminating in Danny O'Donoghue jumping into the crowd, Paloma Faith chatted to the crowd between songs and Blondie did an absolutely awesome job of closing the festival on Sunday night. I really could wax lyrical for hours, but I won't!
The thing I loved most about the line-up is that there was plenty to appeal to everyone and there wasn't too much of the same thing. To be honest I didn't actually go in the dance tent because that kind of music just isn't my thing, but my 21 year old cousin spent quite a lot of time in there and loved it. Our group's ages ranged from 16 years to 53 years and everyone enjoyed plenty of acts throughout the weekend. The sheer number of people that sat in front of the main stage, especially for the bigger acts meant that the atmosphere was fantastic and even if you don't like who is playing, the crowd makes it pretty special. I personally preferred the atmosphere in the Big Top because it was inside and so held a lot fewer people. It is also away from the main stage so you have to make a little bit more of an effort to go there so the people who do are obviously fans of whoever is playing, which all add to the great feel.
Other Things to Entertain
Having never been to a festival, I was surprised at just how much other stuff there was to see and do other than the music. There are lots of little side shows as it were and the whole place is like a little (well not so little actually) village. There is an area called '''Strawberry Fields''' that has a fair like feel to it with jaw dropping rides, a big wheel that offers great views and lots of stalls selling all manner of souvenirs. Everything is extra to the price of your entry ticket and it isn't cheap but there is a lot to do. The official merchandise stands are surprisingly reasonably priced actually - you can get a t-shirt for £20 and a sweatshirt for £40.
There are a number of other tents offering different types of music too. New this year was the River Island Sing in Style''' tent where you can get up and strut your stuff, kitted out in River Island clothes. We wandered through one day and there were some pretty good people doing karaoke - they vet people before they go on so you don't get rubbish singers. '''The Hipshaker Tent''' was a favourite of ours as they had some cracking tribute artists on including The Smyths, Noasis and Blurred, who were all very good. In between sets that have a DJ who plays great crowd pleasers. '''Bohemian Woods''' is fun to wander round and is like a little forest hideaway where they have folksy type music playing. '''Octopus Garden''' has a few funky food stalls surrounding it and it is filled with sofas so it is a great place to have a relax. '''The Carling Tent is a great place to see up and coming artists; many of the acts on the main stage started out their careers here so it is worth a visit.
Tips to Get the Best Out of the Weekend
Downloading the app is a great idea because it full of really useful information. It has maps of the whole site so you can see where everything is and it also has a little bit about each artist so you can see if you recognise them all and play one of their songs. They also send updates directly to your phone throughout the weekend advising of any schedule changes and things that are going on next which is really handy. Getting a programme is well worth the money too. It isn't cheap at £10, but you get a pretty funky book full of information about the back story of the artists and it is great for music buffs. The most useful thing about the programme is that you get a lanyard for round your neck that has little cards on with all the timetables on for the weekend so you can plan your days as you go along. We found it was a god send and we just got one between all of us to cut costs.
Keeping some toilet roll with you at all times is a really good idea. The toilets were actually a lot better than I thought they were going to be - I'd heard all he horror stories and had decided that I wasn't going to drink a drop all weekend so that I could avoid using them. There are plenty of them and they all have flush as well as hand sanitiser and toilet rolls in them. There were super attendants who were restocking the toilets and trying to keep the queues moving, but they do get overworked and having some toilet roll in your pocket won't go a miss! I'd also recommend avoiding going to the loo between acts as the queues are considerably longer. There was a new thing this year where you could get luxury toilet access by paying £30 for a wrist band. To be honest I wouldn't recommend this because there is only one set of these toilets and it is miles away from the stages so would be a real pain to get to during the day.
Food and alcohol is not allowed into the festival main area. You can take it into the camp sites but nowhere else. You can take unopened bottles of non-alcoholic drinks in and I'd recommend doing so because you'll be paying upwards of £2 for a bottle of water inside. To get alcohol, you need to first buy tokens from one place which you can then exchange for drinks at any bar. Tokens are £4.30 each, which will get you either a pint of Carling or Strongbow, a 187ml bottle of wine or alcopop (Bacardi Breezer) or a spirit and mixer. Get tickets first thing in the morning to avoid queues and try and work out how many you'll need for the weekend and buy them at the beginning of the weekend so you don't have to keep going back. Buying a half pint is the same price as a full pint which is obviously absolutely scandalous and so you should avoid doing that! Food wise, we managed to sneak a few bars of chocolate and bags of crisps in but they will take it off you if they spot it, so don't bother attempting to take full packed lunches in!
Take a camping chair or blanket to sit on because it is a long time to be stood up when you think that things kick off in the early afternoon and carry on until past midnight. You also need to seriously study the weather and consider the fact that you'll need appropriate clothing. It was actually (fortunately) sunny for the four days that we were there and so it was warm enough for shorts and teeshirts. It got very cold once the sun went down though and so, even though it may seem like stating the obvious, you need to take a coat or something even if it is sunny during the day. There is also a reason why wellies are synonymous with festivals and even though it wasn't raining, the ground was a little bit muddy because of the sheer numbers of people walking over it. They have done everything they can by putting paths and piles of bark down to help, but 'getting a comfortable pair of wellies is a very good idea.
Food isn't cheap but there is a lot of choice available and it doesn't have to cost the earth. There is every nationality of food on offer and you can choose from the weird and whacky (kangaroo burgers) to good home cooking (pies and toasties). There are so many different foodstalls that you won't ever have to queue for long but they are quieter when acts are on. As a rough guide, a normal burger will cost about £4, sweet and sour chicken with fried rice £7, pie mash and gravy £6 and a 12 inch pizza about £7. If you do run out of money whilst you are there, there are cash machines, but they do charge.
Ask the staff if you need anything. There are literally thousands of staff everywhere around the site and they are ridiculously happy and helpful especially considering the hours they put in. We didn't see a grumpy staff face anywhere.
Price and Is It Worth It?
We paid £190 each for our camping tickets, which included four days of music. It is very expensive but there has been research done into the value of tickets compared to how much you would pay to see the individual artists and the Isle of Wight came out on top for value for money in all of this years' top festivals.
I loved my first festival and I know I have nothing to compare it with, but I think The Isle of Wight Festival is a great option for people who like a bit of everything. There is a lot going on aside from the music and it really does offer a party atmosphere. Alright it isn't cheap and it isn't easy to get to, but I would definitely recommend it - I'm a convert!
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