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Oxegen is an outdoors music festival held in Punchestown, County Kildare in the Republic of Ireland. It's been on the go since 2004, is usually held over 3 days during the summer, and attracts up to 90,000 music fans. It was previously called 'Witness' and when I was younger I always wanted to attend since they seemed to have so many great acts, and in 2009, I finally got the chance; I went for a single day ticket (costing around £90) and opted not to camp for the whole weekend. When booking tickets (through Ticketmaster), the musical lineup is still under wraps but not to worry, as there is always a fantastic mix of artists, some world famous, and some unknown and upcoming; there is something to suit everyone's tastes.
I was attending with 5 friends, and we made sure to do our research before going; for day ticket holders like ourselves, there are free park-and-ride facilities just outside of Punchestown where the car can be left, before hopping on a free bus to the venue itself. The park-and-rides (which are basically just huge fields) were well sign-posted, and inside there were plenty of people to direct us to a space. The bus journey lasted for about 20 minutes and once we reached the venue we were directed to join a queue for single day ticket holders. Despite having to wait for about 35 - 40 minutes before making it past security (who did a lackluster search of my bag without even opening it) and the main entrance, the atmosphere was great, and as you pass under the huge stone-effect entranceway and see the crowds and massive stages, it's really very exciting.
Before the bands take to the stage, there are plenty of other things to occupy your time; various food stands, fairgrounds, stalls with band merchandise, shops selling all the essential festival gear (which, in our case, was rain macs), and bars. I should also point out there were cash machine facilities and excellent first aid points, scattered throughout the venue which were very easy to locate. The queues for the bars were all huge, but it was easy to get served everywhere else. We avoided drinking, partly so our designated driver wouldn't have to control 5 drunks, and partly to avoid having to use the portable toilets too often, which were grim to say the least; Oxegen Tip No. 1 - bring your own toilet roll/tissues, and some hand cleaning gel.
So onto the music; we were lucky to get a great lineup, full of bands we were dying to see; we drew up a timetable before we went of all the bands we couldn't miss, and bar 1 or 2 we were successful; we saw Daniel Merriweather and The Saturdays (who were both playing in a tent so we were extra glad to get out of the rain), James Morrisson, The Saw Doctors, Bloc Party, and The Kings of Leon. Without a doubt, the highlight for me was Elbow; they finished their set with their amazing anthem 'One Day Like This' and it's strange how standing in a soaking wet field can feel so exhilarating, but hearing 90,000 people sing the same words, with their hands in the air, while being sprayed with confetti, was an experience I'll never forget.
The Kings of Leon were the last act of the day (finishing around midnight) and the prospect of walking across the huge field and waiting forever for a bus full of drunken revelers, was depressing. However I was so surprised at how well organized everything was. We waited only a few minutes for a bus, and it seemed that everyone inside was as tired as us, because there was barely a noise made, and thankfully no empty bottles of Jack Daniels being hurled around.
So while I would recommend Oxegen to others, and have given it 5 stars, I don't know if I would do it again. It was an extremely long day; we set off from County Armagh at 7.30am on Saturday morning, and arrived home at 5.30am on Sunday morning. The weather was appalling and in places, we were calf-deep in muck; Oxegen Tip No. 2 - wear wellington boots, no matter how good the weather forecast is. As I mentioned before I was with 5 other people, so before we arrived we devised a 'buddy system' so we would always be with our partner and never stranded alone; yes I know this may sound a bit sad but we were glad of it when towards the end of the night me and my buddy (and granted it wasn't my original buddy) got separated from the other 4. It was much less daunting standing in a crowd of thousands with a friend stood next to me, plus telephone reception was dire so we couldn't contact each other despite our best efforts.
The music and atmosphere were fantastic, and the event was generally very well organized, but I think once was enough for me. If you're planning on attending the festival, the website www.oxegen.ie is really great, and provides information on tickets, directions to the venue, some history of the event, and various photos and videos.
Oxegen is a festival in Ireland, which is located at Punchestown. It attracted 80,000 people this year. You can get camping tickets or ordinary day tickets, which do not allow you access to the camping grounds. I purchased camping tickets at 144 euros, which entitled me to be in the campsite from the Friday to the Monday.
As I didn't want to rough it camping, yet wanted to be able to relax in the camping area we decided to stay in a hotel and catch the park and ride. As my friends were camping properly they set up out tent so we could store out drink and any food we brought along. We also brought fold up chairs to sit on.
The Park & Ride was located at Goffs, Junction 8 off the N7 or Junction 10 off the M7. It is a free shuttle bus continuously operating between the Park & Ride sites and the Oxegen site. Parking and the shuttle bus are both free of charge. The Park & Ride was easy to find and you never had to wait too long for a bus. The only problem we found was getting a taxi back to our hotel at night. We managed to do this but some nights we had to wait. The taxis try to take advantages of you and you have no other choice but to pay up or walk home.
We arrive late on Friday due to work commitments so unfortunately we missed the Sugababes. Apparently my friend said they were good (but I think he fancied them), he did say something about them making some mistakes but he had drank a considerable amount of alcohol so its hard to tell if he was speaking accurately lol! The security into Oxegen was stricter than I thought, you were asked for ID and you had to produce your tickets. You then were given an armband, which was not to be removed. It was made of very strong plastic and the only way I could have removed it was to cut if off with scissors. Any bags you had were checked as you were only allowed a certain amount of alcohol on the campsite per person. You were only allowed to have your drink in plastic bottles as no glass bottles were allowed in. When I seen the campsite I was amazed I had never been to a festival before and never have seen so many tents in one place before. On the first day the campsite seemed clean enough, a few plastic bottles lying about and cans. In the camping area there was places you could have got food. Most things cost around 7-8 euros. When we finally got into see any bands we watched Groove Armada and Feeder. Personally I am not a huge fan of these bands but there was a good fun atmosphere.
We were in the campsite earlier today and decided to lounge about out tent. Everyone had a few relaxing drinks. The campsite was messier with more bottles and toilet rolls and general rubbish lying around. Someone had decided to steal the pegs out of our tent and our friend's chairs had been inside and they also stole them. We were annoyed but determined not to let it ruin out fun. As we had a few drinks a few trips to the toilet were due. I was shocked that they were cleaner than I imagined they would be as I had been told some horror stories! I later found out that them toilets had just been cleaned and that they got more disgusting the more the time went on. Make sure to bring your own toilet rolls, as these are not provided. It's a festival though so you expect these things! What I found really funny was that on the temporary toilets there was a sticker on them saying only 7 people was to use the toilet in one week or it could cause unsanitary conditions. There were 80,000 people there and not an overly large amount of toilets. You never had to queue for too long though. They had hand saniters in some toilets and outside, which I was shocked about but quite often they didn't work.
Amy Winehouse was the first person we seen today. I love her music and was thrilled that she turned up. She had cancelled the year before and I was doubtful she would be there. I have to say the start of her performance was ok as you could make out what songs she was trying to sing. The longer the performance went on for the worse she got. She skipped lines and cursed when she couldn't remember her words, she really is a big mess. Amy wasn't as good as I expected but I did enjoy her performance as the crowd was buzzing.
Next up was Stereophonics, I have to say they sound really good live. Personally they wouldn't be my favourite band but I thoroughly enjoyed their performance.
I have to say REM was the best I seen by far at Oxegen. Her really got the crowd going. There was interesting video's being played and everyone felt as if they were involved in the show. His singing was fantastic and I knew more songs than I realised. I heard a wee bit of the Verve and they seemed decent as well, but I was exhausted and decided to take the bus back to Goffs (which took about 20 minutes) and go back to the hotel.
Getting into the grounds on Sunday was mad, as they had seemed to be working on dismantling the sign (I was so gutted, as I had wanted a photograph!). They were checking your armbands and were very strict about them. If you band was broke at all or cut they would not let you in. I saw several arguments with people and security over how they had been in the grounds all weekend. I think a lot of people gave their armbands to others so they could get in the last day and this is why security was so tight. Once in the grounds we wadded through the rubbish to out tent. The place was mad everyone seemed very drunk throwing chairs and jumping on tents. Some people were just trashing the place for the sake of it. Right then I was very glad I had not slept in the tent. Even when I was sitting in it I was scared people were going to jump on my tent. We didn't see many bands today just walked around listening to everyone, the only one I can tell you who it is, is the Chemical Brothers. Inside the grounds there was a funfair where you could go on a ferries wheel, a ghost train and some rides. There was also games you could play to win teddy bears were we spent some time.
I thought that this festival was a great experience. We had great fun and there was a nice atmosphere about. Some tips I would have is to bring a coat and sunscreen as you will probably need both (that's Irish weather for you lol). Wellies are a must as the ground gets mucky with everyone walking about it and it is so much easier to get around with wellies. This year there were lots of different colours and styles of wellies it was great to see all the different kinds you can get. If you are camping it is a good idea to mark it with a flag or something unique so you can find it through the mass of tents. The most important one is bring toilet roll as none is supplied.