Newest Review: ... acts are on each stage so you can plan your weekend and make decisions for acts that clash. V Festival was the first festival I eve... more
A great festival - but prefer Staffs to Chelmsford
Member Name: shoe_gal_84
Advantages: Great bands, reasonable
Disadvantages: Camping, toilets
I have been to 3 V Festivals and attended both the Staffordshire and the Chelmsford site, so can hopefully offer an insight into both.
Firstly, an overview of how it works. V Festival is set over 2 sites, as mentioned, one in Staffordshire and one in Chelmsford. There are lots of bands and artists that play across a Saturday and a Sunday (usually around the third weekend in August). Whichever site the musician plays on a Saturday, they will play the other on the Sunday so they both get the same experience, but the other way around.
My first V Festival was Staffordshire in August 2008, with my good friend Kerry. She had been to several before and really wanted to go again, so we decided that we would go together. We were both really excited as Muse, one of our favourite bands, were headlining! In the build up to the event, I spent a lot of time on the efestivals website, as there is a great forum on there. I found out all kinds of information, from where is best to camp, to someone even putting together a 'clash list' of who would be on at what time.
We went prepared, and arrived late on the Friday afternoon. The signs from the road were pretty good once we got near, although we did learn that there were several different car parks but could only find our way to the 'West' one. So we parked up (for a £10 fee) and slowly started the trek to the campsites. Staffordshire and Chelmsford differ on this as a Staffs you can camp in any of the coloured campsites, but at Chelmsford you buy either a Red or Yellow camping ticket. I had read that red was the noisy site, so we knew that we wanted to avoid that as we wanted some sleep. We managed to find a lovely little spot in the Blue site, which suited us perfectly.
Tent up, we decided to go to the arena to have a look around and get our bearings. V Festival has got pretty massive over the years, so there's a lot to explore. You can buy a programme and map for £10, which also includes a lanyard with all performance times on it. If travelling as a group, I would just recommend buying one between you as it's all you really need. We sussed out where the stages were in preparation for the next 2 days. There is a fairground, which always seems to be full and plenty of bars. You have to buy 'beer tokens' which I think are around £3 each, and you exchange these at any of the bars as cash won't be accepted. On the Friday evenings there is usually something going on: either an indie disco or silent disco and then a film is usually shown in one of the tents.
The blue campsite was perfect for us as it wasn't too noisy or crowded, and was just 5 minutes walk from the arena. Some of them - gold and a a ouple of others, were AGES away, so we were very happy with our choice. On the Saturday we cooked breakfast by our tent - fires aren't allowed, but camping stoves are! We headed to the arena at about 12ish to catch the first few bands. There aren't that many people about until later on, so we took advantage of having lots of space to ourselves and managed to get near the front of a few stages!
One thing that I much prefer about Staffs to Chelmsford is the layout. We went to see as many bands as we could, and Staffs was great for this as you could walk from stage to stage in less than 5 minutes. At Chelmsford, they are so spread out, we ended up missing lots of bands as they were too far away, or we were too tired to walk!
Alcohol is allowed in the campsites (but not in glass bottles), but it isn't allowed in the arena. People try all kinds of things to sneak some in, and we were also successful in this. I won't give away all my secrets, but efestivals gave us some wonderful ideas! Alcohol inside can be very expensive, and whilst we did treat ourselves to the odd Mojito, it really wasn't worth the £5!
There is always an array of food stands - fish and chips, pizza, roast dinners, veggie stands, mexican and much more. You won't fail to find something to eat! We decided that we would cook our lunch (usually pot noodle or similar) and then buy tea. You are looking at around £8 for a meal in the arena, and it's not great, but you have to eat!
The toilets aren't necessarily as bad as you may expect. They are normally ok for the first couple of days, but the golden rule is : Always take toilet paper everywhere with you! This usally runs out and it's vital to have your own. Also always take hand sanitiser gel :-) When portaloos are used by that many people, they are going to get full quickly and smell, but take it as being part of the festival experience, hold your nose and you will get through it!
So, the most important things to pack are:
Wellies, plenty of changes of clothes (layers are really important), loads of people do fancy dress, tent, sleeping bag, pillow, alcohol for campsite (or to sneak in if you fancy it), nothing in a glass bottle or they will get rid of it, something to cook on, plenty of food and snacks for during the day, camping chair, money (but not too much), loo roll, hand gel.
If you forget anything, there are always some shops on site. Usually a rather expensive camping shop, and they also have an Oxfam stall (people use this to pick up fancy dress items like fur coats and wedding dresses).
V Festival usually have a really great line-up. I went again to Staffs in 2009 and was able to see Oasis, Snow Patrol and the Killers amongst others. I then went to Chelmsford in 2010 and saw Prodigy, Kings of Leon and Kasabian. I didn't go in 2011 as I thought it went downhill slightly with the headliners being Eminem and the Arctic Monkeys. It is a more mainstream festival than others like Reading and Leeds, but it always has a nice atmosphere and I've always really enjoyed going.
I wouldn't go back to Chelmsford, but would happily go back to Staffs. This is because I prefer the layout and also find that it has a much friendlier, more laid back atmosphere about it. Chelmsford has a much longer walk from the car to the campsite and we found that in general everything was a lot further away.
Ticket prices are around £180 for the weekend, including camping (although of course, you don't have to camp). This is fairly good value as it's 3 nights camping and then 2 full days of music. When you work out how much you would pay to see a band, and the amount that you see over the weekend, it doesn't sound so expensive. V will leave you with some fantastic lasting memories and I would thoroughly recommend it.
Summary: A great festival with some fab music