What to expect at a UK Music Festival

Lets celebrate the great British music festival

Rain or shine, the masses descend on the UK festival scene throughout the summer. Whether you’re a hard rocker at Download or a hard raver at Creamfields, there are some things that all festival goers can relate to. So lets celebrate the start of the festival season with some of the great eccentricities that make up the UK music festival.

Don’t forget you can grab all your festival gear from us here at GO Outdoors, and if you’re not sure what to take with you, check out our festival checklist.

1) Your favourite bands will clash

The curse of having a broad taste in music is that with so many stages at large music festivals, that major headliner you want to watch will almost certainly clash with the up and coming stars on the smaller stage. The clash is the festival goers worst nightmare, choose wisely.

2) You will spot people with suitcases

It’s got wheels it must be a great decision right? Wrong! If it’s raining those tiny suitcase wheels will not move through the mud, come to think of it, they don’t roll over dry mud either. You will have to walk over grass, ditch the case and get a rucksack.

3) No matter how early you arrive, the toilets are already a biohazard

Festival toilets are something else, only at a music festival are we fine with queueing for half an hour to feel physically sick while just tending to your normal bodily functions. No matter how early you arrive, or how soon after the cleaning tanker has been – they will always smell.

4) Has anybody ever finished a box of festival noodles?

This is a genuine question. There is always a noodle van at a festival, and the floor is always littered with piles of orange noodles that people seem to have dropped or lost in transit. Have you finished a box of festival noodles? We’d love to hear from you.

5) You wear things you wouldn’t dream of wearing outside a festival

Army helmets with spikes, tutus, extensive floral headdresses, and so many onesies. Festival fashion is something to behold. I was actually once interviewed for a Japanese fashion magazine at Reading festival 10 years ago (i’d bought a flat cap and a Hawaiian lei from the Oxfam stall).

6) Cup stackers

But Why?

Festival beer/cider is expensive. It’s inevitable. At every festival you will see a person wander past with a collection of hundreds of cups stacked as they grab any uncrushed empties from around you. They spend their whole weekend collecting the cups and handing them in at an exchange rate of (I believe) cups for beer. At least I hope it’s for that reason and not just a weird hobby.


The campsite yell. A Mexican wave of noise for that years phrase of choice as thousands of people yell the same thing in unison.

8. Free Hugs

There’s always that one guy and his sign. He’s harmless enough.

9) The 1000 degree wake up call

If you manage to go to a music festival over a warm weekend (rare, I know) you’ll know the experience of trying to sleep past 7am when your tent becomes what can only be described as a raging inferno of heat.

10) Warm beer/cider

Nobody actively fancies paying £5 for a drink at festivals (Though I suppose to Londoners it’s a cheap night out) so to combat this people bulk buy on crates of lager/cider from the supermarket and struggle to carry it all from the car on the first day, only to be greeted by that warm can of strongbow each morning for breakfast.

11) No matter where you stand for a band, people will want to walkpast you.

This may just be me, but no matter where you stand while watching a band, whether in the centre or off to the sides, among a big group or on your own. You will always be stood in the exact position that somebody wants to walk past.

12) People in daypacks

Now I work for GO Outdoors so what I mean by this is ‘please buy daypacks they are great’, but what i’m actually saying to you is ‘if you’re wearing a daypack don’t bounce around in front of me at music festivals’.

13) You’ll discover you like a band at the festival, after the festival.

Festivals are full of bands that you have never heard of, but you will do some day. The smaller stages host the up and coming talent that will potentially headline the whole thing one day. If you look back at line ups from festivals you have been to, how many acts on those smaller stages did you ignore who are now huge?

14) Questionable liquid falling from the sky

Like death and taxes, questionable liquid will always rain down from the air at festivals. Unite with those around you in those few seconds it takes you to wonder whether it was a discarded beer – or something much worse.

15) People will fall on your tent while you sleep

Guy lines are fantastic for keeping your tent stable in windy conditions, they allow the tent to be stretched out to it’s full shape and size, well that is their actual use anyway. At a festival a guy line becomes the most intricate of obstacle courses for those not carrying a torch.

16) The wasted guy

He’s had too much, he’s always on his own. He’s at every UK festival. If you haven’t seen him, it’s probably you.

17) Planning your toilet trips

3am is a great time to go for a number 2, or so you and half of your campsite think. The queues for the toilets seem to be ever present, plan accordingly.

18) People will block your view

This takes many forms, it could be a sign, a flag, an umbrella or an actual human themself. People of a certain height can struggle at festivals, it’s very sad but what absolutely nobody else at the festival wants to see, is this person on the shoulders of somebody else. Think before you venture above the crowd.

19) Packing away is the worst thing, ever.

Festival goers ditching tents and more at festivals is becoming a real environmental issue. It may feel like the worst thing ever when you need to get your muddy tent back into it’s bag and do the long walk back to the car – but you really should do it. Invest in a tent you want to keep rather than one of those £10 mistakes made from a bin liner and some poles.

20) You’ll want to do it again next year

Festivals are fantastic, all flawed things are in their own special way. You’ll find there’s one song, one moment, one set, one drink that will make you sit there and think ‘yeah…it was all worth it’ and you’ll be pining to go back for more next year. Have a great summer!