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20 essential rules for music festivals

We’re lovers not haters – until we get into a field full of moaners, poseurs, pissers and Instagram posters, that is. Follow these rules and you might still have some friends left at the end of the weekend

Written by
Oliver Keens
James Manning
Kate Lloyd
No overeager Instagramming

1. No overeager Instagramming

If you’re too far away from the stage to see an act’s face, please don’t try and take a photo. If you’ve drunk a box of wine and it’s 3am, please don’t try and take a photo. If a brand’s provided you with fancy dress and an official hashtag to use, please never, ever take a photo.

2. No pushing to the front during ‘that song’

Only fools lead a chain of spiky-elbowed friends to the front just as The Anthem of the Summer starts to play. The rest of us know that the only polite times to force your way through a festival crowd are: during a self-indulgent guitar solo, during an obscure album track or during a Kanye West rant. If 70 percent of people are shouting ‘this is my jam’; everyone should remain exactly where they are.


3. No having sex anywhere that’s not a tent

What one person sees as ’60s free-love vibes, 100,000 other people see as a sweaty pillhead getting fingered outside the recycling point. It’s hardly Woodstock, is it?

4. No detours to meet your mate from work

It’s always ‘the mate from work’. And, he’s always wearing an awful novelty T-shirt with a ketchup stain down the front. We don’t want to meet him, we’re probably not going to talk to him and we’re only coming because we’ve run out of phone battery and don’t want to end up watching the headliner alone.

No acoustic guitars

5. No acoustic guitars

Our Music editor not only took a guitar to his first Glastonbury, he also ceremoniously buried it there. Don’t be like him. Acoustic guitars lead to singalongs and singalongs inevitably end with ‘Wonderwall’. Truly, nobody wants that.

6. No bell tent smugness

Bell tents have really taken off in the last few years, and yes, they’re big, brilliant and comfy as hell. But we’ve also seen some insane luxury items turning up in them: coffee tables, full length mirrors, a sheepskin rug, a clothes rail and a lamp that turns on and off at the clap of a hand. Earth to bell tent owner: you’re at a festival – it’s not meant to be a Hello cover shoot.


7. No queue jumping

Not to be melodramatic or anything, but the people who jump queues at festivals are the same people who’d have pushed you off the lifeboats while escaping the Titanic. We’ve all spent 20 minutes thirsty/hungry/desperate for the toilet while waiting in line at a festival. But, that’s no excuse for pushing in, or, y’know, pretending to throw-up so people will let you get to the front – which is definitely something we’ve not done before. Honest.

8. No tutting at the youth of today

Yes, scrawny sixth-formers might use the term ‘fleek’ and sometimes drink out of funnels, but we’d be gutted if they were replaced with middle-aged Jools Holland fans. Anyone who bangs on about how there’s ‘too many kids in Class of 2015 hoodies’ should buy a set of fold-up chairs and a nice bottle of Rioja, and go to Glyndebourne.

No weeing in the crowd

9. No weeing in the crowd

Ever been hit in the back of the head with a bottle of suspiciously warm liquid? Maybe you’ve felt a trickle of it creep into your open-toe shoe? Roaming bodily fluids are not okay. No pissing on the ground, no throwing cups of pee and no discrete weeing in a bottle, even if you’ve politely chosen an Oasis one with a wide rim to avoid spillages. At the very least, just walk 100m out of the crowd and do it by the fence.

10. No moaning about fancy dress

It’s an objective truth that if you hate fancy dress, you hate fun. And, we’re not talking onesies and novelty hats (they don’t even count as fancy dress). We’re talking about the kind of complex cardboard costumes that take weeks to plan and several people to carry into the festival. Anyone who’s not willing to go to Secret Garden Party dressed as an octopus isn’t worth hanging out with.


11. No roping off your own bit of the site

There’s nothing more deflating, after hours of schlepping, to arrive at a campsite and discover the festival equivalent of a gated community. Curiously, this ultra-territorial act – laden with a lack of community spirit and a distrust of your fellow man – tends to be done by the biggest hippies at the entire festival. Hmm. Something to think about there.

12. No cultural appropriation. Ever ever ever

Don’t wear Native American headdresses or bindis. Wearing them while you Yolo is just disrespectful. Remember: if you don’t understand the cultural significance of what you’re wearing, then just leave it. And, no fancy dress theme is an excuse to black up. Like, ever. We feel like, in 2015, we shouldn’t even need to point that out. Yet at last year’s Desert Island Disco-themed Bestival we saw a group of morons painted black, wearing ‘tribesmen’ outfits, afro wigs and carrying jazz instruments.

No dull stories about how fucked you got last night

13. No dull stories about how fucked you got last night

Shout out the hungover folk droning on about last night’s K-hole. Most people at festivals got mashed last night; at least throw in a plot twist. Here’s a fun story: I was watching Mogwai and then next thing I knew I’d accidentally got on a bus to a neighbouring village. Here’s a boring festival story: I drank an entire box of wine, did a pill and then passed out on this chair.

14. No streetstyle peacocking

It’s a fact of life that some people look stylish at festivals and other people wear Singha beer vests and harem pants. But there’s a difference between those who rock it naturally and those who dress in case Facehunter’s around. It’s just boring hanging out with someone who sharpens up every time they see a DSLR.

15. No staying in the campsite all weekend

Every campsite has that strange clique who never seem to leave. Not for the headliners, not for the sunshine, not even for that surprise Radiohead set of Will Smith covers. They have camp furniture, cutlery, nine crates of beer, and have appeared to spent a ticket price on a rather elaborate and pricy picnic. They’re not loud, not annoying, just… weird.

16. No tent squatting

Are you one of those people who casually saunters down to a festival (after wangling a jammy door-to-door lift), equipped with ready charm, a disco cape and a toothbrush? You don’t see fit to carry a tent, so don’t bring one. Instead you lean on your mates to give up precious wiggle room to accommodate your lazy ass. No no no – this really has to end.

No moaning about the toilets

17. No moaning about the toilets

Let’s cut the crap, we all know festival toilets are grim. But, there’s always someone who refuses to go to the loo all weekend because they didn’t realise they would be so gross. In fact, we once knew a boy who didn’t poo for the whole of Latitude and had to get taken home by his mum.

18. No ‘look at me!’ flags

Glastonbury in particular attracts a certain kind of special festivalgoer. The ones who plant themselves in front of the Pyramid stage, phone their mum to check they can see them on BBC Red Button, then stay put for 15 hours a day. These are people who have spent £225 to pretend they’re a flagpole for a weekend and should be avoided at all costs.


19. No balloon selfies

If you’re going to do a balloon then just do a balloon. Don’t make a massive deal of bartering with the guy touting them. Don’t lug 90 canisters with you to sell. And definitely don’t take a #cheekyballoon selfie. You look like an overexcited clown at a children’s party.

20. No leaving before Sunday night

Only because we hate to see you go, bro. After partying together for three days straight, a Sunday departure can leave a weird void amongst your emotional pals, already wrestling with a juicy ripe comedown. It’s like a buddy movie without a main character; like ‘Dumb and Dumber’ if Jim Carrey unexpectedly vanished before they reached Aspen. Also, Sunday leavers have a habit of leaving something important and heavy, that you end up humping 219 miles back to London out of kindness.

All illustrations by Thomas Fournier.

Are you a festival sinner?

0 to 5 rules broken
Bravo. Not only are you probably a decent person at home, but you can also spend a whole weekend surrounded by supreme dickheads without becoming one. Rock that halo – you’re a festival saint. 

6 to 10 rules broken
Not bad. Though you’re known to get a little crabby after a heavy Saturday (what was that guy in the dance tent selling anyway?) you’re generally decent company in most festival situations.

10 to 15 rules broken
Oh, dear. You’re in danger of making thousands of people hate you – and you probably don’t even care. Give the rest of us a break and spend this summer in Magaluf instead. 

16 to 20 rules broken
You’re literally the worst person at the whole festival, so just own it. Wear those shutter shades, leave a trail of crap everywhere and be a douche to everyone you meet. Good luck with that lift home!

Find a festival this summer

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