My daughter is a melophile - someone who loves music. So when she turned eighteen and announced that she wanted to go to her first music festival - possibly alone, as her mother my feelings were very mixed. I was intrigued, envious, happy, excited and proud but at the same time, very anxious and scared.
So what do you do other than head bang the walls when your equally anxious yet excited teen of a daughter is determined to go to the iconic UK rock and metal Download festival for the first time in Donington Park with 110,000 other likeminded melophiles?
How about take a sound check, get ready to rock on and share the following eleven, very random nuggets of festival advice along the way?
Oh and why not compile a 'Here's who you missed, wish you were here (not really) playlist' along the way.
1. Consider Volunteering
Would you rather volunteer for three, eight hour shifts as a festival fire marshal or pay over £400 in order to get in to a five day event of rock music? The look of bemusement and boredom on my teen's face said it all (volunteering is something other people do?) when she initially contemplated spending 24 chilly hours stuck up a tower with only a walkie talkie for company. But even my teen had to agree, other than the short lived feelings of cold and boredom, she quickly discovered that volunteering was far from a bad experience as it enabled her to connect with others, build her self esteem, become more confident and develop a sense of purpose. And of course she got to see as many bands as she could possibly get too - all for free! What more could you want? Wake up and volunteer!
2. Do Some Research
Festival camping. What could be so complicated? We learned that in terms of camping equipment, the headliner - our tent, although quick to explode, was also flawed with a technical hitch and no encore in sight. Although its innovative design made our tent pop up effortlessly, putting it away was another matter. Even with maximum faff, our cantankerous tent now remained stubbornly up and proudly popped.
"Alexa, how in fudging hell do you fold and pack a pop up tent?"
"Sorry, I don't know that."
Not very helpful, to say the least but all was not lost as we also had the visual support of Youtube to refer too. As expected, Mr Smug the camping guru was able to demonstrate with irritating, stress free ease how to fold a pop up tent identical to ours – But you want a battle? Then here's a war because let's just say our attempts to collapse our fudging tent were dangerously futile.
3. Check The Kit List
Welcome to the jungle of essential items every volunteering teen and parent needs to consider. Do pack loo roll. Do pack chocolate. Oh and denial is no longer an option - do pack condoms. The majority of festival goers would be up all night to get lucky, so better to be safe than sorry. These three things alone were worth their weight in the drunken and exhausted tears of survival.
4. Live For Today And Accept A Car Share.
You could make new friends, save more money, and even help save the planet if you decide to go ahead and share your festival travel arrangements. And surely more adventure awaits for those who may even find themselves on their very own road to nowhere - like my daughter's car share - who having missed the car parking signs, experienced their very own accidental circuit of the Donington race track instead.
5. Wander Often, Wonder Always
How was it even possible for my teen to continually lose the contents of her duffle bag full of possessions - especially the stash of chocolate - inside the world’s smallest, pop up tent?
6. Don’t Just Question The Big Bang Theory...
Also remember to question the beautiful festival people and your own sanity, especially if you have just witnessed an inflatable T-Rex dancing hand in hand with Jesus!
7. Pick n’ Mix
Donuts, churros and Milk Teeth? Maybe not the perfect, healthy combination but you know what? It's ok. Once tried and tested by my teen, it was guaranteed to be one hell of a heavenly combination of the senses.
8. Reconsider Moshing? Or Even Just Walking In My Shoes...
Especially when the only other 'dance?' alternative appeared to involve joining 1000's of other risk taking fans on the ground ready to row, row, row their boat violently across the pit. While this might be considered fun, as well as a good opportunity to ground score and find all kinds of discarded and interesting items at the same time, be warned - some things you may row across could be far less desirable...
9. Go Off The Grid
Clearly seven days of non communication from your first time festival go-er while you swear and worry 'where are you now?' was just another number of fretful days to add to the eighteen years of innocent strife a mother like me had to face in the perfectly imperfect art of parenting. But what is there not to forgive when my teen finally did stumble safely back on to the internet highway and then offered me the remains of her dodgy looking minstrels? It's moments like these when you also have to thank your chocolaty, magic stars and accept that for the love of festivals, when your daughter did Download, everything was and will be all right.
10. Be Prepared To Change
Music festivals are NOT like glamping. After 168 hours of partying hard in and around the canvas without a proper mirror, your teen will look... er... somewhat different. The change was fast and frightening. Cheeks and nose were red raw, ravished by the sun. Lips were dry, bitten and swollen - a startling example of shock advertising for botched botox and as for her hair? My teen's hair could now naturally rival the candy floss style of Jola - the drummer with Adam 😍 💋 Ant who bizarrely stepped in at the last minute to perform with L7. Then there was the smell. A smell like the bogs of eternal festivals.
11. Congratulate Yourself For Facing Your Fears
Whether or not you are an introverted melophile (someone who loves music) with sociophobia (a fear of social gatherings), enochlophobia (a fear of crowds), trilesalectinophobia (a fear of camping equipment) and/or ombrophobia (a fear of rain), after six days of rocking outside your comfort zone with or without raucous crowds, a temperamental tent and a chance of a torrential downpour, anything is possible. So 'breathe in, out, in, out, in, out because when the lights come on and the crowd goes wild, stand up and scream'
"I did it!"
Look out Reading Festival, because for the love of Cadbury, Father of Crunchie Rocks, my volunteering teen will be joining your team of camp site stewards very soon!