Not to boast or anything but I have done outdoor festivals… I’ve been to the Reading Rock Festival and Glastonbury in the UK, as well as quite a few in South Africa. I have close friends who were top trance DJs on the outdoor party circuit. I’ve done outdoors. And I’ve learnt some lessons on the way.
With the Up the Creek festival outside Swellendam just around the corner, no doubt many festivalgoers are hauling their survival kits out of storage. [SpaceBox is going to the festival. Look out for the guys in the cool pineapple T-shirts.] Some might be going for the very first time so we’ve put together a list of tips to help you enjoy the experience.
If you aren’t booking accommodation, you will need to set up your own camp. Think tents, fold up chairs, a groundsheet, some comfy cushions, sleeping bags and sheets, umbrellas, braai stuff and of course lilos and tubes and costumes to enjoy the river. A handy tip: Mark your tent pole with some kind of easily identifiable flag… you don’t want to be stumbling about looking for your spot in the early hours.
These are the basics of your survival kit. But there’s much much more...
About the loos
At my first festival – and talk about trial by fire, as it was the Reading Rock Festival – I made the mistake of heading towards a wall to sit down and rest my weary legs. Don’t do it! This is where men often relieve themselves. Avoid sitting near anything upright that could be used to pee on! And before moving on from the ah, lavatorial aspects of music festivals, remember there are portaloos and that they do get a bit gross after a few days. A friend and I at Glastonbury, where we had backstage passes, were so disgusted we headed off to a field where all the bands parked their trailers and hopped aboard the Oasis bus to use their facilities! Sometimes an old-fashioned potty with a lid can be a useful thing, especially a night. You don’t want to do Portaloos at night. And take plenty of loo paper. That’s the bottom line. Enough said.
About the sun
Sunscreen. Lots and lots of sunscreen. Remember to reapply, over and over again. Heatstroke is not fun. And hats. And sarongs and kikois not just to wear, but to make shady areas around your camp. And decorate it too. An umbrella and even a length of shadecloth are useful things to stay out of that hot sun. Pegs, gaffer tape and cable ties all come in handy around your camp.
About water and drinking
If you can, take a big water container/containers and transfer water into one plastic water bottle to take around with you. Happy campers are also environmentally sensitive campers and you don’t want to be leaving dozens of plastic bottles around. So take black bags too and pick up after yourself. A spritzer filled with cold water is great to cool down too. And if you’re drinking, rehydrate with water. And if you have a system to keep stuff cool, lots and lots of ice is a fine thing.
You’ll also need decent water to brush teeth and have a bit of a wash – use biodegradable soap – so it’s great to have water set aside for that. Wet wipes are essential as is some anti-bacterial hand cleaner (think Portaloos again… ). Take a few towels as you’ll be there for a few days and there’s no thing worse than stinky towels. Which is also why a little washing line and pegs come in handy in your camp.
About keeping healthy
A well-stocked first aid kit is essential. Headache pills and painkillers. Something for dodgy tummies. Creams for insect bites or stings. Bandages and plasters. Rehydrate and Regmakers. Stuff to keep mosquitos away such as citronella oil or Peaceful Sleep. And a supply of condoms if necessary.
About a comfy camp
Solar jars are great, as is a solar charger for your phone. Take a portable ashtray that closes if you smoke. Or make one out of a tin filled with sand. Fires are an issue in the Western Cape. Earphones are a must if you want to sleep – and you will! Torches are essential and some experienced people take head torches.
While there’s food available, it can be pricey. Taking a stock of Granola bars, apples, nuts and even meal replacement shakes and instant soups are a good idea.
Be careful about taking laptops and tablets unless you’re sure they’ll be with you at all times. Cellphones are probably all you need but make sure it’s safe from spills and thrills in a waterproof pouch. And that solar charger is a good idea, really.
The whole point is to have fun. And you will if you’re prepared!