Many of you may find it hard to conceive of the fact that I waited until I was in my 30s to go to my first camping music festival. It has always held some appeal for me, but I had my first child whilst I was still at university, so it somehow always escaped me until this year.
A friend of mine, Laura, is a journalist for a national newspaper and she seems to attend every large festival, and several of the smaller ones too. Seeing her pictures of her festival shenanigans in my Facebook feed has made me yearn to bag the experience for myself.
So at the end of last year, I booked tickets to V Festival for my partner and I. Being a festival virgin, I did not realise that the site I was booking from, Seatwave is a fan-resale site, and not an approved seller, or that tickets had not officially even gone on sale yet! DOH! I paid over the odds, and worried for a while that the £567.90 (£235.00 per ticket (x2 tickets) £470.00 plus Seatwave commission (incl. VAT) £82.84, plus TicketCoverTMpremium £7.07, plus Delivery charge £7.99 = Total: £567.90) would be lost.
I am pleased to say that the wristbands have arrived, though nothing else, no paperwork, no leaflet, nothing… I am still concerned that they may be fake, but I guess I wont know until next Friday morning when we drive over to Chelmsford.
We decided to V Festival without the sprogs, since it is a massive festival and we wanted to get a feel for it before exposing a youngster to it. In the mean time however, a good friend of mine was hoping to be booked to play a gig at one of the festivals close to where I grew up called Lounge on the Farm.
Lounge on the Farm (or LOTF) has a reputation for being a family friendly festival, with a good mix of music ranging from folk and indi, to pop and Dance. The organisers also pride themselves on not providing ‘the usual festival tosh’ when it comes to food… They like to think of themselves as a foodie’s festival, and in fairness, the food was pretty good (ranging from Hog Roast, a game tent serving burgers and sausages made from things like pheasant, wild boar or veal, and serving breakfast that included duck eggs, there was a paella stall, an Indian stall, and even the resident Farm (Merton Farm) had a stall serving up Merton Burgers from meat that had never left the farm. My daughter’s favourite was the Churro’s stand that sold little twisted doughnuts with a pot of melted dark chocolatey fudge sauce to dip them in. I was surprised that the food was actually quite reasonably priced too.
They have 5 main areas, a DJ tent which played varied music from reggae to house, Farm Folk tent which focuses on folk music, The Further Field Stage which offered a lot of the big name Indi acts from about 10-15 years ago, the Main Stage, which played all of the current acts, and the cow shed which reminded me of my old rave days, with DJs ranging from local DJs up to the well known Annie Mac playing a huge range of different Dance genres.
I was keen to go if my friend was playing, and also most of my cousins, my brother and his wife, several friends and even my mad aunt seem to go every year. So, my partner booked tickets for us, and we took our daughter (the boys were with their father that weekend).
We set up camp in the Family field next to my brother and enjoyed the festival atmosphere. Unfortunately I did fall victim to having my tent robbed, and I lost my favourite Rayban sunglasses, so I guess I learned the hard way to look after it or lose it!
One thing that did seem a shame, was that Saturday didn’t live up to our expectations… Aside from the rain, the music all seemed very mainstream… My partner and I had imagined chilling out to folk music with an older crowd rather than listening to what my step dad called ‘jonk-jonk’ music with a bunch of teenie boppers. I would have liked to go and dance my booty off in the Cow Shed, but unfortunately that’s not really my partner’s scene, and also, in fairness, it’s not a child suitable part of the festival in my opinion. It seems the festival organisers agreed by the end of the weekend too-as after a few youth related casualties on Saturday night, they closed it off to all under 18s.
It also rained for a lot of the first day, which I guess it to be anticipated at a British Music Festival. Though ironically this was the first year since Lounge started when they have had any rain. TYPICAL! Still, at least I had my new Hunter wellies, which seem to be the uniform item at festivals. My favourite act was Ellie Goulding, who headlined on
Saturday. She was pitch perfect, and very sweet. Sadly my partner had to leave for work after this, and I stayed with my daughter in my brother’s tent.
It is such a shame that my partner didn’t manage to stick around for the Sunday… Not only was the weather stunning, but I caught up with one of my best friends, and Godmother (or fairy God mother as she calls herself) of my daughter, Meg… Sadly, she had not secured a spot to play, but she and I listened to some really lovely chilled out folk music (just what the doctor ordered after 2 days of nursing a sore head.
We then had a dance in the DJ tent where they were playing reggae music. I loved seeing all the wacky people wandering around in fancy dress, and hadn’t realised this was such a huge part of the festival scene. My personal favourite was a man dressed up like a tango doll, there was also a man in an identical blue costume… Very random, what made me chuckle was that when I saw orange tango doll man; he was pouring beer through the fabric where his mouth was. My personal favourite was a bunch of women dressed up as yellow canaries under a massive bird cage!
I have bought myself some silver knee high hunters now, and feel ready for the fun of V Festival (if my wristbands are definitely valid) wish me luck!
Overall Festival rating (against my festival virgin expectations) – 7/10 – I did have a great time, but I wish that it had been less teeny-bopper-ish… Apparently they had new organisers this year, and the general feeling from people who usually go, is that the festival is getting to big and trying to be something it’s not. Perhaps this is a direction that they want to take it in, and this year they were experiencing a few teething problems? I may go again next year to see. I met a stag do who had come down from North London because it was billed as a grown up festival. The chap I had spoken to worked in the Music nusiness and has actually organised music festivals himself, and they were disappointed.
I had wanted a festival that would be bustling with lots of different types of music, including some that I associate with festivals, like more chilled out music that I would classify as easy listening, so that my partner and I could chill out with a few drinks whilst our daughter played instead of feeling she should be wearing ear defenders). In the end I did discover the folk tent, but not until the final day there (though I guess that’s nobody’s fault but my own). Also, although I downloaded the app, my iPhone battery drained really quickly because of it, and I lost the ability to contact and therefore find friends who were also there… It would have been nice if they had offered charging stations like V Festival advertise that they do. There were also a lot of complaints about the parking moving off site this year. We were ok in the family field, but LOTF regulars who were in the noisy field were pretty surprised to be turned away with their cars having packed way too much to carry. We went there looking for something a bit more rustic and local with that laid back… I would have been happy if the whole even had been more like Sunday… My brother tells me that the festival I was looking for is probably Beautiful Days which is run by The Levellers in the West Country (or Lounge on the Farm a few years ago). Time machine anyone?
Would I recommend it? Yes I would, just go with an open mind and buy the programme instead of the app!
USEFUL LOUNGE ON THE FARM FESTIVAL TIPS:
- If you are camping, get there early, and set up away from a main path, not too close and not too far from the toilet facilities
- Take a pot of hand sanitiser and a toilet roll or some pocket tissue packs, the toilets are dirty and often these things will be missing.
- Take an ample supply of wet wipes, as there are no wash facilities at this site
- Take Sun Screen
- Take a festival seat or a travelling rug
- Take a torch and spare batteries
- Only take the ATM cards that you need
- Only take the keys that you need
- Take your cash with you, there are ATMs at the festival, but they levy hefty withdrawal fees and often have a queue
- Don’t worry about taking too much food to LOTF, the food there is so good, and so reasonably priced that it’s hardly worth the hasstle of packing your cooking equipment and a cool box…
- If you aren’t in the family Field, travel LIGHT-you will have to carry everything you need as parking is not close
- Book in advance and don’t expect to get tickets on the gate. In the past this has always been possible, but this year, Saturday sold out
- Sleep with any valuables at the bottom of your sleeping bag or under your pillow, not loose in the tent as they may get stolen
- Do not set up camp next to a pathway if you are in the noisy field… Your tent wires will get tripped over and trampled on
- If you like the party to carry on after the headline acts have finished head on over to the Solar Cinema, Silent Disco tent or the other chilled out areas. Not all people in the noisy field spotted the area, as it was out of their way away from the main arena.
- If you buy the app, bear in mind that it uses location services and your battery will be flatter than a pancake very quickly, so either take a solar charger or just stick to the paper programme. Although, who knows-maybe next year they will have a charging station?