A guide to festivals abroad
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Summer music festivals have become very big business these days, with hundreds taking place in the UK alone every year.
There are multiple festivals to suit every music taste, from rock and pop music to dance and folk – whatever music you’re into, there’s almost certainly a festival going on near you in the UK this year.
However, with such a proliferation of festivals comes the inevitable desensitisation and boredom – of the bands, the weather, the horrible toilets, the cramped campsites, the expensive food and drink, the horrible toilets, the annoying flags, the even more annoying loud and obnoxious fellow festival-goers, and did I mention the horrible toilets?
All of that has led many jaded UK festival-lovers to venture further afield in search of new festival experiences, namely: festivals with better weather, better prices and less idiots.
If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and heading to a festival abroad this summer or next, then read our guide below and get informed!
Top festivals abroad
Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival
This has been and gone for 2014, but is guaranteed to be huge yet again next year so if you’re thinking of festivalling abroad next year and fancy a trip to sunny California then get on it – full info on 2015 tickets here.
Denmark’s very own Glastonbury, Roskilde never holds back when it comes to putting on a top show. This year has The Rolling Stones, Damon Albarn, Arctic Monkeys and Drake headlining a bill that also includes the likes of Kasabian, Outkast, Stevie Wonder, Interpol, Deftones, HAIM and Lykke Li – so not too shabby!
Awesome music in an awesome setting makes for a very awesome festival experience. Japan’s Fuji Rock festival is located in the shadow of the majestic Mt Fuji – making it a definite ‘bucket-list’ festival. Arcade Fire, Damon Albarn, Basement Jaxx and Manic Street Preachers are playing this year. More information on their UK site.
If you can’t have fun at a festival in Holland, then I’m afraid you’re doing it wrong! Pinkpop has been running for 45 years and has gradually built up its reputation as one of Europe’s premier festivals. This years line-up looks pretty special too – The Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys, Metallica, Arcade Fire, Biffy Clyro, Editors, Jake Bugg, HAIM, White Lies and so on. Not bad at all! Full details on the official site here.
Planning for a festival abroad
UK festivals are easy. Just ram all your stuff in the car, get on the motorway and bang – you’re in the 3-hour hard-shoulder queue to get into the festival in no time!
Festivals abroad are a different proposition altogether though.
I’m going to assume you’ve got your tickets and passport sorted already (don’t forget them by the way ) and jump straight into…
Flights are pretty easy to book these days, and getting on a budget airline can usually be cheaper than booking a train to get to a UK festival.
Make sure you’re more than familiar with the baggage allowances though, as all your festival gear will probably tip you over the ‘hand luggage only’ limit!
If you go for small and compact tents then you may be OK to get them on as hand luggage, but everything else like your sleeping bag and bed etc… may need to be checked in as luggage.
I know a lot of people who buy their camping gear when they get out to the country they’re going to. This can be a cheaper and easier option – just make sure you plan in advance where you’ll be able to buy what you need.
Which leads me onto the next potential problem with getting there – festivals are usually in the middle of nowhere, so once you’ve arrived at the airport you’ve still got an awkward journey ahead of you.
Check out the information available from the official festival website and the airport/airline websites as they will probably be putting on buses to the festival grounds. If not, then you’ve got a choice between car hire (expensive) or public transport (stressful).
It may feel like a bit of a buzz-kill, but getting travel insurance is important. Even if you’ve spontaneously decided to go to a festival abroad, it’s well worth taking ten minutes to get holiday insurance sorted (tip: get it cheap via Bobatoo). You would probably do it for any other holiday, so don’t forego it for a music festival – especially as you’ll probably be doing ‘stuff’ you wouldn’t be doing on a holiday with your mum!
Money / security
When you go to a domestic festival, you probably keep all your valuables at home – phone, wallet/purse with your cards in etc… – but that’s less of an option at overseas festivals. You’ll have your passport and boarding passes with you for starters, and the thought of travelling deep into Europe without your phone and cards probably fills you with dread.
You can substitute your phone for a cheap pay as you go ‘burner‘, but what about your cards and all the cash you’re taking with you?
Keeping it all on you for the duration of the festival is obviously a bad idea, but leaving it in the tent also has its dangers. Your best bet is to find out whether the festival provides secure lock-ups. Most of them do, and for the price of a burger, you can keep everything safe and secure. Also, check to see what the prices are for lockers in your airport – the peace of mind knowing your passport and travel docs are safe and waiting for you at the airport is worth it.
A tactic I’ve used in the past when lock-ups weren’t an option is to put the cash and cards I won’t be needing each day into a sandwich bag (or something similar), and then lay it flat either under the tent or between the groundsheet and the flysheet (it all depends on the tent). That way, if the tent gets broken into the dirty thieves won’t find it, as long as you lay it flat so it doesn’t stick out.
No need for a lecture, just don’t be this guy:
One more thing….
There’s a reason you’re going through all this planning and spent all this money, it’s so you can have the best fun in the world: festival fun. Nothing compares to it – if you don’t agree, watch this video all the way through and tell me you don’t wish you were there!