How to cope if festival season is everything to you

For many people, festivals are synonymous with summer. Instead of heading to the beach, or off a city break, their ‘holiday’ is a tent, portaloos and loud live music.

But not this year. Festivals around the world are cancelled or postponed – including the iconic Glastonbury festival, which was due to celebrate its 50th birthday this week, Coachella and Ireland’s Sunstroke festival.

If you’re wondering how to cope, we have some ideas…

Turn your home into a festival

As shown when people joined in with #Couchella, it’s possible to get the festival vibe – to some extent – at home. Rather than sulking, it’s time to connect with the parts of a festival you love – food, drink, music – and embrace what you can do, rather than what you can’t.

Old footage of former years in the sun may well be on TV or downloadable, while you can create playlists, get the barbecue going or even drink the same things you would at a festival. Hey, you can even pitch your tent in the garden if you have space – why not?

Connecting with like minded souls

Renae Brown usually works full time as a Festivals Manager, but is currently furloughed. She says: “I have launched my own platform called The Festival Channel (www.thefestchannel.com) where I’d like to keep a positive dialogue around festivals going, while we’re all in this forced downtime.”

“I went to my first festival in 2008 and haven’t had a year off since, so I figure if I keep talking and sharing info about the world of festivals, it will feel a little less weird.

“It’s also my birthday in two weeks and I’m going to ask my friends to send me their favourite festival stories and photos throughout the day, to hopefully bring back some happy memories for them – and it will certainly keep me entertained reading about their adventures,” adds Brown.

Celebrate the weekend anyway!

“When Glastonbury was cancelled, my partner actually got me a bunch of flowers because I was so sad about it,” says Brown. “I think, if someone was due to go to a festival this summer and now can’t, they should still celebrate the weekend anyway. Get dressed up, listen to the acts you’ve seen there before or were due to see, and make your favourite festival food.”

Call your festival mates

“I have a lot of ‘festival friends’ who I don’t regularly speak to throughout the year, but spend a lot of time with throughout festival season,” says music journalist Laura Williams, who is also trustee of venue Trinity Sounds in Bristol, birthplace of ‘Bristol Sound’ which launched bands like Massive Attack (www.trinitybristol.org.uk).

“I’ve made an extra effort to reach out to some of those recently too – knowing I’m unlikely to see them in person. Just to let them know I’m thinking about them, missing them and value their friendship. It reminds me how, overall, missing one festival season isn’t the end of the world – these relationships will endure and it will make next year’s festivals even more special.”

Light a fire (safely)

“For Camp Bestival’s online event at the start of lockdown, I even pitched a tent in the garden watched stuff on the iPad with a bluetooth speaker,” says Williams. “My neighbour has a firepit, so that helped recreate the sounds and smells of gathering round a fire at a festival.”

Download and dance with a (virtual) DJ

Williams and her friends created an online calendar to share any events happening, and made sure they celebrated if they could. It’s worth doing, as many are going ‘virtual’ with artists still performing from home.

She adds: “We even set up a Zoom Bar for some of the more popular shows, where we have live music or DJ sets on one device, and we drink and chat to each other on another.

“It’s a bit clunky and weird when you’re dancing on your own watching others do the same, but it’s good to feel the connection.”

Keep your eye on the website and social media channels

Georgie Thorogood is the founder of country music festival Dixie Fields (www.dixiefields.com) which was due to take place in July 2020 and has been postponed to 2021.

She explains: “Thankfully, a huge proportion of our customers have kept their tickets until next year and in return, we are going to give them some special offers from our sponsors and partners over the next few months, and we’ll be putting on a virtual festival on the July 11, which they will have free access to.

“I’ve done a series of short, behind-the-scenes video insights on our Facebook channel,” adds Thorogood. “There have been quizzes, virtual hangouts, live streams, Q&As and a general feeling of being part of a bigger picture throughout all of the country music industry.”

Brown adds: “Keep an eye on the festivals’ social channels, because I imagine they will be sharing their favourite memories from it, too.”

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