The Festival season is upon us and for teenagers it is a time to break free of their parents' shackles and take great gulps of independence. Attending a festival is an undisputed rite of passage for teenagers.
Reading and Leeds are notorious for attracting the newbie teenager festival goer celebrating the end of their GCSEs. Last year my eldest was among them and in preparation I spent days, (maybe weeks) talking to not only parents of teenagers that had already been, but also young twenty somethings full of festival "know-how", sucking information from them like a greedy parasite. In my opinion you can never be knowingly under prepared as a parent or a teenager!
This year Teenager No. 1 is off to a 5 day event in Cornwall but after last year I know what to expect, as does he. Friends are now contacting us for advice so for those in a similar situation take heed of my definitive guide for surviving festivals for teenagers and their parents.
- Ticket PDF: we learnt the hard way! Make sure they download a PDF of their ticket onto their phone in case they forget the paper version!
- Tent: Don't send them with your best "family" tent, as it will smell like an underground toilet as people stumble past and pee at will in the middle of the night. Buy a cheap pop up festival tent from Argos which they can just leave behind. It is also a good idea to buy one slightly bigger than they need so there is room for them to store their kit and still have room to collapse after a day's partying.
- Flag: It acts like a lighthouse guiding them back to their tent through the sea of identical pop up tents.
- Phone+Portable Charger: They will get separated from their friends and will regret it if they don't take their phones. Reading has lockers with charging sockets which are worth hiring otherwise get a portable charger such as iMuto which they can use to charge their phone several times over.
- Bum-Bag: To store their valuables when they are partying.
- Wellies: They are ubiquitous with festivals but there are 2 important things to bear in mind, firstly don't send them with cheap ones or they will return with blisters aplenty after days of sweaty dancing and secondly they will want a change of footwear at some point - wellies 24/7 is really only for the foolhardy or for those that just don't dance!
- Mac-In-A-Sac: Even if the forecast is non-stop sunshine, remember this is England after-all.
- Headtorch: For those moments when they may need to find the loo in the middle of the night and want their hands free.
- Bin-bags: To store dirty clothes, rubbish and stick over any holes that may appear in their tent.
- Giant Wet Wipes: These are a shower in a bag essentially and as the novelty of being dirty wears off after 36 hours, they will thank you for forcing that extra packet in their rucksack as they head out of the door.
- Deodorant/Toothpaste: No explanation needed, but make sure it is a roll-on deodorant, our teenager had his spray can confiscated in a bag search at his last festival.
- Plastic Bottles: Some festivals are more rigorous than others, but glass bottles are a no-go so decant liquids into plastic bottles to ensure you keep hold of it.
- Food: Festival food is expensive and even teenagers have a limit on how many buns they can eat containing a variety of meat. Fruit in a tin is perfect for those mornings when they wake up wanting something resembling fresh and juicy, plus it will help to get their blood sugar up. Beyond The Beaten Track is also a good range of hot meal kits recommended by DoE, but they will need a stove.
- Hand Sanitizer: Festivals are germ farms and anti-bacterial gel is a necessity before they tuck into their festival grub, to avoid spending days huddled in a tent with food poisoning.
- Loo Roll: They can never have too much!
- Medical Kit: Neurofen (because they will get a headache!) and blister plasters!
- Berocca: A high dose of vitamins and energy in a tablet for the days when they are wilting and need a pick-me-up.
- Sunscreen: All teenagers dismiss it, but sunstroke is not a good look when you are trying to be festival cool.
- Water: For re-hydrating and cleaning.
A final word of warning goes to the parents....Teenagers like to think they are invincible but humans were not designed to withstand 3-5 days of continuous drinking, eating rubbish food, jumping and sleep deprivation, they will return smelly, grumpy and exhausted and totally disinclined to answer any questions. Expect grunting of a disproportionate nature from anything you may have experienced before and for them to sleep for close to 24 hours - yes seeing is believing!
Please share any festival tips you may have so I can build my list further for next year!