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Previous: The Safeconcerts Festival Survival Guide Next: Security and Stewards

Festival Survival Guide: Preparation

Some important stuff to do before you're ready to go

Don't buy your ticket from a ticket tout, an unauthorised site or the secondary market - it is more than likely that they WILL rip you off and you simply won't get in. Lots of people get ripped off buying forgeries - it might look the real thing to you but it won't do to the people on the gate. They now have stringent methods in place to identify fake tickets and hundreds of people have been turned away from festivals, many of these people will have paid well over the odds in good faith, that holds no sway and if you find yourself in this position you will be turned away. If you buy from places like ebay and other sites where touts peddle their wares be aware that you really could lose out - it's a big expensive risk so - ask yourself if it's worth it - you could find yourself hundreds of pounds out of pocket and still not get access to the festival - are you prepared to take that level of risk?

We have a ticket directory on site aimed at helping you to check out where you are buying your tickets from, it has a 'hot list' of rogue sites and the 'Ticket Safe' area also has a lot of advice on what you need to do if you have been caught out - check it out here before you buy your tickets.

So - do buy your ticket from a reputable and primary ticket agency and try and buy early as they sell out really quickly for most of the big or popular events - certain festivals attract a strong following and people like to go year after year - they will know the ropes and be first in line to ensure they get their tickets - you need to be quick off the mark - don't leave it to chance make sure you know when and where the tickets for the event you want to get to will go on sale. These days getting tickets to the best festivals needs a bit of military precision - be aware when they release tickets and be prepared for a long hard session to get hold of them - it's worth being organised and putting that bit of effort in early, just to make sure you get the ticket to the event you've set your heart on.

Check out the festival website and the artist/promoter/venue and see if you can get basic info with addresses of who you might need to contact with compliments or complaints. We try and get as many contact details as we can on this site but it isn't always easy. It's important that you know what to expect with regard to what the rules are - most organisers have a whole huge list of rules and regulations about what you can and can't do - familiarise yourself with them - although festivals have a reputation as being an 'anything goes' affair - it's not really that simple and there are some basic rules to ensure everyone's safety . We know it's really boring but do take a few minutes to check out the small print on the back of those tickets - a lot of useful info is hidden away there and there are a few things you'll need to be aware of.

Think about how you're going to get there and suss out the best way to travel for you - train/coach/car - book your ticket in advance If you're traveling by public transport and make sure you get a return ticket - whilst you might be sad the festival is over you'll be well hacked off if you can't get home - you can bet your life the public transport will be over subscribed and you will be skint. If you do forget and end up getting into difficulties you could phone a friend or relative - they can go to their local train station and pay for your ticket for you so you won't be stranded for quite so long - but this does take time to organise. Welfare services on site might just be able to help in some way - maybe by helping to find a lift share but they will not have any money for you. If you are under age (you really shouldn't be there without an adult and proper plans - but hey - shit happens) Social services will take some responsibility - welfare or the police should have contact details - and all social services departments operate an out of hours emergency service - the police will have contact numbers. But if you're classed as an adult nobody has any legal responsibility for you (unless you're classed as vulnerable) and you will be on you're own - so best make sure you've covered all your bases before you go eh?

If you plan to travel by car make sure your vehicle is roadworthy and running okay - you really don't want a breakdown on a festival site (or even en route or on the way home) it may prove to be very expensive!

Think about where you want to stay for the duration of the festival - the vast majority of people camp but some choose to stay in a hotel or go for bed and breakfast - if you do want to stay somewhere off site you will need to book well in advance as most places get booked up early and it can be really difficult to find somewhere the closer you get to the festival - always best to make accommodation arrangements as soon as you have booked your ticket if you plan to stay off site.

If you are staying on site check out parking/camping arrangements for the site in advance so that you know what to expect and what's expected of you - for fire safety reasons you will probably not be allowed to camp near your car or vehicle - it's worth bearing in mind that nylon from tents, petrol and oil make NAPALM - so health and safety isn't just being a pain in the arse - there are reasons why the aggravating inconvenience of having to park well away from your tent is the norm - they aren't really just having a laugh! Some festivals will allow you to park while you unload but by no means all do this - so forewarned is forearmed. You will need to give some thought as to how you are going to get your stuff from the car to the camp site - it will involve a lot of walking and a lot of carrying - always good to travel light and best to make several smaller trips - unless you're really hard!

Some events do not allow caravans, mobile homes or "live in" vehicles on site or if they do they may restrict them to special areas - usually at extra cost and miles from the main part of the site - check in advance.

If you haven't got a car have you checked out how far is it to and from the site to the bus/train station/pick up point? is it walking distance or will you need a taxi? if you do need a taxi make sure you've got the telephone number with you - they get very booked up so you may have quite a wait - it can be quite difficult for them to find you so do be clear about where you will be, what your name is etc. some firms find it hard to get on site as organisers often change routes to the drop off/pick up points (Glastonbury does this a lot and it confuses everyone!) so it's often worth walking a bit further and meeting the taxi off site - usually much quicker and easier in the long run.

It may sound blindingly obvious, but check your tent before you leave - is it in good condition? Does it have a ground sheet? Is it waterproof? Have you got enough poles and tent pegs? Do you know how to put it up? Do you have a camping mat and a sleeping bag? It can get very cold at nights so these items are essential and will make a significant difference, a camping mat under you will prevent a lot of heat loss. When camping remember to take a torch - it gets dark and those guy ropes can be a bitch specifically setting out to get you! Don't forget a penknife and some matches or lighter and a tin opener if you're planning on eating that tin of beans you packed. A water container (you can get collapsible ones with taps these days!) will be something you'll be well happy you thought to take.

If you take medication for any illnesses make sure you have enough to cover you for the duration that you will be away from home (and take it in its original packaging as proof it's for you - just in case) If you have a medical condition that might cause severe problems make sure your mates know what to do in an emergency and wear a medic-alert bracelet or necklace so that people know what to do in the event you lose consciousness. and there are no mates around who might know what the problem is.
Pack basic medications that you just might need in a camping scenario e.g. paracetamol / piriton / immodium / plasters/ indigestion tablets/ insect repellant and antiseptic - just the basics but they can be indispensable in your hour of need!

Take enough money to get you through, events are now providing cash points at major festivals but they do attract very long queues - at some events you may not be allowed re-entry if you leave the site to find a bank or for any other reason. Always make sure you stash enough cash to get you home after the event. Try and keep your cash in smaller amounts in different places on your person, that way if the worst happens and you lose it you'll only lose some and won't be left totally skint.

Be aware that many festivals encourage you to use a 'beer tokens' system - this means that you purchase your beer tokens which you then redeem later for beer - be very, very careful if you do this - we've been told by several people that they spent their whole weekend allowance on the first day only to discover that there were rules in place that meant the tokens were valid for one day only. They were not refunded and they couldn't have the beer they had paid for - so - be very aware - read any notices about tokens and if you decide to go for it make sure you know what their rules are - caution - caution - caution advised.

Don't forget some basics! - you will probably need a rucksack to carry all your belongings - this is quite useful in the arena for all those little essentials. Take bog roll, we advise more than one - you will so need it.

Wet wipes are always very useful as are poly bags to keep dry clothes in when it's wet and muddy or dirty clothes when you've done with them.

Take a good sunscreen and sunglasses - don't forget that sunscreen whatever the weather forecast says - even an hour in the sun can give you a nasty sunburn.

Take condoms/contraceptive pills/tampons

Take a towel - wash stuff - deodorant and toothbrush/toothpaste

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Festival Survival Guide
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Festival Survival Guide Index
Part 1. The Safeconcerts Festival Survival Guide
Getting the best from your festival experience
Part 2. Preparation
Some important stuff to do before you're ready to go
Part 3. Security and Stewards
On site security and stewards - what you should know
Part 4. On Your Way
What to do en route and on arrival
Part 5. Your Stuff
How best to keep it safe
Part 6. Pitching Your Tent
Some useful tips for your temporary home
Part 7. Your Body
Keep it safe - it's yours and you have choices
Part 8. Keeping Clean
Not easy but perfectly possible
Part 9. Your Clothes
Keep cool, warm and dry and still keep your cred!
Part 10. Drugs and Alcohol
Be wise, be safe, take care
Part 12. Camp Fires
Not a good idea, why?
Part 13. Toilets
Infamous - can you survive them?
Part 14. Children at Festivals
Fun for all the family?
Part 15. Crowd Safety at Festivals
Keeping safe in a dense crowd - crowd surfing and moshing

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