The over-30s festival survival guide

Annabel Rivkin and Emilie McMeekan
You have to do at least one festival in your life, surely... -  Getty Images

Festivals, in the noughties, were the great divider. The litmus test. Were you serious enough about your music to deal with the horror that lay beyond the gates? Could you put aside your personal hygiene, sleep and nutritional requirements for four days? Were you that determined? That hardcore? Could you survive with just 10 packs of Marlboro Lights and a few litres of Jack Daniel’s for sustenance?

Back then, the state of the loos were a livelier talking point than the state of the nation. Gothic were the Portaloo experiences. Many a phone slid out of many a pocket into the murderous mire. Bye, lighter. Farewell, lipgloss. You were lucky to escape with your life.

And yet, the noughties were exactly when festivals evolved from niche to mainstream. When they lost their whiff of patchouli blended with body odour, and acquired the fragrance of fashion. And you know who we’re talking about… because you were probably at home, looking at their photos in the press coverage.

How, we wondered, did those women manage to look so scented and sorted and un-disgusting? How was their hair tonged? How was their fake tan not flaking off like leprosy? HOW? Well, there is a one-word answer to that: Winnebago. Not all festivalgoers are equal.

We say ‘festivalgoers’. But the vernacular has evolved towards ‘festival do-ers’. As in, ‘Are you doing Glastonbury?’ Because it’s all about how you handle yourself. So if, as a late adopter, you are considering a little light festival doing, then you should feel reassured that they are, these days, much more user-friendly. Even the burgers are hand-reared and well-hung. You can hardly move for yurts, duvets and therapeutic talks.

Festival organisers have cottoned on to the fact that for a larger chunk of their more grown-up demographic, unclean is un-fun. Overtired is overrated. And adults spend money.

So here is a look at how to function at a festival. Because, really, we should all do one once. Or, at least, book one once. Because, remember, you can always cancel. Cancelling festivals is practically our favourite thing…

Which festival is right for you?

1. Port Eliot

You like people to know that you read a book once. Or wrote one. You probably have a title. Or want one. So brush off your vintage Chloé and off to Cornwall you go… chopper, chopper.

Port Eliot: 25 - 28 July 2019

2. Burning Man

You look extremely good in metallic leggings and wings. You want to experience the post-apocalyptic Mad Max desert. Straight from Silicon Valley, via private plane.

Burning Man: 25 Aug – 2 Sep 2019 Credit: Jim Urquhart

3. Glastonbury

You are only just recovering from that incident two years ago with the ‘vitamins’. But hey, all your cells have regenerated by now and you’ve dug out your tie-dye. Plus you’ve decided that you really like music.

Glastonbury: 26 – 30 June 2019 Credit:  Jim Dyson/ Getty Images

4. Any festival in Croatia

Trance, house, dance, techno. You are a MANIAC. At least you’ll come back thinner. So much thinner.

Sun, sea and music seems like a winning combination Credit:  Alamy Stock Photo

5. Camp Bestival

You have children. But you’re damned if they’re going to stop you having a good time. They do stop you having a good time. Next year… Latitude.

Camp Bestival: 25 Jul – 28 Jul 2019

6. Reading

You have just finished your GCSEs. You will probably need medical attention.

Reading Festival: 23 – 25 Aug 2019 Credit:  Diverse Images

7. Wilderness

You are a frightful foodie. And a Tory. Plus it’s right next to Wink’s/Mouse’s/Poo’s cottage so you don’t have to camp. Or stay longer than an hour.

Wilderness festival: 1 - 4 August 2019

I’m Absolutely Fine! A Manual for Imperfect Women, by the Midults, is out now in paperback (Cassell, £8.99); themidult.com