If you’ve read any of my previous festival content, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of music festivals. In fact, they’ve become a massive part of my life and in many ways shaped who I am today. The mix of camping, guitar based music, moshpits and hangovers aside, some of my most memorable moments have been spent standing in front of a stage letting the music run through my veins and feeling truly free.

But I’m in my mid-thirties now, and things have started to change.

The thing is, whilst music festivals the world over cater for all age ranges and musical tastes, my favourite and most visited has a reputation for being a bit of a coming of age affair. In fact, I’m now so old in comparison to the core festival demographic that I could realistically be the mother of at least 60% of the audience. This has never really bothered me before because Reading Festival has both the line ups I crave, the nostalgia value and is only one hour from my front door, but this year things were different.

The line up was different – with a deliberate and considered shift away from bands and guitars (I could get into a great debate about the decline of great guitar based music in popular culture, but we’ll save that for another day). The young people seemed even younger to me if that is possible, and even though I’ve dedicated my whole career to supporting young people and I’m their biggest advocate, some of the behaviour I witnessed was nothing short of disgusting.

Truth be told I felt tired, old and out of place.

Music Festivals In Your Thirties

But music festivals are such a giant part of my life I’m not prepared to just walk away because I’ve outgrown my favourite – and instead I’ve accepted that music festivals are different in your thirties. Here’s a list of five things I’ll be doing next year to bring the love back to my favourite summer pastime:

1. Splashing out on the little (and big) luxuries

When I first started going to festivals in my teens I barely turned up with much more than a spare pair of pants and a crate of lager. I slept where I slept, I gave myself a cursory run down with a slightly damp wet wipe and every morning I just got up and back on it.

In my thirties, it’s a different story and I’ve realised if I want to survive five nights in a field with pretty much no facilities, I need to change things up.

  • This year for the first time in 18 years I slept on a blow up mattress and it was utter perfection. I felt like a princess and I kicked myself for not making the switch earlier. So from now on, foam roll matts are a thing of the past – it’s all about a blow up bed, fleecy blanket and an eye mask.
  • Solo tents, whilst a little antisocial have done wonders for my ability to feel comfortable and get the sleep I need. I’ve loved bundling in to tents with my mates over the years, but now I’ve camped in my own tent I don’t think I’d go back. I can fidget to my hearts content, wake when I want to AND use a Travel John for those 4am wees without judgement.

Music Festivals In Your Thirties

Do you consider yourself too old for festivals? Here's the way to approach them in your thirtiesClick To Tweet

2. Genuinely making an effort with your skincare

Unless you are staying in a hotel, you are going to look like trash for most of the festival no matter how much you try not to. Mud, heat, dehydration and poor diet are going to contribute to looking like a haggard mess, as will a lack of decent sleep. Whilst I’ve always tried hard to wash the grime off my face each night, this year I actually took considered steps to look after my skin.

  • I upgraded on face wipes and bought more hydrating, high quality wipes. Added to this, I used a facial oil to get rid of all the grime, make up and glitter which meant my face felt super clean and plumped each morning. I took sachets of organic coconut oil to use which were handy and mess free!
  • Instead of grabbing crappy skincare, I scoured eBay for sample sachets of my favourite products, which meant that even in my tent I could use toner pads, serum, moisturiser and spf. It took only a few minutes each morning, and using a sample tube of Ren’s Wake Up Wonderful sleep mask made me feel like a queen each morning.

When the rest of your body and hair feel awful, at least if your face feels sprightly you can face the festival with a bit more energy!

Music Festivals In Your Thirties

3. Experiencing festivals on your own terms

I think in my younger years, whilst an independent soul I was more led by what my friends did, or what was expected of me. Drinking to excess, staying up till all hours and getting stuck right into the middle of the crowds were the norm, and I’ll be honest it didn’t always make me feel amazing.

Now I’m older, I’m beginning to realise that it is absolutely fine to experience festivals on your own terms and in your own way. Want to go to sleep as soon as the final act is finished? Cool. Don’t want to do jaegerbombs at 4 in the afternoon? That’s fine. Would prefer to sit down and listen to some music at the side, or chill in the comedy tent? Go for it.

Following my own bliss and being led by what my body and mind is telling me genuinely leads me to having a much better time.

Music Festivals In Your Thirties

4. Surrounding yourself with epic mates

Clearly this sort of goes without saying, or so I thought.  Festivals can be relentless places which bring out both the best and worst in people, and who you spend your time with can be extremely important.

It’s not something I’d given that much thought to (because all my mates are epic), until I witnessed frantic young women off their face on something, or allowing male festival goers to pay them unwanted attention all whilst their “friends” stood by and watched. I regularly camp nearby the Samaritans tent and the amount of young girls I see hysterical and alone is saddening.

It made me realise that at a festival, you need to be part of a team – that look after each other, support each other and rescue each other from unfortunate situations.

Music Festivals In Your Thirties

5. Choosing the right festival

And therein lies the true answer to experiencing a festival in your thirties. Whilst I may have outgrown Reading Festival for now, the UK has plenty of incredible festivals to offer for every age and every taste. Next year I hope to be attending Download Festival for the first time in 15 years (!!!) to hang out with an older, more metal crowd and I’d like to get along to Wildnerness Festival too for something completely different and chilled out.

If you have any top tips for experiencing music festivals in your thirties, or recommendations of festivals to try please do comment below!

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Festival Essentials | Camping | UK Music Festivals | Travel Tips

Festival Essentials | Camping | UK Music Festivals | Travel Tips
Festival Essentials | Camping | UK Music Festivals | Travel Tips

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  • I agreed, I felt like this last year and the year before but this year it felt a little different – I think the change up of the site for guest campers helped. We were nearer the main stage and I’ve found all the teeny boppers head over to the Dance stage or NME (which I am not adverse to because I got there regularly.) But I could stay away from it a little better if I wanted to.
    Bee xxx

    • I definitely feel like guest camping or day tickets are the only way to go to R+L nowadays, its just too much carnage in the main campsites. I love R+L because of the diversity of music (I’ve been known to strut my stuff in the dance tent before, but that diversity is bringing a different, less friendly crowd. Sigh.

  • I don’t think it was hitting my 30s that changed the way I experience music festivals as much as beginning to cover them as a journalist – flushing loos, only open to the press, make a huge difference. If I stick to Scottish festivals I can head home to my own bed at night (even if it’s a bit late) – although I’d love to experience one of the indie English festivals one day, like End of the Road or Green Man, so may have to bear these tips in mind…

    Experiencing a festival on your own terms sums it up for me. I don’t drink much ANYWAY, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be the Person I Know who was so off his face he can’t remember seeing Johnny Cash live.

    Lis / last year’s girl x

    • Wow, you had the gates of heaven opened up with the posh loos and sleeping in your own bed! I did Boardmasters in a hotel a few years back, and I have to say I was really torn – I love the comfort and cleanliness but I missed the campsite vibe! x

  • I live off wet wipes at festivals. It’s the only way to stay clean and, erm, shower.

    Nowadays, I’m in my 30s to, so often prefer kind of the lesser known local festivals. Those seem to have more my age going on. Otherwise, the ones with the bands that I grew up listening to. And if it’s walking distance to a village with a hotel, added bonus.

    • I completely agree – I always take a few packs of the bathing wipes so I don’t have to scrimp on being cleaner! 🙂

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