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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!