There’s no need to trek to the countryside to watch your favourite bands, get your glitter on, and long-drop away your dignity. London now boasts some world-class day festivals of its own, such as Lovebox, BST, Field Day and All Points East. Best of all, these events allow you to go hard, and then go home to your comfy bed.
But day festivals in London are not all fun and games. There are potential pitfalls everywhere, particularly for first time festival goers. With this in mind, we asked music journalist Thea de Gallier to share her top tips for surviving day festivals in London, from negotiating packed public transport to the perils of bumping into your boss.
Suss the vibe
Lovebox, Field Day and South West Four are known for their party-loving atmosphere. For an out-and-out rave, South West Four might be the best, while the former two offer diverse lineups with everyone from Skepta and Childish Gambino (Lovebox) to Charlotte Gainsbourg and Princess Nokia (Field Day). British Summer Time is more family-friendly, with picnic blankets welcomed and the sprawling landscape of Hyde Park to chill in. In short, research the festival before you go if you’re unfamiliar with the vibe.
CityMapper is your friend
Seasoned Londoners know that when events are on, tube lines get overloaded to the point where you’re often travelling with your head in someone’s armpit. If you are tube-ing it, allow plenty of time for the journey and the queue when you get there – stringent security checks are typically in place at these events. If you can walk part of the route or get a bus, it might end up quicker, as you’ll avoid the throngs of revellers on the underground. On the way out, don’t expect to get an Uber without a lengthy wait.
British weather is unpredictable at the best of times, but London heats up quite spectacularly in summer. So take care: boozing – or otherwise – in a park becomes less fun once the dehydration headache sets in. Most of these events won’t let you bring full bottles of water in, but some will let you take an empty one and fill it up at a water point in the grounds. Bottles of water from the bars will, undoubtedly, be overpriced, but your body (and bank balance) will thank you the next day if you switch every third beer for one.
Stock up on snacks
You might not be allowed to bring drinks in, but a sandwich will usually get past the bouncers. Or why not try stashing its constituent parts on your person (slices of ham down your trousers; a bread roll down your sock) and putting it together at your leisure once inside. Or not. Food is likely to be expensive and you don’t get much of it, so bringing some bits to eat before you get carried away and decide to pay a tenner for five chips anyway is always a good plan. Plus, then you can have a picnic in the sun before things get too wobbly.
Where’s the wifi?
Truth: there probably isn’t any. Phone signal inside these events is notoriously bad as everyone sends “where are you” texts and uploads Boomerangs of friends necking Pimm’s in the sun. You and your mates might not want to watch the same bands all day, so it’s a good plan to decide on a meeting point to rendezvous later, as texts and calls might not go through. Old school but effective.
Argh! There’s my boss!
London’s a big city, but not big enough to stop you bumping into someone you know. Some of these events fall on a Sunday, which for most of us, means work in the morning. We won’t judge you if you were thinking of “working from home” the next day, but that plan should probably go out of the window if you do bump into your boss or co-workers. And if you don’t see them and need a duvet day on Monday, keep your exploits off social media. Think carefully, too, before snogging Barry from accounts, as tempting as it might seem after six gin-in-a-tins.
Find THE afterparty
Chances are, you and the festival organisers will have different ideas about when the party should end. Thankfully, if you’re in a decent sized group or meet people there’s bound to be afterparties to go to once the music and lights go out. Just make sure you know where you’re going, how to get home, and let someone know what you’re up to. If you fancy hosting your own afterparty and have housemates at home that need to be at work in the morning – well, just try and do it quietly. And have you got enough places for everyone to sleep if they crash out? Nobody wants to end up with creepy John in their bed, least of all an unsuspecting housemate.