How to cope with a music festival when you’re older than 25

Illustration by Twylamae
Words by Alyce Greer

Pass the hand sanitiser.

There’s nothing in this world that can make you feel as old as going to a music festival.

From the new fashion trends, to the hectic makeup, to your sudden phobia of all germs and people, a festival will make you realise you are well and truly over the hill. Are you above the age of 25 and think you’ve still got it? Buy a ticket to one of the many festivals this summer and see just how wrong you are. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go at all – it just means you need to be a little more mentally and physically prepared than the other, fresh-faced punters.

As someone that unfortunately fits the brief, here are my top 10 tips for surviving.

Choose your festival wisely

A year or two ago I wrote about the moment I realised I was too old for music festivals. I had foolishly bought a ticket to Listen Out, and when I arrived, my eyes were assaulted with a smorgasbord of fashion trends I was not familiar with. But looking back, the problem did not lie in my age, but my choice in music festival. What did I expect? Now, I attend festivals with a lineup I’m actually interested in, and avoid festivals where I think high heels and Kylie Jenner Lip Kits will be rife.

And your party pals

As a geriatric punter, it’s very important to bring the right friends with you. For me, they should be the type of people that are fun, willing to embrace the experience and avoid spending the entire day complaining, but also don’t get so wasted they climb the stage, pash the lead singer and get you all kicked out. Select accordingly.

Fork out more for a better experience

When you’re in your late teens and early ’20s, festivals are all about the grassroots experience. Like, losing your handbag, squatting over a portaloo toilet and sleeping on the grass outside your tent. But as you get older, the pull of the VIP ticket – with its separate bathrooms and fancy glamping tents and absence of 18-year-olds – gets stronger and stronger. If you truly want to enjoy your next festival, consider paying a bit more.

Have a big ol’ pre-party

When you’re on the wrong side of 25, the worst thing you can possibly do is walk into a music festival completely sober and without your panty pants. You’ll realise everyone is 12; they’re dressed weird, they’re saying phrases you’ve never heard before and they’re spilling their sticky drinks all over you. Within five minutes, you’re ready to leave. Avoid this by starting your day with an old-school pre-game party to get you in the mood.

Pack a serious bag

At this age, your festival bag should be less like a clutch you’d take clubbing, and more like a bag you’re taking on a six-month backpacking trip through South-East Asia. Sure, bring your phone, ID, keys and lip gloss, but now also bring your toilet paper, baby wipes, hand sanitiser, rain poncho, sunscreen, paracetamol, water, non-perishable snacks, medication and extra clothes.

Do not bring nice and important things

Expensive sunglasses. Credit cards. White boots. Rent money hidden in a secret compartment in your wallet. You might be older and wiser now, but it doesn’t mean you can be trusted with nice things – and neither can the people around you. Have a blanket rule that you don’t bring anything important. You will lose a lens from your sunglasses, you will jack up your credit card bill, you will ruin your white boots, and you will find your rent money and have nowhere to live.

Make an airtight plan

Unfortunately, there is no more flying by the seat of your crochet pants. You’re an adult now, and you have responsibilities, like seeing your favourite band and not spending the entire day by yourself. On the morning of, work out a plan of attack with your group of friends which includes transport plans, band schedule, and a meeting place in case it all goes to sh*t.

Explore what the festival has to offer

Did you know there is more to festivals than trying to see the stage over the really tall guy in front of you? I know, I couldn’t believe it either until I went to one and pushed myself to explore a little further than the main stage. The smaller indie festivals usually have an incredible lineup of of food, arts and culture that often – dare I say – rivals the music.

Admit you can’t party like you used to

As much as you want to prove to yourself and others that you can still back it up like you used to, it’s safe to say this will only end badly. These days, swigging out of a flask of vodka means you will most likely die from a hangover, attempting a triple stack with your friends will end with someone breaking their neck, and using mud like a Slip n Slide will fill you with so much regret and embarrassment the next day that you’ll probably never go outside again – let alone attend another music festival.

Chill on the judging

It’s very difficult, but try your best to avoid being the Negative Nancy that judges, complains and scoffs all day long. Once upon a time, you were the person wearing the weird clothes and singing too loudly and barging through people in the crowd. This attitude will only ruin your day. Instead, pretend you’re *young* again and try to wholeheartedly embrace the experience. And if this means losing your handbag or sleeping on the grass outside your tent, so be it.

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