Firstly, and most crucial to your survival is to Pick Your Festival Carefully. No matter what you have coped with in your life to date, spending three days in the rain listening to grime music with 10,000 hallucinating teenagers, with no toilet or cappuccino facilities, is going to send you over the edge. You need to be thinking Wilderness or Cornbury in the gentle hills of Oxfordshire in the grounds of posh country houses, Glastonbury (in The Pop-Up Hotel, Camp Kerala or Pennard Orchard only) or Port Elliot (a lot of satisfactory Airstream action, not to mention soothing book talks to ease hangovers). These are the festivals for you.
Despite these festivals having many “facilities” to ease the pain of being outside, surrounded by an unnerving amount of people for an extended amount of time, if you are remotely sensitive, middle-aged or squeamish, you have to get battle-ready in order to last more than 20 minutes. The young/non-anxious do not notice any of this stuff. They can sleep under a bin liner for five days with nothing but a can of Blackthorn and have actual fun. To this end, if you’re middle-aged, you’ll need these five essentials to ensure survival:
Wing Woman. You are not going to get through this alone and must NEVER rely entirely on your husband or boyfriend, as male tolerance for any of this stuff is just different. You need to find a friend with similar anxiety issues and solemnly swear to be at each other’s side No Matter What. This includes halfway through when one of you has gotten over-excited and thinks it might be fun to go down the Rabbit Hole at 5am. NO. You have a deal. And Berocca and micro-dosing with the odd carefully timed tequila shot and bed by 2.30am is The Deal.
Your Outfit. Do not be tempted to look at Coachella pictures on Instagram for wispy, flower-crown inspo. You are going to be too hot, too cold or too wet at all times and LA celebrity style is not going to be your friend. A denim skirt with a durable T-shirt can be layered up or down with scarves, waterproofs, paint, wispy bits, glittery waistcoats, hair feathers – and you can wear a bra. Bring your black opaque tights and wellies for rain, trainers if it is dry. NEVER be tempted by sandals if you value owning toes.
The Loo. Just Don’t. Hold it in for the whole stretch or at worst find a bush and have a wild wee. Do not enter any toilet facility unless you are in a fully roped-off area with plenty of celebrities hanging about. You then stand a chance of not vomiting.
Food. Keep to three meals a day no matter what the circumstances. You don’t want to be exhausted, frazzled, hungover AND hungry. You just won’t manage. If you keep your blood sugar level steady, things will seem much easier. Do not take being mid-festival to suddenly pretend you can cope with missing lunch or don’t mind eating dinner at 10pm. I have a friend who took her baby to Glastonbury and did her Gina Ford routine in the tent. Exactly. Know Thyself.
Early Exit Plan. Have this planned, organised and agreed upon with your Wing Woman. Even if you don’t use it, you will be able to relax knowing that all this malarkey can be ruthlessly cut short in the event of rain/panic attack/feelings of extreme age. Depending on your budget, this can include a helicopter, an Uber from London or climbing into your tent, zipping it up, taking a sleeping pill and waking up when it’s all over.