Are festivals just too muddy these days?

another muddy festival?

another muddy festival?

Am I a stick in the mud for bailing on T in The Park?
Michelle Corbett left a festival after getting fed up with the mud- is she wrong? should she have stuck it out? or are we getting fed up with the shitty conditions?

Leaning forward to top up my wine glass I caught a flash of the rainbow hue of my T In The Park wristband and felt a twinge of guilt.

It was Sunday afternoon and instead of watching the likes of Elbow, Nicki Minaj and Kasabian from the bowels of the Main Arena I was perched on a comfy sofa in my rented lodge 13 miles down the road.

Having spent £200 on my ticket – plus another £70 on my share of the accommodation and £40 on fuel to travel more than 200 miles up the motorway – I was doing what I could have done at home”¦ sitting on my backside and watching it on the telly.
Why? Well quite frankly I’d had enough. Legs burning like I’d done 12 hours on a Stairmaster; handbag and its entire contents destroyed and in the bin; boots honking of bog mud and an entire wardrobe of clothes fit to be burnt I couldn’t help but conclude: ”˜Why wreck any more of my belongings’?

Granted, if The Stones Roses had been playing that night I’d have braved a plague of locusts to get there, but their scalps were already under my belt. I’d seen a good 10 acts over two days and made plenty of memories. Why did the organisers deserve any more of my cash if they couldn’t be bothered to take reasonable steps to make the showground more weatherproof?

It all started going a bit Pete Tong the moment we arrived on Saturday in a cloud of horizontal rain. No-one can be held to blame for bad weather, but would it really be too much to ask to put in a few walkways in the car parks? Throw some wood chipping down? Maybe even lay some matting?

Having staggered through the car park we encountered a lake of rainwater that – quite frankly – Duran Duran could have gone yachting on. Immediately adjacent was a concrete walkway. Common sense might dictate that you’d allow people to use it. You’d be wrong. It was strictly out of bounds.

Having queued at the first entrance we were told by the stewards that their scanners were not equipped for weekend ticket holders ”“ only day-pass holders had the luxury of walking in. We’d have to walk round the entire perimeter of the arena and trek through the campsite. After some unpleasant sweariness (on my part) and epic jobsworth-type comments (on theirs) we conceded we had no other choice, gritted our teeth and drank more turbo-strength wine to obliterate the reality of our plight.
It took more than an hour to make our way round – by which time we were soaked to the skin; knee-deep in utter filth and had missed acts we’d set out early to see such as Django Django and Simple Minds. Conditions inside the campsite were decidedly worse. The rainwater – having nowhere to go – had settled overnight on top of the mud. Tents were flooded out; belongings destroyed; people covered head to foot in sludge. It was nothing short of apocalyptic.

Faced with this type of situation you’ve got two choices: go with it or go home. On Saturday I chose the former ”“ embraced it all and pretended I was a carefree teenager. On Sunday I sobered up, remembered my age and stayed away.

But I’m angry that it came to this. I’m by no means a festival novice – having travelled all over the UK and abroad over the past seven years. I’ve seen it all from ”˜Trainspotting’-style toilets to fisticuffs and thievery. It takes a lot to shock me, but somewhere along the line festival organisers seem to have thrown in the towel when it comes to meeting their customers’ basic human rights.

If you complain, you’re ”˜not cut out for it’ or a ”˜boring bastard’. Tales of canoeing to the Main Stage and mud-slinging in the moshpit are toted like badges of honour. Bog-man figures plastered head to toe are part and parcel of TV and newspaper coverage. It’s portrayed as a laugh and a lark.

Organisers know it and keep their profit margins slim by doing little or nothing to improve things. Granted, it’s a risky outlay. You could spend thousands only to enjoy a weekend of blue cloudless skies, but is there really no halfway house? No Plan B scenario? No ”˜what if’?

Even simple things like adding extra entrances and exit points could make such a distance ”“ shortening the trudge to and from the car park. But I guess that necessitates more staff and associated salaries and makes the sites more prone to people chancing their arm at getting in.

Are we ”“ the ticket-buying public – to blame? Is there really some part of us that every so often needs to escape our sanitised lives and see what we’re really made of?

There are no shortcuts or quick fixes. The only way we can force a change is by staying away from the grounds”¦ voting with our feet as it were. As a festival-goer you can be a stick in the mud or up to your neck in mud. The choice is yours.

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5 comments on “Are festivals just too muddy these days?”

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  1. I’m a bit inclined to think you’re being a bit moany there, really. You got what you paid for. Some fields, with some bands in. These days I’m far from the “you can’t hack it, I remember Glastonbury ’99” type. But I’m equally far from the “fuck it, I’m 40 this year and this is for kids” type.

    Festivals are about herding a shit load of people into a field, and yes, taking money from them for the pleasure. Even the nice ones. So if you don’t want to see a band in a field when it might be raining (in England/Scotland), don’t buy a ticket, really.

  2. I did T in the Park this year and stuck it out, almost literally, until early Sunday evening and split after seeing Band of Skulls. We were also subjected to the ‘sod off day pass only’ entrance and missed bands that were playing yards away by having to do the hour treck through the campsite. This was not a cheap festival but NO effort was made to try and alleviate the conditions and it was only some brilliant performances that transcended the misery. A few bales of hay? Metal paving? Entrance off the carpark for weekend passes? The odd machine sucking up the mud at the entrances where it was deepest and most dangerous? Other festivals can do it. This was my first T in the Park and after their stuff you attitude, my last.

  3. Robin Brunskill

    The day has come when I agree with Michelle.
    Chris, she isn’t being moany, thats a good articulate writing style and she makes excellent points.
    Don’t let it go to your head Corbett… .you’re still a cheeky youngster with too much lip, but..have to say…this is pretty good

  4. Try being disabled and going to these festivals. It’s a fucking disgrace …

  5. Hey at least you didn’t have to put up with the entire festival being literally flooded out and no refund. Here in Sydney Australia the last Playground Weekender (possibly the best festival in New South Wales) was cancelled at the last minute by weather, and cos the organizers were a bit incompetent in getting flood insurance we got zero refund.

    Enjoy it while you can i say

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