An ”ËœOlder Person’s’ Guide to Festival Camping

Michelle Corbett

So, FOM Fest eh? Talk about a whole bunch of awesomeness and right on my doorstep no less. Which begs the question”¦ to camp or not to camp?

Granted, at 32 I’m far from pensionable age ”“ especially now that the Tories have announced we’ll be slavin’ from the cradle to the grave. But 32 isn’t 22 and it certainly isn’t 17 ”“ the optimum age for feckless festival-going when you can cope with just about anything.

To the horror of my younger self, the first thing I did after buying my tickets was Google the nearest Premier Inn to Capesthorne Hall (Alderley Edge if you’re interested). But when you find yourself taking advice off Lenny Henry on any subject other than Comic Relief, it’s time to take a long hard look in the mirror.

For all my fellow ”ËœOlder Persons’ who are thinking about camping at FOM Fest, here are a few handy hints.  

Accommodation: In the absence of an all-singing Winnebago or vintage VW campervan I recommend the biggest tent you can afford – certainly one big enough to accommodate the all-important ”ËœOlder Person’s’ double inflatable airbed, vast all-weather wardrobe and assorted Tupperware boxes containing clean cutlery and your favourite mug. Bonus points if there’s room for a cooler stocked with breakfast essentials too. Beware the ”Ëœlook at me’ midlife crisis tent though. Sure a tepee looks ”Ëœfun’ in the shop, but just be prepared to get shouty and sweary in front of a crowd of ”Ëœwell-meaning’ onlookers as you attempt to erect it. And no, a Cath Kidston number won’t stand out in the crowd. All the kids buy them too.

Weather: It WILL rain. The water WILL seep through your waterproof tent. You WILL wake up to find all your things (and probably you) in a puddle. Get over it. Strong plastic bin bags are your festival friends. Put anything you don’t want to dissolve into a pathetic sodden mess inside them while you’re sober enough to remember to do so. They are also excellent bartering tools with which you can fleece people who have alcohol but no raincoat.

Money: When you walk through the entrance to a festival you are entering a parallel universe where everything is sold for at least five times its actual retail value. It’s no use thinking ”ËœI will not succumb to this blatant consumerism’. At some point (probably on the first day) you will cave in and pay £5 for a warm beer. You will then accidentally drop this beer, cry out in anguish and immediately buy a replacement. Soon notes will be flying out of your hands faster than you could ever imagine. This will culminate in you desperately tugging at random strangers shouting: “Is there a cash machine here?” However much you intend to take with you, triple it AND take your cash card.


Clothing: When Kate Moss rocked up to Glastonbury 2005 in a pair of hotpants she single-handedly changed festival-going fashion. That’s all well and good if you have a helicopter on standby, but who wants to trudge back to the campsite in a mud-splattered maxi-dress frozen to the bone? Don’t be silly ”“ you’re not a celebrity. You’re an ”ËœOlder Person’ in survival mode. Shiny polyester bodywarmers are OK here. You can always wear your Rolling Stones ”Ëœlips’ T-shirt underneath if you really must.

Footwear: Unless you want trenchfoot, don’t bother with flip-flops, Birkenstocks or anything with an open toe. You need a pair of Wellingtons. End of.

Toilets: Young people camp according to a well-known configuration ”“ the science of successful festival-going, if you will. Their tents are usually pitched equidistant between a burger van and a Portaloo – close enough to be convenient yet far enough from both to avoid any nasty smells. But as old age approaches you may want to consider pitching closer to the loos. Weakened Bladder + Lots of Drink = Many, Many Late Night Trips to the Toilet. Don’t expect them to be clean or have paper or even be remotely usable. Like bad weather and rip-off prices you just have to put up and shut up.

So, will I take my own advice and camp at FOM Fest? Let me check out the bus schedules and I’ll come back to you”¦



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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Don’t be silly, 32!?
    I’m 42 and don’t take anything other than a tent a sleeping bag and money (to buy beer with).
    Don’t get old before your time.

  2. The last time I camped my tent (due to three days of torrential rain) became an island in the middle of what can only be described as a small lake, I sobbed inside as people squelched past saying things like ‘My God imagine if that was your tent, gutted!’ and ‘Jesus Christ look at the state of that’ etc, unsurprisingly after 10 years of festival camping I decided there and then to retire.

  3. Loved this article. I feel like the title was written with me in mind, although going by this I’m positively ancient (will be 46 when I go to FoM Fest – my first festival). A point in our favour is that we are veteran campers, having experienced the best and worst of it, we were planning on taking the same tack as Edge. Although I’m prepared that this might stretch our experience to new limits!

  4. Great article – after glasto in 2005 (i think it was) i said i was never staying in a tent at a festival ever again – we lost everything, I got a caravan for FOMfest from as im never sleeping in a tent ever again. im 29 and the thought of it really negged me out.. `Caravans are the way forward…

  5. Choosing a tent for camping is the first task for any camping trip. What type of weather conditions are you expecting? Always be prepared for the worst, rain, wind, and cold. There are three season and four season tents available. Four season tents are heavier than three season tents. They tend to have more poles than three season tents to help them withstand wind and snow fall. Of course, most of us are fair weather campers. A three season tent will be fine for us. So, now, what style of tent do you want?*

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