Karen Kay: why the festival scene just isn’t for me

PUBLISHED: 12:22 05 August 2015 | UPDATED: 12:22 05 August 2015

What's not to love?

What's not to love?


Soggy fields and hunting down dodgy loos, that’s the truth beyond immaculate celebs in designer clothes, says Karen. Anyway, she’d rather go clubbing before breakfast

When did festivals become such a ubiquitous part of the British summer? As an Eighties teenager, I was aware of Glastonbury, but never attended. My set went to the Wag club and Café de Paris in London’s. We hung out with long-haired New Romantics in pirate shirts and lashings of mascara – and the girls were glamorous too. Glastonbury was for those who liked music their parents liked, and didn’t give two hoots about the way they looked. Whatever tumbled from the wardrobe first, no matter how crumpled, was fine by them. Hell, it went in an old army surplus backpack and stayed on for three days solid, anyway.

Today, the festival scene is a THING. Whole sections of magazines are devoted to what to wear in a field while trying to catch a glimpse of Lionel Ritchie or some hip alternative band in a far-flung corner of Worthy Farm where Jo Whiley and the cool kids hang out. If you’re not wearing the right brand of boots or sandals with your cheesecloth peasant top, then, frankly, why even bother? But of course, you do, because you need to update your Facebook status or post a Selfie on instagram with all the other dudes in your festival tribe, because that’s what the summer is about, right?

I’m not only talking about the BBC luvvie-fest that is Glastonbury. Whether you’re a 16-year-old headed for a post-GCSE weekend with your mates at Reading, or a middle-class, Ocado-shopping, Boden-wearing mum glamping in a bell tent at Cornbury with her yoga chums, there is a festival for all.

There’s Port Eliot in Cornwall, which is more a merging of creative minds than a music festival. For families, Camp Bestival in Dorset is like a fantasy land where Roald Dahl meets Disney meets CBeebies with a bit of Dr Seuss and Crayola thrown in.

Festivals are so much a fixture in the calendar that you can barely drive down the road without getting caught up in one. A new generation of festivals has included Buryfields, Pennfest and Chilfest welcoming Sister Sledge, Scouting for Girls, the Happy Mondays and Razorlight amongst others, making attending a festival as easy as popping to the supermarket on a Saturday afternoon.

The kids pile out of school on a Friday, get bundled into the 4x4 and head down a lane to sit on a picnic blanket with a Cath Kidston coolbox, drink smoothies and dance under the stars with their dads.

But here’s the thing. No matter how sanitised festivals become, with their carefully marketed lifestyles designed to appeal to every demographic (especially the ones with high disposable incomes, natch), I just don’t get it. I love music. I love being outdoors. I love being with friends and family. I love eating al fresco. But the idea of spending hours lost on some vast estate while trying to find my way back from some ghastly loo, has no appeal. I like to wash, brush my hair, and check my outfit in a rear view mirror. I can’t bear being disturbed by people staggering around, spilling their drink, burbling incoherently – day or night. In short, I like my home comforts.

And, no matter how many celebrities are photographed in Grazia or Tatler, with coiffed locks and immaculate make-up, you’re not going to fool me. Theirs is a stage-managed vision of festivals in celeb world, where a stylist delivers a designer outfit and a make-up artist works their magic before a chauffeur drives you from a hotel to the hospitality area, for champagne served by waiters who look like male models. They pose for photos – often with a strategically placed watch / handbag / phone by the brand hosting them in an air-conditioned yurt – then head home while the rest of the world tries in vain to look like they’re enjoying being wet, cold, desperate for the loo, hungry and sleep-deprived.

So, where might I be while you’re trying to find your tent in a soggy field?

The Ministry of Sound, that bastion of Nineties clubbing, has launched Morning Glory, a series of breakfast raves, with free hugs from wake-up angels, a massage station, a coffee kiosk, glitter face painters and a thumping dance floor. Gone are the days when I staggered home in the early hours, but arriving at one at 6.30am to start my day with a really good bop? 
Now you’re talking.



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