15 ways to avoid being the person everyone hates this festival season

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The rain is abundant, the mud is thick and your Instagram feed is littered with women wearing polyester flower crowns. It can only mean one thing: festival season is in full swing.

While a handful of musical fetes have already happened, many lie ahead, including Bestival, Reading and of course, Glastonbury.

With eclectic lineups, bonkers outfits and innumerable food and drink options, going to a festival can feel like roaming around a utopian pop-up city, one where the only thing on your to-do list is to baby wipe yourself from head-to-toe.

But as all seasoned festival-goers will know, it’s not all cider and starry eyes. In fact, festivals can bring out the worst in people.

Who knows whether it’s the volatile weather, the slapdash sleeping arrangements, or the universal feeling of being freed from the shackles of everyday life, but something about being on those muddied fields makes people become somewhat feral and in their heads, renders the rules of basic human decency obsolete.

Suddenly, people think it’s socially acceptable to barge to the front of every queue, roll around in mud and urinate in the middle of a crowd whilst singing along to Ed Sheeran.

Obviously, it still isn’t socially acceptable to do these things, but the festival fool is an unavoidable figure. You’ll see them, you’ll here them, but just in case you’re one of them, here are 15 ways you can turn it around and become a better person before your next festival.

1. Don’t shout ‘Alan’

Remember that viral video of a chipmunk shouting “Alan!”? The one that had been dubbed with a human voice created as part of the BBC sketch series, Walk on the Wild Side? Of course you do. Who could forget the obnoxious bellows of beer-bellied lads who thought it was ”bantz” to mimic the creature as they barged past you to look for their friend? 

The BBC created that video in 2009. Time to find a new party trick.

Take a walk on the wild side: Marmot shouts ‘Alan’

If you do lose a friend, call them by their name. If their name is Alan, wave goodbye and wish them a pleasant festival.

2. Don’t start a mosh pit

Nobody wants to be in a mosh pit. It’s sweaty, uncomfortable and often painful.

For the uninitiated, “moshing” typically occurs in a crowd and traditionally involves aggressively slamming into one another while the lead singer in a heavy metal band screams at you. The lucky ones emerge slightly ruffled and scuffed. The less lucky ones hobble out with broken limbs and black eyes. Mosh pits went out of fashion a while back – can’t imagine why.

3. Don’t push your way to the front of the crowd

Festival crowds don’t take well to pushing and shoving (Getty Images)

We all want to be at the very front to watch the Rolling Stones, but, as Mick Jagger will tell you, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Or, more recently, Trump, who, much to the band’s disdain, frequently played the track to audiences during visits as part of his presidential campaign.

While your determination may be admirable, it’s poor form to push and shove people who have probably been waiting for hours to get a good spot near the front of the stage. You don’t have a meeting to go to or a train to catch. Regardless of whether you love the band or you just want a good Instagram shot, if you want to be at the front for a gig, plan ahead. Otherwise, you’ll end up squirming your way through a death-staring crowd who will probably pour drinks on your head – and you’ll deserve it.

4. Please refrain from frolicking in the mud

What a good thing to do when you don’t have access to a shower all weekend (Getty Images)

It will be fun for five minutes. Then you’ll get stuck, someone will push you and you’ll spend the rest of the festival wondering what it felt like to walk around without mud in your nether regions.

Also, it’s a no to mud wrestling. You might think you look cool and maybe even sexy, you don’t. You just look like a moron.

5. Don’t spend five hours speaking earnestly about Palestine in the craft beer tent

There is a special kind of person who likes to talk about politics at a festival. They’re the ones who write impassioned Facebook posts whenever Boris Johnson’s hair blows in the wind and refuse to go out on a Thursday night because it would mean missing Question Time. If this sounds like you, go home pal. Nobody wants to speak to you this weekend.

6. Don’t pee in a cup and throw it over the crowd

This one should be fairly self-explanatory.

7. Respect the guy lines

Camping zones are dark at night, so it’s understandable that you might take the odd tumble over guy lines and wind up bringing someone else’s tent down. If you do this, fix it. Don’t just run off and tell your mate about the “hilarious thing” you just did to some “poor bloke’s tent”. 

That poor bloke might just get his own back by pinching your biodegradable glitter.

8. Don’t go on someone’s shoulders if you don’t know the lyrics of the song playing

(Rex Features)

Chances are, if you go on someone’s shoulders during a gig and look like you’re having a pleasant enough time, you’ll end up on the big screens facing the audience.

If you’re going to have a merry old singalong on screen, the very least you can do is make sure you know the words to the song that’s being performed. Otherwise you’ll wind up looking like a imbecile on the BBC.

9. Don’t spend the entire time Instagramming

Imagine you’re at Glastonbury listening to the sonorous sounds of Adele. You’re letting the music take you elsewhere and wondering why you and your ex called it quits and if you’ll ever find someone else like them. Your eyes swell with tears, one glides down your cheek. Then, a 20-year-old in a bandana knocks their phone into your forehead because they’re too busy trying to see who’s viewed their Instagram story.

Look, we all want to document our festival fun. But reign it in, you’re not Kim Kardashian. You don’t need to tell your 200 followers about how flaky your sausage roll was this morning, nor do you need to wave your phone in the air to film the gigs. Your drunken camera skills won’t be good enough to get a decent shot and you’ll knock your screen onto a stranger’s nose.

10. Don’t talk throughout a performance

This is not a house party. It’s not a team bonding experience and it certainly isn’t a first date (unless you’ve gone very rogue). Chatter is not always accepted. Sure, if you’re at the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury with 10,000 other people, it probably doesn’t matter if you tell your mate how much you fancy Stormzy. But know when to shut up. For example, if you’re in a small tent watching an emerging singer/songwriter perform to just 30 people in the audience, try to remember that this is not the best time to talk about about the STI test you had last week.

11. Don’t ruin the planet

Festivals are cracking down on single-use plastic (Rex Features)

It’s 2019 and people are finally taking sustainability seriously. Especially festivals, many of whom have vowed to go plastic-free by 2021. Plastic bottles won’t be available at this year’s Glastonbury, for example.

Don’t be the person to screw this up by bringing unnecessary amounts of Lucozade and vodka-filled plastic bottles into a festival. And try to respect your space ie don’t just chuck your used baby wipes onto your neighbour’s tent when you’ve had one too many ciders. Put them in the recycling bin, for the love of god.

12. Don’t leave your tent behind

Abandoned tents will be sent to landfill (Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of tents are left behind at festivals each year, with many naive attendees thinking their temporary homes will be swept up and donated to charities. That is not how it works.

In fact, the vast majority of abandoned tents go to landfill, contributing to what the charity Festival Waste Reclamation & Distribution describes as “avoidable plastic pollution”.

Dismantle your tent and take it and your hangover with you on your way out. Nobody needs to spend hours wading through a tent full of soggy snacks and used toilet roll.

13. Don’t wear a native American Headdress – unless you are Native American

It’s just downright disrespectful (Rex Features)

Cultural appropriation is a real issue at festivals. Every summer, hundreds of attendees turn up wearing the traditional garments of sidelined groups under the guise of either “irony” or “banter”.

It’s surprisingly common, despite countless people from frequently-appropriated communities saying they find it offensive.

No matter which way you spin it, there’s nothing cool about taking something from someone else’s culture and co-opting it as your own. It reinforces stereotypes and it’s deeply disrespectful. Note: this also applies to bindis, turbans and saris

14. Don’t push in front of people for the loo

Nobody cares if you drank five ciders in five minutes or have “already starting going”, it’s not cool to barge to the front of the queue for the toilets. So are 100 other people, which is why they’ve been politely and patiently waiting to use the facilities.

15. Canoodle quietly

The idea of getting frisky at a festival might sound baffling – portaloos and mud-covered bodies are hardly arousing – but it happens, somehow. And you hear it happen, because tents don’t have walls. 

This means that pretty much anything you do in there can be heard by neighbours and passersby. Bear this in mind if you decide to get down when you’re already very dirty.


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