• Ryan Murray

My Reading Festival Experiences (and my advice to anyone going)


I’m debating on going to the Reading Festival for the 3rd year running, so I thought I would jog my memory by going through my prior experiences at the festival and possibly help some of you out who are thinking of going for the first time (I am no expert)...

What’s good about festivals?

For me, the main attraction of going to a festival is seeing a huge number of live performances over the course of three days. Although there is a big cost (roughly £220 for a weekend camping ticket), you really do get your value for money – with the number of performances you see over the course of the three days, you can justify the cost – it would be a lot more expensive if you were to see these acts separately.

Secondly, and it goes without saying really – they’re fun! Go with the right people, come prepared and plan what artists you want to see and I guarantee you will have a fun time!

What was my first experience like?

The first time I went to the Reading Festival, or any festival for that matter, was in 2016 - two years ago when I was only 17 and I wanted to get the experience under my belt. The line-up looked amazing, I was able to drive to the festival and I surprisingly had enough money to go – how could I say no?

Being that it was my first time going to a festival, I didn’t really know what to expect or how to prepare, but I wanted to do it.

I was the designated driver to transport us to the festival (I was the only who had passed their driving test at this point) and had only been driving for a little more than a month. My car wasn’t exactly fit for purpose - I drove a Mini, which we used to transport four people, camping equipment and enough luggage to last all of us from the Thursday until the Sunday.

The drive was possibly the most uncomfortable drive I have ever had – the two in the back were suffocated in bags, pillows and even a chair and I can imagine it looked hilarious to anyone who drove past us. I was even driving with a backpack on my lap, but it had to be done.

On top of all of this discomfort and claustrophobia, add into the mix the fact that my car didn’t have working air conditioning and it was a very hot day, which got even worse as we got stuck in the traffic going through Reading.

Arriving At the Festival

To get from the town centre into the festival, you have to drive through a few narrow country lanes and of course, go through a heap of traffic along the way.

Arriving at the festival was a huge relief and we had people waiting for us, so we didn’t have to worry about finding a good camping space – we just had to worry about actually finding them! ​ We camped in the Purple camping zone, which was actually quite ideal – it’s sort of in the middle of everything, so you never need to walk too far and you are at the centre of everything, but it’s also one of the busiest areas, which made it quite difficult to get any sort of peaceful sleep, as we realised later on in the weekend.

Some of our mistakes were realised early on – a few of us brought too much stuff, not just the essentials, which is why the car journey was so uncomfortable, the tent we brought was very difficult to set-up, and the area we were camping in was right next to a central path where everyone walks past, meaning you constantly breathe in the dirt picked up when people walk past, covering your face, mouth, eyes in a film of dirt.

We arrived on the Thursday afternoon, which gave us the full day to settle in, get used to our surroundings and prepare for what was to come. If you are going with a group of people, I would recommend that some of you get an early bird pass, which allows you to enter the festival on a Wednesday so that you can get a good camping spot and save it for your friends to come the next day - when we arrived, the camping areas were extremely full and we would have a horrible spot if no space was saved for us.

Summary of the days to come...

The days to follow were a mix of ups and downs - and I'm happy to say mainly ups.

What were the ups? Well, I got to see some acts that I never thought I'd be able to see in my life - the likes of Disclosure, Foals, A$AP Rocky, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and more. The atmosphere really is all that it's cracked up to be, and memories were made that will last a lifetime.

What didn't go so well? We got ill on Saturday that made it more difficult to fully enjoy the festival, but we tried our best to power through it and I'd say we did!

The days go by very quickly - you spend the daytime recovering from the previous day and preparing for the late afternoon/evening when the main acts are performing - the whole weekend will be over before you realise.

When you're there, you need to see as many acts as you can, but make sure you prepare before seeing an act you really want to see - you want to enjoy it when you finally see it - so just be sure not to wear yourself out too much.

Summary of the days to come...

The days to follow were a mix of ups and downs - and i'm happy to say, mainly ups.

What were the ups? Well, I got to see some acts that I never thought i'd be able to see in my life - the likes of Disclosure, Foals, A$AP Rocky, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and more. The atmosphere really is all that it's cracked up to be, and memories were made that will last a lifetime.

What didn't go so well? We got ill on the Saturday that made it more difficult to fully enjoy the festival, but we tried our best to power through it and i'd say we did!

The days go by very quickly - you spend the daytime recovering from the previous day and preparing for the late afternoon / evening when the main acts are performing - the whole weekend will be over before you realise.

When you're there, you need to see as many acts as you can, but make sure you prepare before seeing an act you really want to see - you want to enjoy it when you finally see it - so just be sure not to wear yourself out too much.

Leaving the Festival

On the last day of the festival (Sunday), we packed our stuff up in the late afternoon before we headed to the main stage to see the last of the acts, and this was actually a very good idea - it meant that we could leave straight after the last performance, drive through the night and miss all the traffic in the morning. I'd say this is a real MUST if you don't want to be stuck in the well-known festival traffic the next morning.

I would say though, prepare before by sleeping throughout the day, otherwise, you will find the drive home a real struggle (like I did).

After a dangerous drive home, we all arrived at home absolutely worn out and in need of recovery, but I must say the experience really is worth all of the effort - if you are thinking of going, just give it a go!

What did I do differently in the 2017 Reading Festival?

My Reading 2017 experience was an even better one - this time I knew what to expect and prepared accordingly.

We all packed the bare minimum, brought a more practical tent and got an even better camping spot!

The line-up for 2017 (in my opinion) was even better and I got to see some of my favourite artists including the likes of Eminem.

Overall, it just felt a lot more organised and the experience was just overall better...

We planned what we were doing each day, which meant the whole thing went a lot smoother

The majority of the people who went the prior year came again this year and I think that just shows how much we all enjoyed the festival - people are willing to go year-on-year.

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A Summary of my Advice:

  1. Bring a big enough car with space for all passengers and equipment

  2. Don't overpack - bring the bear essentials, you can buy food, drink etc. when you are there

  3. Don't camp near the dirt paths

  4. Make sure you have people going with an 'Early Bird' pass

  5. Make sure you sleep during the day before you see performances

  6. Plan what acts you want to see before you are there and roughly plan your days out

  7. Take photos and videos

  8. Pack up all of your things on the last day, before you go out to see the last performances

  9. Leave on the Sunday night, not on the Monday

We'll see about Reading 2018...

#ReadingFestival #festival #festivals #musicians #Performance #Celebrities

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