How to plan your next festival

Glastonbury festival
Somewhere in a field in Somerset, all right... Image: jaswooduk
"If you find yourself the person charged with buying everyone's tickets then a credit card could be indispensable"
  • | by Emily Bater

The Glastonbury line-up is here and festival season is officially on the horizon.

Arcade Fire, Bryan Ferry, Pixies and Blondie are all heading to Somerset this June - and even if you disagree with the choice of Kasabian for Sunday headliner, Glastonbury remains the highlight of the calender for many festival-goers.

If you're still deciding which festival to visit this year - and there are lots to choose from - you'll want to get on the blower to your mates and start planning.

You will need the organisational skills of an army general and the patience of a saint to get anything done, but those three to five days of late nights, baby wipe showers and living off cereal bars will be worth it in the end.

As the saying goes, fail to prepare and prepare to have a rubbish time - so here's how to get to that muddy paradise, hassle-free.

Decide where you're going

From June to September Britain's fields, farms, parks and beaches will be filled with revellers - hundreds of festivals across the country mean we have a wealth of big, small and in-between events to choose from, which at this stage doesn't make your life easier. European festivals too are providing music lovers with a veritable smorgasboard, all with guaranteed sunshine and a cheaper ticket price.

Buy tickets

The stress of hanging on a telephone or webpage waiting to see if you've scored tickets to your favourite festival is bad enough, but the headache that comes with herding your friends is even worse. 

According to a Festival Insights report, 32% of people went to festivals with more than six others in 2012 - more the merrier usually means harder to organise.

The first hurdle comes in getting people to commit to the weekend - festival tickets don't come cheap, and long gone are the days of jumping the fence. A ticket to behemoth Glastonbury will set you back £210 for a five days this year, while a ticket to Reading and Leeds Festival will cost you £200 for a three-day stay.

Many festivals offer a deposit system which allows attendees to pay an initial £50 and then settle the remaining sum a few months later. This gives you and your friends time to save and time to firm up your plans - you may lose the majority of your money however, so exercise a bit of caution.

It could be a good idea to pay for your ticket using a credit card, allowing you to spread the cost across a few months and take advantage of the protection offered by the Consumer Credit Act, which covers you in the event that your festival goes into administration.

This happened to a number of festivals in 2012: Sonisphere, The Big Chill, Bloc Weekend and  All Tomorrow's Parties (which has since resurfaced) were all forced to fold due to economic challenges.

If you find yourself the person charged with buying everyone's tickets then a credit card could be indispensable. Think about asking for your friends to transfer money immediately after you've bought the tickts so you don't incur interest charges.

Book travel

If you're taking a bus or train to the festival, book a seat as soon as possible as tickets get more expensive and harder to come by the closer to the date you get.

Large festivals often offer a ticket and coach package - these are sometimes cheaper but the number of packages will probably be limited.

If none of your friends drive then booking a place on a festival coach could be an easy way to sort transport, but don't worry if you can't get a festival and coach ticket; bus companies like National Express will run dedicated services to festivals.

Sort out your spending money

Most festivals release tickets months before the big weekend, giving you plenty of time to save enough money. Doing a festival on the cheap however is pretty easy, but then so is going overboard - plan in advance how much money to budget for each day, taking into account one hot meal and drinks. Swanky merchandise doesn't come cheap, so if you're keen on showing off once you're home, plan for that too.

In 2012 52% of festival-goers spent over £100 at the festival itself, according to the same research by Festival Insights - that's after paying out for a ticket, tent, wellies and everything else needed to get you through the weekend.

Protect your belongings

In 2012 there were over 700 items were handed in during Glastonbury festival including 250 wallets, 118 mobile phones and 38 cameras. Think about what valuables to take in advance and consider whether you'd want to risk them getting lost or damaged.

If you want to take your valuable items with you, it's worth adding cover for items away from home to your home insurance policy - find out more about festival cover with our handy guide.

Buying a cheap pay-as-you-go phone is an alternative to taking an expensive smartphone. Older phones usually have longer battery life too, meaning less time spent charging your phone.

If you're never without your digital camera, consider swapping it for a disposable one - whether it's lost in a sea of mud or broken during a particularly energetic jig to your favourite pop crooner, it'll be painless to replace.

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