Sleeping at festivals: tips from a veteran festival-goer

camping at GlastonburyWith the summer festival season in full swing you may wonder if you can say goodbye to any prospect of sleep. Not so, says experienced camper Lea Parkyn – though some earplugs will undoubtedly help . . .

“I have a dear friend who was kind enough to stare at his computer screen long enough to bag us last minute tickets for Glastonbury 2014 in the ticket redraw which meant that we were less prepared this year than we otherwise might have been. By ‘prepared’ I mean having booked a space for a caravan or camper van and obviously having bought said caravan or campervan with us.

Initially we were game for roughing it in the refugee camp that the camping grounds at Glastonbury come to resemble, but as the weekend grew nearer and the weather less certain I wimped out and booked us a last minute ‘pitch your own’ spot with The Pop-Up Motel which operates ‘luxury camping’ at Glastonbury.

This proved to be the best decision (and the best £250 we could have spent as the weather did what it always does for Glastonbury and it rained – a lot – with some pretty spectacular thunderstorms thrown in for good measure.

There were three massive bonuses of having booked ‘posh camping’;

1. It meant we were able to take our wet weather camping kit and good camping mats which meant that we were dry and comfy when it came to sleeping,
2. Posh camping comes with hot showers and clean toilets within walking distance which meant that we were clean and not bursting for the loo (and afraid to go because they were so dreadful),
3. Each of the ‘pitch your own’ pitches is 12’x12’ which meant that we were sufficiently far from our neighbours that they didn’t disrupt us.

Tent at GlastonburyDespite all of the loveliness and the mile or so between the Pop-Up Motel and the festival site, we still needed earplugs to block out the noise to sleep, I think if we were on-site, with the late night shenanigans of the maniacs that party hard, you can write off any prospect of sleep (except for on the floor of the comedy tent during a quiet set) for the duration of the festival unless you are so tanked on booze that you’d sleep standing up!

As it was, smug in posh camp land, with ears full of foam and exhausted from too much partying (and the long walk) we slept quite well. It was the first outing for our new camping mats which are made by NaturalMat for Camping with Soul; they’re British made using recycled jeans and organic lambswool, covered with a washable, cotton-ticking cover and are pretty comfy.

camping mattressHaving slept in a nylon tent at Glastonbury I did find that the mats got cold and so, for their next outing, we bought some cheap foam roll mats to give us some insulation and help with a luxurious night’s sleep. It worked a treat, the mats stayed snug and we were comfortable and cosy in our temporary home.

We took our bell tent to the Port Eliot festival as the camping there is (somewhat) easier and we knew that the weather was due to be glorious. It was the right decision as there is nothing quite as nice as waking up to the cream canvas of the tent aglow with the sunrise. In hot weather I actually prefer sleeping in my canvas tent to sleeping in my house; I find that the cool, fresh air makes it so much easier to sleep when the weather is hot and humid and on our first night, before the festival kicked off, we slept really, really well.

Bell Tent at Port EliotDespite being the most idyllic festival in the calendar we were back to needing earplugs once the festival kicked off. I had forgotten them but fortunately we always carry an emergency pair in our holdall which I selflessly gave to Jim as I was equipped with a belly-full of booze and that lovely, torpid state of calm that seems to descend upon you at Port Eliot. It worked, I slept wonderfully until being woken up by the naughty boys in the tent next door who’d stayed up late enjoying the party in the woods but they were  so funny trying to be quiet that they were excused and I drifted off back to sleep. 

So, irrespective of camping gear and preparedness, I have established that the only way to sleep at a festival is through sufficient intoxication or using ‘festival strength’ foam earplugs. I think that camping out of the way of those that party hard probably helps but if that’s not an option I’d be inclined to leave the tent at home and stay up all night dancing. After all, you can sleep when you’re back home . . .

You can follow Lea and her husband Jim on Twitter @Noseyparkyn and @JimParkyn

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