Ah music festivals. You have to love them. The idea is simple, get a load of like-minded people together in a big field, erect a few tents, ask some bands to play in these tents and, hey presto, you have yourself one hell of a weekend.
In Britain, the muddy festival is somewhat of a staple for any keen music lover. Ever since that first summer of love in ’67, us Brits have been flocking to our countryside religiously once a year for a few days of laughter, excess, and, most importantly, great music.
However, in recent years more and more people have instead been leaving the UK for pastures new, choosing instead to have their little mini break in the warmer climate of mainland Europe.
This is not to say however that British festivals are in a state of decline, quite the contrary, they’re actually doing better than ever, but there is certainly a boom in Brits going foreign when they choose which festival to attend.
Why is this the case?
I think there are three key factors which determine whether punters choose to go overseas or not. Firstly, weather, secondly the price and thirdly the line-up.
Us Brits, quite possibly because we hardly ever see it, love the sun. So if the opportunity arises to go to a festival which is guaranteed to be scorching hot, you would be a fool to turn it down right? Why chance the notoriously unpredictable British weather and get pissed on for three days when you could simply jump on a cheap as chips Ryan Air flight to Primavera Sound in Barcelona and rave in the sun.
Come on let’s face it; no one has any money at the minute. We’re all skint, yet tickets for the bigger festivals in the UK are still rising. Take Reading and Leeds for example, the price for a weekend camping ticket is £205 including booking fee on Seetickets, a price even as a Reading and Leeds veteran I can’t stretch to this year.
If we compare this to some of the growing festivals in Germany, such as Melt! for example, they offer the whole weekend and camping for the equivalent of £96, and there is still plenty of acts on the bill to get your mouth watering such as Bloc Party, Justice and The War On Drugs.
Admittedly, Reading and Leeds organiser Melvin Benn is aware of the high cost of tickets and has offered every weekend pass holder a free burger and pint of beer for each music day. However I somehow doubt this gesture is going to get many festival goers to suddenly jump up and head to Reading, especially the teetotal vegan demographic (not that it’s a particularly big one).
And so finally to the line-up. British festivals, for the most part anyway, have been guilty of playing it a tad safe in recent years. For example, Bestival 2011 was headlined by a little known band by the name of The Cure, in 2012 it will again be headlined by a little known band by the name of The Cure. Also, The Stone Roses seem to be playing every festival that will have them.
Foreign festivals then can offer a more varied bill as they include not only UK and US acts but also bands from across the continent, something not commonly seen over here in dear old Blighty.
Of course going overseas does also have its downsides. Take the travelling for instance, after a particularly heavy festival I find it hard to even stand up and pack away my tent never mind catch a flight or a ferry. Also, the language barrier could prove a problem and should never be underestimated.
The overseas festival is something that has to be experienced. Only one problem remains, choosing which one to go to.