Hey, where’s that revolting smell coming from? If you answered a) overflowing portaloos, b) student dreadlocks or c) those falafel I ate earlier, then the chances are that you’re reading this in a muddy field somewhere, and are crying into your cider because Britain’s festival season is almost over for another year. Yes, it’s true – the sun’s going to come up, your tent will resemble a dirtier version of Tracy Emin’s bed and that’s the last time you’ll miss most of Radiohead because the idiot in front of you sat his girlfriend up on his shoulders during Paranoid Android.
Well, stand up and dry your eyes on that man dressed as a wookie, because I’ve driven here in a converted ambulance to pick up some hitchhikers, and we aren’t stopping ‘til we’ve reached a grassy paradise where we can pitch our tents, ignore an acoustic guitar/didgeridoo combo and stay up all night grinding our teeth to the screeching dubstep pumping out of Krazy Gomez 2nd Hand Blanket Stall. As far as I’m concerned, the party only stops when it’s winter in New Zealand and Barcelona at the same time, and if you take a look at the festival schedule there’s plenty of countries that apparently agree with me.
Britain: black market welly capital of the world
The only good thing about British summertime is that despite our horrendous weather we’ve reached a point where any community large enough to have more than three pubs is now legally obliged to stage a music festival at some point. Jersey has a few, Guernsey has several; even Sark apparently has one, although I refuse to attend in case it’s just another devious ploy to lure fresh material into their stagnant gene pool.
I hear Jersey Live is great, but as a hardened festival veteran I refuse to attend unless there’s enough mud to cause trench foot, and until I’m permitted to camp for at least five days without changing my underwear. I tried it last year, but the Trinity honoraries just weren’t feeling the vibe inside my special festival pants. Those fascists, you wouldn’t have got away with that at Glastonbury ’88, a festival where I spent nine days eating nothing but hog roast and space cakes, dressed as a cross between Mad Max and a giant puppet ostrich. Modern Glastonbury isn’t really for me though – I found it lost a lot of the charm when they put up a fence and stopped the feral crusties from bringing their dogs and magic mushrooms inside.
To be honest, I prefer the obscure foreign festivals, which is handy because that’s where you’ll end up if you want to keep partying once September has rolled up its poncho and washed the mixture of matted straw and human faeces off its flip flops. I’ve assembled a programme of great events, just make sure you attend these events before the BBC gets wind of them and there’s suddenly VIP toilets, Notting Hill pram pushers everywhere and 24/7 TV coverage from a gurning Fearne Cotton and the cast of Balamory.
British people think they’re tough if they can still enjoy a festival when it’s rained twice in July, but mere rain is nothing to the metal fans of Northern Europe. Pledge your allegiance to the dark lord, give weather the middle finger and pack up your tent in darkest February for the trek to Denmark’s Ragnarök festival of extreme metal, in which frostbite is kept at bay with the blood of virgins and the warming fires of hell itself.
Camped out in a derelict, haunted castle in the icy wastes of Skullesbard, revellers will enjoy the uncompromising music of Fetid Dwarfskull, Morbid Umlaut and hotly-tipped newcomers Blood-Curdling Shriek Of Molestopus – as well as a second stage hosting only the finest in infernal powerdeath and progressive gorewave bands. All toilet facilities are constructed from studded leather and old bones, and the organisers have promised actual vampires, a complete ban on smiling and the promise that mum will not ask you to tidy your room until you’ve been home at least three days afterwards.
If you’ve ever been to a dance festival on the continent, you’ve probably experienced the mystifying spectacle of thousands of neon-clad trance hippies appearing out of nowhere to surround the speakers as soon as anything vaguely squiggly comes on. Where do they come from? Where do they go when the soundsystem finally shuts down at noon on the following Monday? The answers are ‘hibernation’ and ‘any field where the farmer isn’t bothered about three days of flashing lights,’ so why not join them on their never-ending odyssey of organic tofu burgers, inebriated fire juggling and the biggest collection of camper vans this side of a Channel 4 documentary about gypsies. For Fractal Buddha 2011, all DJ equipment is certified fair-trade and every ticket comes with a free session of crystal healing. Headliners include The Cosmic Poi Illuminati, David Icke and some bloke called Magic Krishna that the organisers met at a beach party in Tel Aviv.
Save The Rainforest Festival (Amazon rainforest, Brazil)
Festivals can be great at raising awareness about issues, even if most of those issues concern the difficulty of obtaining Rizlas at 4AM. One of the most beloved causes of the habitual festival goer is the state of the environment, and nothing helps the environment more than encouraging thousands of people to drive to a field and leave it full of discarded beer cans and the odd burning tent. According to this logic, why not go one better and take a long-haul flight to the other side of the world to do the same thing?
Save The Rainforest is just like any other festival, except it’s in a rainforest. The animals all got scared off when the trees were cleared to fit in the stages, the bottled water is more expensive and security is provided by half-naked tribesmen who will ultimately spend your ticket money on mobile phones and some hand grenades to throw at the evil logging company who milled the paper your airline ticket was printed on. Music is provided by Sting and any surviving members from the cast of City of God.
If you’re the sort of person who only goes to festivals to drink heavily, take off your shirt and get in as many fights as possible, then start saving your spare burglary cash for what is guaranteed to be Europe’s largest, ugliest and most promiscuous foam party. Spread across six arenas and co-sponsored by Burberry and Lynx, sunburned hooligans will be so spoiled for choice they won’t know where to vomit or who to punch next.
Highlights include the ‘Electric Essex’ dodgem car racetrack, a drum and bass rave with a new MC every fifteen minutes and free on-site chlamydia testing. The charming accommodation brings a literal interpretation to the phrase “outside the tent, pissing in,” and flights are provided by a budget carrier that serves free vodka but charges you three quid to use the toilet. The friendly people of Spain are happy to welcome more sombrero-wearing, British partygoers, and it is merely a coincidence that they are currently shopping for anti-aircraft missiles on eBay. Have it large, eat nothing but full English breakfasts and please, please, please never come home again. www.stinkbiscuit.com