Survival is a word we associate with danger and peril, isn’t it? Bear Grylls in the wilderness, foraging for food – that kind of thing. But last weekend, survival was the word most used by the people I met at Camp Bestival. After nine glorious, sunny years of family festival fun (two of which we attended), 2017 saw Camp Bestival hit by serious wind and rain.
On the Friday, the heavens opened and the rain continued on and off for the whole day, and all through Saturday too. We were wet, we were cold, our wellies were covered in thick mud. But rather than feel downbeat, the mood was strangely positive. Everyone wrapped up in waterproofs, trudged through the mud with a smile, soothed soggy children with a hug… it was almost like there was a massive collective determination not to let Mother Nature ruin our fun.
We still went on the ferris wheel, we ate ice cream despite the gales, we watched Dick & Dom in the driving rain, we sheltered in a tent and watched The Scummy Mummies, we weren’t going to let the rain win.
We danced to 90s R&B in the Bollywood tent, we attended a pretend wedding in an inflatable church with the bride dancing down the aisle to Beyonce, we drank cocktails under umbrellas, we danced to The Shamen next to the world’s largest disco ball with our coat hoods up, we weren’t going to let the rain win.
We drank tea in the WI tea tent to warm us up, we made dream catchers under cover, we learned a dance routine to Can’t Stop The Feeling in the Rob Da Bank Music Club. We weren’t going to let the rain win.
….And then on the Sunday, as if it was a reward for surviving the rain, it was dry, it was warm, it was sunny. We sat on the grass in the Lower Kids’ Field, listening to music, drinking cider, chatting to friends. We went on the helter skelter, we danced in the silent disco in the Lego Friends area, we watched a science show on an outdoor stage. THIS is what we came for, we thought.
But if you’re going to attend a family festival in the UK, you need to be prepared for all types of weather. So here are my tips on how to survive a family festival in the rain…
Take lots of waterproofs
Sounds obvious but take more than one waterproof coat for each of you, if you can. Even though I’ve got a fully waterproof coat, the lining of it was still wet when I put it on, the following day. Also, take waterproof trousers, or those all-in-one suits for kids. Wet, cold kids can get miserable, and no one wants to have miserable kids at a fun festival.
Take a water resistant picnic blanket and bin bags to sit on
One of the best things about a festival, when it’s dry and sunny, is sitting on the grass with a Pimm’s or beer in hand, watching a band or a science show happening. When it’s wet though, that’s not so easy. And you realise how much those little sit downs help you – and your kids – keep going throughout the day. So take a water-resistant backed picnic blanket and some thick black bin bags with you and even if the ground is soggy, you can pop them down as a waterproof ‘blanket’. Some hardcore people even had tarpaulin with them but bin bags will do just fine.
Buy comfortable wellies
Most wellies aren’t really designed for wear all day, every day, for a whole festival. I was so relieved that my new wellies from Tu at Sainsbury’s were comfortable with a springy sole rather than just thin, flat rubber between my feet and the ground. So invest in a decent pair and it will make all the difference when you’re trusting around in the mud.
Take two or three pairs of jeans
Jeans aren’t great for wearing in the torrential rain, but if you’re going to wear them, take a few pairs. We found ourselves getting soaked and our jeans took a battering thanks to the mud flicking up onto the backs of our legs as we walked. Denim takes a while to dry off, so take a few pairs with you, so you can switch between them as they dry.
Ponchos are your friend
So unstylish but plastic ponchos are so handy as they can cover your bag, and help protect anything inside, whether it’s snacks, jumpers or your camera.
Don’t spend a fiver on face paint on a wet day
Yep, we learned this one the hard way. Face paint and glitter don’t fare well when it’s throwing it down with rain…
Check weather apps and do outdoor stuff in any dry spells
Unless you’re VERY unlucky, there should be some dry spells, so plan your day so that you do lots of outdoor stuff then, and then you can…
Make use of events and activities in tents when it’s a big downpour
We loved the art tent at Camp Bestival (it did get pretty busy when it tipped it down) and the six-year-old made a cool AAA pass and a spinny-paint record. Similarly, we took cover to make a dream catcher too, when it was raining. There are actually loads of things to do under cover at Camp Bestival if you look.
Don’t be afraid to head back to your tent to change and dry off/get warm if you need to
We did this on both wet days, and it allowed us to get changed and just chill out for a bit before heading back out again. I’m also a big fan of an afternoon power nap if you want your kiddos to stay out later in the evening. We haven’t ever made it out for the end of Camp Bestival fireworks, but one year, we will…
It does feel like us Brits are just GOOD at being resilient. I think we like to have fun against the odds and stick two fingers up to nay-sayers. But even if you’re not the most glass-half-full type of person, I recommend you stay smiling through a rainy festival. Even if your kids are grumpy, even if there are tears, even if you’re cold, wet and muddy. Try to keep your humour!
Take SPF and hats too, just in case
Oh it might seem like wishful thinking but I’m so glad we took our sunny weather gear along to Camp Bestival because on the Sunday it was GLORIOUS. We spent the day hanging out with Emma from Brummy Mummy of 2 and her family. Em and I went off to the Jam Jar Bar to meet our pals Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers and Katie from Hurrah For Gin, and by the time we got back, Mr P and Emma’s husband were a rather lovely shade of pink! Don’t forget the SPF, lads!
So despite ALL the rain, ALL the wind and ALL the mud, we had a brilliant time at Camp Bestival and we’re counting down the weeks until next year.
Thanks to Camp Bestival for inviting us along in return for this post – as always all views are my own. Pre-sale tickets for Camp Bestival 2018 are available now!