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How to have a festival in your own back garden

Like cake and queuing, festivals are something that the British are uniquely good at. Sure, it’s nice to go abroad and have some guaranteed sunshine and some kind of actual building to sleep in at a sun-kissed European festival, but the fact is little can beat standing in the drizzle in a floral headband as you rootle around in a backpack for yet another layer. No honestly.

Slight snag, however, is that festivals are expensive. Who really has several hundred pounds to blow on a weekend? And while it’s understandable to grumble at the parents who say you can’t go until you’re older, this also offers a convenient excuse to mask the fact that, actually, camping among thousands of other unwashed people doesn’t really appeal.

But don’t think that your summer will be festival-free simply because you don’t have one of those wristbands coming your way (remember it’s the equivalent of wearing a receipt when you see your classmate still wearing one in December). The best bits of festivals can be created in your back garden or even a bit of your local park.

Here’s how to create your own festival at home – and the guestlist is totally exclusive, don’t you know?

1. Get the tunes and lighting right

As with any party, nailing the electronics is boring but also essential to success. Get yourself a decent pair of speakers (or borrow a willing family member’s) and make sure you’ve got a loaded up charge pack if you’re running the music off your phone. Head to Spotify and make the ultimate festival playlist.

Like all good festivals, you’ll want to think about your headliners and get a chunk of their best hits to end the night on, but warm up with something a bit more chilled. Maybe some retro fun from the Spice Girls or vintage Taylor Swift, before cracking into some more contemporary acts. If in doubt, stick on Haim’s first album and pull your best bass faces.

As for lighting, never underestimate the power of a) fairylights and b) tea lights in jam jars. Boho-chic that just happens to be raided from your bedroom.

2. It’s all about the infrastructure

It doesn’t matter how good the line-up is – if you’re queuing for the toilet while Ed Sheeran’s leading 50,000 people in a rousing rendition of Sing, you’re going to be annoyed. Fortunately, hosting your own festival means there will always be running water and, luxury of luxuries, loo roll. Enjoy these things, for they are rare.

Next up, gather as many tents as you can and put them up before your guests arrive. This will be genuinely transformative, I promise, even if you all end up bundled on your sofa at the end of the night. If you’re hosting your festival in a park, see if you can swindle a gazebo from someone. In either case, bunting, freshly cut flowers in jam jars or a large glass or plastic cup and paper lanterns placed around your temporary homes will make them look seriously VIP.

3. Keep hunger at bay

Sustenance is key to a successful festival experience. I have spent the past three years mainlining five meals a day at Glastonbury, and that’s still not quite enough. If you’re festival-ing at home you obviously won’t have a load of food stalls to choose from, but at least that means you won’t leave penniless, either.

Instead, think about your favourite food and cook up a couple of different types to keep it interesting. Falafel wrap followed by a cheeseburger three hours later? Of course. A snack of ice cream sandwich in the middle? It would be rude not to.

4. Get dressed

Sure, festival fashion might be clichéd, overpriced and, frankly, impractical, but its lure is irresistible.

The good news with creating your own festival close to home is that you don’t have to lug all of your layers around with you all day. Stick to the festival favourites if you fancy – denim shorts, florals, headbands, kaftans and heaps of jewellery – but this is your festival, damn it, so why not venture beyond ASOS?

Have fun setting a fancy dress theme for your festival (like Bestival does every year) and allowing everyone to interpret it. If you want to keep things inventive and cheap, suggest that people have to construct their outfits from things they already own, or can borrow. Let your imagination roam free: jungle theme? Nah, you can do better than that. ‘Unicorns of the Intergalactic Wild West’? That’s more like it.

5. The glamping situation

In recent years the boutique festival bug has somewhat caught on, resulting in a plague of blow dry bars and glitter stations in fields up and down the country. But what is a strange procedure after spending three days in a tent is perfectly sensible in your back garden.

Pool your glitter, clue up on the latest festival hair and make-up trends (just search #coachella2017 on Instagram for inspiration) and spend the afternoon getting in the spirit of things. Then, of course, selfie the hell out it.

6. The guestlist

Day 1. #Glasto2016

A post shared by RITA ORA (@ritaora) on

The best thing about being at a festival? The communality of an incredible shared experience, thousands of people vibing together to the best of live music. The worst thing about being at a festival? Waking up next to that couple getting it on in the tent next to yours. Or the man with a hairy, naked back swaying into you repeatedly in the crowd.

If you host your own festival, you can guarantee the guest list will be full of excellent people, because you’ve chosen them. If you’re feeling crafty, pick up some ribbon or embroidery threads and make bespoke wristbands – and you’re totally justified in wearing them until December and beyond, because this time it’s not a receipt, it’s evidence that you were at the coolest festival in the world: your own.


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Image: Katie Edmunds


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