V Festival Ticket – WINNER!
I was fortunate to win a pair of camping tickets to V Festival from a competition run by Route One (http://www.routeone.co.uk/). The tickets were for Weston Park (Staffordshire) and worth about £225 each! This was a big win and an experience I was looking forward to. I decided to take my 12 year old daughter along with me.
::::::::::::::: RESEARCH! PLAN! PREPARE! :::::::::::::::
I am not a festival virgin as I have been to the Big Chill festival previously, but I am a V Festival virgin! I did a lot of research prior to our visit, and I am glad I did. I was taking my daughter so I wanted to ensure we had the best experience possible. I was unsure about taking children but after a quick read of some forums I discovered that plenty of people did take kids. Whilst there I realised there was actually very few kids – I saw about 20 – 30 over the whole weekend…..with hindsight it’s no surprise (see my closing paragraph)
Initially I intended to drive there, but my car is old and not particularly reliable (and it was quite a long way from Devon) so I decided to book a National Express coach from Barnstaple to Wolverhampton. The return journey for two of us came to £55 (using a family coachcard and discount code) – this was less than it would cost me in petrol. The disadvantage was the terribly early departure on Friday (5:20am) and the journey time – nearly 7 hours (and not forgetting having to tolerate irritating passengers).
From Wolverhampton we took the shuttle bus which had been provided by National Express, £8 each per return ticket. They buses left every 15 minutes. We got straight off the coach and straight onto a shuttle bus. The shuttle buses were supposed to have a priority route to the Festival, but it still took us nearly 2 hours to get there (for what should be a 40 – 50 minute journey). Fortunately the return journey only took about an hour (but poor Lois had to sit next to a wasted looking man who absolutely stank of piss).
Previous visitors to V Festival had also created site plans and advised on which campsites were best. I was able to work out which campsite we should use (Green seemed right for us)! With hindsight I may have chosen a different one. Red/Blue and Yellow campsites are the liveliest as they are nearest the Arena. Green is further away (about 25 minutes walk) so was supposedly quieter….It was still noisy until early o’clock! The Orange/Gold campsites were even further away so maybe they were quieter? It’s a festival, so I knew I wasn’t going to get much sleep anyway and just accepted the rowdiness! After a while your ears switch off to it anyway!
We took a dome tent with a porch which was actually a perfect size for the two of us. It was dead easy to pitch, which was fortunate considering we’d walked for well over a mile from the bus drop off to the camp site. By the time we had queued and got our wristbands, we got to the campsites at about 3pm/4pm – they were already rammed. We had to cut across to the back of the campsite to find enough space to pitch our tent. Fortunately the area we chose stayed relatively uncramped for the duration!
We only took basic camping equipment (tent, roll mats & sleeping bags). The ground was hard and it was uncomfortable sleeping on just roll mats…again it’s a festival – No place for glamping! A pillow would have been nice. A pile of stacked up clothes is just not the same! We didn’t have room to take any cooking equipment. We packed a few snacks to keep us going though.
Finding your tent….we had to use ‘landmarks’ to help locate our tent, such as flags and distinct tents! How drunken people do it I’ll never know (they probably didn’t)! We did spot people sleeping outside tents and half in collapsed tents!
Virgin don’t release a schedule until the day, and you can only find that out if you buy the programme (£10 – and having bought one, I confirm it is a total rip off). Fortunately I found the clashfinder website (http://clashfinder.com) which guesses the schedule from previous years. I was able to see the full line up of acts, when they were performing and where. It proved to be 100% accurate. I planned what acts we would watch and saved my plan. My print off from this site was much more useful than the lanyard schedule Virgin provided.
Imelda May – A great act to open the festival. I’d seen Imelda May on Jools Holland and was looking forward to seeing her perform. She didn’t disappoint. I loved the outfit she was wearing too. She’d sprained her ankle so teamed her red/white striped sailor style dress with a pair of black converse a great retro look!
Parade – New girl band who I had heard of previously so I thought it was worth going to see them. They are very much like The Saturdays. One of the singers was wearing a really cool skirt made from Thomas The Tank Engine fabric. I don’t think all of the group were strong singers….one of them only seemed to gyrate around the stage the whole time, hip thrusting and grinding!
Ellie Goulding – Amazing voice. I think she surprised a few doubters! She kept playing with her hair which I found really annoying. She spent most of the time with it swept right across her face.
The Wanted – The Arena was full to capacity for this performance and we stayed near the back to avoid the piss bombs. We couldn’t see the stage at all, but they sounded pretty good!
Eliza Doolittle – She seemed so tiny and small on this stage. Nothing spectacular but I am glad she performed my favourite song Rollerblades.
The Saturdays – We were quite far back watching this (huddled against the sound crew barriers). They performed most of their well known hits and it was great for singing along.
Rihanna – She started her performance about 20 – 30 minutes late. She was ‘OK’. We did open up our umbrella when she performed ‘Umbrella’. Her show didn’t leave me buzzing with excitement though, in fact I can’t think of much to write!
Eminem – Talk about Anti-climax. Biggest disappointment of the weekend. We stayed for the first 4 or 5 songs (none of which we knew)! We could still hear his performance back at our tent and he did play some songs we knew towards the end of his set. We could also hear that he got Rihanna on stage again to perform Love The Way You Lie with him.
Big Country – We just arrived at the 4 Music stage as they played their last two songs. They seemed quite humbled to have the turn out they did.
Aloe Blacc – Only one song we knew “I need a dollar’. We couldn’t be bothered to stick around to listen.
Bruno Mars – A big surprise! I liked his music but had never really seen him. He was a really good crowd pleaser and very cute. He was humbled to be performing in front of such a big crowd. As well as performing his better known recent hits he also did some old tunes they had started off playing in bars. One of these was a Mash Up of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and ” Billie Jean”!
Jessie J – Her leg still in a cast, Jessie J hobbled on stage with crutches and sat on a Chaise Longue to perform. Her costume looked great, although I prefer her bobbed hair (to the scraped back Essex face lift she had)! She was great interacting with the crowd some of her lines included the inspirational “Remember there is always someone worse off than you” (with reference to her being in pain with her leg) and on seeing a piss bomb launched across the crowd…”I hope that bottle I’ve just seen thrown contained water and not piss”….followed by “judging by the look on their faces, it was piss”!
She also brought out the crews children on to the stage and introduced each of them individually. One girl said into the mic ‘I love you, you’re my idol’…bless!
Tinie Tempah – A surprisingly good performance (despite the fact he was drunk)! He did a good job of interacting with the crowd. He also introduced the wrong song, saying it was the tune that had launched his album to platinum….then afterwards announced he was drunk at that it was actually the next song that had helped send his album to platinum!!! Hehehe!!! He also demanded that all the people out on the wings come onto stage saying “all of you” quite forceably…then poor old Jessie J hobbled out on her crutches with the others!!!
Dizzee Rascal – My favourite act of the whole weekend. His music and throbbing base line was infectious – we couldn’t help but dance! We were stood way back from the stage throwing some shapes having a bloody good time. His lighting and pyrotechnics were also the best I saw the whole weekend. A great way to round off the festival – finishing his set with ‘Bonkers’!
Phone charging & wifi
There were 3 Virgin Media phone charging towers on the site. They had leads for most phones, but if you wanted to charge a popular handset, there was no chance of you getting yours charged (unless you wanted to waste your time queuing/waiting there). There were several stalls offering to charge your phone. Prices varied, but most were roughly £5 per hour. I found a stall that cost £3 per hour or £5 for 2 hours (or £10 for unlimited charges throughout the weekend). I used this stall twice to charge my phone for an hour. I was a bit dubious about leaving my phone with complete strangers but they ran a good system. You hand your phone in and they give you a wristband with the collection time written on it. You give them a password which you have to give to collect your phone. I half expected to return to find very little charge in my phone, but both charges were enough to keep my phone going. My battery management app showed it had gained at least 40% each time.
There was free wifi access across the site, with access points dotted across the arena. I found the connection to be very sketchy (even when sat underneath a point) and it would regularly drop out.
Phone signal (on Orange) throughout the site was never a problem and my 3G access was far more reliable than the wireless.
Food & Drink
We didn’t take any cooking equipment so had to buy all our food on site. I got over the initial shock of the prices of the first few catering wagons we saw (£4.00 for a greasy burger and £2.50 for bottled drinks) and managed to find some decent food at ‘ok’ prices.
The first night we ate cheesey chips (£3.00) which were disgusting, fatty/greasy and the cheese didn’t melt.
We bought some bananas from the on site ‘supermarket’ (?) which were 50p each, for breakfast. They also sold bread at £2.00 a loaf, and I think 4 pints of milk were a similar price. They were well stocked including daily papers, magazines, toiletries, bacon, sausages, chocolate, snacks and all your usuals. Bags of Haribo were £1.50 (I know this because we had a cheeky bag of strawbs! NOM! NOM! NOM!)
On the Saturday we found a stall serving pasta pots (£6.00 for a medium pot, £8.00 for large). There was several sauces to choose from. I had Mediterranean veg and a carbonara on the following day. Lois had a tomato and basil. A medium pot was just the right size for a meal.
I had a Mexican veggie burger (£4.00) for lunch on the Saturday and went back to the same stall for Veggie Breakfast on the Sunday – which was £6.00 (except they forgot to charge me for it and I didn’t realise until I’d left and eaten it)! This included 2 veggie sausages, scrambled egg, beans, wholemeal roll and a hot drink. Lois had a Kelloggs breakfast deal. For £5.00 you got a bowl of cereal with milk, cereal bar, piece of fruit and a drink.
Finally on the Sunday night I opted for sweet chilli chicken noodles (£7.00) and Lois had a foot long hot dog (£5.00).
I bought Lois soft drinks at £2.00 – £2.50 a bottle. I drank water for most of the weekend. You can’t take any bottles of drink in (unless they are sealed soft drinks) so I carried an empty bottle with me and filled it up from the drinking water taps in the arena. On a couple of occasions I forgot to empty the water out when coming back into the arena. I ‘declared’ my bottle at the gate – One security guard let me through no problems, another asked me to empty it (which was no hardship as it was only water)! People had to drink or throw away bottles/cans of alcohol at the gate. Others just found ways of sneaking it in!
You could get most types of food including pizzas, curry, paella, noodles, pasta, baked potatoes, mexican veggie, vegan, crepes, toasties, fish & chips plus the usual burger wagons
On the Sunday I managed to catch a glimpse of the bar prices – most drinks were £4.00 (Pint of Carling, small wine bottles or Bacardi Breezers were the main offerings).
There was a large fair in the Arena with all the usual rides. Most rides were £3.00 – £4.00. There was a bungee gyro thingummy which was £25 a time and a large spinning pendulum type ride that was £12. We opted not to go on the fair.
The majority of the stalls in the arena were selling hats (straw hats £10), offensive t-shirts and jewellery.
– You could get your hair straightened with GHD’s (no idea of cost).
– Charge your phone (see above)
– There was ‘oxgyen bars’ – you put an oxygen tube thingummy up your nose to help relieve hangovers or something! It just looked weird to a sober me!
– Henna Tattoos
– Cop A Feel (breast cancer awareness)
– Coca Cola – Keep It Going (see below)
– Camping Stalls – These sold pretty much everything you’d need to camp including tents, sleeping bags, air beds, pegs, pillows, duvets, cookers and camping chairs. Prices were reasonable.
– Posh (!) Loos (£3 at time)
– Posh (!) showers (not sure how much these cost, I’m thinking about £7)
– Cash machines (£2.50 per transaction)
– Liquorice/Sweets/candy (we bought a bag of candy floss for £2.00)
Free cash & swag
We had a great little money spinner. For every whole paper cup you return, you get 10p. As the majority of people couldn’t careless, they just dropped their cups on the floor. On the Saturday night whilst Eminem was on we’d had enough and headed back to the tent, but first did a quick lap at the rear of the crowd and collected 60 cups (=£6.00). Over the course of the weekend we managed to collect over 400 cups (over £40). Late on the Sunday night after a cup finding mission, we were disappointed to find they had closed the cup return points early, saying they had run out of money. We waited around for 20 minutes when they finally opened the till again. Unfortunately you had to count your own cups this time…..We were stood in the queue for long enough, so to kill the boredom had already counted our 144 cups….people around us had much bigger stacks though… one bloke had a massive rubble sack full…on my way passed I said “good luck counting that lot”, to which he replied “I’ve done it already, ‘523”!!!!!
As we walked around with our stack of cups, we did get called ‘Pikey’ a few times though (mostly by chavs)! LOL!
The other swag generator was plastic bottles. Coca Cola had a recycling stall called ‘Keep It Going’. You could swap plastic bottles for swag. Most people just discard their bottle on the floor so it was a case of going round and grabbing them.
2 bottles = Coke Bag
5 bottles = Poncho
10 bottles = Bandana
15 bottles = Cap
20 bottles = Blanks
30 bottles = T-shirt (2 designs)
60 bottles = Coca Cola Hoodie
We managed to get 3 t-shirts, 1 cap, 3 bandanas, 3 ponchos and 2 bags!
I was stupid enough to have a crazy ‘Kim’ accident on the Sunday morning. I sat down in the tent to change my footwear and as I sat down I managed to twist my thumb back awkwardly. Cue immense pain and inability to use my hand to its full capacity. Lois insisted I go to the first aid tent – knowing the consequences if I ignore her, I did as I was told!
Run by St Johns, but also staffed by ‘proper’ nurses and doctors, they had a good system. You go to triage and then wait to be seen. I only had to wait 5 or 10 minutes to be seen. The St Johns bloke who dealt with me was a bit of a muppet but he did his job. Telling me I had done some muscle damage. He gave me two paracetamols and (badly) bandaged my hand and I then had to wait for an ice pack.
I did expect to see more drunken people in there but fortunately most of the injuries seemed ‘normal’ – twisted ankles, infected bites and burns.
The triage did have to deal with some time wasters (plasters for a blister and muscle rub for sore shoulders) – but they quickly dispatched them off to the pharmacy!
***And unfortunately this is why I will never go to a V Festival again…….***
Total loss of dignity
So after all the good bits, I am sad to say that some of what I saw throughout the weekend has put me off ever going again, especially with a child. How people can behave in such an undignified manner is beyond me. I’m not a prude and I have had my fair share of nights out getting wrecked. I’ve been drunk and I have had hangovers from hell….but never have I experienced behaviour and carnage like I saw here. Fortunately I did not see any violence.
Toilets – It’s a festival. I knew the toilets would be grim. In fact we prepared ourselves for this ensuring we always had hand sanitiser and toilet roll with us. Had it just been a case of grim toilets then I would be able to put it down to it being a whole part of the festival experience….but it’s not just toilets…..and what I saw shouldn’t be the part of any festival experience_EVER ….[READ ON]
Men and women had no qualms about peeing wherever they were and needed to go (I’ve read about one bloke taking a dump, in a box in his tent porch….)
It was bad enough seeing people up against the fence peeing. It wasn’t just the odd few – there would be 10 or 15 people per fence (right next to the toilet blocks too)! Women squatting, with their fella/mate holding a coat to conceal (???) them! By the end of the weekend the fence lines smelled like a zoo. I also saw people in the crowd just squat and pee where they were.
….but it gets worse….
Peeing into cups and bottles…..great, if you just poured it away/binned it…. but no, it would seem that the in thing to do is to lob it into the crowd aka ‘piss bombs’ – this got progressively worse as the weekend went on. I read about this before we went so knew to expect it. For this reason Lois and I always stayed towards the back/side of the crowd and Lois kept her hood up!
As we walked back from watching Ellie Goulding we walked passed a man with his privates in his hand, saying to his mates “here, help me with this” as he tried to pee in a bottle. Broad daylight, early afternoon… NO NEED 😦 😦
We queued for the loos like normal dignified people do…..I was in the loo when unfortunately Lois was hit by a piss bomb. The bottle (thrown from the back of the toilet queue) hit her welly and leg. Understandably she was really upset…we went to the welfare tent who offered us some wipes and sanitiser (which is all they had) to clean it up but that doesn’t stop you feeling utterly violated does it?
Whilst in the welfare tent there was a young woman passed out on the floor under a blanket being cared for by the staff. Bang goes her festival experience.
We saw another young woman, lying on the grass near some stalls, drunk to the point of passing out and vomitting. Her mates crouched beside her as if nothing was happening…I wonder how much of the festival she managed to see? £225 well spent?????
….the thing that got to me the most was that we saw 3 girls (and by this I mean young women, early 20’s) wet themselves. One was stood right in front of us whilst we watched Ellie Goulding. Lois spotted her doing it, she simply stood up, wrapped her coat around her waist and carried on as if nothing happened. Later whilst watching Eliza Doolitle we stood by the entrance/exit so as to avoid piss bombs, and a girl walked passed with orange denim shorts, clearly having wet herself. Finally Lois saw a group of 3 girls stood around chatting and one just stood there and wet herself. I also saw at least 2 men who had wet themselves. Seriously, this has to be the lowest of the low 😦 WHY? If worse comes to worse, go against a flipping fence…..I dread to think what they/their tent/bags smell like 😦 DISGUSTING. FILTHY. GROSS.
I have no intention of returning to V Festival any time soon. Been there, done that, got the mental scars….thanks!