Festival survival guides: Three books released this month include handy tips (take wellies!) or wacky craft ideas (make a 'shower dress'!)

Don't these guides go against the spirit of getting lost in music?
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The Independent Culture

Anyone old enough to remember jumping the fence at Glastonbury will tell you that all you used to need to attend a music festival was a couple of mates and £20 to bribe the security guard. Oh, and some loo roll.

But times, it seems, have changed. Apparently now you shouldn't even think about heading to one of the hundreds of festivals that pop up across Britain each year until you have read one of the many festival-related books on offer. Three have been released this month alone. Not content with the myriad newspaper and magazine festival guides (of which The Independent is as guilty as any), now festival-goers apparently require an entire tome to tell them where to go, what to do, how to dress and what to bring. Whatever happened to going on an adventure and losing your marbles?

"It's not like you're going to an area the Foreign Office advises against, so I don't know why you need a survival guide for it," says Luke Turner from online music magazine The Quietus. "I remember when I first went to Glastonbury in the late Nineties. It was quite intimidating because it still had that lawless vibe to it. But as they've become less challenging and more comfortable, surely there's less of a need to have these books? And who's going to buy them?"

 

Back in the day, the only guide that was particularly helpful was the one with all the stage times on. And even then you were ripe for people taking the mickey out of you if you wore your laminated booklet around your neck.

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Festival Fabulous offers 'over 30 craft projects for a unique festival experience'

So these books appear to go against the fundamental spirit of the music festival – "a bit Keep Calm and Carry On," as Turner says – and their content leaves a lot to be desired.

Much of the advice comes straight from the Pippa Middleton School of Pointing Out the Obvious. Festival Fabulous, a book that offers "over 30 craft projects for a unique festival experience", includes tips about what to wear which helpfully includes sunglasses, wellies and a waterproof jacket. Imagine if you'd not referred to it first. The book actually starts by defining what a festival is: "An organised series of concerts, plays, or films." Thanks.

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Festival Fabulous includes tips about what to wear which helpfully includes sunglasses, wellies and a waterproof jacket

Edith Bowman has also released her own, Great British Music Festivals, which takes you through the main events. Having spent half her career at music festivals, Bowman is certainly qualified to comment on them. But does one really need an entire book (RRP £16.99) to point out that metalheads like Download while Field Day is, like, super convenient for Londoners because it takes place in Hackney?

Then there's Music Festivals: An Essential Pocket Guide to Surviving in Style which offers "handy tips to help you make the most of your festival experience". Ten years ago it wouldn't exist. Now, with the arrival of boutique camping and the organic vegan-burrito trucks, festivals have become a lifestyle event and suddenly it makes more sense. But why has the landscape of the music festival changed so much?

"I think a lot of it is to do with the price of a ticket," says Turner. "Glastonbury is more than £200 for a ticket, then you have to pay for getting there, food and drinks. You're looking at about £400 to £500. That's an insane amount of money, so I suppose it's a different sort of person going now. It's a bit more upmarket."

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Some of Festival Fabulous's craft suggestions include the 'shower dress', a towelled garment complete with pockets to store toothpaste in

The books, it would appear, are targeted at the same, imagination-free people who check out the "festival chic" section on Asos.com or buy from the H&M Loves Coachella collection.

But it's Festival Fabulous that really makes me long for the muddy spirit and disorder of old. Some of its craft suggestions include making your own flower garlands, plaited baskets and, my favourite, the "shower dress", a towelled garment complete with pockets to store toothpaste in. If only Joe Strummer were here to see it.

So if you really want to take all the fun out of this summer's festival-going, get yourself down to a good book store pronto.

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