Alice-Azania Jarvis: Glastonbury envy? Do a festival on the cheap

In The Red
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The Independent Online

It's official. I have Glastonbury (or, as Beyoncé would have it, Glaston-berry) envy. I know it costs as much as a week abroad to get tickets, and I know the weather looked like the last days of hell – either driving rain or sweltering sun – but I still wish I'd experienced it. Every year, I decide it's simply too expensive – and now I won't go for at least another two, as Worthy Farm must lie fallow in 2012. Will I still be willing to camp, come 2013? Or will I, at the grand old age of 28, have decided such things are behind me?

It's a familiar feeling. Every year Glastonbury comes along, reminding me to pull up my festival socks and get organised. There's a string of reasonably-priced urban festivals which I plan to take advantage of – as I've already mentioned in these pages, it's perfectly possible to find a park in London with a decent line-up selling tickets for under £50. This weekend's Wireless, for instance, sees pretty much my favourite band ever, Pulp, play alongside other great bands like Yuck and The Horrors. Or there is July's Lovebox (think The Drums, Snoop Dogg and Blondie). I'll definitely patronise a few of these. But I'm determined to get one "proper" experience in too.

Reading is my absolute favourite, and possibly the best if you're looking to festival on a budget. Last year – the occasion of the much-discussed Libertines reunion – I got away with spending a lot less than my £100 budget. The only things I bought all weekend were a few drinks and one £7.50 grilled halloumi salad. The thing about Reading is that it's many a music-lover's first festival. Being only a short train ride from London, it's seen by parents to be a not-too-dramatic introduction to the world of camping and warm beer. The result? There are plenty of affordable food stalls (halloumi salad excepted), and it's totally de rigueur to bring your own supplies. There's even a Tesco nearby – a place I try and avoid ever since the time I bought pretty much their entire fruit and nut selection, and ate it all in two days.

But with a bit of clever footwork, anything can be done on the cheap. It's about planning and discipline. Take as much as you possibly can (it's only a weekend, after all). This is true of food, drink – alcoholic or otherwise – and clothes. Especially the latter. If there's one thing you learn sitting at home looking at photos of Glasto it's this: things get muddy – and tie-dye's not a good look.

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