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Spend & Save

Alice-Azania Jarvis: My top tips for having a cheap, and fun, festival

In The Red

Was it the best line-up in recent memory? A big part of me thinks yes. Of course, over the 50 years of its existence Reading Festival has had some special moments – from Kurt Cobain being pushed on stage in a wheelchair to the Stone Roses self-combusting (not literally) on stage. But – given that it is August 2011 – it was as good as it could have been. From Pulp and The Strokes to Best Coast and Odd Future, it was like taking a little trip through my iPod. Certainly, it was the best Reading Festival that I've ever been to.

And guess what? It was also the cheapest. This is largely down to the fact that I ate nothing but chocolate cereal bars (and lots of them) for the entire days of Saturday and Sunday – until I got home, that is, late on Sunday night, and realised that I'd better get some vitamins, and fast. In what has to be a first for me, I didn't spend all the cash that I'd withdrawn. I didn't even spend half of it, in fact. Aside from two tequila shots, several bottles of Pepsi max and a water, I spent not a thing. I'd already brought enough whisky to last me the weekend. And I had my chocolate cereal bars. What more could I need? Scurvy, be dammed.

I'm glad, anyway, that I've proven myself correct. Festivalling needn't be a wallet-ruining experience. Yes, the tickets are expensive. And the travel can add up. But one thing's for sure: if you're interested in the bands playing, you're getting terrific value for money. There must have been at least 10 acts on the line-up that I'd go and see individually. Combine the ticket prices for each of those events and it would add up to a lot more than entry to Reading.

Whether or not I can keep costs so low next year remains to be seen. Already, I can foresee a predicament. I'm not sure how much longer the camping can continue. It's not the whole tent/ sleeping bag/backpack combination that's a problem. It's the toilets. And the noise. And the early-morning sunlight. In other words, it's the fact that I'm no longer 18. Every year I'm tempted to follow in the footsteps of several friends and stay in a guesthouse. And every year I decide against it. Whether or not my resolve will stay in tact next year remains to be seen – but judging by how tired I still feel, almost a week after festivities ended, I'm thinking that it probably won't. YMCA anyone?