There are plenty of ways to experience new places when traveling. Personally, I prefer to be as skint as possible. I partake in free walking tours, cheap bus rides, and deep discounts whenever I can.
I’ve always loved festivals and live music, and I was keen to attend a festival in the UK this summer. The line-up at T in the Park was incredible, but unfortunately, the tickets were far too expensive for my backpacking budget. With a little help from google I found Festaff, an event staffing agency. After a quick application, I secured a spot volunteering at T in exchange for a weekend pass and staff camping.
All of the staff arrived Wednesday, one day before the campsite opened. The grounds were eerily silent: the fresh green grass awaited the trampling of thousands of partiers. We set up our tents and had a quick staff meeting. The next morning we were trained and given our shifts. Mikaela and I started working immediately.
The work was hectic. After only 12 hours—instead of the 16 we were required to work—Mikaela and I finished our two days of shifts before the music even began. I was glad to get it over with – if I ever have to put wristbands on festival-goers again, I’ll probably just wrap one around my neck instead.
The music kicked off and everyone was going wild, but I was dog tired. All I wanted was a hot bath and a long lie in, but all I had were dirty showers and a thin sleeping bag.
Still, TITP’s opening night did not disappoint. Imagine Dragons rocked the King Tut tent, Jake Bugg drew out faithful Scots, Sons & Lovers sang to me standing in the front row, and Of Monsters and Men and Mumford and Sons can’t even be described. I LOVED the music, but I secretly wanted to be clean and curled up in a coffee shop – which is, I suppose, is what led me to Costa.
I spent a good chunk of time at Costa down the road. It was open 24 hours during the festival. Even just leaving the festival grounds for a breath of fresh air was invigorating. The surrounding hills of Kinross are naturally stunning. I used free wifi to register for college and comforted myself with delicious coffee.
With grass in my hair, boots trekked in vomit, and mud beneath my nails, I really shouldn’t have been in public at all. I have honestly never felt so disgusting. If I had to describe the festival in three words it would be dirty, dusty, and drunken.
The entire festival grounds were covered in rubbish. I couldn’t believe it—people would sit amongst the garbage while the wind blew dust into their face. On the plus side, we all looked really tan.
I was so, so glad to be in staff camping. Although it was not exactly pristine, it was Heaven compared to the wasteland of General Camping. GC was gated off in sections and literally looked like a snapshot of District 9. It was what I imagine the slums to look like.
Saturday brought more good music: the Fratellis, Lucy Spraggan, the Lumineers, Noah & the Whale, Frightened Rabbit, the Script, Twin Atlantic, and finally Alt-J. Mikaela and I stayed out afterwards listening to a horrible DJ rap about fire and lasers before turning in to our cozy—okay, suffocating—tiny tent.
By Sunday, I was exhausted. I was sick and tired of being dirty, smelly, and surrounded by intoxicated idiots. I wanted a shower. I wanted a proper bed. I was done. But there was still another night of amazing music and I was yet to see my favorite band, so I lay in the sunshine and listened.
Watching Bastille perform on Bastille Day was the highlight of my weekend. Next, Two Door Cinema Club overtook the main stage. Mikaela and I found “Healthy T”, an area reserved for healthy food vendors. It was expensive, as all the food stalls were, but worth it for an escape from greasy burgers and beer.
We climbed into the BBC Introducing tent to indulge in our curry and listened to The Propellers before catching the rest of Frank Ocean. We skipped between David Guetta, the Killers, and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, ending our night in a desperate, unsuccessful search for our passports.
The next morning, we missed our bus back to Edinburgh to wait for our bonds and passports to be returned from Festaff. Once we arrived at the Caledonian, I spent the entire evening in the shower, letting the hard hot water wash away my festival tan.
T in the Park was an insane experience. If I choose to go to a festival overseas again, I don’t know if I will bother volunteering—although free tickets were awesome, it wasn’t worth the extra 2 days and effort that kept me from completely enjoying my weekend. However, if I was forced to stay in general camping, amongst all the rubbish, excrement, and mass amounts of people, I don’t think I would have lasted a single day.