Every now and then in every music fan’s life, there comes a time when line ups are announced, when headliners go on tour, when tickets to the festival of your dreams go on sale and… none of your friends can go. Whether it’s the ticket price, the travel or they’re just not interested, you are on your own. For many, the result of this situation is simple – you don’t go. But for the bold of heart this does not have to be the case. Last weekend I hopped on a plane to Victoria, hired a car and went to the three-day camping extravaganza that is Meredith Music Festival on my own. With the full run down on this amazing experience available here, what I have for you today is a simple survival guide for hitting the festival track on your own that will mean you don’t miss out on the festival you’re dying to go to, you have a great time and you don’t wind up flicking through photos of the weekend wistfully afterwards wondering “What if…”
1. Choose your festival wisely.
Look, there are some festivals where this is going to work and some where it’s just not. Know your crowd, know the vibe, and make a judgment – is this the type of festival where you’re going to welcomed by strangers, where you’re going to get on with most people there, or is this an event you need a support network and a case of something to get through? I loved seeing Boys Noize and Rita Ora at Future Music last year, but didn’t feel like I fit in with anyone but the friends I went with. Think carefully not just about the line up, but the crowd.
2. Just commit.
You’ve been excited about the line up since it came out. You’ve exhausted all options of friends-of-friends who might be going, you’ve put the call out on social media to see if some barely-acquaintance could be interested in sharing a tent with you, and the result is nada, zilch, nuttin. This is the moment of truth in which you make the decision to do it anyway. Don’t waver on that ticket payment page, don’t be put off by the lonely “1” in the quantity box. Commit. Do it. You only regret the chances you didn’t take and the tickets you didn’t buy.
3. If you’re camping, know your kit well.
Make sure you can put up your tent on your own, and that you’re pretty self sufficient in terms of your equipment. While asking to borrow a hammer is a good way to meet your neighbours, you don’t want to be the guy lingering around other campsites and mooching off strangers because you forgot to bring your tent fly.
4. Be a conversation starter.
Maybe you’ve got a t-shirt that always draws compliments when you’re out. Maybe you want to go full dress up and be that guy in the banana costume. If you’re not the type of person that feels comfortable striking up a conversation, draw people to you with something visible that provides an in for people to approach you. It doesn’t need to just be something you wear – a friend of mine once spent a festival handing out packets of trail mix and made a lot of friends out of grateful, hungry strangers.
5. Or just have a conversation.
Okay, let me preface this by saying that I am not the sort of person that is super confident chatting to strangers. I don’t do small talk well, I have often replied “Good thanks” to a simple “Hello” and I don’t know what to ask after “So how is your day going?” Throwing myself into a festival on my own far from home was not just about seeing the acts, but also forcing myself to face these social fears and dive in the deep end. After a somewhat nervous first night at Meredith spent dancing on my own and hoping someone would talk to me, I threw myself into day two with determination to get chatty and by the afternoon I had a new bunch of friends, dancing partners and drinking buddies. Smile. Say hello. Ask someone a question. Give someone a compliment. You get better with practice so just start talking.
6. Be the type of person you want to hang out with.
I spent the first day of the festival hoping some friendly easygoing future-best-friend would talk to me, and it didn’t happen. You have to be that magic person that you hope to meet at a festival. Help someone find their camera. Give your water to someone who is struggling. Put that person on your shoulders. Be this guy. Get involved, put in the energy and you’ll get it back tenfold. Who knows, you might end up being that magic new friend for another lone festival-goer and never have to go solo again.