IT’S NEARLY here!
In just a week’s time thousands of festival goers will be flocking to Weston Park near Stafford for a weekend of live music and partying.
V Festival is one of the country’s biggest and most popular festivals, playing host to world-class acts across two days and two venues, in Staffordshire and Chelmsford.
Camping and day tickets for the Weston Park leg are sold out, but if you were lucky enough to get the tickets get ready for a weekend to remember.
Make sure it’s a weekend to remember for the right reasons rather than the wrong ones however with this handy survival guide.
Whether you’re attending your first festival or your 21st, it’s always a good idea to think about what you pack before you go and how to stay safe when you are on the site.
What to pack (besides your tent, sleeping bag and clothes!)
Wellies and/or water and mud-proof shoes: It may be scorching hot and dry underfoot when you set out, but it’s amazing how quickly the ground can get squelchy if the heavens open and the fields are being trampled by thousands of feet.
Disposable rain poncho: These are cheap and easy to find in shops before you get to the campsite – better to be safe than sorry even if sunny skies are forecast.
Warm clothing and a supply of dry socks: When the sun goes down at night it can be surprisingly chilly even in summer – not the best conditions if you’re trying to get to sleep in your tent! It can also feel chilly during the day if the festival turns out to be a rainy one and dry feet are a must to stay warm too.
A torch – Tripping over tent ropes in the dark is no fun – ouch!
Water/ a container for water: It’s important for your body to stay hydrated, no matter what the weather, and there is free access to clean drinking water on the site.
Sun cream and a sunhat: Even if the sun is cheekily hiding behind clouds you are at risk of sunburn.
Bin bags: Not an obvious choice to pack, but bin bags are so versatile at music festivals. Uses include a makeshift mat for sitting on wet ground, an emergency poncho (if you create holes for your arms) and a flag to mark out your tent amongst the mass of other campers – not to mention disposing of your rubbish tidily of course.
What not to pack
Glass: Whether they house perfume or a drink, glass containers of any kind are not permitted on the site. Decant your liquids into plastic or metal containers before you leave home.
Illegal drugs: Police and security will be keeping a close eye on the festival throughout the weekend and it is part of your condition of entry on site to allow them to search you and your belongings. You don’t want your festival weekend to result in a criminal record.
Anything you cannot afford to lose: Whether it’s your new and expensive mobile phone, or a piece of jewellery with sentimental value, one sure way for the festival experience to be ruined is to lose a possession that cannot be easily replaced. Take a cheap or old mobile instead to call your friends and leave your valuables in the safety of your home.
High heels: Festival fashion has become a hot topic in the style pages over recent years but you don’t need heels to get the look. Apart from the potential for your stilettos to get stuck in the mud, there’s a lot of walking to be done on the festival site so comfy shoes are a better choice.
Candles, fireworks and Chinese sky lanterns: These may look pretty but they’re banned from the site for your safety.
Stay safe and healthy at the festival
It’s time for fun and free-spirited adventures, but you still need to be aware of your surroundings and who is around you at the festival.
* Keep valuables such as your money, bank card, mobile phone and camera with you all times and don’t assume you have hidden them well in your tent.
* Reduce the risk of theft from your tent by keeping it in an untidy condition, so thieves can’t just grab a bag and go.
* Hide your valuables carefully when you sleep. Don’t put them all in the same place either.
* Clearly mark your property with your name and postcode to reduce the risk of theft. Tag your keys with your phone number, so if they are left onsite you can be contacted after the festival.
* If you need to take regular medication make sure you take it with you to the festival. Let your friends know you take it, or about any allergies you have.
* Look out for your friends and other festival-goers. If they fall ill or appear to be in distress, take them to a first aid tent. If they are not responding do not attempt to move them but alert a steward immediately who can get help.
* If you see dangerous or antisocial behaviour don’t get involved – notify security staff instead.
* If you see any suspicious or criminal activity contact police – there will be many onsite and contact numbers on posters around the site so you can get in touch.
* Firefighters, ambulance services and medical staff are on the site 24 hours a day if you need them in an emergency.
* If it becomes too crowded where you are move to where there is more space. If you see someone fall in a crowd make sure they can get up again – and get help if they need it.
* If you feel distressed or there is something on your mind there are always people to talk to if you visit the Welfare Tent, including Samaritans.
What to see and hear
For festival-goers travelling via Stafford on Friday there will be a wealth of local talent waiting to serenade you at Q in the Park.
Launched in 2011, Q in the Park is an independent music event staged each year in Victoria Park which also attracts music lovers from the town with its free entertainment.
Once you get on the site there is even more music to look forward to, as well as some colourful sights.
Many festival goers don colourful fancy dress, so be on the lookout for superheroes, Smurfs or even human-sized fruit as well as summery floral garlands and neon facepaint.
Then there are of course the acts – you’ll be spoilt for choice with more than 75 to choose from across two days.
This year’s main stage headliners offer two different experiences. Rockers Kings of Leon will bring the noise on Saturday while pop diva Beyonce will get you boogieing on Sunday.
For all you indie kids there is Two Door Cinema Club, Everything Everything and The Vaccines to name just three highlights.
Nostalgia hunters can enjoy 90s legends Ocean Colour Scene, Stereophonics, Travis and James, while dance lovers can show off their moves to acts including Calvin Harris, Jaguar Skills and Basement Jaxx.
If chilled-out vibes are more your thing why not check out The Script, Jason Mraz or Emili Sande?
And pop perfection will be served up by the likes of Scouting for Girls, Olly Murs, Fun, Jessie J and Paloma Faith.
Getting to the festival
By train and shuttle bus
Virgin Trains are expecting around 3,000 extra people through Stafford station on the morning of Friday, August 16th. They arrive from all over the country laden with sleeping bags and tents. Often it’s their first experience of train travel and definitely their first visit to Stafford.
Staff try to make the experience fun for the festival goers – and themselves - with buskers and freebies at the station. They then work with shuttle bus operators National Express and volunteers in managing the queue and litter picking in order to keep the town’s park in order.
This is the third year they have been working with Josh Roberts to showcase local musical talent in the park, opposite the station, with Q in the Park which very much a community project.
The station has some very musical staff too; Barry Lawton, a singer/songwriter, has entertained at Q in the Park and will hopefully be travelling to entertain the passengers coming from Euston this year. Tom Cox has a band called Scar the Crow who recently played at Stafford Castle and is in the running for the Big Thanks Party.
When everyone has gone home station staff have toilets to clean and lost property from wellies to tents. It is a big team effort to get the station back to it’s best.
The station recently had a large investment in resurfacing platforms and improving the platform canopies. Starting after V Festival is an expansion and improvement to the toilet facilities will begin. The lighting in their multi storey car park is currently being replaced with more environmentally friendly LED lighting too.
Peter Rodger from road safety charity The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has some tips for driving to the festival.
* Plan your route before your set off – if you know where you’re going, you’ll avoid the added stress of an unexpected detour on the day.
* Don’t overload your vehicle. Any bags you need to take with you should be packed securely into the boot to avoid obstructing your view. And don’t forget that extra weight will increase fuel consumption – do you really need that ninth pair of wellies?
* It’s likely that you’ll be joining a very long queue to get into the festival site. When you’re queuing, keep your eyes on the road and avoid passenger distraction so that you keep up with the traffic flow, however slow it may be.
* When you arrive, lock up your vehicle and put your car keys in a very secure place which you’re not likely to forget about and they won’t fall out of – your trouser pocket simply won’t cut the mustard.
* Getting home again is part of the weekend - be aware of the morning after effect. Though you may not have had anything to drink that morning, you may still be over the limit from the night before. And you’re likely to be tired, so schedule in regular rest stops for the drive back.