I love festivals. Nothing quite beats standing in a field with several thousand others, watching your favourite band and hearing rousing renditions of your favourite songs. I won't ever forget how close I was to Metallica at Sonisphere a couple of years ago!
Make the best of your fest
However, it's not as easy as drinking, singing and dancing. You must prepare yourself properly before going, and people with MS have to prepare more.
I experienced this when I attended the Download Festival shortly before my MS diagnosis three years ago. Struggling with my mobility, I only managed to see three bands the entire weekend. I spent the rest of the time dragging myself to somewhere I could eat, or trying to sleep in my tent.
Here are my ten festival survival tips for the MSer, which I use to properly enjoy myself. Hopefully they'll be of use to you too − if you find yourself in a muddy field with loud music this summer…
My 10 festival survival tips
- If you're travelling by car and have a blue badge then arrange to park in a disabled space. This can be done on the website where you bought your ticket, or directly on the festival website.
- The weather can change, being roasting hot during the day and dipping dramatically at night, so bring layers. If you’re not good with extreme temperatures, add or remove clothing to help you find a happy medium.
- To camp or not to camp? I've been there, done that and it's not for me. For some people, the campsite is what makes their experience, but it's not the most comfortable. If you do camp, take a torch for night time toilet trips so you don't fall over. Or if you like your home comforts, check out B&Bs in the area.
- Make sure you know where the medical tents are, both in the arena and the campsite. They’re not only good if there's an unforeseen emergency, they'll also happily safeguard any injectable medication you have.
- Do you need to use the viewing platform? Organise a spot for you and a plus one well in advance if you need a seat or extra room for any mobility aids. These are near the entrance and exits too, so you'll avoid being caught in the stampede to leave after the last song.
- If you’re standing, choose your spot very carefully. I prefer leaning against a barrier or having a seat on the ground between bands in case I become tired. Although they’re fun, festivals are exhausting. There's lots of walking back and forth and you're on your feet for lengthy periods watching the bands.
- If, like me, your balance can be hit or miss, then stand back and keep away from the 'golden circle’ − the area close to the front of the stage where there's lots of jostling. Mosh pits are a no-no too. Just enjoy watching from a safe distance!
- Bring a ‘please help’ card for when you need to use the toilet. The queues to use the portaloos at festivals are like shops on sale days. On the whole, I've found that stewards at the disabled facilities will let you in without hesitation if you show your card. This avoids any discomfort or embarrassment. Oh, and don't forget your own supply of tissues and hand sanitiser.
- Have a look at the band schedule when it's released and plan who you'd like to see. Take your time and don't rush so you don't get tired before the headliner has even appeared on stage.
- Lastly: sing out, drink up, take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun!
Claire is a 30 year old primary school teacher from Glasgow. She was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2013.