How to experience a music festival like a 20-year-old… when you’re pushing 40

Attending a music festival usually includes loads of walking, being in the sun and exerting patience as you navigate stages, stalls and queues. It can all be a bit tiring for the post-thirties among us, unless you plan well.

The obvious ways to avoid being exhausted by day two of a festival have been shared and re-shared countless times: Drink plenty of water, have energy drinks at the ready, try to eat something nutritious along the way, et cetera. The less obvious strategies (no, not drugs) are less well known. This is what I’ve learned from experience.

(1) You’re going to have only festival food. Try to diversify.

Let’s face it: that bag of apples / carrots / beets you’ve packed is just to soothe your conscience. When you give up on that idea upon arrival and weave through the many stalls usually available, you need to accept that you can’t stick with a “favourite” for the weekend. While “roosterkoek” (basically bread prepared over open coals, filled with anything from cheese to sausages to bacon and eggs) or “vetkoek” (similar to “roosterkoek”, only deep-fried) are delicious and fantastic for a hung over body, you’ll need at least some variety, as too much starch will weigh you down. Try a “sosatie” (kebab) or even a smoothie once in a while.

(2) Strategic naps are essential

While being open to experiencing music you’ve never heard before remains important, it’s equally necessary to pick out an act on every day that you wouldn’t mind missing so you can fully enjoy the ones you really do want to see. Take that hour and go lie down in the tent or on a patch of grass in the shade – you’ll thank yourself later.

(3) You can dance when you need to, you can leave your friends behind

In the teenage years many of us feel the need to not appear boring, but at some point you have to stop caring about all that. There will be acts that make you get up and dance like a crazy person. Save energy for these moments by sitting down when you feel like it.

Admittedly, I feel incredibly old after writing this post. Well, time to go munch down a vetkoek, ignore sleep and bounce to my youthful soul’s content to the music on the PA system as the stage is being set up, I guess.

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