Okay – so not technically a decade of this blog ‘That Festival Life’ (although I have been blogging in various forms for 9 years!) buuut definitely a decade of living & working that festival life IRL. I thought it was high time I did a round-up of my festival experiences so far, so how better than as a decade round-up! A look at the whirlwind of festivals I’ve been to across the globe, some serious hair and style evolution, as well as a peek at all the different directions my festival career has gone in.
THAT FESTIVAL LIFE BEGAN…
SO technically I started going to festivals in 2004… one of the biggest metal festivals in Europe to be precise. I went Rock am Ring when I was 10 (where I was lucky enough to see one of the best shows of my life!) Side note – the Germans don’t take their kids to big festivals, little Dulcie with triangular blonde hair and a Motorhead t-shirt stuck right out!
After that, my parents and I caught the festival bug big time and we started going to nice local folky ones in the UK like Larmer Tree, Beautiful Days and many more. Hope you’re ready for a laugh with these photos from the noughties…
A Decade of Festivals
So here we go… over 90 festival weekends, 8 countries, 4 pairs of sequin shorts & 2 blogs over 10 years.
2010 – My First Glastonbury
2010 was the YEAR for me – the end of my first year at college when I was a fresh wee 16-year-old, turning 17. I’d just about finished my first year of A-levels and was keen to plan my first festivals on my own… I started with a little introductory number in the form of GoldCoast Ocean Fest in Croyd which was a bit of a rite of passage for any teenagers growing up in North Devon.
It was an absolute scorcher of a summer and Glastonbury was calling… I’d been watching it on TV for some years but very weirdly it was a quote by Annie Mac in the sadly deceased Company Magazine that told me I had to go! (Thanks Annie…) I somehow managed to snag a ticket on a whim the previous October and I rocked up with £40 and a big (very warm) bottle of cider. I shared a tent with my pal Jake, who I still go to festivals with, and just rocked up and camped with all his friends I’d never met before. I saved a girl called Lucie’s life in the heatwave and then the rest is history, I’d made festival pals for life.
That year I also hit up the lovely Larmer Tree for the 6th year running and the Leveller’s festival Beautiful Days for the 3rd year as well as an amazing local Devon hero called Aeon with all my pals.
2011 – Lots of Interesting Hair Choices & My First Festival Job
I sadly didn’t get Glastonbury tickets in 2011 but there was no way I wasn’t going to go again… I got my first festival job on the Oxfam stewarding team with Jake and there I got to know my pal Juby who is another festival legend mate of mine. I saw Beyonce and it was lush.
Aeon, Glastonbury & Beautiful Days – 2011 was a brave summer of letting people dye my hair and shave my head in a field…
Larmer Tree & Aeon all got another visit, as well as a very little one called Chagstock that’s near my home. I volunteered with Oxfam again at Beautiful Days and met a lot of Devon pals that would be my festival gang for years to come…
A photo selecky from outlook… yep that’s me with a sticker on me saying ‘NO BASS NO FUN’ – ffs
At the end of that summer (as I was finally 18!) I also took the plunge on my first proper abroad festival. Me and my lovely ex Toby travelled over to Croatia (via Venice) to the hallowed Fort Punta Christo in Pula for Outlook festival.
2012 – A Whole New World of Dance Festivals
With it being a fallow year for Glasto I replaced those June shenanigans with the EPIC, and unfortunately final, Glade festival up in Norfolk which was on the site that hosts Houghton festival now. The music, the amazing people I met from around the world (shout out Pride Rock crew), the stage built into a crater in the forest, the rabbit hole which I definitely thought was underground… it all blew my mind!
Boomtown Fair 2012
I headed back to the old favourites Larmer Tree & Beautiful Days with my fam and also tried out my first ever Boomtown! It was a lot smaller back then and based just in the bowl… we camped almost vertically on the Hippie Highway and the set design and antics of Bearded Kitten threw festivals into a whole new realm for me.
2013 – Becoming a True Festi-preneur*
* ‘Festival entrepreneur’ – I mean I literally just made this word up but I think it works 😉
2013 was the summer after I had started uni in Bristol… I knew I wanted a summer FULL of festivals but with pretty empty pockets, I was going to have to get some work! Luckily the wonderful crew at Pura Vida (the best festival Mexican food stall on the circuit!) took me on, and I made gazillions of quesadillas and stacks of nachos everywhere from Wychwood to Glastonbury, Larmer Tree, Cornbury, Kendal Calling in the gorgeous Lake District & beautiful Greenman in Wales.
Since I was living in Bristol then, I also nipped across the road from my uni halls to Castle Park and two of my favourite day festivals; Love Saves the Day where I helped on some decor and the first-ever Tokyo Dub – they’ve both since moved to Eastville Park!
That summer was the summer that I started producing my Dulcie’s Feathers headpieces (which you’re gonna spot a lot throughout this blog!) and the extra cash from selling them out of my backpack on the dancefloor just about sustained me enough to squeeeeze a couple more in on my weekends off nacho stacking… the lovely teeny Cloud Cuckoo Land, back to Boomtown of course & my first ever Bestival on the Isle of Wight… PHEW!
2014 – Finding My Sparkly Home at Secret Garden & Shambala
You can also read my 10 Reasons Why Shambala Might Just be the Best Festival Ever… post here
Determined to beat 2013’s 11 festival streak (!!) in 2014 I managed 13!? That stamina is far behind me let me tell you that for sure…!
I returned to Love Saves the Day (this time as an ambassador selling tickets), a really gorgeous Glastonbury as I got lucky in the October ticket sales and camped with all my pals, Larmer Tree, Beautiful Days for my Dad’s 50th, Tokyo Dub and Boomtown where I technically had my first ever Boomtown job, dressed in a very small gold outfit with a spray-painted gun, bodyguarding an artist called Uzimon and dancing on the Lion’s Den stage!
New on the list was the first-ever Balter Festival a funny little one with HARD music that was then in Baskerville Hall in Wales where I celebrated my 21st birthday, the insanely gorgeous Gottwood up in a forest in North Wales and St Paul’s Carnival in Bristol. I finally made it to my first Secret Garden Party with my friend Oriel with our very first glitter face art stall no less…
I also headed to the wonderous Shambala for the first time where I was a part of the excellent Fashpack team selling my headpieces (properly for the first time!) and after that the Fashpack girls Joh & Amy invited me along to Mini V festival (now Valley Fest) in Chew Valley. I also went to the beautiful little In The Woods festival where I was an extra in a film my friend was making.
What a summer!
2015 – From Bulgaria to the Isle of Wight
Remember Juby who I mentioned before? He graduated from uni in 2015 and invited us down to his final year project, Good Vibrations Festival – making festival season a record length as it was in April!
I had a stall at Love Saves the Day with my old glitter business partner Oriel where we sold a treasure trove of embellished delights. Then in June I headed up a mountain in Bulgaria for the first time for a very special festival, Meadows in the Mountains, where I was looking after the ‘Miss Lippy’ glitter stall. Back to Glastonbury where I had snagged a job working on a backstage bar in Silver Hayes very last minute. Then I worked sparkling faces at Lovebox & Citadel in London on the Miss Lippy stall and then on to a very soggy Secret Garden party with them as well!
3 whole weeks at Boomtown for my first proper job there in the infamous radio shack, logging radios, counting merch and living that glamourous production life that I’d always dreamed of – this is where I first got to properly hang with my friend Tamsyn who you’ll spot again no doubt! Then out of the container and back into The Fashpack at a truly glorious Shambala. Then a quick jaunt with my friend Chelsea over to the picturesque town of Portmerion in North Wales for Festival No. 6 where I was making smoothies with S’Juice Me!
Not content with summer being over I got a really last-minute ticket to Bestival volunteering with the amazing charity 8th Plate who collect waste food from traders for good causes. I went basically on my own and my tent had literally blown away when I got back from my shift on the Monday – but it was amazing! Finished off the summer pretty smug and painting faces at Tokyo World. In October that year, I finally tried out another Bristol institution, the multi-venue experience that is Simple Things.
2016 – Ski-ing & Space Exploration!
I went slightly off-piste in 2016 and tried out my first ski festival Horizon out in Bulgaria in March time where I was volunteering as an artist liaison. It is sadly defunct now but was an amazing week of great ski-ing and raving in weird Bulgarian clubs, pool parties and secret house parties on the slopes.
That summer I had another stall at Love Saves the Day, went back to Bulgaria to assist on the marketing team at Meadows in the Mountains, artist liaised at Glastonbury, tried out the cute little Wonder Fields, GRADUATED, had a luxury Secret Garden experience, lushed out at Farmfest, stepped up to be assistant production office manager at Boomtown, sold more headdresses than ever at Shambala, went with a full space crew to Bestival, worked in accreditation at The Downs & popped into Tokyo World for good measure.
This was definitely the year I started working in proper festival jobs – from media stuff to production, accreditation and artist liaison. If you reckon you fancy getting into festival work make sure you check out my post on how to find festival work & volunteer opportunities.
2017 – That Festival Life was born!
That winter I had jetted off to India for the first time to spend 5 months travelling… In January whilst I was living in Arambol I helped out on a little festival called GOAT in Goa and that’s when I started this festival blog!!
I headed back to work at Boomtown and I didn’t know it then but my last minute request to change from working in production to helping out the comms team would result in me getting the job that I am in full time now!
This was definitely a lewk at Bestival
I also squeezed in Shambala, my final Bestival, Tokyo World and another Bristol day festival The Downs.
That winter I headed back to India where I experienced the epic Magnetic Fields – which was in a palace in a desert in Rajasthan! Read all about it here.
2018 – Reggae in India to Boat Parties in Croatia
As I was in India for two months, stretching to the end of January, I also go to squeeze in the gorgeous little Sunsplash Festival on the beach before heading back – read my top tips for attending India’s only reggae festival here.
Some highlights from Love International in Tisno, Croatia
That summer was my first in full-time employment but I managed to visit a load of city day festivals like Arcadia’s big London party, Love Saves the Day and another city day festival Field Day. I went back to my metaller roots with my first Download and headed for a gorgeous Croatian festival holiday at Love International. Then Boomtown for three weeks (very much mandatory!) and back in the Fashpack for Shambala.
2019 – Morocco to Thailand & a lot of Rain Inbetween
No big trip away for me this as I was a bit too busy with my day job at Boomtown – but in March I slipped off to a whole new continent, Africa! And more precisely Marrakech in Morroco for a glorious Glastonbury spinoff Beat Hotel festival… you can read all about my Beat Hotel festival experience here.
In summer I visited the small but perfectly formed Shindig, which holds a specials place in my heart for being my first festival where I went solely as a festival blogger! Forbidden Fruit in Ireland where I worked as a bridesmaid in an inflatable church, a scorcher of a Glastonbury where I was working on social media for Shangri La (a bit of a dream come true), my first Noisily (full blog post is coming soon!), Boomtown of course, Shambala, The Downs and a surprise finale in the form of a gorgeous little collaborative festival in Wales called Come-Bye.
Aaaaand I’ve just come back from my final festival of the decade, the incredible Wonderfruit Festival in Thailand… which was… wow. Watch this space for a full review and guide which will be coming very soon!
That makes over 90 festival weekends – I can’t get a precise count cause I’ve definitely forgotten a couple! I’ve got plenty more to tick off my festival bucketlist yet… I wonder what this next decade has in store!?
I’d love to tick off a festival in every continent (although, Antarctica pal where’s yours at?!)
Let me know in the comments what your best festival adventures of the decade were… I’d love to hear your festival wanderlust inspiration.