10 things festivals have given us
- 21 June 2013
- From the section Magazine
The past two decades has seen a massive growth in the number and variety of music festivals in the UK. They have bequeathed us a plethora of things.
Here are 10 of them.
1. Fashionable wellington boots. When US rappers start wearing wellies as a fashion statement you know the rubber footwear has come a long way from the farmers' field. They are available in every colour and pattern imaginable, sold in every shop imaginable and worn by everyone imaginable - including said rapper Nicki Minaj. "When Kate Moss rocked up to Glastonbury in a pair of Hunter wellies and hot pants things were never going to be the same," says fashion stylist Alicia Poole. "The boots are now an essential part of the festival look and the festival look is the essential look of the summer. You now get the likes of Marc Jacobs designing them."
2. The rise of the onesie. It might only have arrived on the shelves of M&S in the past year, but the onesie has long been a staple of the festival-goers wardrobe. The one-piece for grown-ups is a perfect fit when it comes to the festival ethos of leaving behind the constraints of everyday life, which for a lot of people includes dressing like a sane adult. "People have walked around in their pyjamas at festivals for years so wearing a onesie was a natural progression," says Scott Williams, editor of eFestivals.co.uk. "Animal designs are particularly popular."
3. The acceptance of fancy dress for adults. Wearing jeans and a T-shirt just doesn't cut it for many festival goers. Fancy dress is rife, ranging from those who seriously commit to a look - see picture below - to those who dabble with wigs, fairy wings, tutus, face paints. Some festivals actively promote fancy dress as part of the whole experience and you're the odd one out if you don't dress up. "Festivals have definitely spread the appetite for fancy dress beyond the festival gates," says Poole. "It's rare to go on a night out these days without seeing someone in a morph suit. You don't bat an eyelid anymore."
4. Gin in a bag. There are no problems, only solutions, according to John Lennon. It's a mantra the alcohol industry has adopted when it comes to the ban on glass at festivals, the ban being for obvious safety reasons. The solution? Gin in a bag. "Big business was a bit slow to jump on the festival bandwagon, they thought it was a fad," says Leon Wingham, publisher of the website This Festival Feeling. "Not anymore, now they market anything they can as festival friendly."
5. Baby and child ear protectors. They were once the preserve of workmen digging roads, now parents can be seen wrestling ear protectors onto the head of their young offspring at most music festivals. Apple Martin, daughter of actress Gwyneth Paltrow and musician Chris Martin, is the Kate Moss of toddler ear protectors. When she was pictured wearing them at a concert they started flying off the shelves. They now come in an array of neon colours, are available for newborns and are increasingly being spotted at events such as bonfire night.
6. Lesser-known county flags. A flag is multi-purpose when it comes to festivals. Hoisted above a tent it can guide people home after a long night. Hoisted up a portable pole it can help friends find each other in a crowd. For this to be most effective you need something unusual, the official flag of Wiltshire maybe? "Demand for regional flags has really shot up in the last few year and festivals are definitely helping to drive that," says Graham Wilkinson, managing director of the Hampshire Flag Company. "The most requested flags are from the West Country and Yorkshire."
7. Flowery and patterned tents. Long gone are the days when tents came in black, blue and green. Now you can get anything from flowery Cath Kidston designs to Friesian cows and retro rockets. "I don't mind them," says Matthew De Abaitua, author of The Art of Camping: The History and Practice of Sleeping Under the Stars. "If a flowery tent appeals to someone who would never have camped before then that's good. The problem is when people just dump tents after the fun is over. Festivals are like a big party no one wants to clean up."
8. Dry shampoo. It's been around since the 70s but has made a comeback thanks to festivals. Last August supermarket Asda reported sales of dry shampoo had increased by 37% on the previous year.
"People accept they're going to be among the great unwashed for a few days and have found ways to deal with it," says Poole. "I think expectations of what you look like at a festival have also risen, the pressure is on to still look good after days of sleeping in a tent and trampling through mud."
9. The wristband collection. Festival wristbands have been called the new concert T-shirt. They are worn like a badge of honour by many, often for a long time and regardless of the germs they will have collected. "I know people who wear festival wristbands for well over a year after the event," says Wingham. "In some cases it's a status thing. When you add up how much someone has paid for those wristbands it can easily be over £1,000."
10. The Olympic and Paralympics opening and closing ceremonies. These might have featured steampunks, beds that doubled as trampolines, big-name singers, mind-boggling acrobatics, huge puppets and flying cyclists, but festivals had them first. Going off, seeing weird stuff and then going back and telling your friends is all part of the festival experience. "The Olympic ceremonies included the type of stuff that has been going on at festivals for years," says Williams. "The artistry and performance side of things is very British but it is now being exported to other countries." Anyone going to a festival this year can expect anything from a 30ft mechanical spider to fire manipulation - whatever that is.