Get yourself a cuppa. This is gonna be a long one.
We had been undecided about going to Leeds festival for months. Having never been to a festival before I was anxious about the event but we saw Red Hot Chilli Peppers about four years ago who were absolutely fantastic, so at the beginning of summer we decided to buy the day tickets for Sunday 28th – the day the Chillis were headlining.
It’s safe to say we were buzzing, we got the train into Leeds for midday, headed for some food and then straight to the stop for the shuttle bus. First you had to queue towards a ticket booth where we purchased two return tickets to Braham Park – this is where the day started to go downhill. There were crowds of people everywhere and when I say crowds, I mean literally thousands of people standing around. Nobody knew what was happening, and in the space of an hour we had moved literally 100 meters. Everyone was starting to get agitated and frustrated. It was sickening how quickly they accepted £18 for two return bus tickets – then left us stood in the city centre with not a clue what to do. It was approaching 3pm and there was still no sign of us getting off to the festival. People were getting angry and pushing and the atmosphere was becoming quite aggressive. We decided to pair up with another couple and order a taxi – which cost a further £30 and by the time we eventually got to the event it was nearly 4pm.
We moved through security pretty fast which was a blessing considering how much we had already missed. Now for the most traumatising experience of my life.
I feel bad even calling them toilets. Maybe I am just naïve but I cannot call a hole in a bench above a trough; a toilet. I think it was at this point I began to question if I was cut out for this festival lark. And oh my word you have never ever seen mud like this. I have to take my hat off to the people that camped there all weekend. I actually heard a guy refer to the ground as ‘soup’. You were literally wading through liquid the mud was so deep due to all the heavy rain. Who doesn’t love a British summer eh?
I was angry because I’d heard really good things about the Slaves who were on the main stage and due to the performance getting there we had actually missed them. We only actually saw 4 bands at Leeds: Eagles of Death Metal, The Courteeners, Imagine Dragons and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I went to the event with pretty high expectations of The Courteeners – as you should with any band featuring on the main stage of such a large festival. However, I felt the band didn’t do much to earn the right to be performing up there, I mean there was nothing particularly bad (other than the hundreds of bucket hat wearing fans – we obviously didn’t get the uniform memo) I just felt The Courteeners performance was a little underwhelming. Without a doubt, Imagine Dragons were the highlight for me. The musical talent and stage performance was incredible. Dan Reynolds got up close with the crowd and you could see he was enjoying himself as much as the crowd were. If I’m going to be honest I’d not really listened to them much before the day but now I can’t stop listening to them on Spotify – as much as I’m loving listening to them; their recorded stuff definitely doesn’t live up to such an amazing live performance. Of course, the Chillis did not disappoint. They’re one of the boyfriend’s favourites it was fun seeing him in his element.
You remember the rant earlier about the journey to the festival? Well the way home was 100X worse. We joined the back of a queue (a word I use lightly). The queue was essentially a mass of thousands of muddy, exhausted and freezing people, desperate to get on a bus to the city centre and head home. Within 2 minutes I was getting an overwhelming sense of Déjà vu. We were cramped in like cattle, people quickly started pushing and for the first time in the day I actually felt unsafe. I only saw 2 members of staff whilst we were in this queue. No information. People were rapidly realising they were going to miss their onward travel which only lead to further anger and anxiety. It was approaching 3 am and we still hadn’t got to the front of the queue. Our feet were like icicles and everyone’s tempers were fraying. We eventually got on a bus and made it to the train station. I couldn’t help but feel awful for the staff at the station. There was sludge, discarded wellies and people sleeping on the floor everywhere. All you could see were groups of dirty, exhausted festival goers clutching McDonalds. We finally got home around 7am, and I can honestly say a hot shower has never felt so good. We got in bed, exhausted, and slept the bank holiday away.
It’s a shame because the nightmare getting there and back really ruined the experience for me and honestly put me off ever festivalling again. I would love to hear about anyone else’s festival experiences this year – hopefully more positive than mine!