Its mid june, we just had the first major festival of this Belgian season Graspop. Or as many call it Drashpop. Everybody smells it, everybody knows it. Everybody feels this will be the start of a summer filled with amazing experiences. But how do you prepare?
We all know Belgium is known for its many festivals, so to visit many of them one needs to be organized. The best approach of all is lists, making lots of lists. Seasoned festival people know the drill. Check what you have, brainstorm what you need. compile lists from that and start pulling things together. So now that you got your bag of clothing and personal items put together, What about the rest? Belgium is a country known for its flip-flop weather. "Oh yea okay, so i need to take a jacket?" Yes, especially now. I am sure some bits and pieces have made the international news. And practically every Belgian knows about it.
The weather of the past 4 weeks have been absolutely nightmarish. Relentless rain, hailstorms, thunder. Not only in Belgium. But in France, the Netherlands and Germany too. And we've already seen the catastrophe that has hit Rock Am Ring. And the same weather is predicted for another week.
So here are a few expert tips to survive a big downpoor of rain.
1.The top priority: make sure your tent is water proof. This is an absolute must. It saved me a whole lot of trouble during last year's floods on Wacken Open Air. Just buy a big canister of water repellant and spray it empty on your tent. Especially focus on the seams and distribute it evenly across every angle of the tent. Let it dry for a day and your good to go.
2. Buy storm spikes. Don't rely on the silly pins included when you bought your tent. Go to a camping store and buy really big ones of 20cm+. This will help in anchoring your tent in the ground. It also prevents them from being stolen by idiots in the middle of the night. (pulling out a 30cm spike stamped in hard soil is a big task)
3. get a foldable waterproof jacket. Leave those cheap garbage bags that you can buy on site alone. Those are emergency measures. If you know its going to rain that day, take a good waterproof rain-jacket with you.
4. Boots! Waterproof walking shoes! Total must! Else your feet will be killing you walking all those collected km if you don't.
Aside from that, have a look at the festival layout beforehand. Know where everything is, ehbo, emergency exits etc. It might come in handy one day. Well i can hear you ask, how are we going to know when it rains? Well just check out this website of the national weather forecast. They have a handy summary for the next few days.
If you want the current weather, check buienradar.nl. A dedicated storm website would be noodweer.be. They are very accurate and display the current situation in France, Benelux and Germany.
There are other issues as well. Remember that article we wrote a few months ago? Back then it was still a developing issue in flux. Now we have more information about that. Yes you can take your bags onto the festival. The disruptions have been reduced. One of the major things will be the security checkpoints. They have increased in size and number. And most likely you will encounter some security and police forces on festival site as well. Maybe even some lone military patrolling around. Although the treat level has been reduced quite a bit, you still have to bear this in mind. Many measures have been taken by festivals nationwide aside of that.
So you would do well to check out the practical pages of the festival you will be attending.
Oh yea there is one more thing. We Belgians love to strike! This is a fun one, and challenging. There are many conflicts in Belgium, France and Germany between companies and the government vs employees. There have been many disruptions and strikes on the railways and buses in the past 2 months. And although there are currently no further disruptions scheduled. One or multiple can pop up at any moment. The situation is such that one day there might be nothing. And you wake up the next day having no transport for the festival that evening. If you can, check nmbs.be, delijn.be, mivb.be or Belgian newspapers if you suspect something is(or will be) up.
UPDATE: During writing, the railway unions reached an agreement. Yet the Port/social unions are now on strike.
Or if everything is flat on its ass, there is always social media you can rely on. Carpool for crazy concert people is a Belgian facebook group that explains itself. It can save your day! Otherwise, tweet a message for help.
So there are lots of ways to get yourself organised. The best way is to stay up to date with current news and think what is possible or not. Common sense is essential.
Stay safe and party hard!