How I learned to stop worrying and love the beat

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Europe has been known to suffer horribly depressing winters and it comes to no surprise that many inhabitants look forward to the glorious relief of summer. Why is summer so fantastic in Europe? What makes it so magical? After nearly completing my tour here I believe I have found the answer: summer festival season.

When the weather begins to wrap your face with a warming embrace and the sky adopts the color of a brilliant sapphire for more than 15 hours a day; the flowers begin to breakthrough their winter constraints and it becomes apparent why everyone tries to enjoy the fleeting comforts of summer.

What better way to celebrate the new weather than with 72,000 of your closest friends dancing till the sun sets and stopping only after the sunrises.

As a dorm resident it can be quite easy to settle into life on base. Everything I need is already at my convenience within these gates. Why do I have to, why should I try to leave the safety net already strongly in place here?

Then I recall the small sense of adventure I possess that brought me here in the first place.

Every year, festivals of various types and sizes stampede across the countryside and cityscapes, celebrating local curiosities, regional identities, national delicacies and my favorite, music festivals you can camp at.

With no short supply to pick from, finding the right music festival can seem daunting and planning even more terrifying. This does not need to be the case! After attending as many festivals as my Airman wallet can handle, I just wanted to pass on some words of advice to not only survive but conquer your festival escapades.

Know what you're walking into; chances are, you're about to enter in a multi-day party with anywhere from 1,000 to well over 100,000 people joining you. Read up on the rules. Can you park your car on your campsite? If not how far is the walk? Are there shower stations provided? Or at least it's next to a lake ...

When camping consider bringing the following:
· The most comfortable pair of shoes you have and don't become too attached to them, it's very likely they'll be caked in mud and dust by the end.
· A wingman. Depending on how much you like your feet this could be the number one thing to bring. Tackling a new adventure is also a bit more exciting with friends.
· A tent. Really a no brainer here. A good rule of thumb is that a tent will generally only sleep half the amount of people it says it's for comfortably.
· A canopy. Your tent is going to become an oven in direct sunlight and shade becomes a premium in the standard field set up for camping. Make sure you can create shade somehow.
· Sleeping pads. The ground is hard, these are soft, and sleeping is good. Thank yourself by brining one.
· Water. Just like in basic training, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate; it'll keep you going.
· Food. Festival food is expensive and generally average at best. Consider something that doesn't need to be cooked or grab a portable grill.
· Toilet paper. Chances are your sharing a large field with tens of thousands of others and only a few dozen toilets. Paper runs out.
· Chairs. Your feet will be tired after dancing for hours on end. Worst case scenario: you didn't listen to me before about the sleeping pads and now you also have somewhere to sleep.
· Positivity. Possibly the most important thing you can bring. Staying positive and open has saved me from many of crisis at various events. Those around you are likely to pick up on your vibes and be more open to support you in your time of need, from helping you set up camp, sharing food, and even aiding you in finding lost friends.

I've had the opportunity to attend festivals in four different countries and not once have I left with regret for doing so.

I've made friends at all of them; from a Dutch couple who offered to let me stay at their place whenever I'm in Amsterdam, to a German couple who've let me join their road trips to other festivals.

Stay adventurous, stay positive, stay smart, and stay safe, but make sure to have a little fun while you stay in Europe.