So unfortunately we music lovers have been targets of late. Cowards who target children and families… I could rant on for some time but that’s for another day and another blog. As such, security at gigs and festivals has become a concern for festival goers and their families alike. I have to say Rock Werchter had this down. It was easier crossing from Germany to Belgium than it was getting in to the festival site. And do you know what? I didn’t hear a single complaint. You were searched on arrival to the campsite. Every time you entered the arena you passed through a metal detector, if you had a large bag you were further searched. A walk way above allowed security and armed police to monitor the crowd as they entered. I couldn’t quite bring myself to ask for a selfie with them, or even to simply photograph them in case they thought I was scoping the place out!
They were certainly intimidating. It was very much like passing through airport security. As unfortunate as it is that such methods are necessary, I think I can speak for every person there when I say I felt reassured, I felt our safety was being taken seriously and yes, I did feel safe. Once I was inside the arena I could relax, let loose and not worry. I could enjoy the festival without fear, which is how it should be!
I don’t know about you but one of my least favourite parts of a festival is the travel. Stuck in a car for 5 or so hours there and back, taking 3 hours just to get out of the car park on your way home. Public transport is just not an option, the cost is astronomical and trying to cart all your camping gear and beer is just not worth the stress. So a festival abroad?! Was actually very easy. Bearing in mind we didn’t take our own tent, I would highly recommend choosing one of the Hive camping options if you ever decide to go to Rock Werchter, it will save you a lot of heavy lifting!
A quick run down of your camping options.. Normal camping – take all your own stuff. That’s the basic and cheapest option. The Hive camping option is all your own gear but you can camp from Wednesday and you can get into the entertainment zone on the time. This runs until 4am each night. Then you have the Hive resort. This is where I think British festivals could learn a thing or two. From what I understand in the UK you either camp or glamp, there is no in between. The Hive resort has 2 and 4 man tents, teepees for 5 or 7 people or army tents set up for up to 8 people. These all include ground sheet/ roll mats and air beds or cots so all you need is your sleeping bag.
The glamping options are a lodge or kayuto. These are for two people only. Kayuto being the most expensive option at almost €1200, these include a locked cabin, wooden floors, box beds and linen, luggage rack, mirror and electric points. By far the closest you can get to a home from home for two people. The Hive also has its own bar and food court, token booth, showers, cocktail bar and even has morning yoga. It was almost like checking in to a hotel. I know I said a quick run down but there are so many options! Whilst there was still a lot of tents left behind at the end of the weekend (we’ve all seen the carnage that can be left behind) anything that can be done to reduce this waste has to be a good thing.
So to the travel. I was always told public transport in Europe is much better then here in the UK but had little experience of it myself. I have to say it could not have gone smoother. With your festival ticket you could download a free train ticket to Leuven station.. Yes you read that correctly, a FREE train ticket. The trains were on time and ran regularly. From Leuven there was free shuttle buses to take you to the festival site. So many big bendy buses that the queue to get on them didn’t stop moving. Despite hundreds of people being in front of us only took 10-15 minutes to get on and get under way. As an added bonus they didn’t cram us into the buses like sardines either. The same went in reverse when we left the festival. Had it not been for bus strikes in Belgium on the Monday we would have made it back to our hotel near the airport in about 2 and a half hours. It’s taken me longer than that to get out of some festival car parks!
So your turn… What are your best and worst travel stories? Have you ever glamped? Was it worth the extra money?
Next time food, drink and tokens.