Is your teen heading off to a festival with friends? Check out our top tips and hints to make sure they stay safe while having fun…
It’s normal to feel apprehensive about your child’s first independent trip to a music festival. Concerns about sex, drugs, alcohol and all sorts of scary scenarios play out in your mind and while you want your teen to have fun, you can’t help but worry about some kind of harm befalling them. This festival guide is designed to help put your mind at ease and includes lots of helpful tips to keep your teen safe and sound.
Choosing A Festival
For a first festival outing, it’s a good idea to start small. Large-scale festivals such as Glastonbury can be an overwhelming environment for a newly independent teenager. Have a look at local or smaller festivals and find something that appeals to your teen’s musical tastes.
Help your teen purchase their ticket to ensure they don’t get scammed or end up paying over the odds to a ticket tout. Only use reputable websites such as Ticketmaster to purchase your tickets and be sure to keep all confirmation emails. When your teen receives their ticket, be sure to read over any event rules to make sure they’re aware of the regulations.
Always double-check the age limit for the festival your teen wants to attend. Most festivals have a strict over-16s policy and those who are under 16 may be required to be accompanied by an over-18.
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
A big concern for parents is alcohol, sex and drugs. Have an honest chat with your teen about the dangers of excessive drinking, drug-taking and unprotected sex. They might cringe and insist that they already know the risks, but it can’t hurt to talk things over. Explain to your teen that as their parent, you only want what’s best for them and so you have to talk about these things because you’d never forgive yourself if something bad happened to them.
If they are planning to drink alcohol, talk to them about the importance of limiting their intake and staying hydrated with water. It’s good to talk about peer pressure, too, and the importance of knowing your own limits, as well as looking out for friends who might over-indulge and need help. You can read more about alcohol and peer pressure here.
Have a look at the festival site plan if one is available and point out help stations to your teen – you hope, of course, that they won’t need to use these, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Some teenagers might feel embarrassed or worried that they might get into trouble by seeking assistance from festival staff so it’s important to let your teen know that there will be no judgement and that these people are there to help them, no matter what happens or if anything illegal has occurred. Knowing about these emergency stations in advance is particularly important if your child has a medical condition.
Talk to your teen about the dangers of drugs. Drugs are often readily available at music festivals and in the heat of the moment, your teen may be tempted. Have an honest chat about how dangerous this can be, and the potentially lethal effect drugs can have. FRANK has a ton of honest information and resources about drugs: https://www.talktofrank.com/
Now, let’s talk about sex. It’s a good idea to have a little refresher conversation about safe sex, consent and contraception with your child, no matter how much they may squirm. We’ve got a handy guide to help you talk to your teen about sex here.
Depending on your child’s age and your parenting style, it might help put your mind at ease if you purchase contraceptives for them or point them in the direction of free contraceptives. This is entirely up to you – do what makes you feel more comfortable.
Staying In Touch
Ask your teen to stay in regular touch with you throughout the festival. Explain that regular contact isn’t you ‘checking up’ on them, it’s so you can ‘check-in’, just to make sure they’re having fun and staying safe. Make sure they have contact numbers in their phone to dial for help if they need it and give them a power bank to make sure they have backup in case their phone battery dwindles.
- Have your teen take a reusable water bottle – most festivals have water stations to allow festival goers to top up.
- If your teen is camping, it’s a good idea to have them practise putting up their tent in the garden before they head off.
- Make sure your teen packs wet wipes, deodorant and toilet roll – music festivals are infamous for their less than hygienic toilets!
- Get your teen to pack some snacks. Festival fare can be expensive.
- Make sure your teen takes the right clothes and dresses for the weather. Ask them to pack something warm (even at the height of summer it can get cold at night) and a rain jacket, just in case. There’s nothing more miserable than being soaked through at a festival.
- Create a mini first aid pack for your teen to take with them – paracetamol, plasters, anti-bac wipes etc.
- Pop a few bin bags in your teen’s bag – they’re handy for cleaning up at the end of the festival or for keeping belongings dry if it rains.
- Don’t forget to pack a torch to help your teen navigate a busy campsite at night!
- Give your teen a colourful scarf to tie to their tent – this will make it easier to find in a sea of tents.
- Lastly, encourage your teen and their friends to plan out their trip to make sure they won’t miss out on the acts they want to see most. It can take a long time to walk from one stage to another and it’s easy to get lost or detached from their friends. Have them set a meeting point where they can regroup if they get separated.