As an American living in London, I have heard countless festival stories from my British friends.
Camping? For five days?!?!
I wouldn’t be able to survive that whether it was a festival or not…
What they told me was so beyond what I had ever experienced at an American festival. So here’s a list I’ve compiled after a few chats with my friends about some of the key differences between UK and US festivals.
Camping At UK Festivals Is WAYY Different…
Many festivals in the UK run far longer than a weekend.
That is why it is extremely likely most people will be camping for up to five days outside in a tent with their friends. Casually camping in the US during a festival is something I’ve never heard of.
At least at the level the UK does it…
Currently, as I write this, my friend has been at a festival for four days and I have no idea when she’s coming back. For me, it’s usually getting home around 2am and doing it all again tomorrow. Festivals are never longer than a weekend and if you do go “camping” it’s in the most boujee “tent” you’d ever see in your life.
But of course, it depends on where you’re going.
The Weather Is Better In The States
Most US festivals take place during the sunny summertime without a cloud in sight. The UK has far more unpredictable weather. Many festivals experience heavy rainfall making them be total opposites of US ones.
The heavy rainfall leads to flooding of the festival site but a little mud and water would never dampen the attitudes of Brits looking to have a good time.
It’s How You Look Vs. How You Feel
That brings us to the next topic, fashion.
Since the weather is such a heavy factor in UK festivals you have to dress more practically. US styles tend to lean more toward Instagram-worthy content while in the UK you have to be ready on the off chance the festival grounds flood.
Not only that but the weather in the United Kingdom can be a lot more sporadic than in the States. Normally if there’s any other type of weather other than sunny during a US festival there’s a high likelihood it’ll be cancelled.
Drinking With The Brits Is Easier By Far
Sneaking drinks into the festival and drinking by your campsite before the shows is an integral part of the socialization that goes on during UK festivals!
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In the US you can enjoy a nice little gin and tonic in a specific drinking area but you might just get a firm slap on the wrist if you’re caught wandering around with a bev-in-hand. But don’t get it wrong… I know exactly how people sneak drinks into US festivals too.
There is also the added benefit of a younger drinking age in the United Kingdom!
Brits Have Notoriously Dirty Johns
UK festival toilets are notoriously known for being gross, especially towards the end of the festival.
No matter how disgusting you think American porta-potties are, rest assured that UK ones are five times more gnarly. Personally, I hate porta-potties no matter where they are so I would argue they’re dirty everywhere.
But by and large, it’s clearer to do your business at an American Festival.
The UK Welcomes All Ages
Given the size of most festivals in the United Kingdom, there generally are a lot more different types of music performances and activities that attract a wider age range. While this may seem off putting to many State-side festival goers, it actually fosters a much more diverse and inclusive community while on the festival grounds.
Over in the States, there are specific festivals geared toward certain people and groups. The helps create homogeneous festival experiences that bring like-minded attendees together but lack the breadth of personalities than can be found at UK gatherings.
UK Lineups Beat American Ones Everytime
While Coachella has seven major stages, popular festivals like Glastonbury Festival can have up to ten!
Therefore, it allows for more diverse music and more different types of people (which I would argue further helps create a diverse and inclusive experience that I mentioned above).
Not only that, Coachella generally has the same lineup for both weekends. Glastonbury has 5 days of tons of different artists. That is a TON of different music that you can catch and discover compared to many of even the larger United States festivals.
American Festivals Are Tamer
UK festivals are known for being incredibly wild. With camping grounds, music stages and so many other types of performances there’s a crazy amount of activities that you can do during your 5-day festival.
Activities can range from comedy shows, theatre performances and even cabaret. And that’s just the talent that is booked to perform at the festival.
Because we all know that the crowds and attendees themselves are often the craziest and most unique contribution to any festival experience and UK Festivals and the United Kingdom has these in spade.
Whose Vibe Is Better Though?
Overall, UK festival-goers may say that US festivals are a bit superficial with festivals like Coachella becoming one big Instagram post.
Most think that UK festivals are more about enjoying the music and having a nice time with your phone down. From what I’ve gathered it seems like huge UK festivals like Glastonbury offer a completely different vibe than American festivals, here the focus is on the music and the people around you instead of posting for anonymous fans and followers.
Overall, as a girl who has been to festivals on both sides of the world, I can safely say that I would take a UK one any day (…but that’s just me).