For some it’s all about the music, for others its about living on the land with a like-minded crowd, but for an increasing number of inveterate festivalgoers it’s the excuse to dress up like a complete idiot that keeps them going back year after year.
While fancy dress at festivals is now so popular that an event or Saturday-night theme has become almost obligatory, we take a look at a few that have made names for themselves among fancy-dress aficionados, free spirits and party nutters as havens of unrestrained self-expression, and consider some of their themes for this year.
Snowbombing, Mayrhofen, Austria, 7-12 April 2014
Notorious for turning an alpine village into 24-hour mayhem, Snowbombing will be hosting parties for Superheroes, Space explorers, and Back Country characters as well as the main Lederhosen Street Party. They’ve even teamed up with fancy dress suppliers PartyNutters, so there’s no excuse for not joining in.Pic: Cobaltfish
If you’re a committed dresser-upper you may own a Superman or catwoman costume, but if not, think brightly coloured leotards, swimwear, conspicuous underpants, big boots, breastplates and helmets and/or masks. If you have an idea for a new superhero, why not design your own cardboard mask and insignia?
In case you don’t still have the uniform from that bierkeller job, Snowbombing will let you add lederhosen hire to your online booking, but it can be simple to assemble the look with a shorts, hiking boots, knee-socks and a few artfully arranged straps. A suitable hat and waistcoat also help. Remember to pack your flugelhorn.
Kendal Calling, Lowther Deer Park, Lake District, 1-3 August 2014
Rising star in the fancy-dress firmament, Kendal Calling takes its themes beyond the ongoing dressing up. This year’s theme is outer space, with late night space movies to chill-out to and an attempt on the world record for mass moonwalking. The Kedall Calling crowd tends to be young and up-for-it, so make an effort.
The astronaut will need jumpsuit or leotard, boots and helmet, sprayed silver or trimmed with aluminium foil. An alien can take any form, from the classic long grey face to a multi-limbed, multi-headed, tentacled monster. A single, disconcerting alien feature can be as effective as full-on body transformation.
Shambhala, 21-24 August 2014, Secret Country Estate, Northamptonshire
A joyous gathering of fanciful souls, Shambala is an annual explosion of glitter-strewn self-expression, and its Carnival has become legendary. Overwhelmed by the responsibility, organisers have turned this year’s decision over to a vote. Themes in the running are Myths & Legends, Cosmic Chaos and The Seas of Shambala. Carnival workshops will provide opportunities to share ideas and create your own costume. For now, get voting!
Myths and legends
Greek, Roman and Norse mythology offer huge potential. Use a bedsheet toga and a laurel wreath or wear that horned helmet to assert your status as a god, or use animal costumes in combination to create a mythical creature. Fancy dress classics like fairies, elves and mermaids would also fit in well.
A nautical theme gives you scope to explore the worlds above and below the waves. A costume built around an authentic sailor or pirate hat could establish you as a seafarer with a few further touches, or you can more easily create a pirate look with a headscarf, eye patch and facial hair. Or transform yourself into an undersea creature, from fish to octopus to shark.