Whether it’s the Camden Crawl (aka CC14), Brighton’s Great Escape, Cardiff’s Swn or one of the Dot to Dots, we’re willing to bet you’re considering a city centre festival this year. A great way to catch up with new music and see a city from a different perspective, these events are increasing in popularity.
Yet, unlike chilling outside your tent watching the main stage, getting the most out of a ‘crawl’ can be akin to a pentathlon, with challenges in speed walking, endurance queueing, holding your drink (in both senses), creative dancing and looking cool through it all. Each event has its own quirks, but we’ve compiled a few tips that could apply to most.
Grab your wristband
Obvious, perhaps, but it’s important to make this your first priority. Find out where the wristband exchange is, go straight there and be prepared to queue, especially if you’ve arrived at a peak time. At the very least, don’t think about heading to a gig until you have it.
Take a phone charger, top up at every opportunity, sign up for any apps or text alerts on offer and monitor twitter. The best part of these festivals is often last minute surprise gigs, so make sure you don’t miss out. You’ll need a working phone anyway for when you lose your mates. (And for The Great Escape, check out our contributor Hope Wisechild’s Google Map of venues).
Don’t forget to plan for walking between sites and queuing for popular gigs. Some far flung gigs may be impossible to fit into a brief hiatus, so think about combining gigs that are close together geographically to get the most of what’s on offer. If one venue will see you through an evening, that can be ideal.
There’s almost certainly one act you simply have to see. Many will play a number of gigs across a weekend, so think about bills that may be easier to get into. You’ve more chance of catching them in a little bar than supporting someone huge. Think of back-up choices in case it proves impossible.
Open your mind
On the other hand, don’t get too hung up on seeing all your favourites. With so many gigs happening simultaneously, it’s unlikely you’ll catch all the big names. Research some acts you’ve never heard of, visit some interesting venues for the sake of it, and be ready to stumble on the next big thing.
Enjoy the city
Don’t forget to stay safe and look out for each other – it’s not like a greenfield event where everyone’s on your wavelength. But make sure also to make the most of venues with an established reputation for presenting exciting new music, and try some festival pop-up venues like a church, a boat or a launderette.
Choose comfortable shoes you can walk, stand and dance in. Layer clothes to take you through switches between sunshine, rain, nightfall and hot sweaty venues. Make the outer a light, hooded waterproof and with luck it will stay in your bag. Choose a simple hairdo and waterproof makeup, and don’t forget your sunglasses.