How has tech changed your festival experience?

The top 10 ways technology has transformed the festival adventure

Every year approximately 14 million of us venture to a festival in the UK, and with the average ticket price now at £200, it’s an increasingly fruitful and dynamic market. However, over the years, the introduction and evolution of new technology has changed the festival experience for the crowds that flock to watch their favourite music acts. Smartphones, wearable tech and innovative apps are just a few of the gadgets that have transformed everything from line-up announcements to how you share your pictures once you’re home.

Here we will explore how technology has changed the lead up to and duration of the modern festival.

1. Who is headlining?

As festivals have become more popular and more common, the size of the line-ups has grown. Now, rather than one big announcement in NME Magazine or on the radio, we are instantaneously and continuously updated through social media and designated festival apps. With websites such as Clashfinder, you can see which acts are playing at the same time and organise your time accordingly – no need to rush around on the night in a panic!

2. Can you get a ticket?

This year Glastonbury sold 135,000 tickets in just 30 minutes! With the sheer number of people wanting tickets, competition is certainly high. Those eager to attend no longer have to hit speed-dial on a landline to try and get through to an operator, or sit at a desk worrying if their connection will drop out when someone phones; scaling capacity now allows for huge peaks in traffic to hit a festival’s website without risk of it crashing. The elasticity of websites such as Glastonbury’s has made the demand for festival tickets all the more extreme as there is simply no issue in thousands of people landing on the website at any one second.

If you are lucky enough to get a ticket, an immediate confirmation of purchase is sent to you, with no worry about your ticket being lost in the post or not getting delivered. Ticket holders get the QR code on their phones and can update their Apple Wallet – it’s as easy as that!

3. What do you take?

As anyone who has been to a festival knows, the best packing advice is to only take what you can carry. Having to drag a heavy bag in the pouring rain is simply no fun. However, when packing, there is one festival essential that we daren’t leave the house without; a smartphone. Smartphones are so much more than just a phone; they are your map, torch, ticket, camera and wallet. That A-Z you used to use can stay in the back of the car!

4. How do you get there?

Technology is also changing the way ticket-holders get to the festivals. Apps designed specifically for festival car sharing have soared in popularity. GoCarShare and FestivalBudi allow users to log on, pin their location and desired destination, and wait for someone in their area heading that way to offer a lift. For those of us who wouldn’t hop in a car with a stranger, pre-booked trains and coaches are easy to organise and quick collection tickets mean there’s no waiting around.

5. How much money do you take?

With the introduction of contactless payments and Apple Pay, there is simply no need to worry about carrying around cash; nowadays all you need is your bank card, your smartphone or Apple watch. Some festivals have even introduced wearable wristbands, which are linked to your bank account, allowing you to pay for food, drinks and merchandise without ever having to put your hand in your pocket.

6. How do you find your friends?

Planning to meet a friend at a festival used to be near impossible – the only option was to choose a time and a place and stick to it. Although some people still opt to go phone-less, for those that brave it with their smartphones; there are countless ways to keep in touch, such as the Find My Friends app, “pin drop” and WhatsApp.

7. How do you stay in touch?

Ten years ago, if your phone ran out of battery when you were out in festival field, then there was simply no way of getting it back up and running. The appearance of phone charging stalls were thought to be the answer to our prayers, although these have recently been outdone by the advancement in portable phone chargers. Some festivals have opted for green energy-style charging stations with rows of exercise bikes dotted around the festival camp, and some individuals even charge their phone while sipping rum and toasting marshmallows with BioLite’s super smart multi-purpose camp stoves!

If you can’t afford to risk taking your phone to a festival there is a growing trend of purchasing a ‘festival phone’. Many people opt to purchase a cheaper mobile which is overall more resilient (and has a better battery life) than a smartphone, so if it gets lost, stolen or damaged it’s not such a big deal.

8. Who knows you’re there?

Developing your festival film and finding you’ve covered your thumb over the lens just doesn’t happen anymore. Smartphones allow your pictures to be instantly uploaded to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram thanks to better access and faster 4G and Wifi at festivals. This has allowed for hashtags such as #Glasto to be trending for days, enabling festival-goers to keep up to date on other stages, while the rest of us sit at home jealously scrolling through photos on our tablets.

9. Remembering the experience?

Now, with cloud technology, there is no fear that you will lose your treasured festival photos – they are safely stored as soon as you take them. With websites such as Dropbox and WeTransfer, you can share huge numbers of photos with your family and friends free of charge.

10. The Future?

So what’s next for the festival experience?

With the advancement in technology, in a few years’ time, we could be enjoying our favourite bands the
rough immersive virtual reality. Coachella in California is in its 17th year and it will be the first festival to offer a VR experience to users who didn’t make it via a dedicated app. With the headsets costing just as much as a ticket this is yet to take off but with the advancement in tech, it may not be long until we are all enjoying the experience from our own home.

In 1997 Metallica headlined Reading Festival and last year, nearly 20 years later, they headlined again; so although the music may not have changed, what you take with you and how you experience festivals certainly has!


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