Although it seems far away, what with the largest snowfall in 18 years followed by torrential downpours but summer will soon be here with us in England and that can mean only one thing. Festivals are a great British institution. As well as being something that thousands of people look forward to every year. I have been thinking about what makes the perfect festival, as well as asking the writers of The 405 to tell me their thoughts and ideas on what makes a festival great. 1. Music Of course you can’t have a music festival without any music but what sort. Personally I like a finally tuned mixture of bands that I love, bands that I’ve not yet had the chance to see before and bands who I’ve never heard of who I stumble across and instantly want to hear everything they’ve ever recorded. Chris Franklin has a slightly different idea “I could never go to a festival where I had never heard of 90% of the bands, mostly because my gig experiences are made 100 times better when I can yell all the lyrics out at the top of my lungs! Although saying that, I'd rather see bands I don't know than bands I don’t like.” 2. Atmosphere A very important factor in any large event, whether its music, sport or even in a pub is atmosphere. Can you feel the excitement of every person who’s around you or are you desperately trying to avoid looking at anyone in case they either try and sell you drugs or smash your head in. Getting the right atmosphere for a festival can be difficult, when you get a large group of people together there’s always the chance something might go wrong but if you get it right then you’ve won half the battle. As Tim Boddy says “I love being able to approach absolutely anyone and striking up a ridiculous conversation.” Something which would be next to impossible if everyone isn’t in the right frame of mind. As Melanie Caitlin says “The feeling of everyone belonging to the same group: the crowd.You're all there for the same thing: music and happiness. It's just awesome to see how everyone suddenly gets along and how no matter the circumstances (bad weather etc.) everyone's just happy to be there.” This leads me on to my next point. 3. Alcohol Now of course we all know that drinking isn’t cool and certainly shouldn’t be necessary for one to enjoy them self but it’s certainly fun, and as long as people aren’t stupid with it, it can loosen tongues which lead to all manner of interesting conversations and can lead to long lasting friendships. I have several close friends who I would never have met had I never been to ATP. However when you’re at a festival you’re more than likely going to be cut off from the rest of society with limited funds which means you don’t want to be paying through the nose for some watered down overpriced fizzy water which can be a problem at some of the larger festivals which are sponsored by large drinks companies. 4. Accommodation I have been spoiled the last few years of my festival experience as I have either been staying in an apartment or a chalet. I can confirm that this is exactly as good as it sounds. Staying in a tent, while it does give you a sense of adventure can lead to all manner of disasters. Firstly you have to find the thing at the end of the night when you will probably be intoxicated. Then you have to open it. This being England the nights are usually close to arctic so you have to scramble inside your sleeping bag wearing almost every item of clothing you own. However when the sun comes up you will feel like you are inside an oven, never a good feeling when you have a hangover and an overwhelming urge to urinate. It’s also quite sad to see the destruction left behind by a huge group of people at the end of a weekend spent camping in a field with no adult supervision. 5. Extras Yes, you’ve come to see bands, drink booze and hopefully make some other friends but that doesn’t have to be all there is to do. Any good festival will give you plenty of choices of things to do if there isn’t a band you want to watch playing or if you just fancy doing something different. Tim says of Latitude “Poetry, comedy, pink sheep, and theatre, something for everyone”. I know that this year I am looking forward to checking out a festival or two that I’ve never been to but have been assured tick all of the boxes that I’ve set out. Latitude, which I’ve already mentioned and which may see an invasion from The 405 writing staff and Secret Garden Party which sounds like a little bit of paradise. How about you, what do you think are things that make a festival great? What festivals are you going to this year? Have you had a bad festival experience, if so what happened? MP3: Sigur Ros - Festival