Category Archives: Festivals/Gigs

Previews and reviews of festivals I’ve been to, festival preparation, best festival experiences, why I love festivals.

Melbourne | The magic of Rainbow Serpent Festival

IMG_1219I waited a whole year to experience the magic of Rainbow Serpent Festival. I arrived in Melbourne this time last year, just three days after this incredible festival took place, I was devastated to have missed it but having been deep in the outback completing my farm work there was simply no way I could make it in time. It was a worthy sacrifice – those last three days of farm work meant I got the opportunity to stay in Australia for another year. Those last three days meant not only could I come back to Melbourne, one of my favourite cities in the world, but that I could get a second chance to experience life over the rainbow.IMG_2566IMG_2547For those who don’t know about Rainbow Serpent, it’s the ultimate in hippy trippy dreamland fun. Deep in the Victorian countryside that can only be described as desert in the 35 degree heat, a few small fields are filled with around 10,000 colourful, bright, passionate and excited souls for just a few days. Reminiscent of festivals like Secret Garden Party and Boomtown Fair in the UK, the festival is the kind of celebration that brings together a huge range of people, some pretty interesting characters and some seriously beautiful souls for a few days of creativity and magic.IMG_2564IMG_2551This year celebrating it’s 20th anniversary, the festival is a veteran amongst others and you can tell on arrival, many of those pulling up in camper vans to the most incredible campsites filled with marquees, sofas, outlandish decorations and the rest, are people who have been going for years. The kind who exclaim with sheer happiness when you disclose that this is your first Rainbow Serpent, their faces light up at getting to witness you experiencing the magic for the very first time. It’s easy before you go to feel like everyone just gets caught up in the hype or that it couldn’t possibly be as good as they say. IMG_2548IMG_2562Well, as a well seasoned festival veteran, I can safely say that the hype doesn’t even do the festival justice. Rainbow Serpent blew my mind – not just the music and the stages, the theatre and the arts, the yoga and the creativity. It was the people, the incredible collection of people passionate about one cause – making it the best celebration of Rainbow Serpent yet. Time and time again we were blown away by the amazing characters we met, experienced and then parted ways never to see each other again – but the most important thing was that we shared that one moment together.IMG_2565IMG_2550I was an incredibly lucky girl during this festival – the kindness of strangers has never been more apparent. Two of my friends were determined for me to attend the festival despite my already having given up on finding a ticket. They pushed one friend into tracking me down a ticket and when that one fell through he went to the ends of the earth to find me a replacement – whats the big deal you ask? This guy had never even met me but went to an incredible level of effort to not only ensure I experienced Rainbow Serpent but that I had the most amazing time possible. I travelled up with a friend from work and we spent the next few days camping with an amazing group of people – I couldn’t have put together a better bush doof crew if I tried.IMG_2567IMG_2560The bare basics – we hired a car from Hertz who I would never hire from again, overly expensive and extremely rude staff who constantly tried to overcharge us for things they hadn’t pre-disclosed. We borrowed a tent from a friend, filled up eskis with ice, beers and boxes of pasta – going prepared saved us a lot of money on food. The festival was totally BYO so we went prepared with bottles of vodka and rum decanted into plastic bottles (no glass at the festival) and lots of ciders and beers. Costumes and a hell of a lot of glitter filled ur bags, but everything else we needed was already at the festival or in our amazing campsite. We were in North camping, just a short walk from the Market Stage which was filled with the most amazing music almost 24/7, the food stalls which had a great selection, and the chill-out areas.IMG_2563IMG_2561Although the music is the main event and I had an fantastic time watching the acts, there was a lot more to the festival with plenty of amazing fun for kids, healing and massage areas, talks on everything from depression to psychedelics and society, creative workshops on survival skills, yoga and meditation, and art. There was so much going on and so much to do, you didn’t want to sleep or waste a single second. It was an absolutely amazing event and I well and truly give it the Absolutely Lucy stamp of approval – if you’re backpacking Australia and happen to be in Melbourne around January next year, I really recommend picking up a ticket. Trust me this festival is a life-changing experience and you won’t regret splashing the money. IMG_1218

Photos provided by myself and Hannah Gunstone, even they don’t do the festival justice but they certainly give you a taste of the fun!

Have you been to Rainbow Serpent – tell me about your festival highlights? What other festivals have you been to while travelling?

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Travel | Top tips for being a happy camper

img_2335I’ve always very firmly believed that fresh air, a good dose of nature and time spent by the ocean can cure just about anything. It doesn’t matter how stressed I’ve been over the years, or how frustrated, I’ve always found solace in spending a few days away from everything, getting back to basics and enjoying life in it’s purest form. Over the years I’ve spent weekends camping in the Lake District, Peak District, in the shadow of Mount Snowdon in Wales, and around my home in Norfolk. I’ve stayed in campsites ranging from a full-on Glamping experience complete with champagne and pink wellies, to the most basic, wild campsites you can find, and I’ve done it in all weathers. Later on, as I discovered my love of festivals, I quickly realised that I was a much bigger fan of the four-day weekend camping events that allowed you to truly lose yourself in the music. I teamed up with Yelloh! Village, who offer the world’s finest open-air hotels and camping rentals, to write about what makes the perfect camping experience.imageThere’s something about getting back to basics with a group of your closest friends that just spells out a lot of fun. Whether you’re heading off to explore an untouched wilderness and can’t wait to get away, or you simply fancy going a bit wild in the woods, it’s a perfect way to actually spend time together with no distractions. It’s easy to forget that every second we spend with friends these days is dictated by the myriad of text messages, Snapchats, Facebook updates and Tweets that dominate our existence these days. Once all of those are done, often your time together is up and all you have to remember it is what is documented online. I was out with friends the other night and even dancing in a bar, every second of our moves was being photographed and snap-chatted by the pair for social media. It’s funny and it’s become an inherent part of our lives now but sometimes it is nice to just switch everything off and talk surrounded by nothing but nature. I guess I’m a country girl at heart, but I just find it so soothing to be away from the stresses of everyday life and there’s something about open space that just heals me.img_2333Some of my best camping memories are of the Glamping weekend I spent with my two best friends, the time spent camping in national parks in the Tasmanian wilderness as part of an epic 10-day roadtrip, and the hilarious times we’ve had setting up our tents and lounging round the campsite at festivals. Everyone was just present, laughing at each others’ jokes and experiencing every second together rather than thinking about how they would record it for social media. Every camping experience I’ve had boils down to the same factors whether we’re raving at a festival, getting lost in the woods or out on the moors – it’s the same few things that really make a camping trip a success, and a hell of a lot of fun. If you’re sat reading this thinking camping is so not for you, then think again – I never used to think I would enjoy it but it’s now become one of my favourite travel experiences. Plus it’s a great way to explore the world around you when you’re travelling on a budget, whether locally or on the other side of the world, the basic components of camping remain the same, it’s just the weather that gets better!image

What makes the perfect camping experience?

Tent

This is definitely something you want to invest in – buying a £5 tent from the supermarket and expecting it to withstand all weathers is just stupid. Even if you’re going to a festival – if it rains and becomes windy, your tent is going to flood and collapse and you won’t be able to get dry and warm. A camping trip can quickly become miserable if you have no way of getting dry. Look for great deals in the sales – I picked up my beauty of a tent in the Halfords sale a few years ago and it has seen me through countless amazing festivals and trips – it’s huge and easy to put up, and it  was reduced to less than half price when I got it.

Camping spot

Choose your pitch wisely – there’s nothing worse than putting your tent up in a rush and finding out later when you’re trying to sleep that you’ve camped on a 45 degree slope or there’s a massive rock right where you’re laying. Trust me, as someone who did a four day camping festival sleeping at a 45 degree angle because we arrived too late and couldn’t find a better spot – it’s absolutely bloody awful. Don’t do it. Always feel for rocks and lay down inside before you peg it to the ground.

Food

Plan the food you take well and it can change your whole experience, forget instant noodles and soup, its easy to cook up a good and healthy meal on a little gas stove. On my 10-day road trip around Tasmania we planned heavy meals of chilli and rice, and pasta to refuel after days of climbing mountains. It was quick and easy to prepare for four people so don’t be put off by the thought of it. There’s nothing better than a good, filling, hot meal at the end of a day camping.image

Location

There are some incredible places to camp in the world – under the stars in central Australia, on the beaches in Tasmania, and in the shadow of mountains all over the world are just some of my favourites. Choosing your location well can take a regular camping trip to the next level. Yelloh! Village has some amazing locations scattered across France which give you the opportunity to explore the landscape, towns and villages. Choosing a campsite where you can have a campfire also makes all the difference.

Price

Camping is a great way to travel if you’re on a budget. Especially for groups or families where accommodation could be expensive – there are so many free and cheap options available for campsites, and if you’re planning on repeating the experience your camping equipment is an investment rather than an expense.

Timing

Always look out for the skies above you – I’ve been lucky enough to camp in some amazing places with incredible views of the super moons, specific constellations, shooting stars. Sometimes the most beautiful sights are the ones that are totally free. There’s nothing better than a spectacular sunset, or making it up for sunrise.image

Company

The one thing that really makes the experience complete has to be the people you share it with. I say it all the time but it never becomes any less true, even in the most dire situations and the worst accommodations, the people are what shine through your memories long after the trip has finished. Taking your best friends who will make you laugh until you cry is the best way to approach a trip – no matter what goes wrong you’ll still make it an experience to remember.

Happy camping!

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Wireless Festival, BBQs and summer reunions

13590372_10154252356975320_729683975418578408_nThis one is a little later than the usual Monday morning post, but I make no apologies – I was off having far too much fun at the weekend and that’s what this blog is all about! My weekend was filled with festival fun, barbecues and sunshine – the perfect English summer weekend and a great excuse to be reunited with a lot of old friends I’ve missed so much since I disappeared off to the other side of the world. After a ridiculously long two-and-a-half years since we last saw each other, I was finally reunited with five of the six girls who made my university experience incredible. Each one of these special humans, and one more who sadly couldn’t make it along, were with me through every high and low, through every horrible exam and every drunken night – we started together and we finished it together. This might not sound that incredible to you – I know what you’re thinking, everyone makes friends at university and goes through the same things – but the difference is we graduated five years ago. We’re scattered all over now working different jobs, living different lives and following different dreams, and with me travelling the world, it’s not easy to keep this friendship going. We work hard at making sure we stay in contact, at being there for each other when times are tough and at organising reunions when we can, but it’s not easy to see each other as often as we would like.13592821_10157086175820655_1765592331929799551_n So when we finally do get to meet up, it’s a whirlwind of a weekend filled with catching up, dancing the night away, making beautiful memories to carry us through to the next reunion and maintaining the connections that make this group special. Why am I writing about this? Because I used to know so many groups of friends at university who I know no longer keep in contact, I too have friends from school who have fallen by the wayside as our lives grew in opposite directions. It’s hard to keep friendships alive when you’re on the opposite side of the world, heck it’s hard enough to keep them going when you live two hours down the road from each other let alone in a different time zone. We all grow up and we all create this amazing life for ourselves but it’s often difficult to make space for everyone, so it’s important put in the extra work to keep it going with those special individuals. It is actually possible to still keep those university and school friendships going five, ten, twenty years down the line and to preserve what was special about them from the start – it just takes time, patience and a lot of love.13615069_10157089350700655_3137137395394220610_nThis weekend’s reunion was at Wireless Festival – we went along for the Saturday when Chase and Status were set to headline, with the likes of J Cole, Wilkinson, Krept and Konan, Craig David and many more performing. With a few of the girls living in London, it was a perfect opportunity for a girly sleepover and to bring along some other old friends we hadn’t seen for a while. It was also a good excuse to relive some of the fun we had when we organised a huge weekend trip to Parklife Festival in Manchester a few years ago – any excuse for good music, ciders in the sun and a lot of fun. I was really excited because I hadn’t actually been to Wireless Festival before and you all know how much I love my festivals – this would be my first one in almost two years as I didn’t manage to squeeze in any during my travels! Our hostess lived not far from Finsbury Park so we stopped off there to glitter up and get ready – there’s nothing more fun than getting ready with your girls – then headed to the festival grounds. Despite the masses of people attending the festival we easily found our friends and made our way into the park without having to wait more than a few minutes. A well established festival, I was impressed at the speed of service on the gates and at the bars later on, it was clear the organisers knew what they were doing and had made every effort to ensure everyone had a great day and didn’t waste time in queues.13619822_10157089349005655_2306554507262899929_nWe were excited to see Chase and Status, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen them live now but they never disappoint, and I couldn’t wait to see Wilkinson again. After spending the last two years travelling Asia and Australia, one thing I had really missed was good drum and bass and the fantastic UK electronic acts, they just have a much grittier sound than the house I hear everywhere over there. I more than got my fill after about ten minutes of standing near the Smirnoff stage which had some incredible music coming from it from the very beginning of the day. I meant to head back there later on but completely forgot as we stumbled across more great acts. It’s always tricky trying to manoeuvre your way around a festival and several stages when you have a group of around 10 people to keep track of, but we did a pretty good job. We made it to all of the performances we wanted to see – for me Wilkinson and Chase and Status were the absolute highlights, both dropping their classics Afterglow and Blind Faith to ecstatic screams from the crowd. But I know my girls were also seriously loving J Cole and Krept and Konan earlier in the day. We were a little disappointed that Craig David was just doing a DJ set instead of performing, but at least it meant we didn’t mind when we couldn’t get inside the tent because there were so many people crowding the entrances.13612114_10153616640412617_3033065007156393811_nWireless is a fantastic festival, if you’re not really into camping and don’t want to venture far out of the city, it’s a perfect event to try. It was really easy one for all of us to get to despite coming from all over the country and it was great being able to get day tickets so you could choose which acts you wanted to see and fitted around work. Also, despite attracting so many people to Finsbury Park, the festival never once felt overcrowded or too busy, which I have previously found at other events where there wasn’t enough toilets or space to accommodate people in some of the tents. We also managed to get a great spot in the crowd for every single performance except Craig David, which was a huge plus with so many of us and so many shorties in the gang – there’s nothing worse than not being able to see over the crowd! There was also a much better selection of food on offer and much cheaper drinks than I had expected – ciders were just £5 each – which made a huge difference to the day. I can’t stand when you go to an event and have already forked out a lot of money for a ticket, then have to spend a fortune on bog-standard drinks and mediocre food.13626536_10157090774585655_6456116625256186478_nWireless is also a great event to go people-watching at – I spotted one of my favourite rainbow bloggers, Lulutrixabelle, there looking fabulous as usual. Lots of my girls bumped into random friends they hadn’t seen in ages, and I know there were quite a few celebrities in the crowd that I completely missed. The day finished with an amazing show by Chase and Status rounded off nicely with fireworks, we managed to escape the crowds and make our way home easily which was great, we didn’t fancy getting stuck on the tubes as thousands wandered out of the gates. It was a perfect weekend and was made all the better by the fantastic weather – I had been worried I would be forced to wear wellies but the rain stayed away and it was so warm the whole time. The next day, after the long drive home, I even spent the evening at a barbecue with some other old friends before finally making my way home to my bed. There’s no better feeling than your own bed after a festival whether it was a cheeky day one or a full weekend of camping. For someone who much prefers the full weekend festivals, I was glad to ease myself back into them with a cheeky one-dayer, especially when it was filled with some of my favourite people.

How was your Wireless Festival experience? Which was your fave performance of the weekend? Are you going to any other festivals this summer?

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Melbourne | City of festivals, culture and life | Australia

12742300_10153292964597617_7986843509108504989_nMelbourne goes all out when it comes to celebrating the culture that pours from its streets – from street parties to festivals, there’s always something going on and yet another amazing faction of the city to celebrate. (Check out my previous post on White Night and St Kilda Festival) There’s so much to get involved with and so many ways to feel a part of the city whether you prefer to celebrate the music, art, people or history of the city. These huge events bring people from all walks of life together in that magical way that only a festival can – and we all know how much I love my festivals. Whether it’s a four day bender in the heart of the English countryside, a weekend of acoustic performances, fields filled with art installations or the atmosphere of a heaving city event – all festivals have one thing in common. They bring people together to celebrate something we all love – creativity.imageFestivals are definitely something I’ve missed since travelling – if you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know I’m something of a festival queen after my work as editor of This Festival Feeling. So after managing to miss out altogether during my travels, I was so happy to find so much going on in the streets of Melbourne. If you’ve read my post on Piknic Electronik then you’ll have already had a taste of the vibes I’m talking about. While the festivals and parties I’ve found here haven’t been quite as wild as the ones back home or up in Darwin, they’ve been plenty of fun! I’m talking about the bush doofs just outside the city, and the warehouse parties in Footscray – all with a totally different atmosphere to those I’m used to but awesome in their own right.13083223_10153463041977617_2551648419583997879_nElsewhere in the city, I gathered a few friends and headed to the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival one sunny afternoon back in February. Melbourne’s biggest Greek street party filled the city’s historic Greek precinct with the sights, sounds and smells of Greek culture. From the delicious scent of freshly fried calamari with a squeeze of lemon juice, to the students Greek dancing in the streets, to the three stages crammed with entertainment, children’s rides and activities. The street was lined with over 60 food, drink and craft stalls and the space in-between was filled with hundreds of people. The atmosphere was fantastic and the musical performances were cheered on by the waiting crowd. Just down the road in Federation Square visitors could transport themselves across the globe at the Japanese Festival where over 15,000 people gathered to honour their ancestors and celebrate Japanese culture. With traditional dance performances, traditional dress on show, Taiko drumming and sumo shows, there was plenty to watch and get involved with. Plus plenty of Japanese delicacies including sushi and bento to whet your appetite for Japanese culture.12717955_10153324143872617_3408464075534223549_nElsewhere, over on Chapel Street one of my best friends in Melbourne dragged me out to what I thought was going to be a food festival one Sunday. We were both in recovery mode from the previous night out but couldn’t resist the promise of food and fun. We headed to Windsor Block Party, where I expected a small gathering of stalls but what I found was so much more. Food stalls with huge crowds gathered around them and the smell of sizzling goodness, further along the costumes of circus performers glittered in the late afternoon sunlight. They spun flaming poi and hula hooped to the beats of a DJ set-up – think Notting Hill Carnival street party vibes – everyone was dancing and cheering at the DJ. As the sun set, the music pounded and everyone was dancing together, a perfect Sunday evening if you ask me, all rounded off with an afterparty in a nearby bar. It was one of those events that brings everyone together in the best of spirits for all of the best things in life – good food, good music and good fun.12801640_10153324143887617_8742430497768825513_nAnother weekend we just happened to walk through Moomba Festival, yet another celebration in the centre of Melbourne that had brought out crowds of thousands to the Yarra riverbanks just off Federation Square for a weekend of music, food, entertainment, all rounded off with some amazing fireworks. If you love a festival as much as I do, you’ll definitely be headed for Melbourne at some point – I know when I head back i already have a whole list of festivals I simply have to experience – I can’t wait!

What’s been your favourite Australian festival experience? Are you headed to any UK festivals this summer?

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Melbourne | Partying at St Kilda Festival & White Night | Australia

12742849_10153297889262617_2785038916657325425_nOne of the things I love the most about Melbourne is that there is always something going on. It’s a lively city full of hidden gems and quirky, unusual events and I’ve already lost track of how many unexpected treats I’ve found since exploring the city. From the tiniest little food festivals to the Mardi Gras-esque street parties, there is always something new to discover and where better than to prime your taste in Australian music than by attending St Kilda Festival? Australia’s largest free music festival, the event showcases a range of the country’s national and local talent on huge stages set against the natural beauty of St Kilda’s beach. The event attracts over 400,000 people each year and this year took place on Valentine’s Day, which also just happened to be right in the middle of three of my friends’ birthdays. A perfect time to celebrate.12729295_10153314611102617_352570379247041229_nGetting the whole gang together, we headed to St Kilda in the afternoon where we couldn’t wait to check out the huge range of performances set to take place across ten stages that day. Now we all know by now how much I love my festivals – whether they’re free or expensive, dance or reggae, camping or day events. I love them all and can always find something special at each of them. St Kilda Festival was great – a huge event that has obviously proven a great success by the crowds that poured through the streets. The performances I saw were great and the crowd were clearly enjoying themselves, who couldn’t with a main stage set against the backdrop of the ocean as the sun was setting? My favourite part of the event definitely had to be when I went down to the beach to sit and watch the sun set while listening to the performers on the main stage.12742176_10153314610592617_2808402488505373794_nBut much as we did all enjoy ourselves that day, I couldn’t help but feel the event could have done with being better organised for the of us who aren’t from the area. Being new to Melbourne, and especially to St Kilda, I found it very difficult to navigate between and even locate some of the stages and actually only ended up getting to watch performances on two of the ten stages because it took so long to find our way through the crowds. I saw little to no signs around to direct us and whenever I stopped to ask stewards they seemed to have even less idea what was going on than I did. Very late on we finally found a map of the area, but we had missed most of the things we had really wanted to see. After speaking to a few friends who went along to the event separately to us, it seems they shared some of our experiences and felt the event was a bit over-crowded. Regardless, we still made sure we had a good time, a few ciders in the sunshine and a lot of laughs.9861_10153314609857617_117124694456852418_nJust a few days later, it was White Night and the whole city was abuzz again as Melbourne CBD prepared to put on the biggest show of colour, light and music. Bigger and better than ever the radio and TV stations promised us, so after a quick drink with a friend in St Kilda, I couldn’t resist heading into the city to meet friends for a good look around at the projections. Despite spending six hours wandering around the city, I never actually saw a single one! But don’t worry, we had the time of our lives walking around and discovering the huge range of musical talents hidden around every street corner.12728787_10153314615482617_7942346077139755604_nWe actually ended up sticking around Flinders and Melbourne Central areas as every time we walked down the street we got sucked into watching another epic performance turn into a huge street party with people of all ages dancing in the streets. It was amazing and the atmosphere was electric, it kept me dancing my heart out until 6am despite being completely sober and starving hungry. I was so impressed with the quality of the performances and how diverse they were, on one corner we watched as an incredibly talented acoustic performer mixed DJ skills with guitar and even a touch of saxophone while talking to the crowd throughout. Then just down the road, a DJ had the whole street dancing and further along a fabulous group started a fiesta in the shopping mall with their Mardi Gras vibes. It was a fantastic night and even though I didn’t see what I set out to see, I found some fantastic performers along the way.

Have you been to either of these events – what did you think? Does your city have great local music events like these?

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Melbourne | Sunday raving at Piknic Electronik | Australia

12717599_10153287667397617_7100238901032237172_nNow it wouldn’t be Absolutely Lucy without some raving and staying up past bedtime would it? I’d been such a good girl and barely partied for three months – giving my liver and my wallet a rest after Darwin – but now I was ready to make up for lost time. The weekend after I arrived, a group of us headed to Piknik Electronik – a weekly summer series that celebrates electronic music in beautiful summer settings. First starting out in Montreal, now the event has expanded as far as Barcelona and Melbourne, where it runs every Sunday over around eight weeks. If you’re craving serious festivals vibes but can’t afford a weekend escape from the city, or can’t spare the time off work, this is the perfect answer! I went along to the fourth edition of the event which was featuring South London Ordnance, Secret Cinema, Dean Benson and Andy Hart, on Sunday, February 7, at The Paddock, off Federation Square.942805_10153287667417617_8534522980470638858_nAll of us were in the party mood and couldn’t wait to hit the event, it started at 1pm and was due to run until 9pm, so we headed there about 3pm. We are glad to arrive then because the day was baking hot and there was very little shade at the event – I ended up with the worst sunglasses tan line on my nose! The tickets were really reasonably priced with the top price at $30 but plenty of first, second and third release tickets starting from $15. Also – it’s worth hanging out near Flinders Backpackers and other hostels in the area because Piknic staff were handing out flyers that gave reduced price entry so getting in turned out to be a bargain! Once you’re in, they have a cash-card system for the bars which definitely helps make them less crowded – you just top up a card when you arrive and anything that is left on it at the end of the day, you can claim back. This was great because I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had money left on cards like these because the bars have been so crowded at festivals and haven’t been able to claim the money back – such a waste!12687770_10153287667517617_1080769753234931222_nThe crowds were already there and we could tell we were in for a good afternoon from the moment we walked in the gates, people were already dancing and having a great time. The event had brought a complete range of people together; from businessmen to backpackers, from teenagers to parents, and the atmosphere was electric. It was fantastic to see such a varied crowd and to see how friendly everyone was, I lost count of the new friends I made that afternoon because everyone was so keen to make new friends and know your story. We had a great day spent dancing, chatting and laughing, a lot, it was a perfect event for the Dingo’s. And the mark of a good mini-festival in the city? When it really does feel like you’re a million miles away from the skyscrapers and bustling streets – with the park nestled against the Yarra riverbank it could’t have felt father away from the tourist trap that is Federation Square. It was great to be somewhere surrounded by all the colour and fun of festivals, but barely any distance from our home and without needing to take the day off work.12651074_10153287668277617_3427740945071616279_nPiknic caters for all tastes – so whether you’re there for the music, the drinks, the food or the fun, you’ll leave satisfied. Instead of stocking the usual rubbish drinks you get at festivals you can get craft beers and summer cocktails, although they were a touch expensive. Every week the event offers a new selection of Melbourne’s own delicious food trucks. And who can forget the little ones? Creating a fun, family environment, the organisers host Little Piknic – a designated children’s area with plenty of activities for them to take part in. I read that last year there were complaints over the lack of toilets and facilities but this year there must have been a big improvement as I didn’t find myself queueing for a toilet all day – a marked improvement on most festivals or music events! Running until 9pm, its the perfect place to see the sunset and to get you ready to rave all night – just a hop, skip and a jump from the CBD clubs – there’s plenty of places to head after to keep the party going.

Can you recommend any other great city events in Melbourne? Have you been to any other great city festivals around the world? 

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Travel | #SendMeAway to Eastern Europe’s music festivals

imageAs the former editor of This Festival Feeling, and an avid festival goer – my mind never strays far from the topic. I’ve now spent over a year backpacking around Asia and Australia, but haven’t yet been to a festival! It seems shocking behaviour for the girl who managed to attend seven festivals in the year before I came backpacking and several more in the years previous to that. I just love festivals, from the amazing music and locations to the creativity and stunning art pieces, to unusual theatre performances and fantastic characters you meet along the way. It’s like entering another world where you can be anyone you want to be and everyone is just as welcoming, happy and beautiful as the people you meet when travelling. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t been too upset at missing festivals so far, because the travelling experience is much like living in a festival every single day, but I have to say, after a year I am getting a bit antsy. It’s this time of year, once Christmas is out of the way, my mind always turns straight to festival season and which ones I’m going to be attending. This year is no different, I know that there are many amazing Australian festivals going on while I’m working in the outback which is annoying timing – I’ve missed the annual Falls Festivals and will be missing Rainbow Serpent in a few weeks. But instead of moping, I’m looking at which ones I will be able to do. Just a week or two after I arrive in Melbourne the St Kilda Festival will be happening which sounds like a fantastic celebration of music, arts and culture – plus it’s free!imageimageThe team at Icelolly.com have asked me to write about my dream holiday destinations of 2016 to be on with a chance of winning £1000 towards the holiday and an Olympus Pen E-PL7 camera which would be the most incredible prize. These cameras are amazing and I’ve loved the idea of getting one for a while – not always practical for a backpacker who is living on a budget – and the £1000 towards further travel would be an incredible bonus. After reaching my one year anniversary of travelling and making the decision not to return home but to keep travelling and exploring the world around me, I started to think about my next year on the road and where I will end up. Of course all plans are always open to change as a backpacker, we are known for our habit of changing everything at the drop of a hat, but that’s one of the luxuries we gain when giving up everything to travel. I love the freedom that comes with this lifestyle. At the moment I have a vague plan that I will be returning home to England in May when my first year Australian visa runs out, it will be perfectly timed so I can spend my 26th birthday with my friends and family at home and I can’t wait to see everyone. After spending a couple of months at home catching up with everyone and heading to a few festivals, I will hopefully have a bit of money put aside for a little jaunt round Europe to visit some amazing friends I’ve met since travelling and see their home countries. Places like Paris, Berlin, parts of Holland and Denmark could all be on the list and I’ll be backpacking the whole way. I’m hoping all this works out and I have enough money to really make this happen.imageimageI know my whole life sounds like a holiday but it really will be nice by then to have a break from Australia and to get back to European culture for a little while. One thing I will really love is heading to a few festivals because the UK and Europe really has that amazingly creative and quirky style when it comes to festivals that I really love. After going to Hideout Festival in Croatia a few years ago and having the most amazing time, I was keen to explore some other great festivals in Europe but never had the time/money to do it. If I won the £1000 I would use it to visit two top festivals on my list: EXIT Festival in Serbia leading to the new Sea Dance Festival in Montenegro, followed by Sziget in Budapest, Hungary. Nestled in Eastern Europe, they are countries I’ve wanted to explore for a while and around the festivals I would use the time to see as much as possible. The multi-award winning EXIT Festival took the title of Best Major European Music Festival at the EU Festival Awards in 2013 and it’s easy to see why, held annually at the Petrovaradin Fortress I would argue it has one of the most incredible locations for this huge range of acts to perform. People from around 60 countries around the world flock to the festival grounds each year to watch the magic unfold and that’s what I love, the diversity of the people you will meet along the way. I love that EXIT has a unique purpose behind it after starting as a student movement fighting for peace and democracy in Serbia – that is what festivals are all about.imageimageBy taking part in the EXIT Adventure, you get the opportunity to attend two award-winning festivals across two countries in 10 days. I would get to party in this incredible fortress in Novi Sad followed by the stunning Jaz Beach in Montenegro – last year over 300,000 people attended. The festivals have previously hosted acts including The Arctic Monkeys, The Prodigy, Emile Sande, Andy C, Skrillex, Soul Clap, Bondax and many more – all acts I would love to see live! And the best thing about all of these, is that there would be plenty of time to arrive at the festival beforehand so I would be able to explore the fortress and the catacombs that lay beneath, to find out about the amazing history and the ghosts that lay down there. History lines the streets of this part of Northern Serbia where one building still holds a cannonball jutting from its walls where if was fired back in 1849. For the beach bum in me it would be wrong not to enjoy one of Europe’s best Danube beaches before heading to Fisherman’s Island for some fish goulash, the local delicacy. And with four daily markets across the city, I wouldn’t be able to resist a browse before heading to Laze Telečkog for some local live music. After a busy week exploring Serbia, Jaz Beach will be the perfect place to relax, this underdeveloped area will be great for unwinding and enjoying a whole other set of acts performing in the same place huge acts like the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Madonna and Lenny Kravitz have previously played.imageimageThen it would be on to a destination that has been on my bucket list for a long time – Budapest, Hungary. With Sziget Festival seen as the Hungarian jewel in Europe’s festival crown, it is an event that is often compared to Burning Man – one of my ultimate dreams to attend. Getting to combine one of the countries I most want to visit with a festival is a fantastic opportunity to see the city in two very different lights – first of all a cultural and historical context followed by seeing how they really party. With countless stunning buildings to visit and view from Parliament to the Basilica, I can tell that just walking the streets with be an experience in itself but with plenty of walking tours on offer it will be a great way of learning more about the history that lies right in front of you. There’s so many amazing museums to explore and I have to admit, I love a museum, especially the quirky ones that teach you about a history you never knew existed. I love a good trip to the spa and after three festivals I think I’ll be in need to some TLC so I’ll be heading to Szechenyi Baths and Pool for a visit and a chance to relax. All these amazing activities will take place around the iconic Sziget Festival which will take place on an island in the middle of the Danube river featuring a huge range of acts from hard rock to dance, this year’s line-up so far includes Bastille, Bloc Party, Bring Me The Horizon, Chvrches, John Newman and Kodaline. The line-up is amazing but for me the real draw would be the activities on offer and the huge range of art from The Hands of Unity to the Magic Field, the landscape is transformed by these beautiful structures.imageTo say I’m excited talking about a trip like this is an understatement – writing this has made me miss festivals more than ever and I can just imagine the amazing experience that would come with this trip. From the people you would meet and the things you would see, to the culture you would experience along the way. It would be the Eastern European trip of a lifetime and the winner would get an opportunity to capture every single moment with an amazing camera to share it with everyone who came along for the ride. The beautiful thing about blogging is that every single one of you who reads these posts would be there with me experiencing everything along the way, so let’s hope I get lucky and win so we can make this trip a reality! I have to nominate another three bloggers to write about their dream trip so I choose: Chelsea of Loving Life in Wellies, Steph of Big World Small Pockets and Nick and Amy of What the Pho Podcast – enjoy guys!

Where would your dream trip take you? Are any European music festivals on your bucket list?

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Travel | Boho beads for mermaid babes

imageOne of my biggest addictions, both in travelling and in life, is jewellery. I come from a fashion-loving family – my mum is a bit of a hoarder when it comes to clothes and always buys one in every colour. My sister on the other hand works as a fashion buyer and only deals with the finest of clothes and the snootiest of brands. I’ve always loved clothes but I’m more about finding something quirky and unusual than about spending a fortune – when I came travelling I was made for spending my days in bikinis and my nights in floaty tie-dye creations. The colours and the materials were the things my dreams were made of – from elephant print hareem pants to brightly patterned dresses and floaty tops with colours rolling into each other. I have a serious love of brightly coloured and patterned clothes – to the point that often I’ll struggle to find items that will go together in my wardrobe. Packing to come travelling with just a 65l bag was a toughie and I was torn between wanting to take everything and nothing at all with me – a big part of me was keen just to start over with fresh clothes and a new attitude. I ended up taking a bag stuffed with clothes and threw most of it away when I hit the shores of Thailand – realising the markets were packed with gorgeous colours and fabrics was just too tempting for a girl like me.imageAs my travels went on, I stocked up here and there, buying things that inspired me from bags and bracelets to tops and dresses. I even had some amazing gifts from friends including a yoga pal of mine who picked out some of my favourite trousers of all time – great taste! I loved the way my clothes reflected my state of mind and they perhaps showed the biggest outward change other than the smile on my face – finally I didn’t have to play at being smart or ‘fashiony’ – I could just dress as scruffy as I wanted and nobody cared. Basically it was like embracing the festival version of myself every single day – we’re talking bright colours, tassels, patterns, glitter and FUN. And we all know how much I love the festival version of myself. However, it got to a point when I knew I had not long left in Asia and that I would still have to send a lot of my clothes home before hitting up Australia – I had to stop shopping for clothes and to stop filling up my already overflowing backpack and start finding other ways of collecting mementos. I chose jewellery – my other great love. From rings and bracelets, to necklaces and earrings, Asia is packed full of amazing, quirky jewellery that will appeal to all tastes. Before I knew it, my arms were full of bracelets and my ankles full of anklets, but when it came to arriving in Australia I decided it was time to shed several of them and to make a fresh start in this new land.imageFor ages at the beginning I couldn’t afford to shop – living in Sydney for a month then partying my way up the East Coast meant I had little dollar to spare on frivolities like clothes and jewellery when there was goon to be bought. Plus, as many of us backpackers would say to each other – we often wore the same thing on five nights out in a row because we were always with a different crowd and no one would know the difference. But by the time I arrived in Darwin and was earning a good wage from my two jobs, I started to get the itch to shop again. Trying to save as much money as possible – I limited myself to charity shops like Vinnie’s (which actually had an amazing range of brand new clothing in top condition). But when it came to jewellery I just couldn’t resist the stalls down at Mindel Markets, one in particular is held by Embella which quickly became one of my favourite jewellery brands of all time. Started up around seven years ago by Sally, who started making jewellery at seven years old, the brand is a unique design and jewellery business. Originally starting up in Victoria, Sally and her husband Ross toured the festivals with Embella products before taking a motor home on the road for six years, eventually ending up in Darwin where they fell in love the lifestyle. It’s a brand that was made by travellers for travellers and I love the way the pieces reflect the feeling of being at one with the world around you. My favourite piece is my Earthgirl anklet ($49), pictured above, which never leaves my ankle, but I couldn’t help my addiction to their rings and bracelets as well. Most importantly, I love that I have a special sterling silver piece of jewellery that will stand the test of time to always remind me of that special time in Darwin and all the people who I loved there. It’s a brand that is made for girls who feel most at home with their toes in the sand and their heart in the waves.imageThe other brand that has got me all excited is one I have stumbled across since I’ve been in the outback – I just happened to see something online about Wanderer Bracelets and I loved the idea behind them so much that I wanted to share them with you guys. A perfect gift for any traveller, or something special for yourself – I actually bought myself these two bracelets as a Christmas present and something to celebrate my year of travelling solo. The initiative was started up by a guy called Ben who quit his job, sold everything and moved to Bali in his twenties – a guy after my own heart! Driving up into a jungle village one day, he met Made and his neighbours who were incredible artists but didn’t make enough to support their families. Their partnership sparked an international movement which sees them selling the bracelets to people all over the world. They are supporting an entire community while creating jewellery out of white buffalo bone – an all-natural sustainable source which also helps fight the ivory trade. All amazing reasons to support such a fantastic business. But even more special, you can get a bracelet engraved with custom coordinates of a place that is special to you – for me, it was the coordinates of my home in Norfolk, UK. It’s something special that will always mean that my heart is where my family and friends are at home, even if I’m the other side of the world. As I said, a perfect gift for a traveller and so affordable at around $22 each. And I couldn’t resist getting the mermaid tail bracelet to go with it, because let’s face it, I’m definitely a mermaid. A perfect brand for travelling souls that know their heart will always remain firmly at home.

What do you think of travelling fashion – are you all about the tie-dye and elephant pants or do you prefer something more formal? Have you found any great boho jewellery ranges? What do you prefer as a memento of your travelling times?

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Darwin | Darwin nightlife and raving from sunset to sunrise | Australia

imageAfter two weeks of being boring Lucy, eating rubbish noodles and working every hour I could get, I’d had three glorious pay checks which had put me back in the green. I was so happy to not be clinging to every dollar for dear life any longer – don’t get me wrong, I was still living like a seriously poor backpacker but I could afford to eat and sleep, and even treat myself to the odd $5 bottle of wine. The beautiful thing was that I had a whole gang of friends around me who were all in the same position – some had been lucky enough to find work straight away – others were working for the hostel in exchange for a tuppence and free accommodation, others were just living off nothing while they applied for every job going. I was the lucky one. But as the weeks went by, everyone managed to find jobs – some of them just casual and others full time and permanent. As that happened, our priorities changed. We had a big group of new friends and we all wanted to celebrate. The hot weather made everyone feel the good holiday vibes and even though we were all working crazy hours we were determined not to let it stand in the way of having a good time. As one of my friends said: “We left the UK so we wouldn’t be those people who are living for the weekend, I’m sick of living for the weekend, I want to live for every single day.” I guess it’s the party animal in me, but luckily I was surrounded by people with exactly the same attitude to life as my own. They wanted to have the best time, to grab every moment with both hands. They wanted to spend their evenings laughing hysterically with new friends, dancing all night and creating memories, then finishing the nights when the sun was rising with our feet in the sand as friends for life.imageDarwin is a great city for nightlife – it lacks all of the formality and rules of Sydney and Melbourne and attracts a totally different and totally wild crowd. Everyone is friendly as hell and game for anything, it was outback nightlife and we loved it. From acoustic live jam sessions at a little bar called Nirvana on a Tuesday night to crazy Friday nights and $5 drinks at Throb, the gay club down the street. I spent way too much time in Monsoons considering I worked there, but I think most people who go to Darwin can say the same, and Thursday nights were never fun unless I was at Ladies Night! And don’t forget Wisdoms, which was just a few doors down, and had great live music on, plus it was great for an early evening drink. Or if you fancy something a bit classier, there’s always cocktails and wine at Rorkes, a 1920’s inspired bar and restaurant through the town centre, plus there’s loads more down by the waterfront. The only place I wasn’t so impressed by was Lost Arc (also known as Discovery), I know others who had a good night out there but I never really felt the music or the bar was that much fun.imageRegardless, there is something for everyone and we spent our weeks rolling around every venue in town with the infamous Sunday Sesh kicking off at Shenanigans (fondly known as Shags) the Irish bar, which would be packed every Sunday with live music, before everyone headed off to Hotel Darwin at closing time for more bad behaviour. Sunday Sesh was the biggest event of the week in Darwin – it never mattered how hungover you were from the night before, everyone who wasn’t working made it out and partied like they didn’t have work the next day. For us, we started to create our own Sunday Sesh at the hostel – we had so many friends at our hostel that in the end it made more sense to all chip in $10 to buy everything we needed for a huge BBQ and beers. We had a pool and everyone we wanted to hang out with, a bit of food and way too much glitter and excitement – some of the best Sunday’s I have ever had have started out as a BBQ at the hostel and ended up as a naked pool party. There so many stories from my three months at that hostel, so much cheeky behaviour and so many laughs, I think I’ll have to write a book one day of all that went on with the Dingo Mooners.imageOf all of these nights, there are some that really stand out in my memory – some of them somewhat hazy – but all of those are the parties that didn’t take us to any of these venues. Darwin was rave central while I was there and luckily I made friends with all the right people who just happened to know the people who were sitting up these wild parties on Mindil Beach, out at abandoned quarries in the bush and even on the esplanade. The great thing about the Northern Territory is that there is a little bit more freedom, I can totally understand why raves can be harmful at home because they damage land, property and disrupt the wildlife in our smaller country. But up here there is nothing but desert, dust and open space, it’s perfect for parties out under the stars and that’s the best kind of party to me. Plus those organising the parties were so responsible and organised clean-ups as well which really impressed me. Even the police were happy that the parties were not bothering anyone so they would keep an eye in case if things got out of hand but they never once shut down a party that I was at. There was at least two months when there were raves every weekend, alternating venues between Mindil Beach and the quarry – both were amazing and featured great DJs, some local and others travelling through. And just before we all left, a special rave was held on the esplanade as a goodbye to everyone who had partied hard all dry season, just as the rains were due to arrive.imageimageimageWhether you agree with the idea of hundreds of youths raving from sunset to sunrise or not, I won’t deny the memories I made there will last forever, and that many of the friends I went with will without a doubt be friends for life. Even now, thinking back, every second of those nights puts a big smile on my face. As far as I’m concerned, getting to dance to great music and watching the sun rise over Mindil Beach as dolphins played in the waves and a horse rode through the surf is more than just special. We saw the real magic of the Northern Territory in those nights, from the red dust that covered us from head to toe as we made our way home the next day to the reflection of the stars in our eyes the night before. I’ll always remember the night we all lay on a sandbank at the quarry exhausted from dancing our hearts out, without realising how close we were to the airport when suddenly a plane flew overhead, looking almost close enough to touch. Or that perfect sky filled with fire as the sun rose above us the morning after, and the long walk we faced through the bush that morning when it took us three hours to get a taxi and get home, but the jokes that kept our spirits up and the memories that remain. Darwin, you were something special alright.imageimageimage

 

Have you been to Darwin? Which is your favourite bar? What did you think of the nightlife?

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Indulge your inner festival queen with New Look

imageI’m taking a break from the travel posts today to cover one of my favourite topics – festivals! Anyone who knows me will know I’m a bit of a festival queen and that I can never turn down a chance to party on a beach, in the woods or in the beautiful English countryside. I love festivals and everything about them, but it is UK festivals that really hold a special place in my heart. So you can imagine how gutted I am not to be attending any this summer – I know, I know, I’m travelling the world, how can I be gutted about missing a rainy festival? Well trust me, if you’ve ever been to a UK music festival and completely lost yourself in the bizarre, the magic and the music for four days – you’ll understand. Becoming editor of This Festival Feeling gave me an amazing opportunity to attend as many festivals as I wanted, to experience them behind the scenes and to write about and review them. I’m a lucky girl to have this chance and it took me from being a girl who had never been to a festival to one who have been to around 15 in three years. After managing to fit five in last summer (including the amazing Secret Garden Party, BoomTown Fair and We Are FSTVL) you can imagine I feel a bit lost getting all these email updates as announcements are made and knowing I won’t get to see any of this amazing live music, I won’t get to cover myself in glitter and I won’t get to see all of these crazy things this summer.imageBut you guys will get the chance! So as many of you have been doing with my blog over the last four months, I will now be living vicariously through you as you party your way through the UK festival scene. One of the fun things about festivals is the complete freedom to be creative with the way you look and dress – I often find a stray piece of glitter while sitting at work weeks after a festival and find myself longing to be back in the fields covered in sparkles again. I love clothes anyway and am a bit of a shopping addict – don’t ask how heavy my backpack has become – but you’ll notice this is a my first fashion post! I never end up writing about fashion because I don’t really consider myself an authority on it, but New Look thinks otherwise and they have asked me to join their festival fashion campaign by picking out some of my favourite festival outfits from their new collection. In my book, New Look are a great source for affordable and cute outfits for festivals – I always refuse to spend mountains of money because let’s face it, festivals are messy and there’s no guarantee those outfits will still look good by the end. You want fun patterns, cute accessories and lots of glitter!

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So, just to help you guys out, I’ve already checked out the collection and put together two outfits I love so that you guys don’t have to do the legwork and deal with stuffy changing rooms. All of these can be ordered online from the comfort of your sofa, so you don’t even have to get dressed! My first outfit choice is this cute purple Ethnic Print Playsuit (£12.99) – I love playsuits because they’re cute and cover your modesty when you get a bit drunk, plus the pattern would look great with a tan! Team this with the Light Brown Leather Fringed Sandals (£27.99) because a sturdy pair of sandals is a must for me at a festival – I know the weather is supposed to be rubbish in England but out of my 15 festivals it has only rained at two of them. Wellies are hot and sweaty to dance in and even trainers can be a bit much – it gets hot in those tents! So why not embrace the sunshine and get your tootsies out? Do what I do and wear these in the day to let your feet breathe and then don the trainers for nighttime to keep warm. This summery combo would look great with lots of quirky jewellery, maybe a body chain or headband like the ones below – I always prefer the feathered or chain ones to the flowered. Plus plenty of rings – they are my weakness!

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My second choice of outfit is something more for nighttime because quite frankly it gets bloody cold when you move out of the hot sweaty tents and into the winds that whip across the fields in the UK. It’s always good to have a couple of cover ups – a cute jacket or kimonos are my personal favourite because of the flowing material. I love the colours in this White Tile Print Dip Hem Kimono (£19.99) and would definitely team it with some denim shorts and a bandeau crop top, which are both available from the collection. But it would be the Gold Linked Bar Body Chain (£7.99) that added the detail to the outfit along with the Gold Jewelled Drop Tikka Head Chain (£6.99) for some added fabulousness. Both of these outfits only come to around £40, as I’m sure you already have basics like denim shorts, and you could easily wear them after the festival as well which is great – if they survive! Make sure they are both teamed with lots of glitter, a dash of face paint and a hell of a lot of fun. Then load up the car with ciders, grab your mates and get to that festival!

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I’ve been super lovely to you guys and linked all of these pictures to where you can find the clothes on the website so you won’t even have to search for them if you just love them! To check out the rest of the collection, click here head to the New Look website and get that bank card ready.

Have you got any festivals planned this summer? What is your favourite festival fashion combo? Can anyone recommend any music festivals for me to check out in Australia and New Zealand? 

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*This was a sponsored post but all opinions are my own