As many of you guys will know from my stories, I was lucky enough to go on a fab press trip with Ryanair and Bergerac Airport a few weeks ago to Garorock Festival in France. After the UK summer arriving a little late, I was in bliss when we touched down to a heatwave in France. I had such an amazing time and I'm so excited to share it with you.
Get ready for the full festival experience, along with a little inspo for those who have always wanted to festival abroad. I've been to many festivals abroad over the years, but Garorock Festival was my first French festival and it's one I'll always remember. Now, if we're heading to a festival together, you better make sure you've got your glitter, your bum bag at the ready... Oh and if you're a shorty like me, you'll need some strapping young lad to pop you on his shoulders so you get the best view of the stages!
What is Garorock Festival all about?
Garorock Festival is so much more than just the music. It's an experience, one that welcomes you with open arms back to a family you never knew you had. With the winged horse as it's symbol this year, there was magic in the air from the beginning. And now that's it's over and the tents are packed away, it's certainly a festival we won't forget. The organisers had thought of every detail from DJs in the camping area, street theatre and games. There were plenty of bars, toilets and showers to keep even the fussiest festival-goers happy. Even a food court with a huge range of foods to suit all palates, and a huge seating area for family-style feeds.
Intimate but with a huge line-up
Throughout the four-day weekend, over 145,000 people attended the event. But despite the numbers Garorock Festival maintained a really intimate vibe. It never felt too crowded or too intense by the stages, everyone was really friendly and you kept seeing the same familiar faces. Even better, the festival had one of the most chilled out crowds I have ever experienced at a festival so it's perfect for first-time festival-goers, those who don't like crowds and families. It may have been running for over 20 years, but the festival has maintained that cosy back-yard feel while absolutely smashing it with incredible line-ups. Garorock is a fantastic festival but seems to have stayed under the radar when it comes to UK festival-goers. So if you want a chance to beat the crowds and experience a true French festival – now is the time to go! It costs just €50 for a day ticket and €170 for a full weekend pass – you can buy tickets here.
Cashless festival = no queues!
One thing I really loved about the festival was that it was entirely cashless. Each festival-goer was provided with a wristband that they could pre-load using the app. These could be topped-up at the festival with money for drinks and food. It was so efficient and had a huge impact on how smoothly the festival ran. Particularly when it came to the bars. I never waited more than a couple of minutes at any bar throughout the whole festival. We all know how annoying it can be to feel like all you do is queue, whether it's for drinks, food or the toilet. It's a huge waste of time when you really want to be at the stages enjoying the acts. I loved that Garorock had sound a way to streamline the festival experience and make it as enjoyable as possible.
What about the line-up?
Originally Garorock Festival started out over 20 years ago as a rock festival in a field in Marmande. Over the years it has grown into a hugely diverse line-up featuring a mix of local and international acts. While rock is clearly still an integral part of the festival with acts like Blood Red Shoes, Interpol and Sum 41 on this year's line-up. It has become a really inclusive festival with a range of acts to suit all tastes. Throughout the weekend we also caught performances by James Blake and Ben Harper. Plus the incredible Christine and the Queens the night before she smashed Glastonbury. De La Soul had the crowd dancing, while DJ Snake had the crowd in the palm of his hand.
One of my favourite performances of the festival had to be Sum 41. After growing up with them as a teenager it was epic to see them perform live on stage. The whole crowd was singing along to every single word and it was that night when I said goodbye to my voice for the next week. This was closely followed by Christine and the Queens and her incredible dancing troupe who absolutely blew us away with their performance. DJ Snake was fantastic as a headliner, but it was Macklemore who really took the festival to the next level. It's been a long time since I saw a performance as spectacular as theirs. From the excellent showmanship, to all our favourite songs. It was a perfect way to end a fantastic weekend.
Keeping the party environmentally-friendly
- 250+ recycling areas
- Food waste
- Water management – including reusable water flasks and returnable glass bottles/plastic cups
- Public transportation and use of 100% electric onsite vehicles
- Waste sorting and recycling 100% of waste oils and Test&Learn toilets
Travel to Garorock Festival in Marmande
Getting to Garorock Festival couldn't be easier thanks to Ryanair who fly directly to Bergerac, the closest airport to the festival. It's one of 28 French airports connected by the airline, and is easily reached from London Stansted, Bristol, East Midlands, Liverpool and Brussels Charleroi in Belgium throughout the summer. During the winter, the service cuts down to 3x weekly flights direct to London Stansted which makes it easily accessible all year round whether you're visiting for a festival, for the vineyards, the amazing food or landscape. Flights start from as low as €19.99 – so what are you waiting for?
We flew over from London Stansted and it couldn't have been an easier or quicker journey, just 1 hour in the air and we touched down in 35 degree heat. On arrival, we were met by our transfer – we travelled by mini-bus but you could easily hire a car for collection at Bergerac Airport. The journey took around 45 minutes to our accommodation and saw us driving through endless rolling countryside and vineyards.
We stayed at a huge self-catering cottage called Les Gîtes de Sarah, with two swimming pools on site and an in a beautiful location. If you plan on attending the festival or exploring the area, I recommend hiring a car. If you're planning your summer travels and want to stick to your budget. There are 142 Ryanair routes from London Stansted including six new routes to Kiev, Lviv, Nantes, Kalamata, Rodez and Vigo.
Why you should do a festival abroad
My first every festival abroad was Hideout Festival in Croatia, and honestly, I've never looked back. While UK festivals will always be my first love, there's something epic about experiencing a festival in another country. Garorock Festival was a fantastic example of that. We met people who had been going to the festival for years, some were local, others had travelled from across France and beyond.
Around the festival, we had the chance to stay in the beautiful countryside around Marmande in a stunning Gîte. A festival abroad is so much more than just a festival. It's a chance to travel and explore. An amazing way to meet like-minded people and to share a moment of magic with them.
Top tips for festivals abroad
- Get organised and plan early! Pick up early-bird tickets for the festival and save a fortune.
- Get a group together - not only is it a lot more fun, but it's much cheaper! Watch out for group ticket deals.
- Figure out whether you're camping or booking accommodation. If it's going to be super hot you might be grateful for air-con and a shower.
- Do you need to hire a car? Make sure you have a driver over 25, it's a LOT cheaper.
- Why not turn the festival into a holiday? Plan a few days either side of the festival to explore the area.
- Always remember to pack for the location. If you're at a beach or city festival you should pack plenty of water and sunscreen. If you're at a mountain festival, remember to take some warm layers for the cooler nights.
Have you been to a festival abroad – which ones would you recommend?