Life can be pretty expensive as we get a bit older – with mortgages to pay and bills ever increasing, it's no surprise that so many twenty-somethings are being forced to sacrifice some of their favourite music events in a bid to pinch pennies. I've always been an avid festival goer - you guys know how much I love my glitter and fancy dress - but I've always been lucky and through my work and this blog, I have been able to attend most of them for free over the years. But not everyone is that lucky, and most are having to fork out a few hundred pounds before even arriving at the festival and seeing the costs mount up. By the end of a four-day weekend, you can easily have spent over £500 and for that price could have had a week's holiday in Europe. Is the price of festival tickets depressing you? I'm not surprised, before you even get to the venue you’re looking at a hefty dent to the wallet, with festival camping gear, fabulous outfits to rock and travel costs.
So many are trying the cheaper alternative of creating their own festival at home – why not give it a shot? A little planning, enthusiasm from friends and family and it’s sure to be a big success. If you create it, they will come…
A popular success story in the back-garden festivals sphere is Leefest. Lee Denny started his own festival in his mother’s back garden back in 2006 and this year the festival entertained over 5,000 people! Pretty impressive. In recent years, there has been a shift towards staying home more and making the most of the space you have for entertaining. Staycations have become common practice for those who simply want some time off work without the hassle and expensive of a foreign holiday. With this in mind, a back-garden festival could be a perfect alternative to next year's festival ticket-buying frenzy.
To differentiate between a normal garden party and a festival, you need to include a few festival must-haves. Lighting is a big part of this, so be sure to get some fairy lights to place in trees, across garden fences and dotted about the place to give a great ambience to the festivities. Lanterns are also a great shout, especially those with battery-powered candles so you don’t need to worry about fire risks.
A drinks bar will always be appreciated. There’s a couple of ways to go about this, but the best (surely) is a homemade tiki bar! This can be done relatively cheaply by upcycling some old pallets and wood, and then all you need to do is dress it up in grass skirts and decorative fruit – job done. Who will you trust as bartender for the night?
There’s also an addition to your home that can really up the ante for entertaining in the garden. Having bifolding doors can open up the back of your home into the garden, almost creating one big entertaining space for guests to mill in and out of. Also very handy if the weather suddenly turns on you!
Tipis are also key to the theme, dotted about the garden as little meeting places for people to mingle at. All you need are some cushions and throws to make it nice and cosy.
The good thing about a back-garden festival is that people won’t be expecting a lot of food. Little nibbles here and there will suffice to keep the revellers satisfied, or why not ask everyone to bring a dish? Here are some ideas to help you pull out all the stops:
Crushed pea and mint dip with carrot sticks – This yummy and refreshing dip will have the carrot sticks gone in no time. Even the vegetable haters will be reaching for one. This recipe from BBC Good Food is a must-try.
Quick fish cakes – Choose between skinless cod, haddock or pollock for this recipe from Jamie Oliver. The addition of herbs such as dill, chives or parsley (whatever your preference) will add a great flavour to the fish cakes.
Peanut chicken satay sticks – Chicken and peanut butter, what’s not to love? All Recipes uses a teaspoon of hot sauce in this recipe so be ready for a kick!
Spring garden potato salad – Even though it isn’t spring anymore, this delicious salad will still hold its own at the festival. Full of veggies but still that little bit naughty with potatoes and cream. Try this recipe from Food Network.
If there’s any burgeoning artists in your family or friendship group, give them the stage of your back garden to entertain your guests. If not, a kick-ass playlist will suffice. You can even get a Wireless Festival playlist on Spotify if you’re lost for where to begin. Plus, there’s always one guest who fancies themselves as a DJ so you could leave them with a laptop and a speaker to entertain everyone.
Other activities could include a little coconut shy or a limbo pole to bring out the competition amongst the festival goers. Face painting is always good fun too, even if the one painting isn’t all that skilled. As long as there’s a good amount of glitter thrown in, everything will be fine!
With good decoration, good food and good entertainment – your back garden festival is sure to be a success. Why not try and squeeze in one last end of summer hoorah before the autumn weather really kicks in - or, if you have a marquee available to you, why not host a winter festival?
This 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. 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.This 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.We 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.Wireless 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.Wireless 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?
One 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.Getting 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.But 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.Just 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.We 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?
Now 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.All 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!The 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.Piknic 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?
As 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!The 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.I 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.By 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.Then 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.To 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?
After 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.Darwin 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.Regardless, 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.Of 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.Whether 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.
Have you been to Darwin? Which is your favourite bar? What did you think of the nightlife?
Two of my favourite parts of Sydney were Surry Hills and Newtown, both I ended up in time and time again for food, nights out, music, comedy and more and I can't recommend them enough for those passing through. While I was staying at Wake Up Hostel in Central, Surry Hills was less than a five minute walk through a tunnel under the train station, and Newtown was just a couple of stops away on the bus so as you can imagine, I ended up spending a lot of time in both. Particularly since the drinking laws in the Central Business District (CBD - basically the centre of Sydney) are a bit of a curb for fun nights out when you're actually capable of behaving yourself after a few drinks. This just pushed us backpackers to look for other venues that weren't too far away but offered cheap-ish drinks and no restrictions - don't worry, we found them!
When I first arrived in Sydney, I ended up in Newtown quite a bit, whether it was for food, drinks or just a wander around the vintage shops. I liked it because it seemed a little less mainstream than central Sydney, it had a touch more personality and quirkiness which lured me in. Every time I went there, I seemed to meet really interesting people, eat delicious food and have a fantastic time which always kept me coming back for more. Around this area you'll find a huge number of Asian restaurants from all corners of the continent from Korean and Japanese, to Thai and Vietnamese cooking. Naturally I wasn't really in the mood for Asian food after five months of it, so we plumped for Italian or Greek when we visited, which were absolutely delicious. There are so many restaurants down the main street of Newtown which all offer deals and tasty fare, there's no point me even recommending any because from what I've heard many of them are really good. One restaurant I had recommended to me again and again, but haven't yet made it to, is Mary's, a burger joint which has a huge reputation for the best burgers in the whole of Sydney! I'm saving that toothy when I return there later in the year.Also lining the street are a range of cocktail bars, pubs and bigger bars that almost double as clubs later in the night. Later in the evening, you'll find these packed with locals, travellers and all kinds of characters. I've often ended up there at the end of the night because you can still get into these bars until much later after the lockouts have occurred in the CBD and Kings Cross. The music is a bit hit and miss at some of these, but that seems to be a running theme in Australia so far, I'm still waiting for a good night out with the perfect soundtrack but they seem very few and far between. Either way, the drinks are average price for Australia, at least for Sydney, and you're almost guaranteed a good night in my experience. Don't forget to check out the wealth of charity and vintage shops here that are all worth a look, particularly the charity shops as many of the vintage shops hike up the price of items just for adding the work "vintage".
Over in Surry Hills, there's much more to keep you occupied from comedy nights and live music, to film screenings, quality food and cocktails. My favourite part of Sydney, I'm pretty jealous of friends living there, they just have the entirety of Sydney right on their doorstep and quite frankly, Surry Hills has so much within a few streets that you almost don't need to venture out. One of my favourite places was The Soda Factory, which I returned to several times for various events - they regularly screen movies, hold trivia quizzes, have cheap food nights and more at this vintage American 50's style venue. The staff are in braces and some in flat caps as a nod to the Grease-style era we all know and love, and the menu includes a range of hot dogs and sides, with other goodies to keep you munching. My particular favourite is the Mac'n'Cheese with Brie - absolute perfection! Plus there's cocktails galore. I first went on a night when they happened to screening The Breakfast Club and holding a "coming of age" movie trivia quiz which we epically failed but had an awesome time taking part in. I returned for a screening of Zoolander and other cheap food nights which were great and I'll definitely be checking out what else they have on when I head back to Sydney.Also worth a look is Venue 505, a jazz club which holds events almost every night where talented bands and singers come to perform, and there's also some free entry nights with a house band on as well. We went along to one of the free nights and with a cheeky glass of wine, it was one of the best evenings I've had in Sydney. If you love a laugh, why not check out some of the comedy nights advertised on Time Out website, I found one for just $10 where a bunch of amateurs were putting themselves under the spotlight and it was actually a really fun night - Cafe Lounge hosted the event I went to and regularly holds them on Monday nights. For food, there are endless streets of restaurants, breakfast bars and takeaways offering all kinds of food imaginable, but with plenty of space for the hipsters. A lot of the restaurants are unmistakeable aimed at hipsters, but who cares when the food they serve is that damn tasty? Head to Reuben Hills for breakfast with a friend like I did and enjoy eating soft baked eggs with chorizo and kale while sunshine pours through the windows. Pump yourself full of vitamins and health food at Organic Produce - a fabulous and really busy little restaurant, which is the city's first organic cafe, and caters for all dietary requirements. I could go on for days about all the amazing things to do, eat and explore in Surry Hills, but instead, why don't you guys go off and have fun finding your own favourites?
Have you been to Surry Hills or Newtown? What restaurants or bars can you recommend? Have you been to The Soda Factory for a vintage night of fun?
I'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.But 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!
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!
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!
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?
*This was a sponsored post but all opinions are my own
Being a journalist hasn't given some people the best reputation in the last couple of years, but that doesn't mean that journalism is a bad career choice. If anything, I say that journalism has opened countless doors for me and has given me some awesome opportunities over the last few years. There are lots of amazing things about the job - you get to work with people which is perfect for social butterflies like myself, you get the chance to hear amazing stories first-hand and have the privilege of sharing them with the world, the trust that your readers and those sharing their stories place in you. There are a lot of tougher sides of the job as well, like having to write a tribute to one of your former best friends after a horrible accident, but that is why I think it is important to enjoy the good parts.I know some don't agree with getting freebies through journalism, but this is one of my favourite parts of the job - the privilege and extras that come with it. Journalism opens you up to a world of opportunities that you would never have had otherwise, and that is something I love about it.I know a fair few journalists who never really take advantage of the extras in the job, which personally I think is a shame considering how low paid so many journalists are. I know some won't agree, but I tend to look at it as the tips a waitress would get. This is just a bonus to the job and, as a bit of a blagger, I don't mind asking - I always figure if you don't ask you don't get. Which is clear from how many amazing things I have been lucky enough to gain - I always ask the question. So what have been my best blags and the top experiences my job has given me?
Of course, we're not all in it for the freebies, we do it for the love of the job and a passion for reporting news. But, being a journalist is a stressful job with constant deadlines, you work hard and if opportunities come up I don't think we should be afraid to snap them up. Much like bloggers accepting gifts of review products. There's plenty more I haven't listed - so budding journalists, if anyone tells you that you are making a mistake with your career - why not ask them if their job gives them the chance to do all of these amazing things?
What's the best freebie you've ever had through work? Are you thinking about going into journalism?