Gemma Cairney’s guide to Glastonbury and other festival faves

Although the British weather would often have us think otherwise, summer is  finally here! And it just isn’t summer without the inclusion of a music festival or two; standing in a muddy field listening to our favourite bands seems to have become part of the fabric of British summertime. When it comes to music, festivals, fashion and style, Radio 1Xtra presenter Gemma Cairneycertainly knows her stuff! As the BBC’s roving reporter for Glastonbury she has guided us through three years of the legendary festival and has also presented alongside the equally stylish Miss Chung on T4’s ‘Frock Me’. Outside the studio, she also works as a stylist and has performed her magic on Florence and the Machine and the Pigeon Detectives.

I asked the lovely Miss Cairnet to share her finest festival moments and her top survival tips!

You’ve been the BBC’s roving reporter at Glastonbury for the past few years; what’s it been like working at Glastonbury?

Mind-blowing! Glastonbury is the father of British festivals and you can feel that in its air. You feel free to do whatever you please and no one will judge you. Nowhere else in the world does it feel so good to be so dirty (in the muddy sense of course). To be asked to illustrate this magic via the TV is a true honour and the only telly job I’ve felt truly represents everything about my real personality. There, I’ve talked fashion, walked a tight rope, screamed, danced hard with the joker and kissed Florence Welch on the lips all with a camera in my face!

What’s been you’re most memorable festival experience?

Well, all of the above were pretty poignant but I think being unofficially recruited (or so I thought) to be my friend’s backing dancer on the Pyramid stage – one of the main stages – one year at Glastonbury in exchange for a ticket. When she asked me, I really thought she meant just ‘sort of’ jump around in the background whilst she sang. But before I knew it, in the lead up to the festival I was attending dance rehearsals and getting fitted for a skeleton outfit! I am no trained dancer, but I learned my steps in time. It involved a lot of shuffling and my body shaking with laughter. That was during my many years of ‘The Blag’!

Who has been the best live act you’ve seen perform, and who are your festival favourites?

I feel guilty to keep referring to Glasto because many other festivals are dear to my heart, but my favourite is Jay Z, who left me a startled, awe ridden, hip hop obsessive when he performed – amongst the controversy – in 2008. You could feel the crowd’s anticipation: ‘Will it work? Won’t it?’ and despite his presence when you saw his face for the first time on stage you could feel his nerves. He aced it and the excitement was INCREDIBLE!

Other festival favourites include Vampire Weekend (my friend cut her lip open last year at Latitude because we were dancing so hard).Florenceand the Machine is just illuminating every single time. (I think it’s because she’s an actual mythical fairy that lives in a tree). Oh and I had the most amazing summer in 2006 where I saw the Strokes three times at three different festivals and fell utterly in love. Oh and that same year I saw Regina Spektor and found her wonderful too … this is a dangerous question; I could go on FOREVER!

Do you have any advice for our readers when it comes to surviving a weekend at a music festival – what are your Do’s and Don’ts?

DON’T wear anything to tight and constricting – you’ll want to roll around.

DO seek out the alternatives to the headliners that persuaded you to get tickets in the first place. There is a lot to be found in comedy/poetry tents.

DON’T believe you’ve fallen in love in two days; it’s likely the ‘free love’ has taken over.

DO meet some of your best friends of the future.

DON’T shoot your load and get too trashed the first night, I know it’s hard, but the hangover WILL leave you feeling guilty.

DO eat some good food. Festivals aren’t talked about because of food, but I’ve got amazing memories of oysters in the woods, amazing Thali, and ostrich burger.

Gemma Cairney will be bringing us all the inside action and gossip from Glasto when she reports live from festival for the BBC this summer and you can catch her show on Radio 1Xtra weekdays from 1-4pm!

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