Festival Feet – What do you Wear?

Your feet take a hammering at festivals.

Your feet take a hammering at festivals. Those, like me, with office jobs where we sit on our bums, occasionally walking as far as the coffee machine, suddenly find ourselves upright for 15 hours a day. Walking miles between stages, dancing until the wee small hours, wading through mud and getting our tootsies trampled by our fellow festival goers.

The impact on your feet has become a big selling point for festivals that are on dry sites. Glade has a new site this year and one of the key things they’ve pointed out is the good drainage.  Glastonbury always make the news saying its improved drainage, sadly it also makes the news when the rain rolls in, like the delightful deluge of 2007 which saw people using canoes to get around and turning portaloos into boats!

The mud is a particular challenge, over the years it’s become de rigour to wear wellies at all festivals whatever the weather, just in case of that surprise downpour that transforms the landscape from sparkling green grass to glittering brown mud in a matter of hours.

The trouble is wellies are heavy; they make your feet hot when the sun shines and it’s really really hard to dance an impromptu Scottish reel whilst your feet are encased in rubber.  The mud may decide it owns your wellies and suck them straight off your foot, leaving your foot clad only in a sock and ankle deep in ooze. In addition when the rain really gets going at Glastonbury the mud is going to be deeper than the length of your well planned footwear!

Flip flops are another great festival footwear staple, they are fabulous when the sun is shining and you’re mooching around the stalls, dancing at the back of the stadium. However, it takes a brave and hardy soul to enter into the mosh pit wearing flip flops. Those wearing wellies and DMs have little regard for delicate toes. Add alcohol to the mix and well, bruised toes and bashed ankles seem ever more likely.

Crocs exploded across the festival scene in the noughties. After making an inroad into middle class shopping, the cheap knock off versions hit the market and everyone man, woman and child was seen sporting them. Trouble is they are not at all comfy and they tend to let the rain in. Oh and they’re ugly (not a universal opinion but it is my opinion).

Converse are my preferred choice for dry days. Keeping out the dust generated by thousands of feet tramping across fields and cool enough to wear all day. The soles are thin though and after a few hours of bouncing you’ll wish you’d put thick socks on. Removing them as you enter a wigwam provided for quiet meditation is a lengthy operation. But converse are versatile, protect your toes a little from bouncing dancing hedonists and look pretty cool too. Well if they’re good enough for David Tennant…

Army style boots are the only choice when it rains. Big, clompy, heavy, inelegant and guaranteed to protect your feet from pogoing moshers, unseen rabbit holes, sliding across mud and being exposed as your footwear is gripped by sticky mud that doesn’t want to let go.  They’re not pretty or particularly smart to begin with so it doesn’t matter if they get filthy and you end up with calf muscles anyone would be proud of from trekking miles with extra weight on your feet.  When the mud gets deep the only solution is to put your feet into bin bags, secure them above the knee with elastic bands and put the boots back on. The Scottish reel? Well you’ll just have to leave your boots on the side of the dance floor. It’s a festival you’re not supposed to look good!

Festival sites I love include:


For its location, beautiful woodland stages, lots of grass to chill out and lay back on when the sun shines. The Lake stage floating serenely whilst presenting amazing dance.  The site is really small meaning you can get from one stage to another really quickly and see a bit of everything.

The Big Chill

The site copes really well with the number of people, there always seems to be lots of space to spread out into.  Its ability to absorb the light rain, and the way the gentle hills form natural terraces by the main stages all contribute to making the festival a place you can both unwind and party hard.


Hard work – the site is huge! When the sun shines there is nowhere better in the whole world to pick up a newspaper, park yourself in front of an afternoon band and soak up the atmosphere. Trouble is, despite the improvements over the years, if you camp in the wrong place you could well find yourself waking up floating on your air mattress. And if the sun shines too brightly you will find yourself in a dust bowl as 400,000 feet turn grass to dust in the course of a day.  All the downsides and yet – every part of the site has a different feel, a huge array of opportunities and atmospheres – you have to love the Glasto site just for that.

All in all the site matters. It matters for the impact on your feet. It matters because it determines whether you can see the band/DJ/performer/artist you came to see, when 10,000 people turn up to see it. And it matters because the site becomes your home for the duration of the festival; it’s down to the organisers to make the site welcoming.

The right footwear will help you survive and enjoy any and every festival you attend.  Really though anything goes, men in stilettos, socks and sandals, furry slippers, bare feet, bin bags and diving fins have all be spotted in a festival field and that was just last year! Let’s face it, if you’re surrounded by all the excitement of a festival and looking down at feet you’ve either:

  • drunk so much you can’t lift your head.
  • dropped a tenner.
  • are very bored of the band.
  • or have a foot fetish!