Festival vs Gig: why the festival wins

It’s nearly that time of year where each weekend sees a different festival taking place somewhere in the world. From Coachella this month to the build up to Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds and many others just beginning; nothing quite says summer like spending it in a field full of live music.

Live music, in all its forms, offers something that you can’t get elsewhere. Listening to music at home, on the train or in the car is great fun but the immersive experience of seeing it live is similar to that of going to the cinema. It’s often, louder, bigger and better. The music comes to life via lights, some pyrotechnics and the emotions written across the faces of the musicians. From experience, you can often pick up something new about a song that you may not have noticed before, or it can make you fall in love with a song that you may have been fairly indifferent about. It is a far more active than a passive situation. 

Spoilt for choice

Whilst going to a gig means that you are guarenteed to be seeing a band that you’ve chosen to go to, plus one or two support acts, the festival gives you the ability to do that times ten. With most festivals taking place across two or three days and with countless numbers of bands and artists on the line-up you’re spoilt for choice. In a day you might just be able to see 5 of your favourite bands perform whilst discovering someone new at the same time. Though often performing slightly shorter sets at festivals, compared to their own shows, bands regularly select the hits you want to hear and often throw in a festival exclusive occasionally with a special guest! It’s a cost effective way to catch so many bands you love at once. 

There’s something fun about running between stages to make sure you don’t miss the start of someone’s set. It’s all part of that special festival atmosphere everyone talks about. There really is a ‘festival bubble’ that you find yourself in across the weekend. It hits you as soon as you arrive at the field or chosen location and you’re surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other like-minded people. Throughout the event there’s a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air, especially if there is a special set that everyone’s waiting for. Spending a weekend in a location usually lacking in phone signal and full of like-minded people who are all there for the same thing is special.


Aside from the music, there are often little quirks to each festival that offer something else. From comedy, to spoken word, that hidden area of the field to sit and have a drink in, to that little independent stall selling something you’ve not seen elsewhere. It all adds to the festival experience. Festivals offer more than just the chance to catch songs you love performed live, they give you that opportunity to take a step away from real life and reality and become wrapped up for a few days in a whole new place and feeling.

It goes without saying that food and drink are a fairly big part of festivals. It isn’t all overpriced beer and greasy burgers. Many festivals, especially the smaller indepedent ones, offer a wide range of local cider and beer along with a whole variety of food options. Pizza cooked in wooden stoves, cheese trucks to vegan options, it can sometimes be as tricky to choose what to eat as it is to decide which band to see in that difficult clash of sets. 

What isn’t there to love about standing in a field with some great food watching your favourite song performed live as the sun sets? Surely hard for anyone to resist. 

It’s more than worth a couple of nights in a tent with no shower – that’s why there are baby wipes and dry shampoo after all!

Which do you prefer – the festival or the gig? Let us know in the comments below!