What makes a festival experience different to a traditional gig?

Written by SarahGoodyer

Whether it’s a field in the middle of nowhere or in the centre of a city, there’s nothing quite like the experience of a music festival.

The grotty portaloos, the camping in hoards of mud, the wash-out weather, and the drinking of warm beverages; UK festivals rarely fail to deliver all the above.

Festivals are like a short holiday, an expedition away for the weekend – a camping trip with the added bonus of hearing and watching live music.

The great thing about music at festivals is bands and artists are more likely to play their most popular tracks to cater to a wider fan base, so it’s practically guaranteed your favourite tunes will be played.

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Even though food and drink at festivals is extortionately priced, the breakdown of the music selection at festivals works out as exceedingly good value for money. 

According to a study conducted by, they found a weekend ticket price of about £200+ for Reading and Leeds Festival worked out at just £2.50 per artist, whilst T in the Park was even cheaper equating to £1.80 per act.

At a traditional gig, you can expect to pay £30 upwards for an arena-sized artist without the added extras of the outdoors, as we all need an essence of nature to surround us from time to time.

With the technically inexpensive worth of a weekend ticket, festival-goers get the chance to see bands they wouldn’t necessarily pay to see on their own tour, and can also seek out and discover bands they’ve never even heard of.

Although it’s undoubtedly a significant part of any festival, they’re not only about the music. The headliners may attract a number of people to a particular festival in the first place, but there are plenty of festivals that provide extra features. Lovebox, for example, has a spoken-word stage, The Great Escape, in Brighton, offers industry-networking events, whilst Glastonbury has circus performers, poets and its infamous Healing Field.

Similarly, people no longer need to act primitively at festivals; a great number of festivals offer a ‘glamping’ option so you can live the experience in luxury and comfort.

But there is currently no escaping the unspeakably repulsive toilets that festivals offer. Although the toilets at most gig venues are far from luxurious, festivals loos are on another level, but it’s all part of the festival experience you’ll remember in years to come.

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It’s not just the weekend festivals that can offer an enjoyable experience though. It’s clear that more and more people are craving the festival format over gigs, as evident with the increase in bands and artists putting on their own festival-style outdoor shows.

Massive Attack, for example, are set to play at Hyde Park this summer, whilst The Last Shadow Puppets and James Bay are both booked to play at Castlefield Bowl in Manchester this July.

The idea of a mini one-day festival is becoming more popular as fans know for certain they won’t be missing their favourite band or artist due to inconvenient clashes. At festivals, clashes are inevitable, whether that be between two bands you want to see, or if your mates all want to see a different act simultaneously.

Whilst traditional gigs offer the opportunity for bands to showcase their lesser-known, loyal fan favourites, where else can you expect to see Muse, Adele, and Coldplay headline in the same weekend other than at this year’s Glastonbury?

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It’s not that traditional gigs are unappealing, as their advantage is not having to rely on the weather to play a large role in keeping people’s spirits high. But if the rain does decide to pack its bags, and let the sun headline for once, a traditional gig will never come close to that of the festival experience.  

What do you think? Do you prefer festivals or traditional gigs? Let us know in the comments below!