T in the Park – time for change?

Scotland’s largest music festival will not be taking place next year. Amid increasing speculation over the future of the event, T in the Park bosses confirmed last week that the festival will “take a break” in 2017. Personally, I’ve always thought young Scots are missing out on a swathe of alternative music festivals due to the locality of T. There’s never been a better time to combine sun, sex and sand with the buzz of a music festival. So, this is a call to arms – young Scots should look beyond T to foreign festivals next year and here’s why.

Let’s begin by talking about enduring T. Obviously, it’s an incredible experience for a first timer. It attracts more than 225,000 attendees every year – mostly young, excited and a little drunk. Since its birth in 1994, notable headliners like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Arctic Monkeys have raised the profile of T to one of the UK’s best festivals. However, in 2013 only 20% of fans weren’t from Scotland. It seems many young Scots tend to go to T multiple times throughout their teens and never look to the wide array of foreign festivals on offer.

Once you head out of the country and see how the rest of the world party, suddenly T sits in a darker light. After a while waddling through the smelly, sticky swamp that personifies the Scottish festival, the novelty wears off. That feeling of cold rain running down your neck because you didn’t think to buy an overpriced poncho can be easily avoided.

If you look at how our European friends throw a festival, it’s a different ball game altogether. The swamp dries up, the sun comes out and the people walk hand-in-hand. Benicàssim, an annual event in Spain with a reputation for being amongst the best festivals on the international circuit, is the perfect example. I went in 2015 and enjoyed the extraordinary weather, the friendly hospitality and the effective organisation from the event team. The ticket system for buying drinks made queues smaller, there was no violence and the whole weekend in general had a much more relaxed atmosphere. People sat on the grass and simply immersed themselves in the music. There’s also a lot to do in Benicàssim itself. Karting, water parks, bars and clubs make staying on an extra day or two a great choice. We visited for 10 days in total and luckily our apartment was ideally located as it was just an hour’s stroll from the festival. After arriving at the site, we enjoyed a beer and explored the broad range of stages. Good times were had dancing the night away to Mark Ronson, sat on the grass, drenched in nostalgia watching Blur and laughing and cheering at the barrier enjoying Darwin Deez. To top it all off, a weekend ticket, which includes 8 days camping, is only £114, almost £100 cheaper than T in the Park.

A damp scene at T in the Park
A classic portrait of a British festival

There are hundreds of alternative festivals in exciting locations where you don’t need to battle with the weather, stress over the lineup and endure the often unappealing atmosphere. For the lovers of electronic music, there’s the hot sands of Baleapop festival in Southern France. For the punks and metal-heads, Fun Fun Fun festival in Austin, USA is just the ticket. Fans of rock and indie should definitely make the trip to the Pentaport Rock festival in Japan. Golden Plains festival in Australia is the ultimate hippie retreat and lastly, international music lovers are sure to enjoy the Lake of Stars festival in Malawi.

So, by all means go along to T in the Park when you’re 17 or 18 but remember there’s a plethora of other festivals with a variety of perks just waiting to be explored. Of course, many Scots love T and can’t imagine going anywhere else but, once you do, I promise you won’t regret it.