Parents: Never take your teenagers to a music festival

With my husband stationed in London and myself and our two teenage children in Denmark, I am often on the lookout for events to attend together around London. In June, I received a news feed about the V-festival in Hylands Park, Chelmsford, England.

With performing artists like Rihanna, Lukas Graham, Craig David, Rick Ashley and many more, I thought it might be fun. My husband was also keen on going. Then I asked the kids. They turned out to know more artists on the list than me, and approved the idea.

The festival started on a Friday in late August and lasted till Monday. We had tickets for Sunday only and enjoyed a peaceful Saturday in central London. Sunday around noon we took the “festival express” train  to Chelmsford. Our fellow passengers were obviously heading for the same destination: Mostly girls wearing rubber boots, ultra-short shorts, tank tops, glitter paint and stars around their eyes, head flower wreaths, and hair set up in two high buns like horns. When arriving in Hylands Park, we discovered this was THE English female festival uniform.

The V-Festival offered plenty of things to watch and do: In addition to music, standup and dance scenes, there were huge bungee jump swings and insanely-fast-moving carousels. Concerts started on the five stages, and our youngest commented that she wished she had been here with her friends instead. The sun-scorched lawns were surprisingly clean, and we sat down to enjoy Travis performing on the main stage. The other teenager asked how long we would be there? It was around 1:30 pm, and Rihanna were expected to go on stage 8-9 hours later.


One band replaced the other, and we walked back and forth between stages to watch. All of a sudden, Lukas Graham went full blast and lightened up the mood: We enjoyed Lukas’ vocal, the soul-funk-pop-big band sound, and of course the sight of tiny Danish flags popping up in the audience. And while clapping, singing, and moving my hips, I tried to ignore my teenagers’ raised eyebrows. The question “when do we leave?” came up several times, with variations like “do we eat dinner here as well?”, “I have to get home and write to my teacher”, “I look forward to talking to someone my own age”, and “I thought it was a concert, not a full day festival!”

Around 7:30 pm Little Mix rocked out on the main stage. One teenager was thrilled (despite the presence of her family), the other one tired. We decided to call it a day and left the glittering festival participants who were dancing on the pizza-box-and-beer-cup-decorated lawn to catch a train. Apart from sore feet everyone was cheerful. But we agreed this was our last family trip to a music festival: Going together was stretching things a little too far. It all started with Rihanna catching my attention in a news feed. We had to save her for a later event. One without our teenagers.

By Kirsten Bukager

I am a Danish writer and visual artist. After several years in The Netherlands, I am back in my home country. M.Sc. in International Business Administration and Modern Languages fra Copenhagen Business School, Communication and Online Journalism studies at Webster University and London School of Journalism. Bachelor in Education. I have worked with communications and marketing for many years, and recently changed path to teaching (Danish language, Art, Social Studies). I have always had a creative mind and filled many drawing blocks and canvases. I write for pleasure. Most of my stories are about places and people I encounter on journeys around the world. I have an eye for cultural and social subtleties, and I am especially interested in travel and the arts. Drop me a line if you are interested in my art, my teaching, or if you have a question or comment. And feel free to follow me on Instagram.