Writer and music aficionado Aine Cronin McCartney introduces you to the ten types of wonderful people you are likely to meet at Stendhal.
Check out https://ainecroninmccartney.com/ for more of her work.
As with any festival, one of the best parts of the experience is the weird and wonderful people you meet along the way. Having graced a few different festivals over the years, I must say that some of the characters I have met at Ballymully farm are by far some of the most interesting. For anyone who has attended the festival before I’m sure you’ll recognise a few of the people that you will meet at Stendhal.
• The Nomad: As with most festivals there are always those who choose to embrace festival life solo and Stendhal is no different. Having met a few wanderers over the years it was last year while on the shuttle bus from Limavady up to the farm that I met Connor. Using a large black bin bag for all his belongings, Connor had travelled the whole way from Cork just to attend. Telling me how he had left home just over a week to attend another festival where someone had told him about Stendhal, off he went without telling a being he was going. We spent the remainder of the journey trying to top his very retro Nokia phone with a ten euro voucher so he could let his Mam know where he went. #notallthosewhowanderarelost.
• The Festival First Timers: You can usually recognise festival first timers by the amount of unnecessary luggage they have decided to bring. You tend to tend to learn after a few festival experiences that if you need to bring a suitcase you’ve brought too many things. While it’s tough you’ll realise that the several outfit changes and novelty items you brought is just not worth the struggle and will leave them behind for the next year. Not too big and too small you will always be able to locate the lost member of your group in no time before having to call out a search party. Stendhal is brilliant Festival to attend regardless of how many times you’ve been but especially if it’s your first.
• The Festival as old as timers: After years and years of festival attendance these festival as old as timers have perfected it. Planning a festival properly can take strategic military planning and these people have it to tee. Managing to fit all necessary items to one small bag or fanny pack you can usually find them waking around with a slight air of arrogance at prepared they are. Remember though, they too had to have first time festival experience so why not make Stendhal yours!
• The friend you don’t see: You’ve planned out Stendhal for weeks, had multiple phone-calls and group chats about what you’re wearing and how much alcohol to bring. Everyone has met to get ready and leave together. Everything is going swimmingly and this will be the best weekend with your friends before you all go to Uni in September. You arrive, pitch your tent and decide to crack a drink only to discover your bestie has made their way over to the tent blaring music across the way. You don’t see this friend for the whole festival until you are dismantling your tent at the end of the weekend.
• The mud lovers: While here in Northern Ireland it would be very naïve of us to expect non-stop sunshine on an August weekend (Sun in summer, are you mad?) there seems to be those who relish the rain. The minute a drop appears in the sky there is always a group who seem to shed layers, shoes included to embrace the weather. The best bit of mud is usually located close to the main stage and although fun to watch it is not an activity I want to take part in. Despite knowing what the weather is going to be like every year I try to ignore everything I already know. By the end of the night I’m the one wearing approximately ten of my friend’s coats while simultaneously trying to show off my outfit that I took days to pick.
• The over excited fan: With probably the best line up of local music, Stendhal is every Irish music fans dream. So it’s not unusual to see some attendees sporting every band tee and merch item they can possibly wear at one time. Carefully planning their weekend with precision of how to catch as many acts as possible, this over excited fan will also have planned the best route of how to get from stage to stage. You can normally catch these fans hovering around just before their favourite acts take to the stage to grab a sneaky photo or chat with the band. How do I know? I’m usually one of them!
• The over prepared camper: There are usually two types of campers who arrive at festivals, those who bring everything and their kitchen sink and those who don’t bring anything. For the over prepared camper there has more than likely been weeks of lists involved, several shopping trips, a suitcase and two dozen bags.Having to make several trips to and from the car to collect all your belongings is an effort in itself just to live in luxury for two days. While there is a certain smugness in seeing how envious your friends are, isn’t that the point of camping to experience at least some sort of nature !?
• The under prepared camper: There is definitely a nice comfy middle ground right between over prepared and underprepared that I’m still yet to find but will strive to achieve. There will always be one annoying friend who brings nothing, while borrowing everything from clothes to a toothbrush from you. Don’t be that friend, be prepared.
• The campsite stayers: Every year there are a few who make the whole trip to Stendhal just to stay at the campsite. While I must admit the campsite craic is always mighty, there is so much more on offer just one minute over the barrier. So instead of sitting on your garden chair that you managed to bring and guzzling cans get up and go experience everything that Stendhal is.
• The volunteers: While unbeknown to some Stendhal attendees who when they arrive think that the festival has somehow manifested overnight there has been months and months of hard work. Often working night and day in the lead up to the festival it is the selfless volunteers who help make the festival what it is. In fact you will see most of them still working away all weekend to make sure you have a fun and safe Stendhal experience. So be sound and make sure to show all the volunteers some love and respect.
So all I can say is embrace all the wackiness you meet along the way for they’ll be the people you’ll be taking about long after Stendhal ends.