Boom Festival in 2016 was the first and only festival I’d ever been to outside of the UK. I’m pretty experienced with festivals and camping in general, so I knew to expect an extremely hot, dry and dusty climate.
I was well prepared and had the right sort of gear to be comfortable in the heat without having to spend too much money.
This story is about the journey into the festival.
I started in Cascais, the original plan was to leave first thing in the morning, drive during the day to arrive at the festival by early afternoon. For reasons which I no longer remember, the group of friends I was with changed our minds at the last minute and we decided to drive through the night.
We all left Cascais at about 11pm.
Boom Festival is in Idanha-a-Nova and approximately 3 hours away. It actually took slightly longer and not because we got lost; we stopped several times for coffee and met fellow Boomers along the way. Most of journey was on motorways, passing several toll booths of various cost, the most expensive one being about €1.20.
Motorways in Portugal are in much better condition than motorways in the UK. As we got closer to Idanha-a-Nova, the roads went from well-lit motorways to pitch-black rural roads. It was complete and utter darkness, we were driving along, continuing at a good pace and then we stopped in what seemed to be a single-file line of cars – it was the entrance queue.
The time was about 3.30am. It was a very warm night – the car was showing 26 Celsius.
Persied Meteor Shower
We stepped out of the car to stretch and have a cigarette in the darkness. Most of the cars in the queue had their lights off to save power; it was so dark and the stars were tremendously bright, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky to distort the spectacular view of the night-sky.
The first day of the festival was August 11th 2016, which just so happened to coincide with the Persied Meteor Shower and we were lucky enough to see several “shooting stars” or meteors.
We sat on the side of the road and stared at the stars. Then the cars in front started to move one by one – we got back in the car to edge forward with the rest of them.
This continued for about an hour or so, each stop becoming increasingly frustrating as we still couldn’t see the gates. The ticket says that gates are not open until 9am – but we knew from Facebook that people had started to arrive and were being let in.
As the clock turned 5am, we were at the gates.
The ticket check was quick and took place whilst we were still in the car. They required the name on your ticket to match the name in your passport. Showing your passport was essential and they were very strict on the name-matching.
The wristband was clamped into place and they cut the ends off, presumably to prevent people stitching bits of wristbands together to make one wristband and potentially sneak someone in. I’ve been told people do this as a way of sneaking into festivals…
Getting through the gates
Once we got through the gates there were no stewards or any signs of where to park. There was just a small toilet block containing a mixture of ‘regular’ flushing toilets and squat toilets (all the other toilets inside the festival were composting toilets.)
Most of the cars seemed to be driving in one direction so we just sort-of followed them. We kept going, and going, and going down an very dusty road.
It’s a hell of a long road from the gates into Boom festival. It was approximately 5:45am, the sun was coming up and we were driving through a haze of dust in the middle of nowhere, having had no sleep. It was exciting but uncomfortable.
People were actually walking down this road too, laden with their backpacks, tents and camping gear. They were holding their thumbs out for vehicles to stop and pick them up and drive the rest of the way, everyone we passed was wearing a scarf around their face as each passing vehicle was spraying them with yet more dust. We were driving along for about 15 minutes before we saw signs of life at the festival itself.
Our friends who arrived a few hours later were dropped at the entrance and had to get a taxi down that road. Apparently there were plenty of taxis lined up ready to take festival-goers from the gates to the main entrance. We didn’t see any taxis when we arrived, but it was silly o’ clock in the morning.
When we finally reached the car park (the road between the gates and the festival was just over 10km) there were stewards directing us into the car park. To be fair to Boom Festival, their setup is very organised. That 10km trek would certainly put off any potential ‘fence jumpers’ (there’s no huge fence – but you’d probably have to get through miles of wilderness to get in – I wouldn’t recommend being inside Boom with no wristband or ticket).
By this time the sun was almost up, the heat was rising and having to walk that distance in the heat would be very challenging.
We then faced an obligatory long, difficult walk ourselves from the car park to our preferred camping spot, finding a suitable place and pitching the tents. This is the same hard-work as it is with any festival and possibly the worst thing to have to endure when you’ve had no sleep.
There was a flat-bed truck driving up and down between the entrance to the central festival area but we didn’t get this on the way in (but did on the way out!)
No. We struggled along as the sun was rising and eventually found a camping spot – changed our minds and then found somewhere else. Of course, we couldn’t actually sleep because it was too hot, went swimming in the lake instead and waited for the sun to set before attempting any real sleep.
I’m glad we went through the night despite the sleep deprivation. That long queue of cars would have been there during the day as well. Arriving during the day time would have meant baking inside the heat of your stationary car for hours.
Also – despite the Boom Festival ticket saying ‘opens at 9am’, we got in at 6am – the campsites were already over halfway towards being full by this time. All the heavily shaded areas closest to the beach were pretty much full. We were extremely lucky to get the spot we did which was 30 seconds away from the beach 🙂
We have plenty more escapades, wanderings and adventures from festivals (and plenty of other places) to share. If you want to hear more of these sort of stories then please leave a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!