by Leo Owen
At 60, Dawn has now been going to festivals annually for fifteen years. Never having experienced a festival as a teen, she quickly made up for it the moment her four boys were old enough to go along. Now a grandmother to four, Dawn has made festivals a family affair with three Stewart generations partying together.
“The first one I went to was Reading Festival for a day when I was 45 and my youngest son, Wills, was 17. I remember watching Red Hot Chilli Peppers as the sun set and wanting to stay all weekend. Since then I've tried to go to two a year. I've been to Glastonbury, The Glade, Reading, Lounge On The Farm… I mostly go to rock and dance festivals but like all types of music. My favourite artists include Coldplay, Adele, Foo Fighters, Stevie Wonder, The Orb - the list goes on and on! I love all the live acts rain or shine but the best I've probably ever seen was David Bowie at Glastonbury in 2003.
“I've never been to a festival abroad because it's too far to go with the grandkids but the longest I've camped for was six days at Glastonbury in 2001. We visited Stonehenge first, and stood on the stones, watching the sunlight streaming through them. I take my little Bedford Bambi V camper van, ‘Maisy’, with me these days, which has a small gas cooker and a sink with a fresh water pump so I can wash in privacy.
“My husband, Jim, doesn't mind me going but won't go himself because he doesn’t like crowds. He also prefers the comfort of hotels so would never dream of camping whatever the weather. He wouldn't like the music that plays for most of the night in the campsites or the sound of merry folk rolling into their tents at five or six in the morning either! I love going because of the festival camaraderie and the ambiance is amazing - everyone is friendly and happy. It is great being with my family and all enjoying the same stuff - the smell of joss sticks, dancing, beer and cooked food.
“Recently, in the last three years I've been going with my grandchildren to child-friendly festivals like Glastonbury and my favourite, the intimate Glade. My grandkids always ask when they can go again after a festival, they have so much to do, getting involved in little plays and having stories read to them by up-and-coming young actors. The children love having their faces painted and dancing with all of us. They always go straight to sleep at the end of the day!
“I've never forgotten the time when my grandson, Ned, looked like a dancing mushroom, prancing around under a Japanese umbrella or when I accidentally hit a man in a rather painful place with my umbrella - I was using it as a walking stick, swaying it to the left and right when an unfortunate man walked past and got rather a nasty surprise. My daughter-in-law, Amanda, was in hysterics as he limped away.
“I've only had two bad experiences in the fifteen years I've been going to festivals so I've been pretty lucky really! The first was on the way to Reading when my engine blew up, thankfully right near the main site, outside a hotel car park. After a lot of help from kindly passers-by, I was allowed to leave it at the hotel and it was rescued by my very patient husband four days later. The other time my camper radiator blew at The Glade festival and afterwards we were very ungraciously towed all the way home. Thankfully poor Maisy's OK now and ready to go to Glade again this year on June 14th – yippee!”