Keeping safe at a foreign festival this summer

Beach-picture-sunglassesAs Ayrshire rock trio Biffy Clyro opened their Benicassim set last summer with comeback single ‘Wolves of Winter’, many Saltire flags flew high in the Spanish sky.

This is in part due to the upsurge in Scots travelling abroad for their live music festival experience over the past few years.

With a guarantee of sunshine, the buzz of a holiday and the excitement of checking out overseas terrain, the foreign festival is an exciting prospect for many.

Benicàssim (Spain), Lollapolooza (Paris and Berlin), Roskilde (Denmark), Sziget (Hungary), NOS Alive (Portugal) and Tomorrowland (Belgium) are just a handful of European festivals hosting the best line-ups for dance, pop, rock, indie and hip-hop.

Not that we want to rain on your parade (something that a Scottish summer does best), but there are a few safety tips that you should be aware of before you start dusting out your passport.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have a number of tips you can follow on the Festival travel checklist page on their website.

What happens if I’m a victim of a crime abroad?

Before you head off, make a note of the nearest British Consulate to where you are staying as they can help if you get into trouble.

You can find this information on the ‘Find a British embassy, high commission or consulate’ page on the website.

If you are unfortunate enough to have been a victim of a crime in an EU country, you can call 112 to contact the emergency services.

Look after your personal safety 

Don’t leave your valuables unattended. This may sound like an obvious point but lots of people get caught out every year. It may be tempting to leave your phone and wallet on the beach whilst you nip out for a quick dip in the ocean, but be aware that this can only invite problems and encourage thieves to steal your valuables.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office produced their Enjoy the Music Festival video in 2013 showing what happens when you aren’t careful with your belongings at a festival.

 Pickpockets actively target people who have had too much to drink and let their guard down. Drink responsibly, know your limits and stay alert.

Another important thing to remember is to get comprehensive travel insurance and if you are travelling to a European destination, remember to take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This will entitle you to medically-necessary care within the EU and EEA and will be accepted by all state hospitals.

Look after your passport

Keep your passport secure at all times. Many festivals offer secure lockers for your valuables at a low cost. Before you go remember to take 2 photocopies of your passport with you to present if anything does go wrong.

If you do lose your passport - don’t fear - you can get an Emergency Travel Document which will get you home. This will cost you £100 and will require you to go to your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate after you’ve made an application online.

Foreign festivals graphic with quoteMost festivals have information points that you can go to for help if you do get into trouble or are looking for advice.

Don’t take drugs

Avoid any involvement with illegal drugs and don’t put yourself at risk. Different countries have different laws when it comes to possession and the penalties can be severe. 

Don’t take drugs or New Psychoactive Substances (misleadingly referred to as ‘legal highs’) – there is no ‘safe’ way to take them and you can never know what’s in the drug or how it will affect you.

If you have taken a substance and don’t feel well, seek medical assistance immediately.

Show respect abroad to locals

Research local laws and customs and learn a few useful phrases to get you by. The locals will respect the fact you’re making the effort and it will also lessen your chances of getting into trouble.

‘Gracias’, ‘Merci’, ‘Danke’, ‘Grazie’… a simple local phrase will earn good grace from the locals!

Foreign festival purple light stage imageWe spoke to Detective Inspector Allan Elderbrant from Safer Communities who told us the following:

"Whether you are going to a festival at home or abroad the same rules apply, look after your personal safety and those around you, drink sensibly and remember there is no safe way to take drugs.

"Police Scotland and our law enforcement partners abroad want you to enjoy your festival safely and create great memories.

"Take some time to read all the safety messages provided and have a great time."

If you're heading to a Spanish festival read the advice from the British Consulate General Madrid on the page on Heading to a Spanish festival this summer? Be #festivalaware