Time to unpack the muddy tents, don the colourful wellies and crack open the warm beers; Festival Season is upon us! This glorious, (we pray) sunny and hazy season, takes to the stage next weekend with Isle of Wight and Download kicking things off in the UK. The US, always one step ahead, held their Detroit “Movement 2011” Festival at the end of May, featuring Fat Boy Slim, Carl Craig and Skrillex, as well as another addition to its impressive lineup; their improved (and impressive) iphone app.
The app included features such as line ups, times, a map, band and artist info, scheduler, alarmed scheduler, a friend finder feature, music and photos. Everything you could possibly need, and want, past water and extra toilet roll. This got me wondering; which music festivals are providing a similar thing for mobile in the UK?
While there are apps that can simultaneously give numerous lineups and info for more than one festival, there are no current apps solely dedicated to our first big festival on the Isle of Wight. Chris Blackmore, a University student from Plymouth, invented an app for Glastonbury last year called “iFest” which received 3,500 downloads at the festival, prompting Apple to officially promote it. After Glastonbury, Chris worked on adding more festivals to this app, such as V, Leeds and Reading, and Bestival. This app is now available for 2011 and includes quite a few UK festivals (one of which is Isle of Wight). Tent finder features (using GPS), venue maps, live updated weather info and a facility to link with social networking sites are all included.
Download festival has an unofficial app which includes the lineup, regular updates of any changes and the option to make a customized list of bands. There are also map features (including location points and multiple points of interest you can save), plus bands are sent directly to your phone as they are announced. The makers claim there is absolutely no need for a paper program and the cost of this app is $2.99.
The next festival of the year is the mighty Glastonbury and, not surprisingly, they are leading the way in optimizing mobile, using their improved and evolving “GlastoNav” app for the third year running now. Maybe it’s because Glastonbury is ten times bigger than most other UK festivals, or maybe it’s because its paper guide has to be a full-page magazine just to cover the main acts. Either way Orange’s official Glastonbury app is ready for Iphone and android users, and a version for Nokia handsets will be out before the festival starts. The GlastoNav application has all the standard features of a festival app and, for the first time ever, an Augmented Reality version will also be available for the iphone to download during the week of the Festival. It’s all completely free too.
July is brought in by Wireless festival and sees T in the Park, Latitude, Lovebox, Global Gathering and Womad grace its 31 days (among so many more regionally-based gatherings). Wireless festival has a mobile website but no official app. T in the Park has an unofficial app for $2.39 where you can check lineups and make customized plans for your festival days. Reading and Leeds festivals also have apps.
The hugely popular festival of V falls in August and their 2010 app was hugely successful, leading us to believe their 2011 app will be released shortly. Bestival also had a successful app last year which was £2.99 to download and worked across a number of operating systems.
I was surprised, however, how little I could find out about apps for various smaller festivals. The internet forums are gagging with requests, yet not much is being done. A festival may not be the safest place for a mobile phone, but having all that information in one place can only be extremely useful and helpful to the average festival lover. As we approach the height of summer I expect (and hope) a lot more mobile apps to pop up around the Internet, whether they be official or not.
Other apps that have been created especially for this season are the following; “Tentfinder”, at £1.19 and working on GPS, helps locate your tent and prevents you from staggering off in the wrong direction. “Festival Star” lets you plan your own festival days with line ups (£2.99), and “NHS Drink Calculator”, not strictly for festivals but definitely a useful tool, is free and lets you track your alcohol consumption.
Whereas some UK festivals seem to be very clued up to mobile, others don’t. Those that are lagging behind will probably wish they had been a little more proactive in the mobile space. Whether it’s mud wrestling with your tent, sitting in a circle full of guitar-playing-hippies, raving away to some electronic, or simply enjoying the highlights from the comfort of your own sofa – have fun this festival season and watch this space because, guaranteed in 2012, mobile will be taking centre stage.