Alcohol and festivals often go hand in hand
Alcohol is an important ingredient of a lot of the big festivals for young people. Drinking alcohol is often prohibited in the concert area, but there are a lot of enclosures selling beer and wine. There’s a minimum age limit in these enclosures and the checks are thorough, but the fact that alcohol can only be drunk in a particular location doesn’t mean that they are the only place you’ll find people who’ve been drinking. There are an awful lot of people moving around in front of the stages and a lot of them will have drunk too much. And alcohol tends to flow freely in the camping areas, too – there’s no one there checking whether the people drinking are of age to drink or whether they’re drinking too much. Nor does there tend to be anyone checking how much alcohol you bring in with you, which means that teenagers who want to drink can do so, completely undisturbed. And if they haven’t brought any alcohol with them, there will be plenty of people willing to share. On top of that, a lot of festivals are also sponsored by alcohol manufacturers, thereby signalling that alcohol and festivals do, indeed, go hand in hand.
I'd never be allowed to go to a festival. They're full of drunks and anything could happen.
Moa, aged 15, Umeå
Find out what the rules are
Every festival has different rules about age limits and alcohol. Find out what the rules are for the festival that your son or daughter wants to go to. There are also a lot of drug-free events organised specifically for young people.
Keep in touch
Make sure that your teenager has a phone with them or that you have a means of contacting them if they’re at a festival. Mobile coverage can sometimes be poor when there are lots of people in the same place, and getting through can be difficult. The music can be loud too, making it hard to hear when the phone rings, so it can be a good idea to agree on times when you can be in touch.
Talk about the risks beforehand
Prepare your teenager for the risks in and around the festival. It’s not just about the fact that there will be alcohol and people who are drunk. There are large numbers of people in the same place at festivals and it’s hard, for both security personnel and visitors, to keep an eye on what’s happening. It’s a good idea to talk about the sort of things your teenager may encounter there, such as sexual approaches or harassment, drugs, violence, and theft.
My parents want me to tell them everything. But they'd have a heart attack if I did.
Mona, aged 15, Umeå
Make it easier for them to say, “no”
Help your teenager by giving them reasons why he or she shouldn’t drink. Be clear about what you feel and what your concerns are. Your teenager might choose to drink anyway, but studies show that what you say does matter in terms of what happens and how things turn out.
If you don’t want to let your teenager go to a festival by themselves, why not suggest that you go with them? It could be a fun, shared experience and good for your relationship. You don’t have to stick to them like glue and tag along with them everywhere they go, but you being there can act as a safety net in case something happens.
Stand up to peer pressure
Don’t let your teenager go to a festival just because everyone else is allowed to go. Many parents are worried about their teenagers being excluded from their social group if they don’t go, but there’s no guarantee that this will be the case. No one – however old they are – can do everything, and it might be useful to learn this at an early age.