music festivals

All the Ways People Tried, and Failed, to Sneak Into Music Festivals This Summer

"We could see the security guards ripping around in utes and 4x4s with massive spotlights looking for likeminded sneakers... It felt like we were escaping from prison."

by Samantha Howard
13 January 2017, 2:45am

Sneaking into music festivals is as old as festivals themselves. And that's because while we all love them—once you've forgotten about the scorching heat, the bad trips, and the showers—we've all found ourselves on the wrong side of the fence at least once. VICE asked around to find out the times you snuck in and succeeded, or ended up stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.  

Toby, Byron Bay 

How to stay warm when you didn't sneak in a sleeping bag

It was Saturday, day three of one of the Australia's biggest music festivals, and I was at work in the city. The fear of missing out was building rapidly, and my mind kept drifting off to what was happening at the festival. I decided I wasn't going to miss it. I texted my mate to see if he'd be down to sneak in. 

We didn't have a car so we had to get a train to the country town and hitchhike. After about two hours of attempting to hitch a ride, a friendly local girl on her way home turned around to see where we needed to go. She explained we'd have a really hard time getting picked up out here. So out of the kindness of her heart she drove us all the way to the country town where the festival was happening.

The sun started going down as we ran through the bush. We changed into all black clothes, assumed a position up on a hill, and waited until complete darkness. From up there, we could see the security guards were ripping around in utes and 4x4s with massive spotlights looking for likeminded sneakers. Every now and then you'd hear someone make a run for it, and then lights would follow them down through the dense bushland. 

As we made a move, we were sure we got caught by a spotlight pointing directly at us, the guards making their way closer. It felt like we were escaping from prison. The last 50 metres before the fence line we had to commando crawl below the spotlight view. Then we made the final sprint. My mate pulled way well ahead of me. Trying to keep up I tripped over a log and face-planted, before face-planting once again over a barbed wire fence. I made it in, but I'll always buy a ticket from now on.

Iman, Kuala Lumpur 

Confident, sneaky foxes

We got caught trying to sneak through a farm. We tried to be stealthy but then we saw a ute coming towards us and tried to run away and hide in a bush. A guard caught us and drove us back, telling us security had been notified and they knew what we looked like. He said to leave or they would call the police. 

We sat on the road for a long time pretty stressed about what the fuck to do at that point. We were completely stranded there. Eventually, we decided that our best option would be to go suss the front gate and maybe buy a ticket. Even though that would've meant all of our money gone. 

At the gate, we noticed there were so many people lining up to buy tickets. Being the sneaky foxes that we are we just kept walking without saying anything. I quietly said to my friend, "Put your hand in your bag like you're looking for something" so security couldn't see that we lacked wristbands. No one stopped us and we just waltzed on in and had the best five days of our lives.

Nick, Stockholm 

Niklas at a festival in Portugal, now a paying customer

My adventure started with me flying last minute to Barcelona, Spain and driving all the way to the festival in Portugal. When we got close I jumped out of the car. My friends, who had tickets, would drive in with all of our stuff. The only thing I had was my shorts, a shirt, and my wallet. I met a French guy and an Irish guy and we started to plan what would be the best way to sneak into the festival. We waited until it was dark, and really fucking cold. I borrowed a pair of shoes that were way too big for me from the Irish guy, and weird   Dune leather jacket from the French guy. We started our hike, taking regular pit stops to enjoy some treats on the way, and noticed there were guard towers lighting up the woods with flashlights, so we had to hide. Although, this might not all be true because, by this point, we were pretty fucked up.

After hiding and treating ourselves for three hours we finally made a move, climbing a huge wall. One more wall and we were in. Suddenly I was all alone inside the festival somewhere. In the distance I saw my French friend climbing another wall and suddenly getting chased by a gang of six guards. He ended up getting tackled to the ground. I found this both hilarious and scary, but I chose another direction. It was every man for himself at that point. 

After about five metres I was stopped by two guards. They took me in the back of a ute and dropped me off in the middle of nowhere and told me to go home. I realised that walking to the nearest town would take at least four hours along the curvy mountain roads, so I decided to go cross-country through the bush, jumping barbed wire fences, which made my legs bleed. After a few hours, I decided to go back and pay the hundreds of dollars to get into the festival. I ate a bag of mushrooms, went in to find my friends, and had one of the best times of my life. 

Jess, Melbourne 

A celebratory snap inside the festival

As I clung to dear life from the edge of the train station platform, looking down at the three-metre or so drop onto the train tracks, I thought to myself, maybe I should have bought a ticket. We drove to the train station, crept along the platforms and climbed over a nearby fence. We had to lower ourselves down from a cliff-face with our fingertips before literally dropping onto the train tracks below. 

The three boys before me dropped off with no worries, but I was shorter and nowhere near as brave. I dropped into the hands of my friend Mitch, who had snuck in before and knew the tricks of the trade. 

As I dropped down, my legs slid along the rock face and as soon as I landed on solid ground my legs began to bleed. We crept along the train tracks under a tunnel and we could hear the festival up ahead. As we crept closer, adrenalin increased. 

Arriving near a bridge—that had walls close enough to jump over—we looked around to see if the coast was clear. A group of legends up ahead spotted us and beckoned to us, waving us through and letting us know it was safe to enter. We jumped over the train line wall and sprinted into the festival. All in all, a great success (despite a few cuts and bruises).

Dean, London

Dean at the security tent after being busted

We drove on our merry little way from London to Cambridge for a sold out festival, arriving around 9 PM under the cover of darkness. We scoped out the entrance. It was armed with more security than the Gaza Strip. We conspicuously glided by with our bottles of cheap brandy, and started making our way though the fields to the glowing festival site. The walk should have taken us less than an hour. It took us the better part of three. The more brandy we drunk, the more we thought we were American soldiers wading through the thick Vietnamese jungle, Vietcong and booby traps around every corner; rather than just a couple of guys walking through the knee-high grass in a farm in rural Cambridge. Having escaped the clutches of farm dogs and a dive into some thorny bushes when a security van drove by, we had made it to the site. 

Watchtowers and floodlights scanned the ground whilst we hid in the shadows. A five metre high hedge stood in front of us. We waited for two patrolling guards to walk by. Then, like a drunk little mole, I went face first under the hedge. I felt my face and arms get torn apart trying to make a human-sized hole. Once I got my dangling legs through, I fell into a watery bog on the other side. As I was stuck between the hedge and a fence, a number of torches started to shine through in our direction, accompanied by shouts and authoritative threats. To make matters worse, my backpack had ripped open while I was crawling through and the 200 nangs were now somewhere in the bog, lost forever. 

With options looking slim, we pathetically crawled back out and into the arms of security and failure. The security put us in the back of a police van and escorted us to a strange holding pen for wannabe festival freedom fighters. Banning us from the city of Cambridge for 48 hours, they then spewed us back into the outside world with a mere slap on the wrist. Amidst a large number of fellow disaster stories, we partied in purgatory to the muffled soundtrack of the festival so near, yet so far away. 

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