We will rock you

RockNess boasts beautiful scenery, top bands and a chilled vibe. Kirsty Gibbins tells us why it's become her festival of choice.

Experiencing an outdoor music festival is a bit like going feral for a few days. Personal hygiene is hard to come by, the diet goes out the window and you become a magnet for bugs. But before you decide to make a panic call to the box office to cancel your ticket let me tell you why I'm going to be embracing the festival lifestyle for a third year.

Now, I'd be the first to admit that I am not exactly a rugged type. In fact, my ideal day involves being pampered in a luxury salon, hand-fed chocolates by gorgeous men, then heading for cocktails. So it was for the love of a boy - my musician boyfriend to be exact - that in 2007 I agreed to spend three days away from home comforts like my hairdryer, shower and comfy mattress.

I didn't fancy the 80,000-strong crowds of T in the Park. So we plumped for the shores of Loch Ness, south of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. Then attracting just 35,000 revellers, a low number by most festivals' standards and the perfect event for a novice like me.

I arrived at the massive campsite lit up with overhanging fairy lights as far as the eye could see, alive with the hum of conversation. There was a buzz in the air and I will never forget that wonderful wave of anticipation the next morning, being part of that crowd at the moment the gates opened.

Unfortunately, that sense of wonder faded a little when the clouds parted and the Scottish sun emerged - because silly old me had forgotten the suntan lotion. And, like so many of my fellow countrymen and women, I have 'peely wally' skin that burns all too easily. Despite this, I braved the heat of a tent packed with hundreds of hot, sweaty bodies to hear electronic duo Daft Punk rock the stage that night, before retreating to the campsite and - very gingerly - sliding into my sleeping bag.

My return to RockNess the next year was an even greater success (basically because I came armed with a chemist's-load of sunscreen). I laughed with new friends, appreciated the great mix of music by dancing and singing in the crowds like a drunken dervish, barely slept and even dabbled in mind-altering drugs (but don't worry dear friends - they were legal, herbal substances).

But my favourite memory is joining the thousands of people who flocked to the main stage to watch Rock Ness favourite Fatboy Slim bring the festival to a close with an awesome DJ set that earned him applause like thunder.

While we're on the subject of that last night, I'd also like to take the opportunity to apologise to the poor souls who witnessed me falling out of a port-a-loo, hastily dragging my trousers up, in a desperate scramble to see the gorgeous, glittering fireworks that lit up the sky as a final farewell to the crowd.

Then came perhaps the greatest joy of all - that I came back home almost the same colour as when I had left. God bless factor 40. There is absolutely no doubt that I shall be returning again this year. Roll on RockNess 2009.

RockNess, 12-14 June, Dores, Loch Ness,


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