What's It Like Going to a Music Festival Sober?

music festival

In today’s blog, we chat to Lindsey Fish; founding trustee of the For The Love of Clarity charity and who recently celebrated her one-year sober anniversary…at Glastonbury Festival!

Hi Lindsey, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today!

You recently celebrated your one-year sober anniversary while at Glastonbury Festival. Firstly, a massive congratulations on reaching that huge milestone! Can you tell me a little bit about your decision to adopt a sober lifestyle? What was the moment of clarity which told you that alcohol had to go?

Yes, I did and thank you! I was brought up around alcohol, and I drank from an early age like most teenagers—just having fun and then later going out at weekends. But I started to abuse it, using it as my ‘medicine’ when I suffered from postnatal depression in 2017. I lost my business in 2018, and then I went into a deep dark hole and didn’t come out for a couple of years, drinking the whole time. 

When I came back out of that dark place, when I found myself having hope and feeling happy, the alcohol was still there. That was when I knew it was a problem. My moment of clarity came when I was left brokenhearted in June 2022. I knew that if I was ever going to have the kind of life and relationship I so desperately wanted, the alcohol would have to go. Moderation was just not possible for me.

You documented your sober experiences at Glastonbury in a brilliant piece with the Guardian. What were your highlights from the festival, and what advice would you give anyone thinking about flying solo at Glastonbury without drinking? Is it something you’d do again? And, if so, what would you do differently?

It was an amazing experience and I am very glad I went. Going alone wasn’t an issue for me at all. I felt safe at all times. Not drinking was also fine. I am lucky in that I don’t get cravings at all or miss alcohol in the slightest, so that wasn’t a problem either. 

If I were to do it again, I think I would try to be more patient! To see people you want to see, you need to hang around stages sometimes, and being alone, I had nobody to chat or hang out with, which meant I didn’t stay in some places long enough.  

I later learned that if I had waited a bit longer, what followed was usually pretty epic! So I really wish I’d been more patient. Also, the site is absolutely massive—it’s insane!  So, next time, I will have a better idea about planning my days and doing my research before I go. I didn’t do any this time around. So, my advice is: you cannot flit around stages, plan your days! :)

Lindsey Fish at Glastonbury festival

"It was an amazing experience and I am very glad I went. Going alone wasn’t an issue for me at all. I felt safe at all times. Not drinking was also fine."

How well do you think bars, restaurants and supermarkets in the UK cater for those living the sober life? Have you noticed an improvement in the choice available over the last year or so?

On the whole pretty poor. I live in a rural area so haven’t seen supermarkets with huge sections of alcohol-free myself, but have seen some photos on social media.

I have noticed a difference when I go out, though. I went out-out on Friday with some local sober friends and they drink alcohol-free. We went to a cocktail bar, and it was nice as they served us 0% beer in an ice-cold glass. It’s that kind of experience which makes you feel like you are out. So I enjoyed that.

But you don’t always see these things—you have to ask, and it obviously still isn’t the norm to go into a bar and order alcohol-free drinks. Also, something that came up was that we are actually funding the alcohol companies when we buy alcohol-free, and the price isn’t far off a drink that is alcoholic, so it’s all a bit topsy-turvey. I don’t think the market and opportunity to cater for us have been truly thought out yet. It’s just a second thought for alcohol companies right now, sadly. 

Somebody will one day, and they will make a killing!

What is your non-alcoholic drink of choice? Have you ventured down the path of mocktails or alcohol-free wines and beers, or is that something you steer clear of?

I have an alcohol-free beer on special occasions! I have only tried alcohol-free wine once. But my tipple used to be prosecco, so I didn’t know how I felt about that. I gave up the booze, and for me personally, I don’t really want a replica in my hand as it was also about changing habits. I don’t want to be drinking two bottles of no-secco a night!

I remember the first time somebody handed me an alcohol-free cider. I could only drink half of it as I was scared of the 0.001% of alcohol that may be in it. I truly do not want it in my system on any level.

So, usually, I go for cranberry juice, lemonade, lime and soda! If I am feeling crazy, I will have an energy drink or alcohol-free 0% beer. 

Lindsey Fish and family

"We went to a cocktail bar, and it was nice as they served us 0% beer in an ice-cold glass. It’s that kind of experience which makes you feel like you are out!"

Can you tell me a little bit about the wonderful charity you founded, For The Love of Clarity—whose flag you could see during the Glastonbury TV coverage! What are the aims of the charity and how can people get involved?

Ah, yes! How amazing was that! My mum and dad called me saying they could see me during Lewis Capaldi, and if you look closely, you can see me at the end of the pole! 

Yes, I am a person who wants to make a change in this world; it’s what drives me. We all need to feel fulfilled and have a purpose.  When I got sober, a word that kept coming up was ‘clarity’ - people described going sober as gaining clarity.  Then it was about finding a way that I could help; how the sober community can help. 

It was clear to me that the sober community wants to be supportive; every single sober person wants to tell the world: ‘I never thought I could get sober, if I can you can too.’ So, with that, I came up with the idea of a charity whose mission is to raise awareness of these sober voices.  Alcohol spends over £800m on advertising each year, and I want this charity to make a tiny dent in competing with that.  So it is a creative media charity which is all about campaigns and sharing sober voices beyond the sober community and to the UK masses. 

That’s the aim. Our first campaign is to get one-minute videos from the sober community sharing their ‘Moment of Clarity’. Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate, and the world needs to see the array of people it impacts. Amazing jobs, families, huge responsibilities…. amazing lives. The silent pandemic reaches every corner, and it’s time to reduce the shame and secrecy.

I believe that if people see and hear these sober stories, they will realise they are not alone and hopefully be a catalyst for them to know they too can change their destructive relationship with alcohol, just like so many of us have.

If you could give one piece of guidance to anyone who was just starting their alcohol-free journey, what would it be? What were the main challenges you faced in the early months of going sober?

Firstly, there are a million reasons why, when we are struggling with alcohol, we should go sober.  Kids, health, work, life, friends. But until you, yourself, and only you decide that you must, it’s the only way you will get into the right mindset to even accept that sobriety is the only option.  It’s scary, it took me around two years to actually admit that it was the only way. I remember calling AA once and asking what could I do. They told me that abstinence is the only way, and I thought, ‘you must be kidding!’ and I put the phone down!  

You can’t and won’t get sober for anything else. It must be your own decision.

For those struggling, I would advise them to be honest with their GP. I went to my doctor telling him I was depressed—it turns out it was my addiction which was fuelling this depression and anxiety. Deal with the booze first before taking anti-depressants is my true advice.

Also, self-care and self-worth. For me, this was something I was struggling with for quite some time. But accepting the fact that abstinence was the only option was the kindest thing I could ever do for myself. From there, my self-care journey started. Work truly starts with looking after yourself once you go sober. So for me, that has been where the most work has gone.

alcohol-free beer

"Until you, yourself, and only you decide that you must, it’s the only way you will get into the right mindset to even accept that sobriety is the only option."

Finally, what is the best music to dance to sober?

Drum and Bass! I’m a huge fan of the 90s, old-school jungle era. That can make me stay out until the early hours—with the help of a Red Bull! 

I found out at Glastonbury that I’m actually a bit of a music snob now! If I don’t dig the music, I don’t stick around. I love all kinds of music: disco, indie, and I really enjoyed Lizzo at Glasto! 

But yes, if I don’t feel the vibe, I am outta there! I also get emotional when I am dancing sometimes because it just makes me appreciate my life and how grateful I am and how proud I am of what I’ve done for me and my children.

Thanks, Lindsey. It’s been a pleasure!

For The Love of Clarity have just launched a recruitment campaign for people to share their own Moments of Clarity. If you're interested in getting involved either get in touch with Lindsey via the website or direct message on Instagram. Meanwhile, if you've tried an alcoholic-free drink recently and would like to share the experience, why not leave a review?

Posted on August 10th 2023

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