For those lucky enough to attend C2C Country To Country this week, you're in for a treat. With big name country stars headlining including Lady Antebellum, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban it's going to be special. Whether it's your first time or fifth time, whether you're in a group or flying solo, here are my 10 top tips for making the most of your experience.
N.B. I've only been to the London event so my tips are recommended on that venue.
1. Download the C2C app- this will have all the artists listed and the times and stages where they're on. You can save different shows to your itinerary so it's easy to keep track of where to go when. Keep an eye out for the competitions popping up as well, I won a meet and greet breakfast last year from entering one of these.
2. Get there early- it's not just about the big headline show each evening. To make the most of the trip, get to the venue early and browse the shopping on offer in Town Square before the big crowds arrive and you can't move. Some of the earlier sessions are also a good chance to see some of the acts early in the day and guarantees you a place in some of the shows.
3. Head to a songwriters session- one of my favourite things about country music is knowing the meaning behind the song. Head to some of the smaller songwriter sessions and interviews at the BBC Radio 2 Stage, The Loft (formerly Ny-Lon) and All Bar One. If you've booked a ticket for the songwriters session on the Thursday evening or for the Bluebird Cafe then it's going to be memorable.
4. Keep your eyes peeled- you will often see some of the artists (not usually the headliners) walking around and attending the gigs too so keep an eye out and don't be shy, go and say hi!
5. Take snacks- if you're going all day across the weekend, then it can be exhausting so make sure you take plenty of little snacks to keep you going. If you're drinking then it's good to line the stomach too!
6. Be open minded- I think the best experience I had was when I planned to see a few artists I knew I wanted to see but you'll exhaust yourself if you keep to a strict timetable. Most of the acts in London play across the three days so you should get a chance to see them. I remained open minded and turned up to some random shows. That's where I discovered artists I hadn't heard of before, including Liv Austen, Katy Hurt, Andy Brown, Twinnie, HighValley and Lindsey Ell.
7. See the ALL the arena acts- many people just turn up late in the evening to see the big headliners who of course are amazing but it really makes the evening if you see all the stage acts too. You may not think you like an artists but that can all change when you see them play live. I remember three years ago when many people were pessimistic about one of the support acts, Chris Stapleton as he was "just some guy with a guitar and a long beard"... and then they heard him play live. It was electric and now he's a headliner. My point is you don't really know if you like or don't like someone until you see them perform.
8. Chat to other attendees- remember we're all there for the same reason, because we love country music! We are one big country family after all, so get chatting to people in the line, go over and say hi to the Chris Country team and head to some of the social gatherings (on the C2C attendees Facebook page).
9. Be respectful- goes without saying really but try to be mindful of others. We've all spent a huge amount of money to go to C2C so be mindful of others. No one enjoys having a drink spilt over them because someone else is drunk or not being able to hear their favourite act as the person next to them is chatting loudly when the acts are on or they can't see past a cowboy hat. By all means, enjoy yourself but it's good to think of others too.
10. Look out for these artists! There's so many people to see but a few recommendations from me include The Adelaides, Twinnie, The Wandering Hearts, Michael Ray, Catherine McGrath, Jimmie Allen, Rae Lynn, Jake Morrell, Remember Monday, Molly-Anne, Sam Palladio and Sarah Darling.
Finally, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! You've worked hard and spent your hard earned money on the tickets now buy the t-shirt and enjoy the experience!