Confessions of a Festival Cleaner

Meet the man who spent years cleaning up after as many as 15 festivals a summer (and who prefers to remain anonymous because of what he found...)

07 festival cleaner

What kind of stuff do you have to deal with after a festival?
Jewellery, phones, money, drugs, camping gear and alcohol are lost and abandoned in the festering aftermath and it is all found: Hundreds of litter pickers stand shoulder-to-shoulder and walk every inch of the site to remove every single fag butt. The best bit: That bottle of vodka that was busted being smuggled into the arena often just gets left for the waste teams to deal with. Litter pickers party hard!

What are the worst messes to deal with?
The worst finds are tents that are set up as a communal toilet—they aren’t fun at all. But I’ve also found more sinister things, such as needles and knives.

Did you ever find anything valuable?
You hear stories of treasure being found, such as abandoned wads of cash left by escaping drug dealers. I never found anything like that, but at the end of each festival I’d load up my van with a few hundred cans of beer that have been dumped by hungover campers. I’d then take them to the next festival and flog them for a few quid a can in the arena, as nobody wanted to spend an hour queuing and staff didn’t get searched. On one occasion I found a trolley full of unopened bottles of spirits that I presume a bar had left behind.

What’s your greatest ever find?
A 15-inch carved phallus wooden bottle opener. Essential festival kit!

Follow @ukfestival for more festival-related menagerie.