Parklife 2021: Teens ecstatic for first ever festival after a year cooped up indoors

By Rebecca Day

It's early afternoon at Parklife and as the sun breaks through the clouds, two teenage girls sit chatting energetically on the grass.

Lauren Akenclose and Sian Stewart have just turned 18 and have spent a large part of their formative years under tight Covid restrictions.

Major events like this have been out of the question over the last year due to the pandemic.

Lauren Akenclose, 18, and Sian Stewart, 18. (ABNM Photography)

But the easing of restrictions means that now, for the first time in their lives, teenagers like Lauren and Sian can experience the joy and excitement of a festival.

The pair travelled down from Newcastle for the event at Heaton Park and plan to spend the afternoon 'getting drunk' before seeing Alan Fitzpatrick on stage.

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"It's our first festival ever - we are having a great time just sat on the grass", says Sian, as the friends soak up the atmosphere.

"I feel like it was quite hard (during lockdown). Our first night out (ever) was when everything reopened", Lauren adds.

Jade Lowen, 19, and Samantha-Brett Dawson, 26, are looking forward to Disclosure's DJ set on Sunday

Jade Lowen 19 and Samantha-Brett Dawson, 26. (ABNM Photography)

Jade has spent most of her adult life so far in lockdown - and says it's brilliant to be able to go out properly.

Samantha-Brett is also relieved to be able to party again.

"Covid has taken my 20s away and now I'm 26.

"It doesn't feel weird (being out). It's been a long time coming", she jokes.

A group of ladies wearing sashes huddle round glasses of wine laid out on the ground.

The women caught the train to Manchester from Edinburgh for Joy Pumayi's hen do.

The hen do at Parklife (ABNM Photography)

"I'm really really excited. It's really nice to be able to do something like this. It's like life before (Covid). It feels normal", says Joy.

"It's just good to see people happy. I'm off to see Burna Boy. 6'oclock you'll see me there," she laughs.

Three lads stroll across the bar area in football shirts and man bags.

Jamie Hurst, 21, Jordan Lowe, 21, and James Reid, 21. (ABNM Photography)

Jamie Hurst, Jordan Lowe and James Reid, from Congleton, say they feel 'weird' being out again.

It's the second festival they've ever been to, after a weekend away in Leeds at the end of August.

"We've never been to (a festival) before Covid, there are too many people around", Jordan laughs.

"It's not like anything we've ever experienced before - it's better. We are looking forward to seeing Dave. We worked all over Covid and we couldn't go out. This is miles better" says Jamie as the trio gear up for the night ahead.


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