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Tips for a Dry - or Slightly Damp - Cannes Lions Week

London, UK
Cannes without lashings of rosé? It can be done - and it can be fun. LBB’s Laura Swinton canvases advice
Rosé. The Gutter Bar. The stinking, sweaty, hungover queues snaking round Nice airport on the Saturday morning. The clichés of Cannes Lions week are drenched in alcohol. And while an air of sozzled raucousness has long been part of the mythos that makes the festival, more and more people are questioning whether they really need the sore heads. 

Between gen z’s reportedly cautious drinking habits and a pandemic that focused people’s minds on their health and work-life boundaries, the desire to approach the week with zero or minimal alcohol is growing. But when drink is plied here, there, and everywhere and a strangely teenage peer pressure appears to persist into middle age on the Croisette, how can you make it through the week? Pregnancy or religion offer generally accepted get-out-of-rosé-free cards, but what about everyone else?

It’s not actually as hard as popular wisdom will have you believe. A few years ago I did a dry Cannes - save three glasses of prosecco on the last night - and it was probably my favourite Cannes Lions experience. No headaches, plenty of energy and some selfish, blissful episodes of Game of Thrones before bed. Possibly the greatest secret of Cannes is that come 10.30pm, no one will remember if you were at X event or not, so there’s no problem in making a strategic exit and carving out a little chill time.
If you’re considering reducing or excising completely alcohol from your Cannes experience there are certain ways to work past the wine glass-shaped vaccuum in your hand. For me, it was having people to do a Dry Cannes alongside - on the Wednesday night we genuinely went for ice cream - and carving out time to luxuriate in trashy streamed series. And others have their own tips and tricks to help dampen the excess or keep going all night long. 

Michael Boamah, International Communications Manager, BETC

I feel that this prompt was made for me as I don’t drink. I have been five times at the Cannes Lions without ever having a drink. Trust me, I’m not the boring type either. I did all the parties on beaches, yachts. penthouses. I schmoozed with the celebrities and danced till 1am. What’s the secret? Don’t forget it’s a work event. Hydrate a lot. You can always have some juice. Rosé all day is a mindset.

Veronique Rhys Evans, Head of Communications, Creative, dentsu international

I've learned to pace myself better over the years. The heady combination of the location, pressure of the schedule, expectations and as a PR, the heavy networking, means a free drink is never far from your hand. Apart from the usual problems with drinking too much, Cannes can be very dangerous, especially for women, so it's good to keep your wits about you late into the evening. I've now got a few rules, which help keep me just on the right side of trouble. Drink only in the dark. One glass of rosé on arrival in the best spot or moment you can find, to remind yourself how damned lucky we are to be doing what we're doing, where we're doing it. Vodka, lime and soda is your sensible best friend. It's the cleanest alcoholic drink you can have and no one knows if you switch to sparkling water when it's your round. Hydrate hydrate hydrate the rest of the time, especially in the sun and preferably with some electrolyte tablets. Do a quick HIIT first thing. As painful as it is, it sets you up for the day and sweats out the nasty stuff, keeping you on track for the day. 

Tony Jarvis, managing director, A-MNEMONIC Music

Navigating a party without a drink in your hand can be daunting.
Partying on the Cote d'Azur, chatting with excitable like-minded souls, all without a drink can be even more challenging!

I’ve never been a big drinker. Sure I’ve had my moments (as some will attest). Since my first Cannes - well over a decade ago - I’ve done one completely dry trip, and this will be my fourth “almost dry” trip.  

Because alcohol is a poison, your whole body has to deal with that first. Anything you ingest after alcohol is given second priority and 75% more likely to be absorbed as fat.

A bottle of rosé is 625 calories, equivalent to 2.7 Mars bars! After two bottles, your liver is going to be working overtime. Super high sugar levels will result in an energy crash later on.
Solution: eat carbs, bread, pasta etc… Avoid greasy food as it won’t make you feel any better, plus you’ll be taking on some serious calories on top of the booze.

Hangover cures can be individualised. Salts, potassium are a good start.

Eat well - drink lots of water, especially in the sun.

Avoid daytime drinking. Try keeping it to the evenings. And after you’ve eaten. You’ll last longer, remember more and feel human in the morning. And, won't return home needing ten days off.

Think “pace not disgrace.” See you there!

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