When it comes to hitting your favourite festival the question on most peoples lips is ‘What should I bring to a festival?’ Like most people you’ll be spending your weekend in a small tent so space is a premium which means you should only take what you’ll most likely need. We will take a look at the items you’ll be in most need of and things that will help your festival be a little more comfortable.
What should I bring to a festival?
Musical festivals are something that is in our blood. Us Brits have had years of experience with burning hot days mixed with torrential rain which soon causes thick mud and hard to navigate festival sites. With festivals so strongly in our blood we have learnt ways in which to approach them to get the best out of the weekend, this includes taking the right items with us. When it comes to planning what to take you should remember these following points before getting started.
-Plan before you set off
Site maps are often available online or via festival apps. Check out the site map before you travel and assess where you want to camp and how far from the gates or drop off point this is likely to be. If you want to camp miles away from the festival access points then maybe you don’t want too be carrying to much stuff.
-If you take it with you, you’ll have to bring it back.
You should think about making your festival experience sustainable, this means not leaving you tent and rubbish behind. Use the recycling centres for your trash and take home your tent, trolley etc. Leaving no trace you where at the festival is the best way to show you appreciation. You wouldn’t leave a load of crap lying around your back garden so don’t do it at a festival. If you take too much stuff you’ll only have to carry it out of there at the end so be mindful of this.
-Don’t take things you don’t really need
Do you really need the hair straighteners or high heel shoes (yep I went with a girl who tried to wear a pair of these one year)? The less shit you have with you the less shit you’ll have to carry out, believe me arriving is fun but leaving is a chore.
If like me the thought of carrying all your camping equipment into and out of the festival sounds like a lot of hassle then glamping is probably for you. It might not be as cheap as taking your own tent but with everything already on site and ready to go you’ll only have to lug your backpack and alcohol with you instead of all the camping equipment. Prices range depending on needs but you can book anything from a tent or shed to something more on the expensive side including something like the pop up hotel which comes with room service. Of course there are is also the option of hiring a campervan, motohome or caravan. Have a look at some other ways to camp at a festival.
Don’t Forget the Essentials
These are the things that you’ll need no matter what, don’t be forgetting any of these as your festival will be off to a bad start from the get go. You’ll be surprised how often the top one is left at home in an envelope on the kitchen side:
Yes that’s right people actually forget this, don’t be that person.
Yep some places have a separate parking ticket you hang from your rear view mirror (or a sticker that goes in the front), make sure if you’re parking on site you have yours visible. You can in some cases purchase these on the day but it will be more expensive so we recommend getting this when you purchase your festival ticket, better to air on the safe side.
Not for social media posts but in case of an emergency. Festival are big places and yes people do get lost.
-Cash and Card
Take some cash with you but have your card on standby, festivals have come along way since the old days and so cash machines are available. I once queued for an hour at Glastonbury to use the machine but thankfully things are rarely that bad nowadays.
With the way festivals are cracking down on touts most tickets come with your picture on. You’ll have to prove that you are the rightful ticket holder so photo ID is essential. When it comes to getting a drink at one of the many bars you’ll be asked in most cases to show a bar wrist band, to get one of these you’ll need to prove your age at the start of the festival. If you’re looking to have a wee drink you’ll not want to forget this.
Well we are a festival clothing company so you’re n the right place when it comes to taking the right clothes with you. Of course we don’t sell wellies and rain jackets but for the rest we have you covered.
-Line your Backpack (hear us out)
This has all your clothing for the whole weekend. Make sure you line the bag. The cheap but not very eco friendly way to do this is to put all your clothing into a black bin bag which you then put into your backpack. Preferably we recommend buying a backpack liner which is a reusable bag liner that will protect your clothing from the rain. Even the best made backpacks leak and you don’t want to be fishing out wet clothing.
-Lightweight Rain Jacket
You don’t want a big heavy jacket to lug around but a lightweight fold away rain jacket is perfect for fitting in your backpack. Waterproof ponchos are also popular, but spend a little extra cash and buy the version that can be used more than once instead of the cheapo throwaway version.
The good old wellington boot should be one thing you never forget. Don’t forget long socks to stop any rubbing.
Always over pack on socks, the one thing that is likely to happen is rain. Wet feet for days on end is not a great feeling and so by packing a few extra pairs of socks you’ll be able to slip into a dry pair at some point.
Just a much as it always rains (at least for a little bit), it’s damn well sure to be sunny and if you forget your sunglasses you’ll be squinting to see your favourite band.
When that sun does come out you’ll be thankful you have your sun hat. Keeping your head cool is a great way to prevent sun stroke (always drink lots of water). We would suggest a hat with a wide brim or one that covers your head and looks perfectly silly.
When it comes to the evening time the fun is just getting started but, when that sun goes down the temperature drops so you’ll want something you can throw on to keep the chill away. Some people go for a wool jumper, others a thick poncho or lined jacket. I would recommend anything with a hood as the hood is great for keeping you warm at night. You choose what you prefer.
-Flat shoes or walking boots
It’s all fair and well looking in the mirror at home and thinking that those high heels look lovely but at a festival they ain’t gonna work. A nice sturdy flat pair of shoes is much better, I might even go as far as to suggest walking shoes but I’ll probably just throw on a pair of trainers and be done with it.
-Change of Clothes + Spare Clothes
We suggest socks separately because they might get forgotten but, you’ll definitely want some spare clothes. We recommend at least one change of bottoms per day and an extra set (or two) in case the weather gets crappy. The trousers are always the things that get wet and soggy. If you have a rain jacket then your tops should at least stay dry. If you have room though take a fresh set of all clothes per day as there is nothing nicer than wearing clean clothing, even if you’re not that fresh yourself. Shorts are great if the weather is going to be dry or thin trousers that dry quickly if some rain is expected.
When it comes to festival camping you’ll want to make sure you pack a few things that will not only be essential (like a tent) but will make your stay a little more comfortable.
-Trolley (make it a good one if you’re going to bother)
A trolley is a great idea when it’s nice and dry but small wheels will soon sink in the mud, so think tractor wheels and you’ll be sorted. If you have a lot of equipment then a trolley really is a great idea.
Um goes without saying. ‘No tent no warmish place to sleep’.
This really is a personal preference and also about how much you want to spend. We would recommend spending a little more on a quality tent that you can get lots of use out of. Build your tent at home first and make sure you know how to put it up and if there is enough room. Most importantly make sure its water proof (I’ve been in a few badly made tents that were not too dry). Also always take your tent home with you, if it wasn’t there when you arrived then it shouldn’t be there when you go. Don’t forget the tent pegs.
-Ground Mat – Blow up Mattress
A foam ground mat is a traditional way to keep you off the ground and add a little comfort, however an inflatable mattress is an even better way, just make sure you double check the sizing as these things take up a lot of room.
Some people takes duvets but these take up lots of room. Pack a good quality sleeping bag and you’ll be nice and cosy all night long. Make sure to keep this dry while travelling to the festival by packing in a waterproof bag.
I’ll be honest camping pillows for me just don’t cut it. For space saving then I recommend no end, however nothing will ever beat my own pillow so that’s what I take. I’ll let you decide how much room you have.
Tip – Mess up your tent
Bear with me here. For the most part festival are a safe environment but all it take is one group of bastards to ruin that fun. When it comes to tent security you’re never going to be able to make a material tent secure however you can make it harder for people to find any valuables. First off if you have valuables keep them on you or in an onsite secure locker/lock box, NOT in your tent. When it comes to your tent you want to make it hard for people who are trying to steal your stuff to find anything. I call it organised chaos, don’t have everything nice and tidy and just sitting there in your bag. A bag is easy to steal and be off with whereas a load of clothes strategically thrown around is harder to search through.
Truth be told I’m not big on taking much with me when it comes to toiletries. Its amazing how fast your bag can get weighed down with things that you don’t really need. So we will give you some ideas of things you can take but really think about whether you’ll need or even use any of these before you decide to add them to your list. If you’re not going to visit the shower then skip any shower gels, shampoos etc, just think before you pack.
-Baby wipes (biodegradable)
I can’t tell you how many baby wipe baths I’ve had at festivals. These babies (sorry about that) are perfect for giving a quick clean anywhere over the body. Who needs showers aye?
-Sun tan lotion
We all have that one mate who looks like a lobster for the whole festival, this time try and help him out and pack some lotion. There is nothing worse than walking around for the festival burnt to a crisp.
-Paracetamol – Ibuprofen
When those hangovers kick in you’ll be glad you packed a few of these.
When you’ve just come out a a toilet that looks like a poocano (yes its a thing) has erupted then you’ll want to be using some of these stuff. Thankfully many festivals provide soap and water to wash a bit of anti bac will help kill those germs.
-Tooth Cleaning kit
There is nothing worse than breath that smells like the beer monkey has shat in your mouth. Don’t be poo breath person, clean those teeth because we don’t want to smell that.
So make sure you use the baby wipes to clean your armpits first otherwise sweat and stale deodorant creates a pretty nasty smell and kinda makes the deo redundant. Otherwise use to your hearts content, roll on tends to be a better choice at combating smells.
The modern wonders of science now means you can have shampoo and soap all in one, don’t bring lots of bottles just bring one that can do both jobs. If you’re not going near the showers then skip this and grab a bottle of dry shampoo instead.
-Insect spray – Bite Cream
When bugs attack it’s not much fun if they like tucking into you. Pack a few things that will help keep them at bay or help with the itching after they’ve been and gone.
-Mini First Aid
These little packs often contain a few plasters, and other odds and sods you might need. Don’t pack heavy as the first aid tent is around 24 hours for people who need assistance.
Don’t forget to take some toilet roll. Although most festivals do look after their toilets and replenish the bog roll not all festivals are made the same. You don’t want to be caught short when it comes time to drop trousers. We recommend a green alternative to normal paper toilet roll and opt for bamboo toilet paper.
Food and Drink
Taking food to a festival is a great way to save of costs, however it does come with a major draw back; you’re there for 4 or 5 days and you’re going to go through a lot of food (I know I would). Coupled with cooking equipment like gas stoves (if allowed) as well as pots, pans and dishes you could have a lot to lug around. If you are camping in a group then this is a great option as you can share the responsibility of the equipment and food.
Many festivals have onsite shops that sell fresh food and essentials, don’t put all your hope in them though as they don’t have everything and may run out.
Taking alcohol with you will save you lots of money as festivals know that once you are there they have a captive audience so price accordingly. Just check restrictions (no glass in campsite, limit on number of cans etc) prior to leaving.
First off check with the festival to see if they allow fires, BBQ’s or camping stoves. Not all festivals like having fire as it does cause a risk and some festival goers are not as responsible as others. If your festival says yes to fires the you might want to pack your kettle, stove, cutlery, pots and cups. If you like to BBQ then disposable BBQ’s are very popular at festivals. A little mini BBQ that can be washed out and taken away is even better, don’t forget the coal though.
-Food (buy there)
Check first but in most cases there are festival shops selling fresh fruit, vegetables and other items perfect for camp style eating. You may pay a little extra but you’ll save a lot of lugging around as food weighs a fair bit.
Cans tend to be fine but some places are not so happy about letting glass bottles into the camp site so double check before arriving. If need be transfer to reusable metal or plastic bottles. Happy days. Most festivals do offer some form of alcohol to buy at the site shop but it’s not cheap.
Drinking water can get a little on the boring side so maybe take a small bottle of squash (you can get little squash shot bottles for just this reason) to help jazz up your water. Teas and coffee is always a good shout if you have a camp stove with kettle. If you need an energy boost then powdered energy boosters are a great little addition to your kit, just add to water to get some much needed electrolytes
-Food recommendations for camping
When you’re camping you want to take food that is going to travel well, so packets and tinned food are the best choice. Fresh food is great but can spoil easily so think before you stock as burning hot days with fruit left in your tent will soon mean rotting food. If the onsite shop sells fruit and vegetables then you’re onto a winner as you can pop by daily and stock up.
Noodles/Pasta: Both easy to cook on a camp stove and both come prepackaged with flavours.
Energy bars: High in sugars to give a boost in energy.
Cereal bars: Great for light snacking.
Tinned food: Bit heavy to carry but beans and sausages goes down a treat over a fire. Or tinned fruit is pretty good as well.
-Food (eat festival food)
Festival food has come a long way from dodgy greasy burgers (which do still exist). Full English breakfasts are served in the morning to help you on your way. With gourmet stalls popping up everywhere offering the best in vegan, vegetarian and other foods from around the world. If your wallet lets you then take a walk around the food stalls as you can pick up some pretty good nosh from ostrich steak to falafel and halloumi.
Our suggestion is to limit the amount of tech you take with you. You’ll only be upset if its lost, stolen or broken. So keep it to the minimum and you’ll have a much better time not worrying about it. Don’t take big cameras or recording equipment (most festivals don’t allow this anyway). Leave the iPad at home.
As mentioned before this is great for staying in contact with your festival friends. If you need to call home or stay in contact with the real world you’ll be able to. Most festivals have charging points so you’ll be good to go.
-USB Power pack
These come in all shapes and sizes and are perfect for charging your phone and USB torch. In most cases a good power pack will last you the whole weekend but check charging capacity to make sure you have enough power for the weekend.
-LED USB torch
If your phone has a torch then you’ll not need one of these however they do come in handy for when you’re in your tent late at night, it gets dark in there and you’ll be thankful for the light when searching for that dry pair of socks. This can be charged via your power pack if need be.
Anything we haven’t covered above is covered here.
-Bag for dirty clothing
I normally use a bin bag (biodegradable is the best). Put all your dirty clothing in there so it doesn’t get mixed up with the clean.
A lot of festivals allow camp chairs or stools but they are a bugger to carry. If its wet and you need a seat make sure you have a bag (biodegradable is the best) you can unfold and use, or a waterproof picnic blanket (usually coated on the ground side and soft on the side you sit). Don’t leave the bag lying around after, either reuse of recycle in the right place. Chairs are at least great for around the camp at night but remember you still have to get them to the camp site with your other items.
You’ll want a reusable water bottle (500ml is ideal) so you can carry water around with you. There are usually many filling stations throughout the festival so you can stay hydrated. If you are camping in a big group and tend to cook then a larger water container would be recommended, a fold away version is ideal.
You’ll need this for the camping stove, fire etc. Make sure a few of you have these as they always go missing at festivals.
Festivals are a great place to hook up with your friends, catch a band or just chill at a food stall. All in all they tend to be relativity safe places. Look after each other and make sure if you see anybody in distress you help them out. There are first aid points as well as security points situated around any festival site. Have fun and stay safe.
At the end of the day we pop off to festivals to have a good time. But we must make sure that the time we spend in this fantastic places is not marred by leaving all our rubbish behind at the end of the weekend. Take home everything you came with. Leaving your tent is not acceptable nore is burning it (yes I’ve witnessed morons doing this). Tidy up after yourself and you’ll make it much easier for the festival to be granted permission to carry on as well as making the festival (and the planet) a more sustainable place. Don’t purchase cheap throwaway camping gear that you’ll only use once, try and purchase things that have a longer life span. We know it’s not always possible due to money but anything you do can help us to live a more sustainable festival lifestyle is a step in the right direction. Have a great festival season guys, we hope to see you at the next one and we hope we have answered the question ‘What should I bring to a festival?’.