Festival Essentials: What You Actually Need!
Summer is (nearly) here – cue the festival hype!
For many, music festival season is the most wonderful time of the year. You gather your group of best friends, splurge on a festival ticket, and spend an entire weekend dancing/sweating your butt off, sleeping outside and acting in ways you may later regret.
But, who cares? With that said, if you want to make it through the weekend, and really enjoy the festival experience, there are some essentials you absolutely can’t go without. Forget tiaras and flower crowns, we’re talking about the essentials that will save you when you’re camping.
We’ve rounded up some items you really, really need to pack to guarantee that you have an amazing festival season.
Be prepared & practical
It’s easy to get caught up in the more exciting parts of festival packing like glitter and fancy dress, but let’s get the practical stuff sorted first, people. Because without any of these bits, you’re not going to make it through the weekend.
Before leaving the house, double and triple check you have your tickets with you, so you don’t end up red-faced and teary-eyed while being turned away at the gate.
To ensure you have a great time, bring some form of ID into the festival venue with you in case there’s any issues with your ticket or you need to prove your age at the bar. Be careful though! If you’re bringing a passport or driver’s license with you there is a high risk, you could lose them in the festival fun. Think twice about bringing your passport if you have a foreign holiday planned soon. To prove who you are. And of legal drinking age.
Festival venues can be large and intimidating, and so can your journeys to and from. Being prepared and packing maps or directions will eliminate unnecessary stress, allowing you to relax and start enjoying the festivities. Don’t get lost on the way there and miss stuff. Very embarrassing. You are also expected to find your way home afterwards.
Useful numbers/Emergency contacts
We hate to say it, but quite often festival goers can lose their valuables and phones after partying too hard the night before. Make sure you prepare for any eventuality by jotting down any useful contacts or telephone numbers you may need to get in touch with family and friends.
Health details and medication
If you require any medication, make sure you pack enough to last the duration of the festival. Also, if you have any conditions that may require urgent medical treatment a Universal Medical ID bracelet is a great way to easily carry health information on your body in case you need assistance at any point during the weekend.
If you’re wondering what bag to take with you to a music festival you should bear in mind that you’ll need more than one. You’ll need a large rucksack to carry all your festival essentials, camping equipment and clothing to and from the site as well as a daysack to fill with food, drink and essentials to enjoy inside the music festival venue each day.
What style of tent you choose is up to you but make sure you choose a tent with enough room for everyone to sleep in, with some space left over for your luggage and extra comfort. Pop-up tents have been designed with festival goers in mind as they are lightweight, quick and easy to use. Always add a “person” to the size tent you’re taking to your festival.
Music festival season falls around the warmest time of the year so aim for a ‘2 season’ sleeping bag as they are designed to be cooler and better for warmer weather. Sleeping on hard ground is no fun, so make sure you bring a camping mat or air bed with you for extra comfort. If you decide to bring an air mattress, don’t forget to also pack a pump!
Perfect for resting your head on after a long day. You’ll struggle to fit a pillow into your rucksack, so why bother? You’ll have plenty of clothes with you anyway, so simply stuff the empty pillow case with a nice jumper and Bob’s your uncle.
Day to day essentials
You’ll need money for the wide variety of food, drinks, apparel and other items on offer. There’s no guarantee that there will be cash machines on site (and if there are they may charge you) so make sure you bring enough cash to get you through the festival.
These days most people’s phones double up as a watch, alarm clock, navigation system, camera and more so are a much-needed festival necessity. Make sure you save everyone’s numbers you’ll be travelling and staying with over the weekend and keep your phone in a safe place! Perhaps consider attaching a lanyard or downloading a phone locator app just in case your phone goes missing during your stay.
Your phone, camera, etc all need juice. Make sure you bring along some spare batteries, portable charging packs or perhaps invest in a handy solar charger. You don’t want to spend most of your weekend queuing with ten thousand people to recharge your dead phone, so why not avoid the fuss? USB battery chargers are now affordable. It will save your life…possibly literally.
Bum bags are the perfect way to securely carry essentials with you all day. Keep your hands-free and your back unencumbered while still being able to safely carry your valuables around with you. Store your cash, cards, phone and valuables in a bum bag, and enjoy a stress-free day. Ah, sweet freedom. Your hands love it too. Stick everything you need in a cross-body bag or fanny-pack, which are making a serious comeback and come in all kinds of styles, so you don’t have to worry about carrying anything.
Right, now you need stuff to wear! Because we have no idea what the weather is going to be doing (don’t trust the forecast) you’ve got to cover all bases without packing your entire wardrobe. Easier said than done. Layering is key – that way, when you’ve got drenched and the sun’s suddenly come out, you can whip off your top two layers and be totally weather appropriate. Oh, and always take more underwear than you think you’ll need. That is a life rule to live by.
Clothing is up to your preferences, however, here are some ideas for if it decides to rain…
Waterproof jacket and trousers
Let’s face it, if you’re at a festival in the UK it’s likely to rain at some point so a waterproof jacket is a much-needed festival essential. With any luck, it will be sparse and short-lived so a poncho or pack away jacket is a great, lightweight option that is easy and light to carry with you. If the weather forecast indicates that heavier rain is likely you may wish to choose a more advanced waterproof jacket. Our guide will help you choose what type of jacket is best suited to your needs. Because it will probably rain. British summer time at its best.
It won’t hurt to stuff a pair of waterproof trousers in your backpack. They don’t take up a lot of room, and if you do happen to need them you’ll be pleased you planned.
More than one pair of shoes
If one pair gets wet, ruined or lost (festivals can get a bit wild!) you’ll need to have a spare pair on hand or you’ll be left with uncomfortable soggy feet for the rest of the day. If the rain stops, the grass beneath your feet will likely have turned to mud. A good pair of wellies are a festival essential and will quickly become your go-to footwear. You don’t want to lose your awesome new vans in the mud.
Spare clothes and underwear (e.g. socks!)
Downpours at festivals are not rare, so bring some spare clothes, socks and underwear with you so you can dry off and get changed easily before heading out to enjoy the rest of the day.
Stay fresh and clean with toiletries
Perhaps the greatest challenge of festival life is staying clean. You don’t have your usual home comforts and the toilet situation isn’t exactly a secret. What can you do? Luckily, it’s easy to pack a few things that’ll help you stay fresh. Think wet wipes, antibacterial hand wash, dry shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste. That’s everything you need to tide you over until you get back to reality.
All the stuff that’s going to make you look remotely human, when you sure as hell don’t feel like one. Decanting and mini-toiletries are your best friend because lugging a family sized bottle of mouthwash with you makes zero sense.
Baby wipes & deodorant
Regular festival-goers swear by these and after a couple of days in the mud, you will too. Perfect for keeping you feeling fresh as well as cleaning yourself, your shoes, clothes and anything else affected by the mud. These are also great for makeup as festivals are a great place to take photos with your friends. Make sure you have all you need with you to make you feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera.
It’s unlikely you’ll find a shower on a festival campsite. Dry shampoo will keep your hair feeling fresh until you get home to a shower. Deodorant will also come in handy because as previously said, you won’t have access to showers.
Similar to the hand sanitiser, if there’s no loo roll it’s essential you have some of your own. It’s kind of gross to admit how much of a serious essential the good ‘ol TP is at a music festival. There will be times when the porta potty has none left or is just to disgusting you’re forced to pop a squat. You will be jealous of everyone who has their own and cursing yourself for not doing the same.
Just because you’re having a wild weekend at your favourite festival, doesn’t mean you should compromise your oral hygiene. Bad breath will not be popular in a crowd. Or if you are sharing a tent.
Hair brush, bobbles and accessories
Living in a tent, tangles are going to happen so don’t forget your hairbrush. After a few days of living in a campsite you may want to tie your hair up and out of the way. Whether you’re the messy or man bun type, make sure you’ve packed what you need.
Sunscreen and after-sun
Over a weekend festival, you can experience a year’s worth of weather, so it pays to prepare for lots of sun as well as the infamous festival rain. Sun protection is a festival essential!
Sunglasses and Sun hat
Your eyes can be damaged by the sun too, so choose a stylish pair to protect yourself while looking great. No-one looks cool if they spend the whole weekend squinting into the sunlight. A cap or hat to keep the sun off your face and neck will work with sunscreen to make sure you aren’t left red in the face. This is especially relevant for the follicly challenged. wear a hat to keep the sun off. Forget fashion, these items are essential to protect yourself from the sun. A little sun-kissed is expected, but it is not fun when you can barely move because you decided to bring skin out in the sun for a shock.
Food & drink at a festival
Chances are you’ll start off your festival packing by thinking, ‘I’m going to just take all my food with me, so I don’t spend ANY money.’ This is not true and you’re lying to yourself. Don’t do what 80% of rookie festival-goes do and take all your meals with you: you will not eat them, and you may develop back problems on the walk to the site. Instead, take a few things you can snack on and get your alcohol in order, then just make the most of the (usually good) food stalls that are there because, come on, you’re on holiday (sort-of).
It’s important to keep hydrated, especially when out in the sun all day so a reusable water bottle is an absolute necessity. You can refill your water bottle throughout the day to help combat dry mouth in the mornings and quench your thirst while enjoying the festival. You’ll also need water in the mornings and evenings for washing your face and brushing your teeth. Water is extremely important at events like this. Between the heat, the dancing sweating and the booze, it is so easy to get dehydrated. If you are taking bottles/cans. Take something to open them with e.g. bottle opener.
Bring plenty of non-perishable snacks with you to fuel you throughout the day. These will also save you in the mornings when you wake up ravenous. Cereal bars and crisps are ideal as they are easy to pack and light to carry with you throughout the day. Whether you’re camping out at the festival or not, you will need some fuel. Pack some granola or energy bars, chips, nuts, crackers, and other easily-packed snacks. Festival food can be super expensive, so it’s nice and convenient when you just want a little something.
While there’s always plenty of food to be bought, you may want to save some pennies and cook for yourself. Don’t forget to be careful when using your stove to prevent accidents or injury and it’s essential you check that these are permitted on the camping grounds. A little portable grill will also be a great thing to pack along in case you and your friends decide to cook out! They’re super convenient and don’t take up a lot of space. Discover our BBQ infographic for some good meal ideas!
Ideal for keeping perishable food fresh and drinks cool. For your beer, water, beer and vodka. You can even make your own cooler with a plastic tub or anything else you can find!
Plates, Cutlery & Cups
A simple way to eat with less mess, mess tins are tough and can be used for both cooking and eating. Plastic plates and bowls are also useful if you’re cooking for many. Knives, forks, spoons and hybrids like sporks are essential or else you’ll be left with a whole lot of food, and no way to enjoy it. You don’t want to use your dirty fingers, even though your drunk self probably won’t care. Get yourself some plastic utensils and dig in! If you’re looking to enjoy hot beverages or share your beer, wine or spirits around the campsite, some reusable metal or plastic cups will come in handy.
Don’t forget to rest
Sleep isn’t a priority at a festival. We get that. However, a bit of quality shut-eye will ensure you can keep going while others run out of steam.
Make sure you have a comfy spot to sleep in. You don’t want to wake up with a bad back or stiff neck. While an inflatable mattress might take up too much space in your camping bag, a yoga mat (or similar) will at least put something between you and the hard, lumpy ground.
On a related note, it’s a good idea to have a small torch to help you navigate your way back to your bed in the dark and avoid tripping over a stray tent rope.
You can also take this opportunity to make some running repairs. Put a plaster over any blisters on your hard-working feet, slap on some after sun if your skin feels a bit prickly and make a start on your hangover recovery. You’ll be right as rain by morning!
And there you have it. Hopefully, you also have a magic bag to fit that all in. We hope you’ve found our festival essentials checklist useful. Have we covered everything here? We’ve certainly given it a good go, but if we’ve missed your must-have festival essential off our checklist, be sure to comment below.
Have a great time at your festival this summer!