It’s happened to so many of us. You arrive at your festival camping area to set up your tent and then, BOOM! the heavens open and the rain begins. “#%&! where’s my wellies!?” you exclaim as you dig through your bags. But it’s too late. They’re sitting on your back doorstep at home right where you left them. Within minutes your only pair of trainers are soaked through and you’re not sure if the festival essentials shop is even open yet to trudge through the mud to and buy more footwear.
Don’t worry. We’ve complied a music festival checklist of all the most important items so that you can check each of them off as you’re packing for a festival. There’s a couple of fun things to bring to a music festival in here too, because we know that just thinking about the essentials can get boring.
Here’s our list of what to take to a music festival.
It might seem obvious to bring your tent for music festival camping but, in those moments of excitement leading up to your perfect summer weekend, the obvious can easily become the overlooked.
We recommend taking a small tent that is easy to set up and take down. Yes, those huge tents are awesome and you can have a great campsite party in them, but loads of other people will have brought them. So make some new friends, party in their big tent and leave the horror of trying to remove the random drunk guy who’s passed out in the corner to them.
Again painfully obvious until you realise you forgot them and are staring a weekend sleeping on a hard plastic tent floor while wearing all your clothes to keep warm.
It can get cold when there’s only a layer or two between you and the elements. You’ll be thankful that you put some effort in and brought a snug sleeping bag. We also recommend taking a sleeping mat or air mattress in case the ground is rocky, and a camping pillow so that you don’t wake up with such a stiff neck that you can’t do all the headbanging you came to do.
It’s a summer music festival and you’ll only need your sandals, right? Wrong. Music festivals have a reputation for throwing non-stop rain at their campers whilst the rest of the country enjoys glorious sunshine. Don’t risk getting a foot injury or infection, bring some waterproof shoes and some comfy trainers as a minimum – your campsite might be a lot further from the arena than you imagine.
One thing that’s definitely in short supply at music festival campsites is power outlets. You might have to walk a long way or pay a fee and leave your phone with someone if you want to keep it fully charged.
Bringing a portable phone charger with you to the music festival can minimise the time you waste looking for power by giving your phone and other electronics a boost without having to leave your pocket. Modern designs can recharge a phone battery several times before running out of juice, and you can always get the power bank recharged at a paid power point while you still roam around with your phone.
Music Festivals are spread out over large areas and often the largest distance you have to walk is from the car park to your festival camping area. Even if you’re young and fit, the weight of all your bags is going to make the walk very tiring.
Rather than traipsing back and forth to the carpark carrying as much as you can each time, why not invest in a trolley and cart all you stuff at once? Ask any festival veteran and they will boast of the benefits to owning or renting one of these.
We suggest getting one with the biggest wheels you can find. The walking track is rarely smooth at camping festivals and tiny wheels get stuck more easily.
You may have seen those people walking around with ropes or chains hanging off of their trousers and wondered “what’s that for?” Well, it’s to stop them from losing their valuables while they’re busy having fun.
If wearing a key chain isn’t your style you could consider wearing a hidden neck wallet instead. It will keep all your valuables safe from both pickpockets and drunken mishaps.
(A word of warning; If you’re planning to do a bit of crowd surfing it might be best to let one of your friends look after your valuables. Chains and ropes can easily get someone hurt whilst you’re being tossed over the dancefloor.)
For some people, packing for a festival starts and ends with their clothes. A lot of festival goers like to bring their newest and most extravagant clothes with them and express their individuality in a non-judgemental environment.
We’ll cover costumes in a later section, but here we’re talking about essentials. Clean underwear for each day of the camping festival doesn’t take up much space and is a great way to feel fresh each morning. A jacket or sweatshirt to take the chill out of an all night session. At least one pair of trousers or jogging bottoms for the same reason. T shirts look good on everyone and provide an easy to wear option whatever the weather. And also a hat, which will help protect you from the sun (if you’re lucky enough to be blessed with some!)
It’s 2am, you’ve lost your friends, your phone has no signal and no one is back at your camp. What are you going to do? How will you find everyone?
Thankfully you remembered to pack a pen and some paper so that you can write them a note telling them where you’re wandering off to to find them, or what time you’ll be back at the camp.
You might think this scenario is unlikely to happen, but you’ll soon discover that it’s the default at most camping music festivals and having some old school writing technology at hand can be a real benefit.
Even the heaviest of sleepers can find it hard to nod off in a music festival campsite. If you went to bed at sunrise and the music starts thumping a few hours later you can either grab a coffee and trudge through the day tired or you can pop in some earplugs and block out the sound to get a few more precious hours of sleep.
An eye mask gives you extra protection from all that horrible brightness that is keeping you awake even after plugging your ears.
Many a music festival packing list will advise you to pack a full first aid kit in you bag, but, whilst that’s not a bad idea, we don’t think you need to go so far. Most festivals in Europe and America are required to have first aid on site and easily accessible as part of their event license.
The one thing that first-aiders are unlikely to help you with is your hangover. As such we do recommend that you pack Alka-Seltzer, Paracetamol and Efflorescent Tablets. Alka-Seltzer to calm your stomach, Paracetamol to ease your headache and Efflorescent tablets to replenish the minerals and vitamins that alcohol has stripped from your body.
It can be hard keeping your hands and face clean while sleeping, eating and dancing around in a field. Having hand sanitiser and wet wipes with you will help to stop the grime from ruining you experience.
Whilst this might not seem like a particularly eco-friendly suggestion, there are plenty of biodegradable options being made that still give you that hit of freshness when there isn’t a working shower in sight.
This one is simple. Don’t drop your phone down the hole as you fumble around in a cramped porta-loo late at night. A head torch is much cheaper than a new handset.
Once all the essential festival packing is done you’ll want to fill whatever space you have left in your bag with some fun items to make your music festival camping even more memorable.
Inflatables can be not only fun but also really useful. See that giant blue flamingo near the stage? That’s your friend Pete letting you know from afar where he and the crew are partying. That small paddling pool keeping you all cool at your camp? Why not fill it with ice from the bar and keep your beers cold?!
Even far from the main stage in the festival camping area you can be sure that there’s a lot of people still up for a party. Having a musical instrument with you and playing something good is like a beacon that friendly strangers will flock to. Who knows where it could lead… maybe new festival friends, maybe the best campsite after-party ever!?
Crazy clothing is usually a sign of a good music festival. While you’re writing your festival shopping list why not take a look at some of the amazing costumes you can buy and consider becoming a character for the weekend.
The more talented of you might even consider making your own totally unique costume for true individuality. From superheroes to aliens, animals and games characters, there really is no shortage of scope here and is for sure one of the best things to bring to a music festival.
Now you know how to prepare for a music festival. This is, of course, not a definitive list. We haven’t mentioned toothpaste, camping backpacks, frisbees or bluetooth speakers and there’s still plenty more you could cram on to your festival packing list. Just don’t go overboard. You probably won’t be needing those high heels or that six pack of cooking oil. You’re going to be busy the whole time listening to awesome music, chilling with your crew and queuing up for overpriced drinks, hooray!
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