Ah, festival season. My favourite time of the year. A time to let loose, enjoy the music and spend time with your friends, dancing the night away with no responsibility except to have fun. My first festival experience was at T in The Park at the age of 16, and I’ve been unable to shake the bug since. As you can imagine, the moment I turned 18, I started booking tickets.
Since then, I have been to around ten festivals. I have done a day, a weekend, and nearly a week, so I have definitely learnt a thing or two when it comes to music festival packing lists. Wondering exactly what to bring to a music festival? Well, you’ve come to the right place. I am here to impart some wisdom onto you with this packing list for a festival so that hopefully, you can avoid some of the first-timer mistakes I made!
This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Hope Titley.
Things to consider for your packing list for a festival
1. What kind of festival are you going to?
Think less the music, and more the vibe. As the evening carries on, what kind of things will you be doing? At some festivals, you end up curled around a fire until the early hours, meaning that taking big cosy jackets and blankets are essential. Others, it’s a non-stop party, so you want good shoes and boundless energy.
Does the festival offer more outside of the music acts? Some festivals offer activities and classes alongside their headliners, so you might want to pack some activewear so that you can take advantage of everything they have on offer.
2. How are you taking all your festival camping essentials there?
So now you have picked your festival, you are ready to start packing. But before you jump headfirst into shoving your whole wardrobe in a bag, think about how you are going to get it all there.
The majority of the time, you’ll have to wait in a long queue before you get to the gates, and then you face a walk to the campsites. (I once endured a 10-hour queue. No, I’m not exaggerating.) Everything you pack, you will have to be able to move. So with that in mind, I’ve weighed up a few options for you.
An absolute classic, a rucksack is most people’s first go-to option. They are convenient, easy to transport (for most) and can hold a lot. Though, while they can hold a lot, this is all more weight that you have to carry. Add that to carrying a tent, drinks, and whatever else you’ve decided to bring, it can make everything a lot more awkward. One of the rucksack’s biggest advantages is that once you have settled at the campsite, they don’t take up much space in the tent.
The Granny Trolley
For those of us with bad backs, carrying everything isn’t that simple. This is where the Granny Trolley (as my friends lovingly dubbed it) came in. They can fit a surprising amount and are towable, so no hoisting it onto your back every time you start walking again. You just wheel it along! The one downside is if there is a lot of mud, then you might face some issues trying to wade through a bog. They also are very awkward to keep in the tent if it starts to rain, so keep that in mind!
Similar to the Granny Trolley, you have the benefit of wheels, so less back strain and an easier way to transport all your things. Carts are usually higher off the ground too, and with four wheels, they can tackle mud and puddles with ease. With a cart, you can stack things on top, so being able to put food, drink, your tent and your clothing in one place makes transport a hell of a lot easier. Like the Granny Trolley, they usually won’t fit in the tent, so try and cover them if you have to leave it outside!
3. Where are you camping?
This is more important to consider than you might think. While you’ll be right in the heart of the action, the closer you are to the stages the more likely you are to be stolen from (it does happen) and your tent may get trampled. If the area is hilly, try and camp at the top. This way, if there is heavy rain, you won’t get flooded. Speaking of slopes, try and avoid pitching on them! Trying to stay in one spot while sleeping on a slant is not fun.
Lastly, you don’t want to be near the toilets or water fountains! The area around the fountains gets boggy really quickly and while it might seem like a good idea to be close to the loos, by day three, you’ll wish you hadn’t. Now, on to what to actually add to your packing list for a festival…
One of my top tips when making your packing list for a festival is to plan what you want to wear before you go. This will eliminate any excess, leaving more space in your bag and less weight for you to carry. If you can’t decide on set outfits, then take things that will go with multiple items.
It goes without saying to check the forecast before you head off, and pack accordingly. Still, the type of clothing you will take to a festival is generally split into two categories: Practical and Fashionable.
At festivals, you won’t have access to washing, heating and in most cases, showers. You need to be mindful of this when packing so you’ll make it through the weekend.
1. A warm jacket or hoodie. Let’s not forget that most of us are in the UK. Even if it’s a sweltering summer, the temperature will drop overnight. Warm layers are easily one of the most important festival must-haves!
2. Raincoat. Again, the UK most likely equals rain at some point. Bonus points if your raincoat rolls up small to be stowed away in your day bag.
3. Thick socks. It gets freezing at night.
4. Warm pyjamas.
5. Underwear, socks and lots of spares. Things go missing, and if you get soaked to the skin, it’s good to have an extra pair.
6. Decent shoes. This means not taking your best white trainers. Pack a pair of converse or Dr Martens that can withstand the weekend, but also look good.
7. Wellies. When the mud eventually becomes a bog, you won’t fancy having wet feet for the whole event.
8. A hat. There is little shelter from the sun when you are watching your favourite acts. Take it from someone who didn’t take a hat and got heat exhaustion, it’s worth taking.
9. Sunglasses. There are plenty of fun ones you can find, and it’ll save you squinting because you can’t see the stage.
Top Tip: I always swore by wearing shorts/a skirt in bad weather and then having all the warm items on top. Might sound odd, but my argument is that your bare legs will dry over time (clothes most likely won’t), and your raincoat will cover everything on top, keeping you warm and dry!
Now for the more fun part of this packing list for a festival. Festivals are the place where anything extra goes. Mesh, glitter, fur coats, here you have the opportunity to flaunt them all. I’m going to leave this one up to you with want you want to take.
My only advice would be:
1. Plan your outfits before you go.
2. If it’s going to be warm, take light and breathable items.
3. Don’t take valuables. Unless you can keep them on you, it’s not worth them being lost or stolen.
4. Wear everything you’ve always wanted to but felt like it’s “too much”.
Asides from your basics, when it comes to packing a washbag, items need to be functional. (Read: Not a 12-step skincare routine.) Again, you most likely won’t have access to a shower or water to wash your face, so be prepared to get grimy!
10. Tissues, or even better, entire loo rolls. Not pleasant, I know. But portaloos are vile and usually run out of toilet paper very quickly. Keeping a pack of tissues in your day bag and loo roll in your tent will be worth it.
11. Hand gel. To reiterate, portaloos are nasty. You either won’t want to touch the sink (which usually won’t work anyway) or the hand gel will have run out. Make sure you have some of your own at the ready.
12.Micellar water or face wipes. As a skincare junkie, I’m loath to recommend face wipes in any situation. Festivals might be the one place I’ll let it slide. That said, micellar water and cotton pads will be much better at removing makeup and glitter, so it just depends on personal preference!
13. Dry shampoo. An absolute godsend.
14. A mirror. Not something that would immediately cross your mind, until you get there and have to apply makeup in your phone’s front camera.
15. Eco-friendly glitter. (Obviously)
16. SUNCREAM. At a festival, I once got the worst sunburn I’ve ever had, sat for a couple of hours on a cloudy day. It’s hard to heal/cool it off at a festival, so avoid when you can.
17. A lightweight towel. Perfect for drying off after a rainy day, or if you decide to try and have a cold wash.
18. Painkillers and plasters. Headaches and blisters are commonplace – don’t let them ruin your weekend!
19. Baby wipes. If showers are available, and you are willing to pay for them, then do it. Otherwise, you are looking at a “baby wipe bath”. (Gross, I know, but I did say prepare to get grimy.) If you want to use eco-friendly travel products instead, a bar of soap and a cloth will do the same job. Just be prepared for the cold! Try and find somewhere to dry the cloth if you can, and store the soap in a tin.
Food and Drink
There will be endless food and drink options available, but they will cost you a bomb. It’s worth trying to take as much as you can with you, and then spend your money on say, a big evening meal, or a cup of something hot when you need it. Generally, the things you take with you will need to last. If you have space, taking a small camping stove will allow you to cook small instant food that will fill a hole! With that said, here are a few fail-safes for every festival.
22. Fresh fruit. Apples and bananas are the best.
23. Tortilla wraps. Just good carbs to fill you up. If you can take some type of filling too (jars of peanut butter were popular) then even better.
24. Nuts and dried fruit.
25. Your alcohol of choice. Keep in mind that festivals do not allow glass, so get cans or decant your drinks into plastic bottles.
26. Lucozade. When you are feeling it the next morning, you’ll thank me.
27. A reusable water bottle. There will be taps all over the site where you can fill your bottle. It’s important to stay hydrated, and you can use it when you want to brush your teeth or have a wash, etc. Water is definitely one of the most important essentials for a music festival!
28. Reusable cutlery set.
29. A tent. You definitely don’t want to leave home without including a tent in your music festival packing list. Try and get one that has an inner lining, so condensation doesn’t make everything inside damp. There also might not be space for that giant tent, so take a smaller one and create a camp with your friends.
30. Sleeping bag.
31. Ground mat. If you don’t fancy sleeping straight on the ground.
32. Travel pillow. Or, as I would do, a bundled-up jumper.
33. A day bag.
34. Cash. Queues for cashpoints are often long, and they will charge you to take money out.
35. Ticket and ID. You will need both to get in!
37. Torch. Particularly useful in the evening when you are trying to find something in the tent.
38. Bin bags. They are a genuinely invaluable addition to your packing list for a festival. Aside from the obvious, they can be used as improvised seats when the ground is wet, or even as a rain mac if you are really desperate.
39. Earplugs. Festivals are not quiet places, so these can help you get some sleep. I also learned from my friend who is partially deaf, that they protect your ears but still allow you to hear the music.
41. A disposable camera. I’m the biggest advocate for adding a little camera to your festival camping checklist. Some of my best festival pictures have been taken on them.
42. A flag or something recognisable. When you are trying to find your way back through a sea of tents, it can be handy to have something that marks yours.
43. Camping chairs. Arguably an essential if you are willing to carry them (I was not).
A final but very important note
LEAVE NO TRACE!
Respect the place that has hosted you, take all your festival camping essentials home with you and put all your rubbish in the bin. We have to take care of our planet, and you can do that by having an eco-friendly camping trip.
With everything said and done, there are festivals out there to suit everyone, and they are truly some of the most fun you can have. It’s basically a lifetime of concerts in one weekend, so enjoy yourself! Just make sure you don’t forget anything off this packing list for a festival, yeah?