The Ultimate Guide To Festival Packing & Preparation

Summer is finally upon us and that only means one thing – it’s festival season! What better way to spend a summer weekend than being drunk in a soggy field dancing to great tunes with your best pals. But festival packing and preparation can come with its own challenges.

aerial shot of festival tents and crowds in a field

Being in the UK, summer doesn’t always mean sun, which can make festivals pretty unpredictable. But these festival packing tips and snippets of advice are here as a little festival guide – to help you get prepared and hopefully have the best time!

A guide to festival packing

There are so many things you need to pack for a festival. From the obvious things like tents to some little extras that can help along the way. Do remember though, unless you buy a trolley, you will have to carry all of this stuff to your campsite and back, so try to keep it light. Here is my ultimate festival packing list!

Camping:

  • Tent – Try to get a tent that is 1 person bigger than your group. So if you’re a group of 2, try and get a 3 man tent so you have some extra room for all your bags.
  • Sleeping bag and roll mat
  • Pillowcase – you might be thinking “but what about the pillow?”. Pillows are hard to carry and take up a lot of room. Instead, pack a few jumpers and stuff these in the pillowcase as a temporary pillow. You’d be surprised how comfy it is!
  • Mallet – there’s nothing worse than trying to force a tent peg into stubborn English soil with your bare hands
  • Torch

Essentials:

  • Tickets – Check, double check and triple check that you have your ticket before you leave!
  • ID / Proof of age – A lot of festivals will be really strict on ID for buying alcohol and some will even ID you on entry to make sure your name matches the ticket.
  • Cash – I personally always avoid taking my cards to festivals as I don’t want them to get lost or stolen, so instead, I take cash. Some festivals offer lockups so you can keep your valuables locked away and split your cash across days.

Clothes and accessories:

  • Two outfits per day – I try to pack a wet weather and dry weather outfit for each day, plus an extra top or so just in case
  • Basically your entire underwear drawer – because water and mud gets EVERYWHERE
  • Wellies – a festival essential
  • Thick, warm socks – for the wellies
  • Waterproof raincoat / mac – again, an essential, cause it’s England
  • So. Much. Glitter.
  • Warm hoodies and jumpers – some for the pillows mentioned earlier, some for the evenings as it gets chilly
  • Sunglasses – either as an accessory on your head or in case the sun makes an appearance
  • Bumbag – yet another essential. Top points if you can get a waterproof one
  • Clean clothes for the journey home – if you drive, keep these in the boot of the car so they are safe from the elements
  • Hat – if you’re a hipster or for sun protection

Toiletries:

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Wet wipes – because showers don’t naturally exist in the middle of a field (sadly)
  • Fanny wipes – as above but especially for your lady area. An absolute must to keep you feeling fresh as a daisy
  • Tissues – aka toilet roll for the weekend
  • Suncream – in case a miracle occurs
  • Roll on deodorant – because all that spray in a tent makes it really difficult to breathe
  • Make-up removers
  • Dry shower gel – what a revelation! If you feel a bit more upmarket than a wet wipe, try this foaming dry shower gel that works without water
  • Medications
  • Dry shampoo
  • Hairbrush, hairbands etc
  • Handheld mirror – unless you can do your make-up like a pro
  • Microfibre towel – Super handy for travel in general. Lightweight, packs really small and drys quickly
  • Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer – because you don’t even want to think about all the germs you’ll be coming into contact with…
  • Basic first aid kit – Plasters, paracetamol, Sudocrem. You get the idea…

Other useful bits and bobs:

  • Dry snacks – festival food is expensive so it’s handy to take some cereal bars, crisps etc for snacks
  • Disposable camera – it saves taking your phone out all the time for photos and is a nice keepsake
  • Alcohol – if the festival allows you to take in your own. Most will allow it in certain quantities and in plastic bottles
  • Berocca – for the inevitable hangover
  • Big bottles of water / a bucket – for brushing your teeth and washing your face in the morning
  • Portable phone charger – it goes without saying that most people will risk their phones at a festival, so you might as well try and keep it alive
  • Cups or mugs – for the alcohol mainly, unless you want to swig it out of the bottle
  • Bin bags – to separate your dirty and clean clothes and take your rubbish home

crowd outside tent at festival at sunset

Festival tips & advice

Once your festival packing is done, you might think you are fully prepared and ready to run off into a field with glitter and bumbag in tow. Whilst it might not seem like there can be much to prepare for for a weekend of glitter-strewn madness, I’ve learnt a few things from festivals over the years that you might not instinctively think about.

  • Try and get there as early as you can to secure a good camping spot
  • Don’t camp at the bottom of a hill or slope. Gravity will not be on your side if it decides to rain
  • Find a landmark near to where you pitch your tent or will you lose it, I promise. Or buy a really big flag
  • Pack earplugs if you actually care about going to sleep at all whilst the rest of the campsite yells “Steve, Alan” all night
  • Despite the advice, don’t padlock your tent. Take valuables with you or don’t bring them. Padlocks just show there is something inside worth stealing
  • Get the festival app and plans any act clashes in advance. It’s also good for sussing out the campsite on the map
  • Leave early or late – either pack up early before everyone wakes up, or take your time on the Monday and wait for the crowds to thin out. No-one wants to be in the 7am-9am crush to get out the exit gates
  • Don’t be a dickhead – this has many points but a few main things come to mind. Don’t throw practically full pints into the crowd – we smell enough as it is. Don’t push and shove your way to the front. Don’t pour / throw anything at anyone’s tents. We’re all there to have fun so don’t ruin someone’s weekend by being a dick.

And I think that’s it! Let me know what festivals you are heading to this year in the comments – maybe I’ll see you there! Do you have any tips and tricks that I’ve missed out?

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Manon says

    Such a comprehensive list, amazing Abigail.
    I will print this out and use it as a checklist ๐Ÿ™‚ So handy.
    I have nothing planned yet, but I am sure I will.

    xx Manon | Bonditobasic

  2. Nele says

    Wish I had this list when I went to a festival a couple of years ago haha! I’d been to festivals before, but never stayed over night and I was not prepared properly at all! Thanks for sharing these tips, will save them for my next festival trip!

  3. Kat says

    Iโ€™ve never been to a festival before, but they look like so much fun! I think that this is a really good list. I did a lot of camping when I was a kid, and the pegs we had were always really difficult to get out of the ground, so weโ€™d always take a hammer so we could attempt to pry the pegs out!

  4. Kayleigh Zara says

    Festivals really aren’t my sort of scene but these are some amazing tips and I honestly giggled so much at your last comment “don’t be a dick” because I’ve heard some god awful things people have done at festivals haha and it’s ridiculous that people act that way x

    Kayleigh Zara ๐ŸŒฟ http://www.kayleighzaraa.com

  5. Terri says

    Done my years of festival frivolities but this is super useful for those who havenโ€™t.
    The โ€œSteve, Alanโ€ bit made me chuckle. If thatโ€™s not a sign of a British festival then I dunno what is! ๐Ÿ˜‚

    • whatabigailsays says

      Iโ€™d definitely recommend doing it once just for the experience! It seems daunting but itโ€™s not that bad once you get your head around it, and a lot of festival offer pre-pitched tents or glamming pods! X

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