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Your essential festival packing guide

Friday 1 August 2014, by

We’re fast approaching the eagerly-anticipated festival season, meaning a great excuse to dance in a field to your favourite bands, mingle with likeminded people and become very merry indeed. While many head off to their usual favourites, well-prepared and ready to go, for festival first-timers, planning and packing can prove rather daunting.

What you should take to a festival really depends on which festival you’re going to, as of course they can vary greatly. A one-day indie festival at a park in London will evidently require a different packing list to a weekend-long electronic music camping event in Croatia, but for inspiration here’s our essential packing guide for a festival, particularly aimed at those braving it under a tent for a couple of nights!

Music Festivals – Your essential packing guide

Camping equipment:

Sleeping bag: Nights can get very chilly, even in the summer so bringing a sleeping bag is a no-brainer.

Tent: Do we need to say any more?

Tent pegs: Unless you want your tent flying away then tent pegs are a must. It’s a good idea to bring spares too, as they can often get trodden on, nicked or bent!

Pillow: If you’re stretched for space, bring a blow-up pillow or go for the easiest option and use a pile of clothes!

Air mattress: Again, try to bring a blow-up mattress to save on space in your backpack.

Camping chair: Not so much a necessity, but fireside drinking is a whole lot more enjoyable with a comfy(ish) seat to sit on. Bring a fold up one that is easy enough to carry.

Toiletries/personal hygiene:

Toilet paper: Bring a couple of rolls and you’ll be grateful later! Festival toilets are renowned for being wretch-worthy and are often left in a complete state – so come prepared!

Hand sanitizer: A lot of the toilets at festivals run out of soap and sanitizer very quickly and after spending some time in a festival toilet you’ll definitely want to be as clean as you possibly can.

Baby wipes: Baby wipes will be your best friend at a festival. What with the endless shower queues, most people don’t tend to bother with a shower and baby wipes are perfect for giving yourself a quick all-over clean.

Sun cream: An absolute essential if you’re heading overseas for a festival, but even in Blighty you should protect your skin from the sun, especially since you’ll be outside all day.

Hangover remedies: Many festival-goers are likely to wake up on the second day of the festival with a pounding headache and little motivation to leave the tent. Try bringing some painkillers or rehydration sachets to help you power through the rest of the festival.

Contraception: They do say that festivals are a great place to meet like-minded people… just stay safe!

Hand-held mirror: The girls out there all know that doing your make-up without a mirror is never going to work out well, so for those planning on applying heap loads of glitter and elaborate false eyelashes, a pocket mirror is essential.

Glitter/face paint: Which leads us on to glitter and face paint! A festival is one of the only places you can go all out with your appearance without raising an eyebrow so embrace the madness and immerse yourself with glitter, face-paint and brightly coloured make-up to really get involved.

Dry shampoo: The easiest way to keep hair in the best condition possible after a few days roughing it is to bring a bottle of dry shampoo. Alternatively it’s possible to wash your hair with a dab of shampoo and a large bottle filled up with water from the taps – just make sure there’s enough left to rinse!

Deodorant: Everyone begins to smell after a day or two, but teamed with baby wipes, deodorant will help you freshen up the best you can.

Food and drink:

Collapsible water bottle: Festival camp sites should provide taps with free drinking water, so to avoid wasting time with several trips back and forth and bring a large collapsible bottle to keep by your tent for when you wake up on Sunday morning gasping for a (non-alcoholic!) drink.

Food: The majority of festivals allow you to bring in as much food as you like, so make the most of this as stall food can all add up. Bring some dry bits you can snack on during the day such as crisps, cereal bars, nuts and pre-packaged food such as pepperoni sticks. For the first day, cold pizza and sausage rolls are always a good shout.

Alcohol: It’s no doubt that festivals are usually a massive booze-infused celebration, so bringing alcohol is generally quite high up on most people’s packing lists! When it comes to choosing what to bring, spirits and boxed wine are lighter than beer and cider, and will often last longer. Just remember not to take glass in!


A hoodie: For those cool summer evenings, a warm, snuggly hoodie will be just what you need.

Wellies: British festivals are renowned for temperamental weather conditions and mud-fests so if you want to keep your toes nice and dry, don’t forget your wellies!

Raincoat: And if it does rain, you won’t want to be lugging an umbrella around, so keep dry with a cagoule.

Sunglasses: However if the weather does luck out, don’t forget a good pair of sunnies to hide your hangover and protect your eyes.

Fancy dress: Many festivals have an annual theme to dress up in, and a lot of people go all out with their attire. A great excuse to get involved with the wackiness of the festival scene!

Old clothes: A festival will never be the ideal environment for showing off your brand-new cream playsuit, so bring old clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit worn and torn – as they will get dirty, tattered and wet.

Socks: Socks are vital at a festival, as you’ll need to wear them under boots and to keep your feet warm at night. They can often get rather damp so bring several pairs.


Bin liners: Rubbish and dirty clothing always tends to get everywhere so bring a couple of bin bags to keep your rubbish and laundry out of the tent and separate to each other.

ID: Some festivals can be strict on ID so don’t risk missing out on buying alcohol if  you look under 25.

Money: We all get a bit ahead of ourselves in the atmosphere of a festival and usually end up spending a lot on beer, food and whatever hippy trinkets the stalls are selling – so come prepared spend. And remember that most ATMs inside festivals do charge a small fee so bringing in cash might be preferable.

Festival ticket: The most important item of all to bring! Double-check you’ve got it before you leave, and then check again one last time.

An old phone: In order not to drain your battery, an old brick-type phone should last you the whole weekend and will cost next to nothing.

Torch: If you want to avoid stumbling around lost in a field packed full of hundreds and hundreds of tents at 3am feeling slightly worse for wear, bring a torch so you can find your way back to your tent without hassle.

Ear plugs: If you expect to get any sleep at a festival, ear plugs are the best shout to get some well-needed kip after being on your feet all day.

Camera: And finally, don’t forget a camera to cherish those precious festival memories so that you’ll always have something to look back on. Have a great festival season!

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