Last Updated on 4 November 2023 by Rebecca
Attending a festival is one thing, but attending a festival and camping is something else entirely. And if you’ve never been to a festival, it can be quite a daunting experience. This, however, shouldn’t put you off.
Festival camping is a great life experience that everyone should enjoy that will see you spending quality time with friends and family, making new friends, hearing fantastic music, and learning new things. At the same time, if you’ve never done festival camping before, it can be intense; you’re away from the comforts of your home, mixing with tens of thousands of people you’ve never met before, and you’ll likely be sleep deprived at some stage during the festival madness.
To make the most of camping at the next music festival you attend, here are some essential tips to make the most of it that’ll ensure you keep coming back for more.
Festival Camping Equipment: What to Pack
Camping at a festival is part of the fun of attending a festival, but as with any camping excursion you go on, you need to ensure you have the right stuff with you. For veteran campers, you probably already have a camping list at hand as to what you bring, but for beginners looking for a checklist, it’s a good idea to bring the following:
Your festival ticket
Your bank card
Your phone and phone charger
Your driving license or ID
Here are some other essential items you need to bring, unless, of course, you’ve decided to fully embrace the festival spirit and forego even the basic things.
Liner bag for your sleeping bag
A roll mat or air mattress
Air pump, if you bring an air mattress
Basic tent repair kit
Mallet and puller to get those tent stakes out of the ground
Sensible footwear (you can’t go wrong with wellies at a festival, especially if the weather turns to rain)
Duct tape for any emergency repairs
Battery packs for when you need extra battery life for your mobile
Pack your camping equipment in a backpack that’s easy to carry. If you’re attending a festival such as Glastonbury, you may find yourself walking a far distance to locate the ideal camping spot, so only carry the essential camping gear you need.
Saying that, if you bring a camping trolley with you, you have more freedom to bring must-haves such as a water bottle to stay hydrated, extra festival clothes, food, toilet roll, bags for wet clothes and dirty clothes, any drinks, and those all-important bin bags. You could even bring your camping toilet if you have enough space where you’re camping to pitch a camping toilet tent.
Festival Camping: Setting Up Camp
As with many festivals, you can’t go blindly in without taking a few considerations into account first. By taking these steps at the beginning, your festival experience will be a good one.
Pick Your Camping Location Wisely
Most festivals, especially the big ones, don’t give you much choice as to where you can set up your camping equipment; however, if you can, it’s always worthwhile to get to the campsite early, so you can bag the best spot.
Try and pick a location that’s close enough to the music and toilets, but not too close that you’re surrounded by the, less than appealing, toilet smells and the loud music.
Also, avoid pitching on the walkways as you’re likely to have a few people stumbling into your tent. Because of this, unless it’s a family-friendly music festival where you have more space, it’s probably worthwhile not spending a fortune on your tent as it could end in worst wear than when you left.
Mark Where You Are
If you’ve done any sort of festival camping, you know the importance of marking your camping spot. With thousands of people at festival campsites and tents of all shapes and sizes quickly taking up available space, figuring out where you are can be a challenge.
To make things easier for yourself – as most tents look the same at night – and to ensure you get a good night’s sleep at the end of the day, mark your tent with a festival flag. It could have a unique design on it or a photo of yourself and your friends. Include some lights too and on your guy ropes, so when you head back at night or in the early hours of the morning, you’ll find your tent with no trouble.
Include Some Campsite Fun
The great thing about camping festivals is that even though you’re there for the great music and good friends, there’s plenty of time between the music where you can just chill and relax around your tent. It’s a no-brainer then that you should bring games, cards, and maybe even hula hoops to help pass the time. Bring some music as well for when you’re sitting around your tent to keep you in the festival mood.
Pitch a Separate Pop-Up Tent
If you’re able to get to the campsite early and you’ve bagged a great spot for your tent – and there are more than a few of your going – it’s a good idea to pitch a separate pop-up tent. This will be a perfect dumping ground for any wet or muddy clothing instead of getting where you’re sleeping clogged up with any unwanted clothes.
Don’t Pitch Up At the Bottom of a Slope
It might seem like a tiring task of carting your festival camping gear to the top of a slope when you’re setting your base up, but it’s worthwhile, especially if you’re there for a while or the weather is due to change. Water runs down and if you’re at the bottom of a slope in the middle of a downpour, you’re more than likely going to find your tent sitting in a puddle.
When you arrive at the festival site, camp somewhere that avoids this possibility.
Choose a Flat Spot
Just like you don’t want to sleep at the bottom of a slope, you don’t want to camp where there are stones underneath your tent. Pick somewhere flat and clear, giving you a better night’s sleep.
Festival Camping Essentials: Food and Drink
Bring Your Own or Not?
One of the great things about attending a music festival is that you can bring food and drink or simply rely on the food at the festival. Most festivals have an incredible array of food available, providing a great amount of choice for those moments when you fancy something a bit different.
If you do decide to forego bringing your own, you’ll find it’s convenient to buy from the festival’s vendors, but at the same time, it’ll be a lot more expensive, especially if you add drinks to the bill too.
Don’t Forget Your Gas Stoves
If you’re planning to bring your food to a festival, pack a gas stove to make the most of your meals. If you can, bring a two-burner camping stove to get away with cooking two things at once. If you don’t plan on cooking a lot and can get away with a little bit of water, you’ll find you’ll do well with a compact cooking stove.
Keep Your Food Fresh
When it comes to keeping your food fresh, a good way to make sure it doesn’t go off is to keep it in a cool box.
Remember, you’ll have to carry whatever you bring to the festival to your camping spot, so consider the size of the cool box you intend to bring. You can also use wheeled cool boxes to cart from your car to the campsite. Or if you’ve got a camping trolley, you can use that to bring it where you need. Again, though, you’ll need a bit of space near your tent to keep your camping trolley.
Don’t Bring Glass Bottles
If this is your first time festival camping, one thing to bear in mind is that you won’t be allowed to bring glass bottles into the festival grounds. Music festivals have a strict policy when it comes to glass bottles, so it’s best to leave these at home before you get there.
Instead, take cans, plastic bottles or boxed wine. And speaking of drinking, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is key, especially if the weather is hot.
Festival Camping: Look After Yourself
Once you’ve set up your camp for your weekend, or however long, of fun, it’s time to enjoy the festival. If this is your first time at a music festival, you might be feeling apprehensive, but there’s no need. With good friends around you, you’ll soon get into the swing of it.
But, to make the most of your time festival camping, here are a few pointers to get the most fun out of it.
Don’t Forget Your Water Bottle
While drinking water might not be on everyone’s list of priorities when you’re at a festival, make sure it’s one of yours.
By staying hydrated you’ll avoid any unnecessary mishaps that require medical attention. Festivals are about having fun and enjoying the music, but you can’t do that if you’re feeling less than 100%. Take a refillable water bottle and visit those taps frequently to get your free water.
Get Some Shut Eye
Getting a good night’s sleep is a definite must for festival-goers. While it might not be at the top of your to-do list, you don’t want to burn out within a few days. If you can, grab a few hours of shut-eye, and you’ll avoid the inevitable crash and burn due to a lack of sleep. And don’t forget your earplugs. The last thing you want is to be kept awake if you camp somewhere loud or if there are snorers nearby.
If you’re not planning on returning to your tent for hours during the day, make sure you get your kit ready that you want to take with you to the festival. This can be as simple as a light grab bag that has the essentials inside such as water, beer, wine, some food to keep you going, and the all-important sunscreen and hat.
Take some toilet roll as well as it’s unlikely that you’ll find any at the festival toilets. Get your stuff ready before the morning, so you’re not rushing around when everyone else is ready to get going.
Look Out for Yourself and Your Friends
Even though music festivals are filled with friendly people who just want to have a great time, there are still those who would willingly take advantage of others if they’re not feeling too good. Make sure you and your friends keep an eye out for each other and that everyone is okay.
Enjoy the Festival Food
Festival food can be expensive, but it’s worth trying some on offer. Nowadays, there is a wide range of food available that you’ll be spoilt for choice. If you do, try and get something when it’s not too busy as chances are you’ll be queuing for ages when you could spend that time listening to music.
Bring Some Wipes
Chances are you won’t have time for a shower, but that’s all part of the festival spirit. If, however, you can’t go a weekend without some sort of freshen-up, bring some wipes with you. Granted, it’s not the same as having a shower, but it certainly does the job of making you feel clean.
Pack Food That’s Quick and Easy to Prep
If you’re bringing a small camping stove with you, time is of the essence, so it’s a good idea to pack food that you can make quickly. Think rice and baked beans, if you want something hot in the evening at your tent or cereal to start your morning. It doesn’t have to be much, but the last thing you want is to begin your day on an empty stomach.
Remember to Embrace the Festival Camping Spirit
Festivals are a great way to unwind, meet new people, listen to great music, and to get away for a few days experiencing something amazing. Embrace it all and take everything in. Unless you need to see a particular band or singer, there’s no need to rush at a festival. It’s certainly a different pace of life for a few days and it’s great.
Whether this is your first time at a music festival or you already know the ins and outs of what to expect, relax. You’ll get to where you need to go and everyone is in the same boat. Use this opportunity to make new friends and come away at the end of it having made memories to last a lifetime.