It’s finally summer yaaaay, time to crack open the ice-cold fruity cider! Hopefully we can expect lots of warm summer days, BBQs, day trips to the beach AND plenty of festival fun. Last week I was interviewed on BBC Radio Newcastle giving advice on festival essentials, as well as sharing some of my favourite festivals, big and small. For those of you new to Eat Travel Rave Repeat, or who don’t know my back ground, I worked in Festivals and live events for almost 10 years doing a variety of roles: Promotor, logistics, marketing & PR, stage management, artist liaison, staffing. As well as plenty of casual jobs like wrist banding, selling merch and stewarding and being an average punter at loads of festivals too. ANYWAY, all that to say I’ve been to A LOT of festivals and like to think of myself as somewhat of a pro when it comes to packing and knowing what are total festival essentials, things that will make your experience better/easier/more fun. There’s nothing worse than standing in the middle of a field having forgotten essentials, especially if that’s a raincoat and it’s about to arse it down! So, I’ve compiled a list of my top 25 festival essentials, hopefully it will help some of you out who are currently scratching your heads wondering what you’ve missed.
I have linked below to my favourite festival essentials, some of these links are affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here
We’re all about saving the planet, right?! And as many festivals have now banned the sale of single use plastics onsite it’s a good idea to take your own reusable water bottle. Get yourself one like this so you can clip it to the outside of your bag and fill it up at water points around the festival.
Self-inflating roll mat
Sleeping on the cold hard ground isn’t much fun even if you’ve had a skin full! Regular roll mats are fine in a pinch, but these self-inflating ones are even more compact and lightweight, AND also give you loads more padding. Making it much easier to get the sleep hours in to keep on raving the next day.
Black out tent sheet
Not only can tents be freezing at night, but as soon as the sun comes up it’s like trying to sleep in a sauna. Get yourself one of these blackout sheets for your tent and you’ll be able to sleep way past 6am.
Eye mask and ear plugs
You might be thinking “I’m at a festival, I’ll sleep when I’m home”, but trust me, you’re going to want to try get some sleep at some point and if you’ve crawled into your tent at 6am an eye mask and ear plugs are an absolute festival essential! This set comes with a neck pillow too making it way more comfortable to fall asleep on the coach or car home, Winning!
Well yeah, unless you’ve paid for pre-erected or VIP option you’re going to need a tent. I upgraded to a cute VW campervan a few years ago (which freaking love) but I still have to sleep under canvas from time to time. Don’t be tempted by the cheapo supermarket tents, they fall apart and then go landfill. Invest in a good quality tent that will keep you dry and serve all your festival going for years. This black out one from Coleman keeps you dry, cool/warm and comfortable and is really easy to put up.
This is also an item you should invest in. You need a good quality, lightweight and warm one that packs down small like this one from Active Era. It also has an internal pocket to keep your phone and wallet safe while you sleep.
Compact Picnic blanket
Camping chairs are nice for round camp, but they’re a pain in the arse to carry and they can break easily. I use a compact picnic blanket to sunbathe on and you can lay it down anywhere to have a quick rest or a bite to eat on.
Cans of beer or cider take up loads of space and are really heavy to lug aaaall the way in to the festival. My top tip is to buy cold ciders from the bars and take spirits with you. A cute hip flask is easy to sip from when you’re dancing away, and can be easily stashed down the back of your pants if you need to sneak it past security….sshhhh.
This one look cool as fook, holds a half bottle of spirits, comes with a little funnel making it easier to get your booze in and has a cap on an attached lever so you can’t lose the cap when you’ve had a few too many!
Dock & Bay quick drying towel
With any luck you’ll have access to a shower at some point, or you could attempt a freezing cold bucket wash. But even if you stick to baby wipe wash you’ll need a towel, especially if it rains. These compact, light-weight towels are fast drying, antibacterial, repel sand and dust and come in a huge variety of sizes and super cute designs. I use mine for the gym, beach and travelling too.
Some festivals now offer phone charging services, but A. you need to pay for every charge and B. you’re without your phone for hours every day and have to queue up at the charging station wasting precious festival time! I’ve used this Anker charger for years for travelling and at festivals. It will easily charge your phone all weekend and you can slip it in your bum bag or back pack and charge on the go!
Yeah, I know you’ve come to a festival to listen to live music, but a few tunes while you’re having a few pre-drinks and applying body glitter at camp is always good. These wonder boom speakers are totally waterproof, durable and come in a huge range of colours and designs. I have a few of these of different sizes and the sound quality is amazing!
Unless you’ve paid extra for posh facilities the likelihood of the toilets you use being pitch black at night is pretty high. I can’t tell you how many phones are found at the bottom of septic tanks after being dropped while using the torch! Get yourself this head torch so you can have your hands totally free and keep your phone safe. It’s also good for searching through your stuff in the tent at night.
These head torches are the ones that techies use at festivals and gigs, and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me!
Clothes & Accessories
Classic festival accessory! Store your money, phone, lip balm round your front where it’s easily accessible and safe. I like the kind that has an inner zip pocket so you can keep your valuables extra secure, like this one.
Pack down day bag
Anything else you need for the day that doesn’t fit in your bum bag can go in a day bag: Waterproofs, loo roll, snacks, alcohol, hoodie, sun cream, make up. It takes way too much time to traipse back to your camp every time you need any of those things, so just take them with you. This one packs inside it’s self so it can be easily stored inside your main back pack.
Wellies or walking boots? Which camp are you in? I know wellies are seen as a festival essential for a lot of British festivals. But honestly, they are shit for your feet, sweaty and you get loads of blisters. Trust me, walking boots or even military boots are going to keep your tootsies much happier and keep you dancing for longer sans blisters.
Speaking of which, a nice pair of walking boots is nothing without some decent socks that wick away sweat and prevent blisters. You’ll defo want to invest in a few pairs of these bad boys!
There is nothing more certain that rain at a good ol’ British festival. Even the ones I’ve done that have been so scorching everyone has been walking round in bikinis, it still rained a little bit. And getting your clothes soaked through when you’ve got 3 more days of partying is not fun, so best to be prepared. Get a poncho like this that can pack away into your backpack so you can whip it out if the heavens open.
Toiletries and medicines
Bio degradable body glitter
Glitter is absolutely a festival essential, don’t @ me! But all of those tiny bits of plastic all over the countryside and getting into streams etc is really not cool. Luckily you can buy bio degradable body glitter, that’s basically made of plant matter and it looks goooorgeous!
This set comes in a six faaabulous colours and comes with face glitter gel and applicator brush, so you’re all good to go.
Let’s face it, you’re probably not going to wash your hair, but you still want to look cute, right?! Dry shampoo is a must. I couldn’t live without the stuff if I’m honest. I really love the Batiste hydrating dry shampoo as it’s really fine and gentle on your hair.
I’m currently praying to the sun gods for a dry Glastonbury, but it’s not looking good! Regardless, sun cream is always a good idea, especially when you’re spending so much time outside. I always come home from a festival with weird tan lines, so best to protect yourself whatever the weather.
Hangovers are pretty much a given, right!? Neck a couple of Nurofen and get right back on it. But errr drink responsibly kids…haha.
All of that dancing, walking, drinking and lack of sleep takes a toll and coffee might not be so easy to get a hold of when you really need it. So best to take something to pep you up when you need it, like caffeine pills. Absolute life saver!
I take these My Protein ones as a gym pre workout supplement too.
Keeping your breath fresh, and your pearly whites clean can be a struggle at a festival. Toothpaste tabs are definitely the way forward. You just chew on them till they turn to paste and brush, no water needed!
Soap leaves/hand sanitiser
Camping and using toilets at festivals can be a little bit grim at times and you definitely don’t want to end up with a stomach upset when you’re meant to be having the time of your life! Keep your hands clean by using these amazing soap leaves that give you enough soap for one hand wash. Or use hand sanitiser to kill off the nasty bacteria mmmm.
Speaking of stomach upsets, if you do get one it’s best to be prepared with some loperamide, so you can keep on enjoying yourself and not spend all weekend in the loo!
Keep a clean set of clothes, undies and shoes in the car to change in to for the journey home, or if your travelling by public transport, double bagged in the bottom of your ruck sack to keep dry. Most of us feel like total crap when leaving a festival so changing into clean clothes just makes you feel that much better and stops your car getting covered in mud and dust too. Winner!
If you remember all of these festival essentials I don’t think you’ll go far wrong, and anything else you can squeeze in to your back pack is just a bonus. But whatever you take, with you please remember to take it home with you.
have a brilliant festival season!
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