Oh yes, the festival season is here again! The highlight of the year for many – momentous occasions of living in the moment and losing yourself to good vibes and summer tunes. Old friendships are nurtured, new friends are made, and many lasting memories are etched into a hazy catalogue of awesome times. And of course festival camping is a massive part of what makes it all so free and fun: clean fresh air; outdoor living; snoozing in the sun to hypnotic beats; letting the rain drops on your tent lull you to sleep. But as anyone who has had a true festival camping experience will tell you, living in a field in close proximity to thousands of other fun-loving, free-spirited festival folk is not all raindrops on roses – and it certainly has its challenges. So although going with the flow is what makes the festival scene so special, a little bit of preparedness only heightens the opportunities to truly switch off and get amongst it all.
Our festival camping guide will help you make sure you do all the thinking before you go, leaving you ready to free your mind partying in the outdoors.
Festival camping tips
- Don’t bring the kitchen sink – you may have to carry your festival camping stuff further than you think before you can set up your tent, so pack light and smart.
- Check out the festival rules – cooking on camp stoves might not be allowed so if so, there’s no point bringing them. Also pocket knives may not be permitted.
- Use a backpack– trudging across a muddy field with a suitcase is enough to dampen the spirits before they’ve even been lifted. Use a backpack instead – easy and comfortable, and it frees up your hands for high fives, hugs and beers!
- Arrive early– claim your camping pitch as soon as you can, especially if you have a large tent to put up.
- Make your tent easily identifiable – bring a flag, bunting or helium balloons to make your spot stand out in the tented city. Or just opt for a camper van tent!
- Don’t bring anything valuable.
- Bring earplugs – it’s not just sleep that tents are good for.
- Don’t lock your tent – it only indicates that there’s something in there worth stealing, and a simple slash of the tent will bypass the lock in an instant.
- Don’t camp near the toilets – it’s fresh air you came here to enjoy right?
- Don’t stress about the toilets – they’re going to be grim.
Before you lose all notion of adult behaviour and clear thinking, make a festival camping checklist. It should include your festival camping gear and all the other festival essentials that will help make your time as epic as possible.
Our camping checklist is a good place to start, but you won’t need everything on the list – remember packing light is key. Our list of festival camping essentials might help:
Festival camping essentials
Having a good night’s sleep is not what you go to a festival for, but if you plan on at least trying to get some rest, you’ll need to do everything you can to optimise your chances.
Although tempting, buying cheap camping gear – especially tents, isn’t really worth it. You may as well not bring a tent if it’s going to collapse in the wind or leak at the first sign of rain. That said, there are some really decent inexpensive tents out there that will do the job just fine without breaking the bank:
- Go for something bigger than you need. If there are two of you, opt for a three/four person tent. Aside from the chaos of all your stuff taking over, there’s always someone who doesn’t make it back to the right tent, so having a little extra space available for late night visitors is a great way to make new friends.
- Choose a tent with a porch or vestibule. If it’s wet, a place to dump all your stuff before you get right inside will prevent your bedding from getting saturated too.
- Pop up tents are super easy to use and ideal for festival camping. Not always the most reliable in bad weather, so go for something like this Coleman pop up tent that will stand up to whatever comes its way.
- If you can, go for something wacky looking that you’ll be able to find easily. These FieldCandy Tents look awesome and their quality will last a lifetime of festival camping.
A good sleeping mat will help you stay warm as well as comfortable at night, so you don’t need to rely solely on your beer jacket. You can spend as much or as little as you like on a sleeping mat so take a look at our guide on the best sleeping pads to help you figure out your needs.
- A lightweight and cheap foam mat will be fine to keep the cold out, but won’t provide much comfort. So if you envisage crashing out without much encouragement, then this is for you.
- Something self-inflating is a better choice if you prefer something a little more comfortable – light enough to carry but robust enough to stand up to festival use.
- You can also use this cool little strap to turn your self-inflating sleeping pad into a reclining chair for afternoon relaxing.
Unless you’re camping at altitude, you probably won’t need much more than a summer sleeping bag to crash out in. And the practical festival campers out there will most likely wake up in the clothes they passed out in, making good use of those extra layers for warmth. Forward thinking!
- You can pick up OK 2-3 season sleeping bags for not much, and if you’re only intending on spending a few hours in it anyway, then something like this Seemo sleeping bag will do just fine for a few festival seasons.
- Although warm, sleeping bags aren’t the best for co-sleeping. So if you anticipate sharing your warmth with someone else, these Rumpl blankets are perfect for getting cosy under, and add a bit of class to your snoozing set up.
Other festival camping essentials
If your inner homing pigeon has managed to land you back at the right tent, don’t let yourself down by failing to find your head torch. Make a point of putting it somewhere really sensible before you leave the tent. Or better still, hang it up on a clip inside your tent. All you have to do is remember where you put it!
An essential make-do repair kit for almost anything. And if you don’t need to use it for anything important, then are plenty of other amusing and entertaining uses for it.
If the weather turns bad, a few solid bin bags can be a real game changer. Stick your wet clothes in them, use them as waterproof clothing, store your sleeping bag in them, and (if it comes to it) sleep in them.
If you don’t pack it, it’s guaranteed to rain. So stick one of these tiny ponchos in your back pocket, just in case.
Avoid the inevitability of trench foot and other mud bourne conditions by donning a pair of good old-fashioned wellington boots. The ultimate festival footwear of choice (unless you are heading to a festival in guaranteed sunshine, in which case they are the worst choice possible!)
Most festival-goers don’t need reminding to keep drinking. But getting the right liquids in is a different story altogether. Afterall, why would you buy a bottle of water when you can get a beer for the same price? Buying water stings at the best of times, for your pocket and the environment, so clip one of these cool collapsible bottles to your belt to fill up whenever you get the chance.
Festival food can be pricey, so bring some non-perishable snacks for the midnight munchies.
Don’t get disconnected from the people you want to be sharing it all with. Make sure you recharge your phone over night.
An absolute festival camping essential. Have them at the ready to clean up a multitude of messes. Also good for keeping on top of your camping hygiene levels in the absence of showers.
Another essential for keeping bugs and lurgies at bay.
The loos are guaranteed to run out of supplies, so make sure you take your own.
Festival accessories and extras
So you’ve got your festival camping essentials nailed, now you need to make sure you’ve got fun at your fingertips for the ‘down’ time, when you’re just hanging out at camp. If you’re keen to make new friends and meet new people, then these festival accessories are guaranteed to draw your neighbours over. So share the love and add these fun (and packable) extras to your festival camping checklist:
- Pocket blanket – set the scene for sociability and whip out this tiny pocket blanket to invite your new friends to share with you.
- Frisbee – good for chucking over and around your tented arena, and the inadvertent mis-throws into your neighbour’s tents makes the perfect excuse for them to get involved too.
- Hacky sack – hours of fun can be had with a hacky sack, especially with lethal drinking game variations to get the day moving in the right direction.
- Fire poi – bring out the post-party fireworks and mesmerise the crowds with some wild fire dancing. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of space, and water at the ready.
- Ukulele – while away the morning crooning along to your favourite pretty ditties – the perfect way to get you in the festival mood.
Now that you’ve settled in and got into the spirit of things, the time to really party has arrived. So with your fully charged phone and some cash stashed safely in a zip pocket or travel belt, all you need now is to cover yourself from head to toe in suncream, don your floppy straw hat, grab your cheap shades and get your dancing shoes on.
It may seem like overkill for a few days of tent living, and if you are lucky you won’t need to fall back on some of your over-preparedness. But if it puts your mind at ease and enables you and your friends to have the best time possible, then it will all be well worth it. So pack it in and let the good times begin!