Whether you are a festival virgin or veteran this festival checklist will ensure you pack every essential. Featuring the ultimate list of festival fabulousness as well as the incredibly practical – ensuring you a safe, stress-free time!
Having been to over 21 festivals between us, we feel we have had our fair share of festival fails (cue sunburn so bad Lauren couldn’t dance – yeah, THAT bad) but have now perfected our festival packing list and are delighted to share it with the festival-goers new and old.
Nothing beats the sun shining, cider in hand and good tunes – unless you have a horrendous night sleep, your tent collapses and you forget the sleeping bags. So, to avoid these mistakes and ensure an epic weekend we have put together this guide of essentials for camping at a festival to ensure a dreamy night sleep, ready to dance all day long.
Whether you’re going to dance in the mud of the majestic Scottish Highlands (and heading to our favourite Belladrum perhaps) or under the Spanish Sun at Benicassim – these are the festival essentials you need for a good time in rain or shine.
Looking for a free festival checklist?
Sign up to our monthly newsletter now to receive our free festival checklist along with our latest posts, travel tips and discounts!
The festival checklist download link will be sent to your email address.
LET’S START WITH THE PRACTICAL FESTIVAL CAMPING ESSENTIALS…
Starting with the boring stuff first, these might not be the most fun things to bring to a festival but they will keep you warm and dry which is always a winner.
Obviously, one of the most important festival camping essentials is your tent. If you are camping in the UK it is essential you purchase a tent with an inner shell (not single-layered) and that it is waterproof with a built-in groundsheet.
Our second tip, is to also consider the weight and the lack of space at festivals so don’t go packing a 10 man party tent for your entire camping crew. Opt for lightweight but robust, if you go cheap it’ll be too flimsy and collapse. Spend too much and you’ll be gutted when you flatten it after a cider or 10. This tent is just perfect and will survive again and again when you return because once you’re bitten by the festival bug you will return.
A favourite of our festival camping essentials because we have been attending the same music festival for over 10 years and everyone knows our tent due to the same bunting we use every year. With over 20,000 tents in a field use something such as bunting to make your tent memorable and easy to spot after too many tinnies!
3. Sleeping Bag
Although you might be tempted to dance all night, a sleeping bag is one of the most important festival camping essentials because *spoiler alert* you will need to sleep eventually. Bear in mind, there are quite a few items on this festival packing list, so ideally choose a lightweight sleeping bag – not only will it be easier to carry, but it will also be quicker to dry if you spill a litre bag of wine on it (we learned that the hard way.)
As we’re ridiculously cheesy we actually have a joint sleeping bag – bear with us – it can be separated into two for transit, then when the Scottish temperatures hit, we zip it together again and become SUPER warm. As a little tip, when we were in our campervan in New Zealand we used one sleeping bag opened underneath for extra padding and one sleeping bag open on top like a duvet for a more comfortable night’s sleep.
4. Ear Plugs
Probably the most forgotten festival camping essentials – earplugs! It is insane how much difference earplugs can make and how much a good night’s sleep can affect the following day. Also super handy for an afternoon disco nap, when your campsite is in full party mode but you need to still sleep off last night’s cider. Not gonna lie, they’ve also been a handy addition to our festival checklist due to the number of questionable bands we’ve seen over the years – pop these in when the headliner is not your cup of tea.
5. Blow-Up Bed
I always thought it was very princessy to take a blow-up bed to a festival, but it is LIFE CHANGING and now a vital addition to our festival packing list. There is nothing worse than a whole day of drinking and dancing after no sleep, but having a blow-up bed guarantees a successful slumber and that tiny home comfort to help you forget you’re in the middle of a field.
Don’t forget a foot pump which will blow this up in minutes and if you want an extra lightweight option, then a lilo is a fabulous alternative. Just don’t use it as a sledge to slide down a muddy hill as Lauren did at T in the Park.
Another one of our festival camping essentials because it’s useful when it’s sunny and useful when it rains – the perfect place to ensure all your new festival friends can chill together without attempting to squeeze into your 2 man tent. As a wee tip, in Benicassim, we saw many tents pitched underneath one to create a shaded spot and keep you cool.
7. Folding Chairs
These things are bloody gold dust at festivals, so although we definitely recommend bringing your own do not invest too much as it is almost guaranteed to be nicked by the idiots that forgot to read this festival packing list and bring their own.
8. Inflatable Couch
On the topic of your chair being nicked, these are absolute festival camping essentials – simply because they are compact, lightweight sofas that require no pump to blow up. You simply swirl around for a minute, flapping it in the air and it magically inflates with the wind. Super comfortable to sleep on and also highly amusing to watch people attempt to inflate when the wind is in particularly short supply.
Nothing says festival like warm cider, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Especially when you can now buy cool boxes with wheels. WHEELS! We even saw one at a festival that had built-in Bluetooth speakers #extra – if you’re a cider snob and prefer it chilled then this a definite addition to your festival checklist.
Although coolboxes can be bulky – they do double up as a handy seat. Once empty, however, it is annoying having yet another bulky thing to drag bag to the car, so instead of a coolbox, a cool bag is an ideal alternative. They can fold up once empty, which will save some huffing and puffing when you’re heading home.
10. Granny Trolley
If you’re wondering how you’re gonna carry all your music festival essentials, then THIS is your solution! Trust us, of all the items on this festival packing list this will save you the most tears and tantrums. We have used prams, wheelie bins and backpacks yet these sturdy “granny trolleys” are the best solution.
My dad (a fellow festival veteran) also swears by a sledge and uses bungee cords to strap all the festival camping essentials in. That way, when the mud gets too high the sledge can still slide through where wheels won’t.
When it comes to music festival essentials, things like beer and welly boots are always remembered and the useful stuff like a torch are ALWAYS forgotten. So, consider this your friendly reminder. Extra brownie points if you bring one that winds up as it saves a last-minute hunt (or very expensive purchase from a festival shop) for batteries.
12. Glow in the Dark Tent Pegs
Sure tent pegs are festival camping essentials and probably come with your tent as standard, BUT glow in the dark tent pegs are a whole new level of #extra that we’re very much on board with.
We bought these to stop us tripping over the guy lines in the middle of the night and waking everyone up. A questionable addition to our festival packing list because whether your tent pegs light up or not, you’ll end up tripping over the guy lines in the middle of the night anyway (it’s tradition) so your tent might as well look jazzy as you do it.
NO FESTIVAL PACKING LIST IS COMPLETE WITHOUT THESE GADGETS
13. Portable Charger
Add this to your festival survival kit because how else are you gonna drunk call your ex when “your tune” comes on, find your tent in the dark or take selfies with sparkly strangers – phone battery is essential! We have gone through so many cheap chargers that last a day or two and then die, wasting so much money in the process. This one is the best we’ve ever used, we charge it once and it charges our phone around 7 times, meaning your phone could last a week not just a weekend!
14. Portable Music Speaker
Because applying face glitter to the sound of your best friend spewing up yesterday’s cider doesn’t quite set the mood for the day. So many festivals are now on Spotify, so ensure you download a playlist or two as having a wee dance at the tent always gets you hyped for the real deal. Failing that, a good old Disney Frozen sing along is guaranteed to make your camping neighbours your friends – or not.
NOW FOR THE FUN PART OF THE FESTIVAL PACKING LIST…
These are the fun things to bring to a music festival, then taadaa we got you covered. These will help brighten rainy afternoons at the campsite and keep you entertained between acts. They might not be considered festival essentials to everyone, but to us, we can’t imagine partying in a field without them.
15. Welly Boots / Welly Warmers
The minute I put my welly boots on I feel festival ready. Finding the right pair can prove a bit of a mission – I’ve gone for aesthetic over practical so many times and they end up cracking with too much dancing and jumping around. A good tip (and more sustainable option) rather than buying a new pair every summer, invest in a good pair and jazz them up with socks or “welly warmers”.
I’ve seen so many people just buy the Hunter welly warmer, on top of a perfect pair of Asda Welly boots! Welly warmers not only keep your feet warm but also prevent the boots rubbing against your legs after dancing in them for hours on end so a must-have in your festival survival kit.
So many stalls try and rip you off with face glitter partly because they know it’s a festival essential and partly because they know drunk people will chuck money at glitter of any variety. Save those pennies for beer tokens and pack your own.
Depending you don’t throw it around like confetti (which I obviously don’t haha) then this glitter should last you all Summer. If you are inclined to throw glitter around like confetti then please ensure its biodegradable.
A great tip I was told from a festival pro (although please do not use if you have sensitive skin) is in order to get the glitter to stick for over 12 hours, use eyelash glue. This can be a lifesaver as it’s meant for skin anyway and dries clear. If you don’t fancy eyelash glue, gold old Vaseline will also work and can wipe off easily.
17. Waterproof Poncho
No festival outfit is complete without a waterproof poncho. Find a funky one which makes you extra noticeable in a crowd when you become split up from friends (or when you’re aired on National TV wearing a ladybird one like Loz was). Don’t wait and think you’ll buy one there if you need one, festivals will rip you off majorly for this sort of thing. Buy one before you go because trust us, you’ll need one.
Circa 2007 when my sisters were aged 10 and off to their second-ever festival, my mum let them pack. Cue the confusion when they arrived, my mum opened their bag and discovered they’d only packed a selection of hats. No clothes. They had the right idea from a young age, hats are essentials to any festival packing list (allowing protection from the sun blah blah safety first) but also, the crazier the better to be more noticeable in a crowd! “Can you help me find my friend, she’s wearing an orange sparkly cowboy hat?” is bound to help…
There’s something about music festivals that let you unleash the real you. Now’s the time to buy that Cher wig you always wanted, rock the Elvis quiff or personal fave the Mohican. If you’re wondering what fun things to bring to a music festival, wigs are always a winner – guaranteed laughs as well as a handy disguise if you end up on the big screen.
20. Glow Sticks
Fun fact, I don’t think we’ve ever been to a festival and not ended up with glow sticks at some point. If you’re looking for fun things to bring to a festival that will help jazz up outfits, find friends, light up your tent, make your dance moves more appealing then glow sticks are the answer. Bonus points, these ones last 12 hours so you can glow all night long!
Some of our best memories have been at music festivals, not to mention some of the best gigs we’ve ever been to, so a camera is always handy to capture these moments. However, there is always guaranteed rain, mosh pits, face paint and wine spills so a robust camera is needed to capture it all. This is where a GoPro comes in. These tiny yet tough cameras need to be added to your festival checklist (or Santa list) ASAP as they’re waterproof, have amazing battery life and are perfect for those group selfies by the stage.
22. Festival Playsuits
Admittedly I am a self-confessed hoarder of festival playsuits (I own over 30), however despite the obvious porta-loo playsuit issue, they are the best for festivals as it is an entire outfit in one garment. You literally need 2 festival playsuits, a poncho and some welly boots and that’s your festival wardrobe sorted for the weekend!
NOW FOR THE FESTIVAL ESSENTIALS THAT ARE NOT SO FUN…
Festival essentials aren’t only glitter and granny trolleys, you will get grumpy, tired and hungry at times so there are a few final items to add to your festival checklist for a stress-free weekend.
A tin of Irn Bru & two paracetamol is a popular Scottish breakfast to be honest and if you’re wondering what to take to a festival these bad boys will be needed at some point – guaranteed! Whether it’s painful feet from dancing all day or a cider hangover, don’t forget these from your festival survival kit!
24. Anti-bacterial Hand Gel
During a festival, we literally bathe in this stuff. From those dreaded portaloos to dancing with strangers and eating from questionable burger vans, to kill those germs this is one of the most important festival camping essentials. Whether in gel form or full-blown spray bottle – make sure it’s on your festival checklist!
25. Tissues / Toilet Roll
Portaloos at festivals are scary enough, want to make them even scarier? Forget to tick toilet roll off your festival packing list!
26. Lip Balm
You may be like wtf – how is lip balm an essential for camping at a festival? But I will never forget T in The Park festival when I was 16 and so many people stopping to ask if anyone had lip balm – sunshine & cider all day had made our lips so beautifully crispy we would’ve paid good money for one of these so it’s now part of our festival survival kit!
27. Sun Cream
Even if you’re attending a Scottish festival, do not be fooled into thinking you won’t need it. Chances are you will, or for sure you’re ginger pal (like me) will appreciate some. Sunburn and rave tents never end well so bring this wee travel-sized one and smugly slap it on when the sun shines.
28. Wet Wipes
Three days without a shower? You’re gonna need to add these for sure! Wet wipes are one of our most used essentials for camping at a festival, they’re handy for cleaning humans and camping essentials but did you know regular wet wipes take 100+ years to decompose?
Instead, stock up on biodegradable ones or we actually discovered these epic tablet-sized wipes – they expand when in contact with water. Not only are they biodegradable, but they can also be reused! We also feel the wee carry case is much easier to transport than squeezing in a bulky pack of wipes amongst all your other festival essentials.
When it comes to essentials for camping at a festival, food is ALWAYS a good idea. Yes, you can buy overpriced burgers and some questionable chips from the food vans, but if you are on a budget or simply for convenience, it’s good to pack a few snacks and some backup munchies.
We LOVE using our camping stove to make bacon sandwiches the next day to cure the fuzzy heads (and avoid paying £6 per sandwich from the burger van.) Read our camping food guide for all our top tips on camping cooking and add a stove to your festival packing list as it can save you some serious money.
30. Reusable Cutlery & Cups
If you decide to buy your food there instead of cooking up a storm in the campsite, then there is no excuse to still be using hellish plastic cutlery. Glastonbury officially went plastic-free thanks to David Attenborough’s influence and we genuinely hope other festivals follow suit, so encourage our readers to lead the way! Think of the turtles, avoid the plastic and pack these music festival essentials instead!
31. Your Ticket
Probably the most important item on this festival checklist, do not be one of those people that have to buy a new one for triple the price from a dodgy dude outside the gate!
So there you have our festival survival kit secrets and should now be fully equipped to take on any field and dance as if you’re in Ibiza. Have we missed something from our festival packing list? Let us know in the comments what your festival essentials and favourite festivals are so we can be bopping in a campsite near you soon!