Monday 25 June 2012

What To Pack For A Music Festival

The Non-Negotiables:

Tent: This is obvious. Don't buy one you can't put up. If you buy your tent in the Blacks sale, 80% of the campsite will have the same one, so pack a flag or bunting to make it easier to find at 3am. Getting into bed and cuddling up with the wrong person is not the way to make new friends.

Torch: and batteries. Or a wind-up torch if you're somebody who loses batteries (I am). Head torches are also useful for navigating portaloos at night - just for heaven's sake don't look down.

Sleeping bag: If you can sleep anywhere, this is all you will need. If you're high maintenance like me, you will also need an airbed, foot pump, extra duvet and fifty pillows woven from the flaxen hair of mermaids.

Camping chair: You'll laugh, until everyone else in your group has one and you have to sit on the ground. And then you will cry.

iPod dock/iPod/speakers/relevant batteries: You'll need tunes for when the site shuts down early on Sunday and you still want to party. Don't bring a ghetto blaster though, or your neighbours will piss in your tent while you're out. Be respectful of those around you.

Waterproofs: Essential. Even if it doesn't rain, there will be mud somewhere, and you will stand in it. Wellies, mac, waterproof trousers.

Binliners: These will function as waterproofs when all your waterproofs are muddy. They will also cover your stuff when you're queuing to get onsite in the pouring rain, keep your feet dry when your boots leak, hold all your campsite empties and give you calm-down chats when somebody spikes your drink with acid. Binliners are the answer to everything.

Wet-Wipes: A shower in a packet. Necessary.

Dry shampoo:  See above. You will plan to visit the onsite showers, but unless it's scorching hot you probably won't do it. If you do, odds are you'll get trenchfoot. Plan to go four days without washing - then if you manage it, it's a bonus.

Water: Take one of those huge fold-down camping cartons and you won't waste the festival permanently in the queue for the tap.

Loo roll/tissue handypacks: An hour after the gates open, all the toilet roll in all the toilets will simultaneously evaporate. Be prepared.

Cash: Take more than you need if there's no ATM on site. If there is, expect to be queueing for it all afternoon while all your friends (who brought more cash than they needed) are watching Mr Scruff.

Tickets: Don't be an idiot. Check if you need a car-park pass too, a lot of festivals charge for this now. You can sometimes buy in advance for cheaper, which also saves more queueing when you get there.

Suncream: Because you just never know.

The Rest:

Phone: Keep it switched off and for emergencies only. Have an agreed meeting point with friends instead and use your actual watch - just like you did before 1998. If you tweet about it, you weren't there.

Clothes:  Spare socks are always good, warm layers too. Don't pack a maxi dress unless you want a hem bedecked with manky loo paper and mud. You're not at Coachella (unless you actually are). And don't pack anything -particularly footwear- that you'd be devastated to lose or damage. As for the rest, anything goes. Be brave if there's a fancy dress theme, you may find your festival self is not like anybody you've ever met before, so go with it. Unless "it" involves wearing one of those fucking jester hats with bells on.

Booze: Always check the festival's rules and restrictions. If you're going to be naughty and take in more than your allocation then you'll need to be very MacGyver about it. It is possible to sneak in extra cans of beer... providing you sew them into your pantomime horse costume.

Hand sanitiser gel:  Also known as "sanity".

Tent mallet: Best way to make friends with your neighbours when you're pitching. Nobody else ever thinks to bring one.

Food: Nothing immediatley perishable. Your tent will smell cheesy enough already without putting ACTUAL cheese in it. Even if you're planning to eat at the facilities onsite it's worth having a few snacks in the tent for those mornings where you're not quite sure if your blood sugar levels will be sufficient to get your legs to the nearest coffee stand.

Rehydration Salts: Ideally taken in tandem with Alkaseltzer XS and a Berocca - BOOM! - fresh as a daisy. It will taste like witch's vomit, but give it 15 minutes to settle and the world will stop looking like a negative of itself.

Safety pins: Because you will always need safety pins. Hangbags can fall apart, tents can rip and monkey's tails can fall off.

Gaffer tape: Because you will  always need gaffer tape, even if it's just to stick a Hitler tache on your best mate while they're asleep.

and finally...

Glowsticks: Because you will always, ALWAYS need glowsticks.

 All pictures taken at the Secret Garden Party 2008-2011


  1. This. is. awesome. I feel pretty sad that this year the top of both of our lists for festival going was our glasses - these days I'm too blind to see who's on stage without them.

    1. Sign o the times! Every year I doggedly try to put contact lenses in at festivals and end up with pink stingy eyes. I'm wondering if this is the year I give up and finally wear my gogs. Too old to be vain!


  2. Brilliant, reminds me of my festival days in my yoof!

  3. Well done, this is a pretty brilliant list! Having been to eight festivals and definitely learned the hard way, it's great that it's all there for someone else to avoid the pain. Agree on the camping chairs too - I used to laugh at the 'oldies' at Reading but now I'm glad of a nice sit down!

    Off to Kendal Calling this year as Latitude has priced us out - have you been?

    Thanks for a great post - ooh, would maybe add sparkly face make up/sparkly dry shampoo as everyone loves a bit o'glam when your fingernails are black! x

    1. Sister-in-law went to Kendall Calling last year, raved about it. I feel like I need Latitude after Beat-Herder this weekend... I've never been but I imagine it's about 200% more civilised. I'm getting old. Apt that I forgot nail varnish this year and couldn't stop staring at my grotty fingernails in despair. Good call!