Your music festival survival guide

First published: 11-08-2015

Your music festival survival guide

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Every year thousands of people head to some of the UK's top festivals to enjoy a few days of music, mayhem and mud. One of the best ways to ensure you enjoy yourself to the max is to take absolutely everything you'll need.

Note: That's need, as in, 'essentials'.

To help, we've put together this list of items you really don't want to forget when you're heading off to a festival. If you've got all of these packed safely, you should be able to throw yourself into the experience without worrying about anything else.

Home away from home

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Your temporary digs could make or break your experience, so choose your items wisely.

Cheap tents are cheap for a reason, so unless you want to feel every rain drop, or even have your tent blown away completely, invest in something of good quality.

Get one slightly bigger than you think you need, too. Even if there are only two of you, a two-man tent won't accommodate all the bags and belongings you need to take with you.

  • Tent (the number one essential you must not forget!)

  • An inflatable mattress or fold-up bed

  • Folding chairs

  • Camp flag (lots of people will have this idea, so really personalise yours so you can easily identify your tent amongst the thousands! Don't buy one there - we guarantee hundreds of other tents will end up with the same flag this way)

  • Blankets

  • Pillow (a rolled-up hoodie won't do)

  • Sleeping bag

  • Earplugs

  • Eyemask (so the 5am sunrise won't interrupt your much-needed sleep!)

Toiletries

Festivals aren't renowned for their cleanliness, so these essentials will keep you fresh. (Or at least as fresh as you can be living in a big field with few proper washing facilities to speak of.)

  • Baby wipes

  • Antibacterial hand gel

  • Deodorant

  • Dry shampoo

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash

  • Toilet roll

Keeping you and your belongings safe

The majority of festival goers are there to enjoy the music and the atmosphere, but, sadly, a few of them are there to take advantage of all the empty tents.

If you're not fortunate enough to attend an event where you can hire a secure locker, do yourself a favour, and leave your valuables at home. You might be tempted to invest in a tent-lock, however many people consider this just as helpful as a big neon sign reading 'Hey, I've got loads of expensive stuff hidden in here, please don't steal it!'.

If you must take your personal treasures, tents are relatively easy to break into, so with or without a lock it's a good idea to pick the safest spot to stash your goodies. Divide up your money and hide it about your person (if possible), so you've still got some if any of it gets nicked.

Keep your phone on you at all times, never leave your drink unattended, and make sure you take these items, too:

  • Emergency money (take cash - the ATMs are probably a hike away and the queue is usually miles long)

  • Sun cream (just in case…)

  • Insect repellent

  • First-aid kit

  • Laminated list of numbers (those of the people you've come to the festival with - and maybe your mum!)

  • Unique keyring (so if you lose your keys they will be easy to identify in the big box of keys in lost property)

Clothing

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Don't worry about looking your best - chances are if you see someone walking around looking perfectly coiffured and preened, they've not really spent enough time enjoying themselves.

Take nothing that you don't want to get dirty - comfort is essential, and that involves adapting to the weather. This is the Great British summer, after all.

  • Wellies

  • Waterproof jacket

  • Lots and lots of socks (ones that come higher than your wellies are ideal, so you don't end up with any chaffing)

  • Plenty of underwear (so even if your t-shirt stinks to high heaven, you probably won't mind so long as you've got clean pants!)

  • Layers

Food stuffs

Yes, you can buy food there, but unless you want to take out a mortgage to fund your stomach, you might want to take a few bits with you.

Dry cupboard stuff is ideal, so stock up on cereal bars and sugary treats to make sure you've got enough energy to last the whole festival. (Ignore your diet for now - the wait at the organic quinoa risotto stall is probably too long anyway.)

Bags of crisps are great for the 3am munchies, but if you're desperate for something with even the smallest resemblance to fruit, take a few jelly pots.

When it comes to alcohol, every festival has different rules. Check the policy carefully before you go to see what you can or can't take. Generally glass is a no-no.

  • Non-perishable food and drink

  • A camping stove and kettle

  • Paper plates

  • Plastic knives, forks and spoons

  • Tea bags and instant coffee

  • Big water bottle (most festivals have free water fountains, so don't think you have to buy the packaged stuff)

Generally useful stuff

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In terms of tidiness, getting around, or even making a few friends, there are a few other items that festival-lovers swear by:

  • Watch (preferably a plastic one with an alarm and a jazzy pattern - see point 21! You want something easy to clean that's still stylish - Swatch has a great range that will be ideal)

  • Portable phone charger

  • Head torch

  • Rubbish bags (for clearing up when you leave)

  • Lighter (if you are a smoker, you're bound to lose one, so take a couple. If you're not, this is a sure-fire way to make friends!)

  • Ziplock bags (to keep all your valuables mud-free)

  • Hair ties

  • Gaffer tape (in case of any rips in the tent)

Festivals are muddy, loud, smelly, and above all incredible, so avoid any stresses while you're there and make sure you're as prepared as possible. Get all these packed before you leave, and then all that's left is to enjoy every second.

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