Music Festivals are incredible experiences and heaps of fun. Throughout the summer you’ll find fantastic festivals hosting music for all tastes, including electronic music, rock, pop, and many other genres.
Festivals can be huge and almost overwhelming with lots going on and it can be easy to forget stuff or not plan as well as you could. So, if you’re heading to your first music festival then keep reading for lots of tips and tricks to ensure you have an incredible time.
1. Get a map and artist schedule
Before you arrive try and print a map and artist schedule so that you know exactly where your favourite artists are playing and at what time. Alternatively, pick one up as you arrive at the festival. The last thing you want to do is go to a festival and miss some of your favourite acts.
These guides can also help you know exactly where important facilities are too, including toilets, first-aid, lost property, information points and lots more.
2. Have a rendezvous point for friends
It can be extremely easy to get lost at festivals. They’re crazy busy and after some drinks, you might feel your sense of direction is a bit off. So avoid getting separated from your friends and always have a meeting point. Such as finding a good spot around the stage, and then tell your friends to stay put if someone goes for food or to the washroom.
3. Pack a portable charger or spare batteries
As we now all rely heavily on our phones and cameras it’s important you take spare batteries or a portable charger with you. If your festival is for a few days and they don’t provide any power sources then you may want to even take a few to keep you going.
A service that is now popping up more at festivals are stalls that offer charging facilities. Some of these might even be solar powered allowing you to be a bit more green with your charging process.
4. Take wet wipes
A lot of people camp when staying at music festivals, which is fun, but after a while you can get a little smelly. There are sometimes showers (which may be a chargeable service) but these can be very hit-and-miss. You may even take a towel and plan to use the shower, but after seeing the facilities be put off. For that reason consider taking wet wipes with you. I’ve spent four days at Glastonbury Festival before and using only wet wipes I felt clean enough to cope (for a festival). I have also been to a festival with shower facilities too and it was definitely quite nice to be a bit fresher.
5. Take toilet paper
Another must-bring item is toilet paper. You’ll find toilets and they will often have toilet paper, but the last thing you want is to turn up and not have any, or the last person had dropped it on a wet floor.
As well as a big roll of toilet paper you might want to have some smaller packs of tissues in your day bag as a backup for any emergencies whilst out during the day.
6. Pack hand sanitiser
To maintain hygiene then be sure to take hand sanitiser and use this after going to the toilet and before you eat anything. It’s almost impossible to stay completely hygienic, but by having a small bottle in your bag or pocket will definitely help keep germs away and make you more comfortable.
7. Take earplugs
Earplugs are always a good idea to have at music events. You won’t 100% need them if you’re at an outdoor festival, but if you do happen to be close to a speaker, you go into a music tent or another more compact venue, and it’s very loud, then earplugs are definitely good to have with you. Some of the best earplugs come with a carabiner or other way to attach them to yourself as well which makes having them with you that much easier.
You can also get earplugs which are designed to work with music so are therefore perfect for concerts and loud events. They work by filtering the music and bringing it down to a more comfortable level.
Finally, earplugs serve another use, and that’s where you’re camping but there is lots of background noise when you’re trying to sleep. This is common at festivals as you may hear other festival goers talking or having fun, the music from some of the stages, or other noise related to the festival that you may not want when you’re trying to sleep. For these scenarios, often cheap foam ones should do the trick.
8. Drink lots of water
It’s easy to forget to drink water when you’re having fun and if it’s very hot and you’re walking around a lot you might quickly become dehydrated. Many people just drink lots of beer and other fun drinks when at festivals. But try and remember to keep up your fluid intake with water too and this should help prevent any nasty headaches the next day.
To stay green then consider taking a portable water bottle and filling it up at water stations. Or take several large bottles of water to leave in your tent and fill up when you can.
9. Never leave valuables in your tent
Most people take some valuables to a music festival, such as phones and cameras. But remember not to leave anything valuable unsecured in a tent. Although hopefully, the majority of attendees are just there for the music and to have fun, there may be a few opportunists that can’t resist exploring your stuff.
It’s also worth taking a couple of bank cards and having them in different places – potentially even one with a friend. This way if you did lose your wallet then you should hopefully have a backup to pay for things.
10. Pack a poncho
Being at a music festival in the rain can be fun, but it can grow old pretty quickly. If the rain is heavy you might get completely drenched which is good for a while, but then as the temperature drops you might get cold and feel miserable. To stay dry pack a portable poncho. You’ll probably be able to buy these at the music festival, but they’ll likely be a premium price.
Alternatively, you could also take a lightweight raincoat and put this into your day back.
11. Take a money belt
A money belt is a safe way to protect your money. Festivals can be prime spots for pickpockets, and losing all your money would be disastrous for your first festival experience. A money belt, as well as protecting your cash from thieves, also tends to be a bit more secure under your clothes so you don’t drop your cash. If you don’t fancy having all your cash in your money belt, then you could consider taking a wallet and then just topping it up every now and then.
Also note that nowadays many festivals might offer contactless payments which is a huge convenience vs having to take cash with you. Despite this not all services and businesses at the festival may offer card/contactless options, so it is always worth having a little bit of cash with you just incase.
12. Take multiple bank cards
Whenever you travel it’s always a good idea to take multiple bank cards. This is in case you lose one, or your card stops working. Also, remember to put them in different places. If you have a money belt such as mentioned above, then you could have one in your wallet and one in your money belt.
13. Get a strap for your camera and phone
Most people at music festivals want to hold their camera or phone above their head and take videos or pictures. This is all good until someone bumps you and knocks your device out your hand. It then gets lost, stood on and becomes part of the mud. To prevent this take a wrist strap for your camera, and buy a case with one for your phone.
14. Pack Wellies or waterproof boots
Wellies or waterproof boots are a must for festivals, as they are often ridiculously muddy and if it rains you’ll be walking through a sticky swamp. You may not have any bad luck with the weather, but still take them in case the forecast gets it wrong and you get a downpour. As well as wellies take old trainers or other footwear that you don’t mind getting dirty.
15. Take food and snacks
Festival food can be very expensive, so take as much food and snacks with you as possible. Snacks you can leave in your tent and just take a few with you each day. A few snack ideas include nuts, fruit (including dried), crackers, flapjacks and cereal bars, oatmeal cookies, muffins, and jerky (there are now sometimes veggie options too).
To save money on main meals such as breakfast, lunch and dinner, many campsites allow you to cook hot food on a small stove. This can vary so check the rules and conditions before you go.
16. Ensure your tent is waterproof
When deciding on what tent to take you should definitely get one which offers a high level of water resistance. This is because if it does rain quite heavily then you could find that everything inside your tent slowly starts getting wet and you might find puddles appearing in your tent as well.
The tent that I’ve used at several festivals is by the brand Coleman (see a few options on Amazon here), and I’ve experienced heavy rain without any issues. There are lots of other decent brands out there which also make high-quality tents and it’s worth doing some research and reading reviews before deciding on one.
17. Don’t bring your best clothes
And finally, this one is pretty obvious, but don’t bring your best clothes to a music festival. It’s likely they’ll get dirty and if it rains you are asking for trouble. You should also bring lots of spare clothes in case of bad weather, including spare footwear.
So these are top tips to help you have a successful and enjoyable first time at a music festival. Wherever you end up going this year stay safe, be careful and have an awesome time. You may also want to read our Tips for Photographing Bands or Learn What’s It Like to Volunteer at a Festival.