With the pandemic lockdowns behind us, many are looking forward to this year’s UK festival season. But if you’re attending your first festival or are a bit rusty when it comes to traveling, our definitive festival packing list will help you get on your way, avoid common mishaps, and have the time of your life!
Essential Festival Items
We suggest that you check several times before your trip to make sure you have the items in this first group of our festival packing list.
Tickets, VIP Passes
Always keep your tickets in a safe place on your body. Even if you lose everything else on the list, at least you’ll be able to see your favorite events. VIP passes are often worth the extra cost if you can afford them. Festivals often set up special VIP areas where you can take a break from the sun or rain and have a drink or a snack. And, who knows? You may get lucky and see one of your musical heroes pass by.
Cash, Bank Cards, and Credit Cards
You’ll want to have several different payment methods with you at any festival. Store your various payment cards and money in separate areas in case you get separated from a piece of your gear during all the excitement. Some festivals are experimenting with going cashless, while vendors often prefer cash for sales. You’ll want to be ready for either scenario.
Small bag, Purse, or Utility Belt
A secure small bag, purse, or utility belt is essential for keeping your phone and some cash on you while dancing. You never know when you’ll want to snap a selfie, locate a friend, buy another drink, or retouch your makeup.
You may want to sew a secret pocket into the inside of your pants or another piece of clothing to keep your most important items, like IDs, tickets, cash, and credit cards. You can find several online tutorials showing how to do this. With a secret stash area, you can enjoy the festival without worrying about crafty pickpockets.
Medications and First Aid Kit
Of course, it’s crucial that you bring any prescription medications and supplements that you regularly take. But you’ll also want to pack a small first-aid kit for the inevitable headaches, stomach issues, and minor scrapes you might need to deal with during your trip.
Women also won’t want to forget contraceptives, condoms, and sanitary products, such as earth-friendly Diva Cups. You’ll want to keep your first aid kit, especially your prescription meds, in a waterproof bag.
A photo ID, such as a driver’s license, is essential when you visit a festival. If you’re attending an event in a foreign country, you may want to carry a photocopy of your passport instead of risking losing the original.
Parking and Camping Passes
Don’t forget any parking or camping passes the festival requires. You’ll need to keep them with you at all times, as staff members may ask to see them more than once for entry into your parking or camping zone.
Festival grounds can be enormous, and you can easily get separated from your friends or forget the exact location of your camping spot. Almost every music lover from the pre-cellphone days has a story or two about getting lost at a festival.
Of course, you’ll also want to take a few souvenir snapshots or record a bit of the music. However, we don’t recommend spending all of your time glued to your phone, or you’ll diminish your experience. Festival attendees should turn on their GPS and equip their phones with a PIN, fingerprint, or facial recognition. If you get separated from your phone, no one will be able to use it. Furthermore, the GPS may help you find other items like credit cards or IDs that you may have accidentally left in the same location.
Backpack Suitcase with Wheels
If you’re off to a multiple-day festival and plan to camp outdoors, you’ll have a much easier time storing your gear in a wheeled backpack. Protip: Roll your clothes military-style to fit more into your rucksack. Rolled clothing is also easier to pull out of your bag without the need to unpack everything.
Unless you’ll be sleeping in an RV, van, or festival-provided glamping area, you’ll need to carry a light and user-friendly tent. You won’t want to waste valuable festival time setting up a complicated contraption, and you may need to move your tent once you get it set up. You’ll also require a waterproof tarp or tent shade to protect you from excessive heat or rain. Portable gazebos make excellent sun shields if the festival allows them.
Inflatable Mattress or Camping Mat
If you’re tent camping, you’ll need a soft place to sleep, such as an inflatable mattress or a camping mat. Whatever you do, don’t waste your money on a cheap inflatable mattress. Odds are it won’t last the entire festival without developing a leak that will have you sleeping on the hard ground by morning.
You’ll also want a reliable battery-powered pump to inflate your mattress. Just make sure that the batteries are well-charged before you leave, and bring an extra set. You can get away with a foot pump, but unless you want the extra exercise, go with the electric model.
Many festival veterans prefer camping mats because you can use them over and over. Plus, you’ll avoid most of the pitfalls of inflatable models. However, you’ll need to check the weight and ensure that your mat fits well in your backpack, especially if you’ll be making a distant trek from your parking space to your camping area.
You may be able to bring a portable hammock to some festivals. But you’ll need to be certain that your space has a couple of sturdy trees or poles, the festival allows them, and you know how to tie them securely. Hammocks make perfect spots for taking quick naps between concerts. However, you may also need a tarp or tent in case of bad weather.
Blanket or Ground Sheet
Most people bring a sturdy blanket or ground sheet to take breaks between bouts of dancing. You may want to choose a lighter ground sheet if you’ll be moving around from stage to stage to catch your favorite acts. Blankets and ground sheets can also help protect your inflatable mattress from developing leaks.
You have so many options when it comes to sleeping bags. Ideally, you want a relatively lightweight bag that you can adapt for both hot and cold nights. If you’re not claustrophobic, you may prefer a mummy bag that will protect you from cold weather and pesky insects.
A double sleeping bag is perfect for couples who can stay warm with body heat. You can also find wearable sleeping bags that allow you to roll right out of your tent and into the cool morning air to make your first cup of coffee. Down-filled sleeping bags are comfy and usually lightweight.
Whichever model you choose, you’ll want to make sure it has high-quality fabric and check that the zippers work well.
There’s nothing like a king-sized down pillow if you’ll be driving into the festival. Otherwise, you’ll find a wide range of travel pillows available to UK customers.
You can choose a compressible foam pillow for maximum comfort or an inflatable one if you’re short on space in your backpack.
Earplugs and Noise-Canceling Headphones
After the organized concerts are over for the day, festival-goers and musicians typically get together for after-show jams that can last all night. No one wants to miss out on all the fun, but odds are you’ll need to catch a few Z’s at some point during the festival. A few packs of earplugs can help you get enough rest to head out the following day feeling refreshed for your favorite events.
Noise-canceling headphones are another option for resting in a noisy environment. Sleep jazz, binaural beats, and guided sleep meditations are ideal additions to your nocturnal playlist. We recommend that you load up your cellphone or other listening device before you leave the house in case the reception at the festival is too spotty for streaming.
You’ll find a variety of noise-canceling headphones available in the UK. You can use traditional headsets, but earbuds and headbands are much more comfortable for sleeping.
Folding chairs can be a godsend for weary feet at multiple-day festivals. If you plan to carry them away from your campsite and into the stage areas, check to find out if the event allows them.
You’ll also want to be mindful of others if you bring chairs to the show. Keep your chairs behind dancing areas and away from the entrances at festivals that have concerts inside tents. Besides robbing others of their freedom of movement, blocking tent entrances can be a fire hazard.
Inflatable sofas are becoming all the rage at outdoor festivals. As with the inflatable mattresses, don’t bother with a cheap model. If you do, you’ll end up with a plastic puddle that you’ll need to carry around or toss away, polluting the environment.
A unique flag and a collapsable post can help you identify your campsite or find your friends on the concert grounds.
Items for Eating and Drinking
A reusable thermal bottle is a must-have at any festival. It will keep your coffee hot in the morning or your drinks cold in the heat of the afternoon. Several companies also manufacture collapsable thermos bottles that will save you valuable space in your backpack.
Portable Cooking Device
A portable cooking stove is perfect for folks on a budget. They can also be useful for festival attendees who can’t wait through the queue for their morning cup of Joe. Odoland offers handy cookware sets that include everything you need for a two-person meal. However, you’ll have to buy your gas canister separately.
Beer cozies are cheap, compact, and lightweight. Even if you don’t drink beer, cozies are useful for other canned or bottled beverages. So, why not slip a few into your pack?
Electrolytes can be literal life savers at festivals. With all the dancing and potential heat, chances are you’ll get a bit dehydrated. And if you plan to imbibe, as most festival-goers do, you’ll want to replenish fluids to keep you energized and healthy during your stay. Dehydration is one of the primary reasons for visits to medical tents at festivals.
When it comes to festival clothing, think in layers. You never know when a cool breeze will suddenly kick up in the middle of a sunny day or when a cool morning will turn into a sweltering hot afternoon. The most practical wardrobe includes shorts, jeans, leggings, a T-shirt, a sweatshirt, scarves, and a raincoat or waterproof poncho. You’ll also want some comfy socks or fluffy slippers for sleeping.
Don’t forget to place a separate, clean, and comfortable outfit in the bottom of your pack or in your car for the ride back home. Keep these clothes in a plastic bag so they stay fresh for your return trip.
Some festival-goers will stick to the basics: shorts or jeans, a T-shirt, and a hoodie. Others will want to go all out with a fun costume, especially if the festival has a theme.
You can buy costumes at local stores, purchase items at the festival, or craft your own masterpiece before you leave home.
A simple cotton or synthetic rope will work, or you can splurge on a retractable clothesline. You’ll also need to arm yourself with some clothespins to ensure that your favorite band shirt doesn’t fly away in the wind.
Rubber boots are a must for festivals as you’re likely to see some rain depending on the season. These days, you don’t need to stick with boring yellow or black Wellington boots. Contemporary wellies come in a range of cool designs that can enhance your style while they protect you from muddy festival grounds.
A large-brimmed, waterproof hat is a must to protect yourself against the hot sun or rain. If you expect cooler evenings, you may wish to bring a knitted cap that covers your ears or invest in some earmuffs.
Swimsuit or trunks
Many UK festivals like Wilderness give you a chance to take a dip in natural waterbodies or even provide hot tubs for festival-goers. You’ll probably want to carry a sarong to cover up or double as pajamas during hot nights. And don’t forget to pack your beach towel.
Essential Toiletries for Festivals
Most multiple-day festivals have stands selling toiletries. But they’ll typically charge elevated prices, and they probably won’t have your favorite brands in stock. So, you’ll be much better off bringing your own from home.
Even if you have darker skin and never burn, bring sunscreen. Spending all day in the hot sun can cause a nasty sunburn for even the most UV-tolerant skin. Apply your sunscreen liberally on your face, upper back, and the tops of your feet if you’ll be going barefoot or wearing sandals, as these areas tend to get plenty of sun exposure.
If you do tend to burn easily, be prepared with aftercare supplies like a good moisturizer and aloe vera gel.
Hot sun and wind are notorious for provoking dry lips and skin at festivals. Peeling lips are no fun, so make sure that you bring along your favorite lip balm. Who wants to kiss their partner or newfound honey with chapped lips?
Dental Care Supplies
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss are essential. The little disposable brush and floss gadgets are especially convenient. You never know when you’ll be decked out in your finest only to have spinach in your teeth.
Toilet paper is a must at outdoor festivals. Port-a-potties are notorious for running out of paper. Moreover, when they do have a roll available, it’s usually only slightly short of sandpaper in texture. Not fun!
Tissue packets make the best choice for festival toilet paper. They’re wrapped in plastic and easy to tote around. You may even want to bring a pack of baby wipes for removing makeup, glitter, or body paint. A small bottle of disinfectant gel is also useful for washing your hands before noshing on festival grub or after using the toilets.
With all the trekking and boogying you’ll be doing, you’ll surely work up a sweat. So, save your neighbors from discomfort and yourself from embarrassment, and bring along some deodorant. By far, the safest deodorant is natural mineral deodorant. Products like Salt of the Earth’s Classic Natural Crystal Stick Deodorant are highly effective and easy to use. Just dip the crystal in some water and apply. But don’t forget to wash and dry your pits first!
You can buy ecologically friendly soap at camping supply shops, but our favorite is time-tested Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. It comes in a highly concentrated form, so it won’t take up much room in your pack. It can also double as shampoo and even dishwashing liquid. Additionally, Dr. Bronner’s comes in a variety of natural scents, including peppermint, almond, lavender, and citrus. Plus, you can read the engaging text on the bottle if you get bored.
Depending upon the festival, you may want to stick with your usual makeup supplies or even skip makeup altogether. In that case, we recommend that you at least bring a good facial cleanser and moisturizer. Festivals can get pretty dirty, and some locations can provoke dry skin.
If you’re going to a psychedelic or electronica festival, you’ll probably want to add more bling to your arsenal. False eyelashes, glitter, and stick-on gems can really jazz up your look, especially for evening concerts. You may also want to bring some body paint or glitter. The UK company Festival Glitter has everything you need, including gems, wigs, biodegradable glitter, and UV body paint. Before heading off to the festival, try any new product in a small test area of your skin to ensure that you won’t have an allergic reaction.
Small mirror and makeup applicators
Don’t forget to bring a small mirror or compact and plenty of makeup applicators. You may also want a pair of fun false eyelashes and eyelash glue that can double for applying gems.
Body paints and glitter can be notoriously difficult to remove. We suggest that you clean your face each evening before sleeping. There are many makeup removers on the market, but the theatre community has relied on Pond’s Cold Cream for decades to remove face and body paint. Amazon UK offers Pond’s cleansers in convenient 3-packs that you can share with friends.
Insects are attracted to body heat and sweat, and all that dancing you’ll be doing will make you an ideal target. If the festival is in a field, forest, or near a body of water, they’ll be plenty of mosquitos to ruin your evening. Bring along a DEET-based repellent to keep the mozzies far away. Yes, DEET is pretty toxic stuff, but you’ll only be using it for a few days. Just make sure you wash your hands right after. You don’t want DEET near your eyes or mouth.
Alternatively, you can create a homemade repellant that’s just as effective with coconut oil and a few drops of citronella, lavender, and tea tree essential oils. You can also find natural repellents in health food stores or online. However, you’ll need to test the mixture on a small area of your skin, like the inside of your wrist, before applying it all over your body. Some people can develop allergic reactions to essential oils, especially tea tree oil.
Another option is to bring along a sealed plastic bag with a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and socks. Use white or another light color, as mosquitos are attracted to darker-colored clothing. Spray your clothes thoroughly with the DEET repellent, and seal them in a plastic bag until dusk. This will keep the DEET from soaking into your skin while repelling blood-sucking pests and gnats.
Other Useful Items for Festivals
The saying is true. Duct tape can fix almost anything. You can use it to patch a leaky inflatable mattress, fix a broken flip-flop, or make minor car repairs in a pinch.
Carabiners are almost as useful as duct tape for festivals, hiking, and road trips. You can use them to suspend camp utensils and cookware from your backpack, mount torches to your tent, and hang items from your utility belt.
If you’ll be camping near your car, it’s worth it to invest in a rubber mallet to keep your tent pegs in the ground. The last thing you want is to return after the concert to discover that your tent has flown away. However, if your campsite is far from the parking area, you may be able to secure your tent with a nearby stone or borrow a mallet from a neighbor.
Information About the UK’s Best Festivals
The legendary Glastonbury Festival is the biggest music festival in the UK and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, tickets can be almost impossible to acquire due to the festival’s immense popularity. Unfortunately, this year’s Glastonbury Festival is officially sold out.
A Love Supreme
A nod to John Coltrane, A Love Supreme is a must-see festival for jazz, funk, and soul fans.
If you love Drum and Bass music, you won’t want to miss NASS. The festival celebrates street culture and also caters to skateboarders and BMXers.
This year’s Wilderness Festival hosts a dizzying array of acts in nearly all genres.
Isle of Wight
The kid-friendly Isle of Wight Festival is mostly sold out for 2023. However, you can still grab yourself a few Friday tickets.
Hi! I am George and I am the Content Lead for Stasher.com. I love travel, writing, making music and meeting new and interesting people.