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The Only Packing Guide You’ll Need for Your First Festival

Excited to have an electrifying experience with your friends, but totally stumped on what to bring? No worries, just read on to get the ultimate newbie-saving packing guide for what to bring (aside from lollies and selfie sticks) to your first music festival.

Miesha Renae Maiden via Pexels

This is a general list, so head over to the festival’s website to scan their specifications about what you can/cannot bring. When in doubt, always double check – you don’t want to leave your belongings at the gates or be denied entry. As a general rule weapons, drugs, glass and animals (except guide dogs) are definite NOs.

The Essentials

RDNE Stock project via Pexels

Whether you plan to go hard then go home at a single day hit-and-run fest, or plan to stick it out over several days, these are the items you don’t want to go without. Be prepared for anything by adding the following items from our packing guide.

  • Tickets: For entry, animal-admission, parking, camping, etc. Also don’t forget the applicable crucial documents, like a medical marijuana card or service animal proof.
  • ID: If it’s not needed for entry or Challenge 25, it will be needed at the bar. Plus, it’s always a good idea to bring your ID and driver’s license everywhere – just in case.
  • Debit cards/Cash: A small card holder is a safer and more practical option than an entire wallet or purse. Fit in there your bank cards and some cash. Read up on the cash policy of the festival to ensure you arrive prepared for their payment methods. Limit the banknotes you bring, though. It’s safer, and most events will have on-site ATMs anyway.
  • A LOT of water: Preferably in a reusable water bottle as many festivals have water-refill stations. Save both money and the environment!
  • Shades: Whether for the sun or the hangover, you can never go wrong with sunnies at a festival. Pack your cheap, fun pairs and leave Balenciaga at home for this one.
  • Hat: Another crucial shade you can’t forget. Sunstroke is SO not fun. Bucket hats are fun, versatile, and durable, but consider something that protects a bit more than just your forehead as well.
  • Shoes: NOT your studded stilleto/combat boots hybrids. Think of your feet and know that after 12 hours, comfortability trumps aesthetic every time. Consider the weather when packing your pairs! Flip flops are also great for multi-day fests to traipse around the camp site or avoid contracting a foot fungus in the communal showers.
  • Clothing: Again, comfortability! Consider rain or shine and prepare for both. And pack your cheap clothing; sun, sweat, mud, dust, and spills are inevitable. If the festival is UK-based, pack a rain jacket regardless of the weather.
  • Sunscreen: Because #milflife and no-one wants to look or feel like glitter-dipped beef jerky by the end of the day.
  • Bug spray: Mozzie mist and creepy-crawly chemicals are a must, especially in summer.
  • Lip balm: To avoid cracked lips and painful, peeling pouts, you’ll want to keep this supple-ment handy.
  • Earplugs: Yes, you’re there for the sound, but it can sometimes reach questionably high levels. To spare your ears for your later years, or to get some shut eye at night, be sure to buy a pair.
  • Tissues and baby wipes: Spills, sticky fingers, or emergency toilet paper for the porta-potty.
  • Hand sanitizer: thousands of people touching everything. ‘Nuff said.
  • First aid kit: Like duct-tape, you never know when you need one of these. Whether for Tylenol or a band aid, pack a small kit. Festivals usually have medic teams on duty, so no need to pack an entire hospital. Be sure to include electrolyte powders, allergy and migraine remedies

Multi-Day Festivals Essentials

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The packing guide expands if you’re going to hunker down for a few days. Again, make sure to consider the specific terrain, weather, and rules of the festival.

  • Camping gear: If you’re not swinging in your RV or relaxing in a hotel, bring a easy-pitch, durable and waterproof tent. Be sure to also get a small lock to secure the zippers against stranger dangers. Additionally, pack a gazebo for shade, camping chairs, a foldable table, tent pegs and a hammer.
  • Sleeping gear: These include sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, and warm clothing.
  • Headlamp: An excellent choice to leave your hands free and preserve your phone battery.
  • Food and water: Only buying festival food can get pricey. Bring enough food and extra potable water for everyone. Bonus points if it’s non-perishables like nuts, canned food or granola bars to reduce the amount of cooking gear you need.
  • Camping stove: A practical all-rounder to make coffee and ramen noodles, or to warm up those baked beans. Don’t forget the gas cannisters!
  • Cutlery, crockery, and dish soap: Minimise these by following the non-perishable rule. And do plastic instead of ceramic.
  • Toiletries: These are obvious, but don’t forget your dry shampoo, toothbrush, deodorant (PLEASE), toilet rolls, etc.

Premium Items

Andre Furtado via Pexels

Sunscreen and tissues are nice and practical things on a packing guide, but are they fun? Results are inconclusive. Add these bonus items to your list for an extra layer of creature-comforts.

  • Picnic blanket: These can fold into your rucksack for easy carry, and some events don’t allow chairs anyway. It’s a lifesaver if you just want to recharge for a bit and get off the stilettos we warned you not to pack.
  • Energy drinks: With so much to see and do, you might fade out just before your favorite artist. Keep energy drinks or powders handy to ensure you miss nothing.
  • Travel fan: A totally embarrassing item to own, but a festival lifesaver. Small, lightweight and battery operated revival from the summer heat.
  • Air mattress or sleep pad: An air mattress is an essential creature comfort, especially if the camping terrain is bumpy.
  • Portable phone charger: Some festivals have charging sites, but you don’t want to bet on them. Keep your phone selfie-ready by carrying your own.
  • Personal décor: The delight is in the details. Glowsticks, flower crowns, fun sunglasses, eco-friendly glitter, armbands, bubbles, light sabers, tie-dye; the more unique the better. Wear your personality loud and proud.

Bonus Packing Guide: When Heading Out to the Festival Grounds via Pexels

You’ll want a bag that leaves your hands free to buy things, take selfies, and throw them in the air like you just don’t care. Except you care very much and you don’t want your bag getting in the way, or have to put it down and risk forgetting it!

The best bags here would be cross-body bags, rucksacks, or waist packs. Aim for something with multiple compartments inside (easy sorting and finding!) and a zipper to stave off theft. Most festivals have policies around what size and type of material bags must be, so be sure to check out the website while packing.

From the essentials list, throw in earplugs, headache pills, energy sachets, your reusable water bottle (not glass!), sunscreen, a bucket hat, money/cards, ID, lip balm, and tissues. Depending on the weather and region, you might add a foldable umbrella or bug spray to this list.

Need more on festivals?

Inge Strauss