I’ve been to my fair share of festivals over the years, from tiny Endorset to the sprawling mass of Glastonbury. I’ve definitely learnt from my mistakes over the years, and I’m here to tell you what to do in order to survive festival season this summer.
Take a cheap pair of wellies
Don’t take shoes you particularly care about, especially if you’re going somewhere notoriously rainy like Glastonbury or anywhere in Dorset. One year, there was so much mud that it broke my wellies and I’m pretty glad that they cheap because I was never going to be able to get them out of the mud again. If you’re camping, everything you take is going to end up dirty and wet so cheap things that you aren’t fussed about getting dirty or potentially losing to a muddy swamp is key.
Avoid the portaloos
No, seriously, just don’t go in there. By far the worst toilets at festivals are portaloos – if you’re at a small festival they may be your only option, but if it’s bigger, go for the ones that are kind of like a giant trough. Less stinky, less chance of everything backfiring and exploding on you, but your chances of drunk people stumbling in on you are marginally higher.
Take more socks than you think you’ll need and fewer clothes
You’re literally not going to wear half of the outfits you’ve painstakingly picked out, likely you’ll wake up hungover and throw on the closest things to you. You will, however, want to take extra socks because tents get cold and if you have a shoe catastrophe, they may end up pretty wet.
Find a healthy food source
Find somewhere nice, cheap, and near to your tent to get some kind of healthy food in you every day.Even if it’s just a glass of orange juice, you’re going to be eating terribly, drinking too much and not sleeping enough – it’ll be the best money you spend at that festival.
Take a portable charger
Preferably solar powered, or one of the types that can charge your phone multiple times. Even if you just use your phone to keep track of the friends you came with, there’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a festival and not knowing where your friends are, with no way to get in touch with them. Alternatively, accept that the signal will be non-existent because you’re probably in the middle of a field, so…
Set an emergency location
This is a place to meet up with your friends in case you get separated. Find a landmark that’s somewhere near your tent and go there if you’re all separated, or use it as a place to meet up later if you all want to go to different things. If you do need to get in touch with them, have their numbers written down just in case your phone dies and you need to borrow someone else’s.
Download the festival app on your phone (if there is one!)
If there are changes to set times they’ll update you via that, along with having maps and other important information you might need.
Get to the festival site as early as you’re able to
Most festivals open their site a day or two before the acts start which will give you a chance to get settled, find a good spot for your tent and to explore the festival. Not only will you be making the most of the money you spent on your ticket but you’ll get your bearings and hopefully, be less likely to get lost.
Don’t spend all your time at the main stage
It’s way too busy, you’re not going to see anything clearly and you’ll probably end up half a mile away, watching it on a screen. See your favourites, but take some time to look around and see what happens. You might end up seeing a magician, or a tiny folk band. Maybe you’ll see someone before they blow up like I did with Ellie Goulding, or perhaps you’re camping right next to a theatre stage where you can play bingo between sets to win a joint or a pint. They are… quite specific examples, but you never know what you’ll find if you don’t stray from the main event!
Take a big bottle with you to fill up with water every day
One year at Glastonbury it was over 30 degrees, and water prices were ridiculously high. A two-litre bottle and tap are all you need! Well, except for a box or two of wine. Alcohol is expensive at festivals, and a box of wine won’t shatter.
Write down where you parked the car
Otherwise you’ll forget and it’ll be a nightmare. You just won’t remember when it’s 8am on Monday morning and you’re hungover.
Take a box full of things like bread, peanut butter, fruit, some treats
Festival food is expensive and if you can get away with a homemade breakfast and possibly a few sandwich lunches, that’s a lot of money you’re saving.
You’re not going to shower – Nobody’s showering at a festival
The sooner you come to that realisation, the happier you’ll be. There’s nothing worse than seeing the mile long queue for the showers, seeing people come out of the showers and instantly step into the mud. You’re going to be muddy and sweaty and your hair’s going to have all sorts of stuff in it, but that’s what baby wipes and hats are for. Take some baby wipes for a tent shower, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, suncream, and all the anti-bacterial hand gel and toilet roll you can fit in your bag.
Take camping chairs!
This sounds a bit glampy, but bear with me. For having breakfast in the mornings when the tent is unbearably hot, or for lugging to a stage to sit in front of all day (while trying to win those bingo games), it’ll make a nice change from airbeds and sleeping bags, or the mud.