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A First Timer's Guide to Festivals

So you have your tickets and you're looking forward to your very first festival - here are a few tips to help you make the most of the experience!

Mike Warburton

Last updated: 1st May 2015

Photo: Leeds Festival

If you'’ve finally managed to get your hands on some festival tickets for the first time this year, you’'ve probably been receiving all sorts of weird and wonderful advice from friends and family on how to adequately prepare for the festival experience, perhaps leaving you confused and a little overwhelmed.

So we thought, why not put all our essential tips, gleaned from many years of festival-going into one neat little article, so you come away from your choice of festival this year with a great big grin on your grubby face.

Still not found your ideal first festival? Head here to explore our Festival Guide.

Bring your own food, drink and chairs

There are usually a variety of things to buy but don'’t forget, they have a captive audience so can charge basically what they want. You will need to eat and drink, a lot, so if you don’'t bring stuff then it’'s going to hit your wallet hard. If you do run out of food try your luck at a bit of alcohol aided haggling.

Photo: Festival Number 6 Credit: Gobinder Jhitta


The thing that will strike you when you arrive at your first festival is the amount of time you'll suddenly have on your hands. For some reason everyone seems to get up extremely early (if they’'ve been to sleep at all) so bring a game or some magazines to kill a bit of time before the music starts.

Bring a cheap tent

It'’s highly unlikely you'’ll be bringing it back. Trust us, if you take a very expensive camping tent and end up breaking it within 20 minutes of getting there, you'll probably never get over it.

There’'s also the possibility of being woken up by the impressively loud sound of a passing drunk believing your tent to be a toilet. It does take the edge off the weekend - bickering over who has to keep the valuable, if a little urine-soaked, mess. So in the likely event of your tent being written off, buy a cheap one and bin it at the end. 

Photo: Wickerman Festival


Be prepared for sun, rain and usually a mildly irritating combination of the two. Wellies obviously go without saying - if you don'’t bring them and it rains you will not survive.

Sun cream is also an essential as burnt skin and the plastic that tents are made of do not mix well. What's more with little overhead cover at most festivals, particularly on the camp sites, you'll end up coming home looking like a partially cooked lobster.

Duct Tape

Although you may have previously believed that oxygen is fairly useful, it pales into insignificance when compared to the uses of duct tape at a festival. This can be used for pretty much anything from mending a leaking tent to securing your pockets to make sure your phone doesn'’t fly out when you’re jumping around enjoying the bands.

Baby wipes

These are probably the single most essential things to bring, apart from alcohol of course. Baby wipes are especially useful for trips to the dreaded long drop toilets as a little luxury to comfort yourself after that trauma.

Unless you have the commitment to queue for showers, they will be your sole source of hygiene over the weekend. Your warm bath at home will be the last thing on your mind as you proudly strut about smelling as fresh as a dentist’s surgery. 

Head here to check out our full Festival Guide

Like this? Try Leeds and Reading Festival - Virgin's Guide