Wondering what to take to a festival? From booze to baby wipes, here are the festival essentials you need to come out the other side in one piece this festival season.
Last updated: 3rd Mar 2023
We don’t know about you but, as festival season 2023 edges closer and closer, we’re absolutely buzzing to be standing in a field, lightly bullying our mates, acting dumb, and letting the best tunes wash all worries away. Bet you’re buzzing now too, right?
But before we do all that, we’ve got to pack.
The good news is, at this point, we’d consider ourselves seasoned festival pros. So whether you’re planning for your first or jogging your memory, you can trust us to remind you what to take to a festival.
So here are our festival essentials that you need to make your experience an exceptional one.
Photo: Creamfields / Facebook.com - Creamfields South tickets
A – Alcohol
Not the kind of alphabet learning process we’d expect Sesame Street to be teaching, but alcohol is an essential part of many adults’ A - Z at festivals.
Many festivals allow you to bring your own booze but there will be limits, so be sure you check how much you’re allowed to take in with you before you get to the entrance and they confiscate it. We cannot stress this enough - it is absolutely vital that you do your research and find out exactly what you can and cannot take. You don't want to pour out your favourite bevs before you even enter the site.
Some festivals only allow soft drinks onsite, while some will allow attendees to consume their own alcohol but only in the camping areas. Most festivals, however, provide licensed vendors that can usually be found scattered across the festival site. These vendors sell everything from wine and spirits to cider and lager.
B – Baby wipes
Baby wipes are a godsend. Especially if you end up at a muddy or rainy fest. Clean away all the sweat, dried mud, and whatever else you're caked in before going to bed so your sleeping bag doesn't get disgusting. Even if you have showers onsite, they're always handy. You never know what you'll need them for - cleaning your hands before you eat or wiping your tent down after you spilled another vodka coke in it.
If you forget, chances are you'll end up begging someone else for them. And they might not fancy sharing.
C - Camping gear
Tent, check. Sleeping bag, check. Pillow, check. Groundsheet, check. Air bed, check. Chairs, check. Tent pegs... uh oh.
That’s right folks, speaking from experience, it's always a good idea to make sure you’ve packed the right poles for your tent before you get there. As far as priority is concerned, when creating a festival checklist, this should rate pretty damn high.
Here are some other nuggets of knowledge gained from our time camping in the fields that we'd like to share with you, in order to make your festival experience the best it can be:
- Take additional tent pegs. You're going to lose them or some intoxicated person stumbling past might knock them out and they'll disappear into another dimension.
- Buy a bigger tent than you need. If two of you are planning on sharing a tent, get a four-man tent. Trying to squeeze your rucksacks, equipment, and everything else into a two-man tent, as well as yourselves, is a challenge. Trust us, you'll be grateful for that space.
There's no camping at inner-city festivals so make sure you've booked a hotel room or a space on your mate's sofa.
Photo: Knockengorroch / Facebook - Knockengorroch tickets
D – Drinking games and duct tape
Our favourite pastime in the build-up to an evening of debauched festival fun.
Ring of fire, anyone? Words that spark fear and excitement at the same time. Don't forget to pack that all-important deck of playing cards. There's nothing worse than suggesting a game you can't play because you forgot the one thing you need to play.
Drinking games can also be a superb ice breaker with your neighbours, so invite them over to join you. Remember to remind them to bring their own cider, you don't want them dipping into your supply, and then sit back and get messy!
Duct tape is one of those where you think it's pointless. You'll never need it, so why bring it? But when you don't, you'll find yourself asking around for some because your tent, jeans, or something else ripped. You might also find yourself in desperate need of taping empty cans together to make a can crown to put on your head. Essential!
E – Entry ticket
No ticket, no entry.
Forgetting your festival ticket is, without any doubt whatsoever, the silliest thing you could do. Picture the scene...
You approach the festival entrance and your heart begins fluttering. You look like a giddy kid about to ride the world’s fastest rollercoaster for the first time. The banter with your mates is first rate and non-stop.
Your time comes. Security asks to see your tickets...
Your partner turns to you expecting you to have them ready. You pat your pockets. Nothing. The wild fluttering of your heart turns into a sickly, sinking feeling. Your partner looks nervous. They ask you where the tickets are. The colour drains from your face as realisation settles in... "I've left them at home". Even the people pouring their drinks away will be laughing at you.
The good news is, many tickets are on our phones now. So you must remember to download them in advance, keep your phone fully charged, and do a trial run before you get there, ensuring the tickets open in the app.
Photo: Solfest / Facebook.com - Solfest tickets
F – Fancy dress & flip flops
Most festivals nowadays incorporate their own fancy dress theme – Kendal Calling being the perfect example. Get involved with the fun and dress up like a pillock. Let's face it, after a few drinks, most of us become dribbling fools anyway, so why not be a fancily attired dribbling fool?
If you have access to showers and plan on making use of them, bring flip flops. God knows what happened in that shower before you step foot in there. you don't want your bare feet stepping into the unholy unknown. And you don't want to walk back to your tent in wet trainers or wellies.
G – Grub
Festivals nowadays have incredible food offerings, whether your vegan, carnivore, vegetarian, or fancy world cuisine, you're sorted. But if you splashed all your cash on tickets and booze, the prices may be a bit too steep for your liking. You need scran that can last out the fridge, not get crushed, and rescue you from the most brutal of hangovers.
Our recommendations? Crisps, bagels, bread, cakes, protein bars, electrolyte drinks, nuts, cereal bars, Belvita, oranges, and bananas. Click or tap here if you need more festival food inspo.
If someone in the group can take a gas stove, you’re laughing - Pot Noodles galore! The same goes for disposable BBQs, provided you are allowed to take them. Check the festival website or contact them directly to be on the safe side.
H – Hand sanitiser
Pretty obvious one here but you'd be surprised at how many people forget.
Get a couple of those little hand sanitisers that you can carry around with you, and remember to keep one on your person at all times. Using some God-awful portaloos will make you scream bloody murder and shake your fist to the sky if the sinks are just as filthy and you cannot wash your hands (which is often the case). Sanitise those dirty hands regularly.
I – Ibuprofen
And paracetamol. Waking up with a banging headache or acquiring a dodgy gut from one of the food or beer stalls can happen. Ibuprofen can cover all bases and help alleviate those aches and pains.
Another top Skiddle recommendation - buy a tub of multivitamin effervescents. These little tablets of goodness have saved our heads many times before now. Simply chuck one of the tabs in a pint of water, wait for it to dissolve, and then drink it all up. Replace those vital minerals and crack on with the day in hand. Thank us later.
Photo: Hospitality In The Woods / Facebook.com - Hospitality In The Woods tickets
J – Jumpers
Wall to wall sunshine during the day spent watching your favourite bands and artists can often be misleading. It can trick you into believing that a pleasantly mild evening might be on the cards. How does the saying go? 'When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me'. Yea, that's the one.
It can get real nippy in the evenings, so be prepared. Pack a thick, warm jumper or two. Jackets, particularly rainproof ones, will be the second stroke of genius. Don't get caught out by the weather.
K – King size blanket
You've remembered the deck of cards for your drinking games (oi-oi) and you're ready to get turnt up! But whatever will you sit on?
It might not be considered a proper festival essential as such but after three days of sitting on the hard ground, inebriated or not, your backside will sure wish you had added 'something to sit on' to your festival checklist.
An enormous picnic blanket will come in handy for sitting on and playing card games with your mates, whilst providing added space for your drinks, snacks and neighbours too. A camping chair with a cup holder will see you rise one better, overseeing the floor dwelling peasants playing their games, as you relax in hands-free style.
L – Loo roll
Loo roll should always sit near the top of your list of festival camping essentials. It’s bad enough using a portaloo and forgetting the hand sanitiser, but underestimating the amount of paper left on the roll when in desperate need... Not good. Therefore taking your own is essential.
Seen as a commodity as valuable as gold in the fields of a festival's camping site, you’ll be clinging on to it for dear life and trading it by the sheet for riches of your choosing come the final days of the event.
Highest Point Festival tickets
M – Money
The good news is many festivals (and many of us) are cashless now, so the chances of losing cash or it being stolen are slim. But what happens when you get to the bar, the bartender pours you four delicious pints for you and your mates, you tap your card and... it fails. Ensure you have plenty of dough in your account or the tears will be flowing as they take your drinks away.
If you're planning or already booked to attend Croatia's Hideout Festival or any other festivals abroad, then for goodness sake, make sure you nip down the post office and get your pounds exchanged!
N – Night Light
As the sun retires for the day and the darkness creeps in, the festival campsite typically transforms into a much more challenging environment. Full of obstacles and trip hazards, it's a scene similar to that of a Mission Impossible film.
A throng of multicoloured yet highly invisible tent guidelines obstruct literally every path. Throw in rogue camping chairs, empty cans, and maybe even a sleeping drunkard and your mission is one that requires great skill.
In these testing situations, a torch is invaluable, not only when navigating the festival campsite, but when trying to identify your tent in a sea of similar-looking tents.
Another good tip: get a flag for your tent or some kind of mascot to guard it (that hopefully won’t get nicked). This will make finding your tent much easier task.
O – Old Phone
Again we speak from experience here - remember to take an old or spare mobile phone with you instead of your plush, fancy new gadget, because it'll probably end up in a less than perfect state come the end of the festival.
Photo: Creamfields / Facebook.com - Creamfields South tickets
P – Protection
This covers all manner of bases. Condoms are a must for any festival romances, in addition to the wet wipes we mentioned earlier that are also essential in this instance (you filthy animals), whilst sun cream is important on the off chance that it isn't pouring down for the majority of your weekend. We also recommend earplugs if you're hoping to leave the event with your eardrums intact.
Many festivals, such as Creamfields, now also offer lockers and cloakrooms where you can protect and store your belongings safely for the entirety of the event's duration. These facilities are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis.
Q – Quickies
Two varying terms for this word: the first being the obvious. If you do find some time to pull whilst you are there, then be sensible and remember the condoms before you invite your new friend back to your sleeping bag. The second thing worth looking into a travel unisex urinal or sheewee. Look it up. It might be worth it if you end up busting to use the loo at 4 am when the portaloos are miles away and it’s raining outside. Not the most gracious of devices but a quick fix to an awful predicament you're bound to find yourself in at a festival.
R – Rubbish Bags
You wouldn’t leave your rubbish lying around your house now, would you? So bag it up and take it to what will be a clearly marked and signposted, designated area for rubbish.
Photo: We Are FSTVL / Facebook.com - We Are FSTVL tickets
S – Sun
Remember the three S’s and you can't go wrong - sun cream, sun hat and sunglasses.
You do not want to be contracting a case of sunstroke on the first day of the festival, so slap that lotion on. Don't be shy.
A hat can be crucial in the fight against taming wild and unruly hair, whilst shades can cover up those tired, bloodshot eyes. The ones that say "I've been raving since I got here and I can't find my tent."
T – Toiletries
If manning up for the showers isn't an option, if there are even showers available that is, then the least you can do is brush your teeth. All festivals are bound by law to provide fresh and clean drinking water points on campsites, so you have no excuse not to.
Remember that baby wipes are there as an alternative as well, and that you won't be taking anyone back to your tent if your personal aroma contains hefty notes of sweat and arse.
Oh, and believe us when we say you’ll discover a new love and appreciation for your deodorant spray or roll-on, the likes of which you never thought possible.
U – Underwear
This is pretty self-explanatory and one hundred per cent a festival essential. You will definitely need at least a few changes of underwear, especially socks. If you're not taking spare underwear to a festival, you probably need to have a word with yourself.
It usually rains and there's usually lots of mud, so, inevitably, underwear gets, for want of a better word, soiled. In some severe cases, that literally might be the case. So don't forget to pack them spares.
Photo: Download Festival / Facebook.com
V – Vitamins
Taking vitamins is optional but nevertheless a good choice. Yes, you're only away for a few days, but let’s face it, if you go hard, you'll be on your last legs by the end of it.
The amount of alcohol consumed coupled with a lack of sleep, improper nutrition, and unsanitary living conditions are going to have some sort of dire effect on our body's defences, so stocking up on the required vitamins and minerals is a shout.
Remember - multivitamin effervescent and oranges. Lifesavers.
W – Weather
You’ll obviously want to check the weather forecast before departing on your festival adventures, so you know what you're getting yourself into. But honestly, if you have the space and the willpower to carry the extra clothing, we highly recommend packing for all weather eventualities. Better to be safe than sorry.
X – Xtra Chewing Gum
OK, so X was a difficult one to come up with, and we may have cheated slightly, but keeping that breath fresh after all the fags and booze will make a massive difference. You don't want to be labelled ashtray mouth now, do you?
Y – Your own music
Travelling by car will require music for the journey, but playing your own music when sat around the campsite with your merry group of fellow festival maniacs can be just as memorable as watching your favourite bands live on stage.
Why not bag yourself a bluetooth speaker and a portable charger for the weekend, pre-prepare a few banging playlists and be your camp sites main attraction when the music stops?
Check out our Festival Roadtrip playlist (above) and become a passenger-seat DJ don, en route to a festival this year.
Z – ZZZs
Catching some ZZZs whenever you can is important. Your body needs time to re-energise, preparing you for the next day. It might be difficult getting some sleep at night, especially when you're absolutely melted, which is why power napping in the afternoons can make a huge difference.
Remember those earplugs we mentioned earlier? If you're struggling to nod off, stick these in. You could even go one further and get yourself a sleeping mask. Now try and stop us from sleeping!
Haven't found your dream festival yet? Find the perfect festival now with our festival guide.
Or check out the best drum and bass, hip-hop, rock and metal, indie, dance, house and techno, and reggae festivals here on Skiddle.
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.
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