Well at long last the festival season has arrived. This week sees my first major festival of the year, Bearded Theory at Catton Hall in Derbyshire.
I count myself as something of a festival veteran having attended numerous festivals both large and small over the last “god knows how many years.” I thought it might be useful to share some ideas on how to ensure you have the best possible time at the festival you have paid a small fortune to attend.
I am in the fortunate position of owning a Camper Van so I have the luxury of being able to pack my van with food, drink and just about everything I need but most people are not in that position and have to camp in a tent. If you are camping then hopefully this guide will help you.
What To Take
- A tent! Aim for a decent sized tent preferably with a porch where you can remove muddy boots etc. Don’t expect your 3-man tent to sleep 3 comfortably, it won’t!
- Sleeping Bag: You don’t need a £300 duck down 4-season bag. A cheap 2-season will suffice for UK summer festivals
- Sleep Mat or Air Bed: Many larger festivals will have a camping shop where you can buy these but do check, a little comfort goes a long way.
- Torch: I swear by this type, they are tough as old boots and slip easily into your pocket. Essential to find your tent, and the loo in the middle of the night.
- Loo Roll: You do not want to trust that the port-a-loos or long drops will have paper. Trust me!!
- Wet Wipes: Absolutely essential, you can wash with them, freshen up during the day and use as emergency loo roll.
- Water Bottle: keep hydrated from fill points and keep some water for that first coffee of the day
- Small Camping Stove: These little solid fuel ones are ideal especially as some festivals no longer allow gas canisters.
- Metal Container: Something to boil water in
- Sun Block
- Waterproofs: Trousers and coat, the best you can afford. You may not need them but if its a wet festival you will be glad of them.
- Suitable footwear: This means good quality waterproof boots, either walking boots or army style gore tex boots. If it’s wet take wellies.
- Toiletries: Soap, toothbrush, tooth paste, deodorant and a small towel
- Changes of clothes: socks and underwear. I highly recommend walking trousers like these, especially the ones you can zip off part of the leg to convert to shorts. Wicking T shirts are great as a base layer. Take a nice warm pullover or hoodie for the evenings. Don’t go over the top, its a festival not a fashion parade. T-shirts are the order of the day. Do not take jeans. If they get wet you will never get them dry!
- Medication: inhalers, tablets etc as required, paracetamol and something like imodiem can be useful
- Condoms: you too ladies! You might get lucky and if not they make great balloons.
- Matches or Lighter
- Food And Drink: remember you have to carry it and at larger festivals it can be a very long walk from the car to the campsite. As an example at Reading last year I had to walk 25 – 30 minutes from the camper van field to the arena!!
- A Rucksack: Do not be that moron trying to pull your wheeled suitcase through 6 inch deep mud!
Some Top Tips
- Do not camp right next to the toilets! They may smell OK when you arrive. They will be absolutely rank by the time you leave.
- Do not camp at the bottom of a hill, guess what happens when it rains!
- If you arrive in a group pitch your tents facing each other around a Small circle. this will allow you to chat to your friends and provide shelter if you are cooking. If you leave too much space at a large festival someone will pitch their tent in your circle!
- Remember at all gatherings of large numbers of people there will be thieves. Don’t take anything valuable with you and take care of what you do take
- Make friends with your neighbours
- Sleep with your cash and mobile phone at the bottom of your sleeping bag
- Do not padlock your tent, this just advertises that there might be something worth stealing inside, and tents are very easily slashed.
- do not leave anything valuable in your tent
- Many festivals these days are very child friendly, the kids can have a great time too but do make sure before you go
- Hearing protection is essential, especially for children or if you are near the front
- If you don’t want to get trampled on in a wild mosh pit try to get your back to a safety barrier
My final and most essential tip
I am a committed festival goer, I enjoy every aspect of festivals but please ensure you take an open mind and leave your preconceptions at the gate. However do not leave your common sense at the gate!
Have fun at whichever festival you choose and hopefully I will see you in a field somewhere over the summer.
If you have any additional tips then please leave them in a comment below.