How to survive festival camping

The UK music festival scene is world-famous. From Glastonbury to Leeds, Reading to the Isle of Wight, every summer thousands gather to dance to their favourite tunes and camp out under the stars. However, festival camping in the UK can be a muddy experience, and a little expert preparation beforehand and some tips and tricks during your trip can make all the difference.

Girl dancing around tents at a UK festival


Getting comfy

Making sure you're comfortable starts with picking the most suitable tent. A good tip? Get one larger than you think you need; if there are two of you, a three- or four- person tent is an optimal size. When you're sorting out what to take festival camping, you'll likely discover that you'll need quite a lot of things — and fitting them inside the tent, properly secured, is a priority.

Once you have an ideal tent with the proper waterproofing, make sure you also have the right equipment to keep it shipshape. A tent repair kit with all the right equipment inside it is necessary — you don't want to be dealing with a rip in the rain. Check over your tent before you go, practise putting it up, and test all the guy ropes and pegs.

One of the best festival camping tips around? Take a sleeping mat or blow-up mattress to make sleep easier. Nothing spells poor sleep quality like trying to get comfortable in a sleeping bag on the cold, hard ground. Check before you leave that the blown-up product will indeed fit inside your tent, as you don’t want your feet poking out into the cold at night.

Staying sweet

Personal hygiene can be tricky at a campsite. If you absolutely need to feel clean at all times, baby wipes are your best friend. Check glamping options at the festival: there may be VIP or special sites that have access to showers or bathing facilities. Travel-size toiletries, deodorant and dry shampoo can also make a difference. Sizeable towels can be bulky and take up a lot of space, while also being difficult to dry; a quick-dry trekking towel designed for travelling is much more practical.

First aid also needs to be on your mind; festivals are often places for injuries, whether it's stumbling around the campsite in the dark or stepping on a piece of trash. Antiseptic, tweezers, plasters and any medications you need are priorities, as are sunscreen, mosquito repellent and a big hat. Aloe vera in case you do catch the sun is a good idea, too, as are hangover cures like paracetamol.

Pack all liquids and potential spillages in sealed bags so you don’t get sunscreen all over your clean clothes. Earplugs and eye masks for sleeping will also help you survive the noise and disturbance of a nighttime campsite.

Pitching up

Do some research before you figure out a tent pitch. Where are the toilets, the paths and the key stages? You'll want to pitch away from all three, to avoid noise, smells and the possibility of theft from passing people. Secure your possessions as well as possible, with a locking tent, and invest in a belt that allows you to keep your money, ID and other valuables under your clothes or out of reach of thieves. Pack your cash carefully and have emergency reserves so you don’t have to rely on any ATMs on site (but do remember where you've stashed the notes). Don't leave things out in the open, particularly when you're moving in or out of the tent or shifting from place to place.

Electronics at a festival can be a problem: running out of battery or getting something expensive ruined in the rain is common. Separate charging packs for phones and other electronic devices are excellent preparation, all fully charged. Get your phone a protective case in case you drop it, so you don't shatter the screen, and bring a torch so you don't have to rely on your phone light to find your tent at night.

A torch isn't the only way to avoid disorientation. People who regularly go camping at music festivals know that an individual marker on your tent, like a light or a reflective scarf, is the easiest method to help you navigate your way back after a long dancing session in the dark. Check out the markers on the tents around you as well, so that if you fail to find your own you can at least use the others for orientation.

And finally…

Food can be incredibly expensive at music festivals, so preparing and bringing some of your own can be helpful, provided that the campsite allows it. It's always a good idea to check the rules and regulations of the festival to see what you bring onto the site. Breakfast bars and easily portable food that won't perish or squash are good candidates, as is a supply of sterile water; bottled water is usually sold at a premium at festivals.

Pack warm clothing, spare socks and underpants and laundry bags so there's some way to keep your smelly (and muddy) clothes away from your clean ones. Bags in general are your friends; line the inside of your camping bag with bin liners so that rain and weather don't ruin the contents. Even if there's no chance of rain in the forecast, pack closed-toe shoes and waterproof boots, and keep them separate — on the way home, you don't want everything you own covered in dried mud and grass.

It's easy to survive festival season with a bit of forethought, some excellent packing and a few tips and tricks. Don't worry, though; you'll definitely forget at least one thing.





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