Ultimate Festival Packing Checklist

7 Aug, 2021 | Festivals

This ultimate festival packing list includes everything you need to take to your next festival! I’ve also thrown in some extra top tips and advice on packing for festivals, based on my experiences going to music festivals around the world for over a decade. As a festival checklist, this post aims to be useful to every festival-goer – whether you like to travel light with just your festival essentials or you want to be prepared by packing for every eventuality.

The packing basics apply whether you’re only heading to a music festival for a couple of nights or if you’ve got to pack for the mammoth 5 days at Glastonbury Festival! Though this guide has been written mainly with UK camping festivals in mind it can be useful to anyone heading to festivals around the world with just a few seasonal adjustments… let’s get packing!

Glastonbury Festival Packing List - photo by George Harrison

Glastonbury Sunset by George Harrison

What should you take to a music festival?

Some general festival packing tips:

When preparing to go to a music festival there are generally two schools of thought around what you should bring with you; the first is to be absolutely completely prepared for all eventualities and have to make 37 trips to the car to collect everything and the second is to just completely wing it, see where the wind takes you and hope someone will take you in their tent!

I have definitely been both of these people and I’d highly recommend trying to fall somewhere in the middle when you’re packing your festival bag… don’t stress too much about forgetting something because the likelihood is that you’ll be able to find it when you get there, but do also put in some preparation if you want to get the most out of your festival experience.

SKIP TO SECTION:

01: Festival Documents & Admin
02: Festival Bags
03: Tent
04: Bedding
05. Tech / Electronics
06: Hygiene / Medical / Cosmetic
07: Festival Clothing
08: Food & Drink
07: Miscellaneous

How to get the most out of this festival packing guide: See a sticker on an item? We’ve tried to help you find some of the best value festival gear if you’re on a budget, highlight more ethical buys and anything with ‘fave’ on it means it’s our tried and tested absolute festival essential; we bring it to every adventure ourselves without fail! Check out the purple boxes for extra top tips and pink boxes for related articles that you might find useful. Don’t forget to subscribe for your free printable too.

Arriving at Boomtown Festival, which festival bag to bring?

Boomtown Fair arrivals by Dereck Bremner

01 : Important Festival Documents & Admin

✔ Your Ticket

If it’s not a paper ticket then print it – I would not normally encourage this as it’s not as eco-friendly but the risk and hassle of your phone dying in the queue could be far more painful! If not, at least make sure you’ve downloaded your e-ticket before you get there, you never know what the signal will be like.

Top tip: Check the Ts & Cs on your ticket – if it has to be in your name is it? Does it cover all the days you’re attending?

✔ Extra tickets if applicable – travel tickets, car passes, add ons, accommodation etc.

✔ Identification

Even if you’re clearly over 25 many festivals have strict rules in place at the bars, not just the gates. You might also need to show that the name on your ID matched the name on your ticket.

My top tip, get a Citizen Card or something cheap with a PASS code that you don’t need for the rest of your life. This comes from a cautionary personal tale of my passport getting water damage from a leaky tent at Boomtown in 2014, just before I was due to fly to Meadows in the Mountains. Never again!

✔ Programme 

Most of the time you’ll just get this when you arrive, either for free or to buy at the merch stand… but in some instances, you can pre-order your festival programme. Or do some research and see if the festival you are attending has an app! For big festivals that release their schedule before the event, the nifty website Clashfinder might have a free timetable you can print out too.

✔ Money

Don’t bother with huge ATM queues, bring cash if you need it! If the festival is cashless (oooh la la!) then think about topping up your wristband before you get there, there might be rewards and you’ll save yourself the hassle and some money.

Safety tip: If you’re leaving cash unattended in the tent, don’t keep it in one wedge, spread it around and hide it in less obvious places.

02: Bags

Bags to pack Everything you need for a festival

Rucksack

Personally, at festivals, I like to carry everything on my back because the last thing I want to do once I’ve set up my tent and cracked open that first tin of cider is make another trip back to the car. Depending on which festival you go to and where you decide to camp it might be a long old hike from the car park. I’ve been bringing a proper rucksack with me forever now, mine has been with me to Duke of Edinburgh when I was 14, 50+ festivals and halfway across India backpacking!

I recently upgraded to the Osprey Fairview 70l Rucksack, which I would highly recommend. It’s very roomy and has a removable backpack attachment which you can use as a day bag. The main rucksack component opens up the entire front like a suitcase which makes accessing and organising your belongings much easier. It’s also got comfortable ergonomic straps and, vitally, a waist strap to help you spread the weight and carry it with ease.

Top tips for packing your bag for festivals:
  • Bring a big tote. If you’re intent on taking more stuff than fits in a rucksack (I mean, costume changes are important) then big IKEA style bags or giant tote bags are a great idea for transporting costumes/coats/extra bits of bedding/pillows/last-minute snacks and they’re also good for keeping that tent tidy and your stuff easy to access.
  • Be wary of trolleys! They are great for carrying extra booze etc but they don’t deal well with muddy terrain or hills. If you need one for accessibility reasons or you’ve just got a lorra crates of booze then I would definitely recommend investing in a proper cart with big boy wheels.
  • Separate your stuff with packing cubes! I’ve also heard people using giant sandwich bags for this, if you’re a real planner you can plan out your outfits into separate bags to save hassle, extra bags also give you somewhere for dirty laundry etc.

Top tip: Strap your tent / bedding / boots on to your bag either with the bag straps or a bungee. This will leave more space in your bag and keep your hands-free for that booze shop! Also, do up the waist and chest straps it helps to distribute the weight for that long trip from the car.

Bags for during the festival

✔ Bumbag

The easiest hands-free route to keeping all of your festival essentials on you and safe at all times! Check out my post on The Best Festival Bumbags from independent makers which all have zipped compartments to keep the following safe…

What to pack in your festival bumbag?

✔ Day bag

If you’re at an arena festival (where you are camped far from the action) or at a day festival, you might want a small day bag/rucksack for your stuff.

Beksies Boutique festival sequin bum bag

My #1 selection out of my ‘The Best Festival Bumbags‘ round up. This Beksies Boutique petrol sequin bum bag is beautiful quality and jazzy whilst being understated!

Festival day packing bag - rainbow print

Is this the perfect festival day pack!? All of Wyatt and Jack’s bags and backpacks are made from recycled bouncy castles – how cool!

Sustainable water bottle holders perfect for a festival - Ratan material in a range of colours for festivals

This cool brand has handmade sustainable cotton Macrame Water Bottle Bag – a super practical accessory for a festival and in a range of gorgeous colors!

Remember: A lot of day festivals now don’t allow you a bag bigger than A4 through the gates so check the rules before you go and make sure you will be let in with whatever you’re planning to take.

03 : Tent

Your home from home. Unless you’re at a day festival, going bougie in boutique camping or you’re coming in a campervan you’re going to need to bring something to sleep in. I’ve had a few nylon homes over the years, some better than others!

Festival Tent to pack

The does-it-all investment tent:

4 Person Colemans Tent with Blackout bedrooms

This tent is the absolute dream! If you’re looking for an investment to last you many festival seasons this tent has it all. A roomy porch for getting ready, eating and sheltering from the rain, room to stand up, two bedrooms for all your mates and blackout fabric in the bedrooms for a better night’s sleep!

Stripy boutique festival bell tent

The Bougie Bell tent:

Red and white striped bell tent

Feel like festival royalty and never lose your tent again with this stunning striped canvas bell tent. This is one for those who like the fancier things in life and can be bothered to lug a bell tent across a festival site! Bell tents are ace because their canvas means that you stay pretty cool inside them – and they’re just beautiful!

Best value festival tents

The practical meets budget small tent:

Eurohike Nightfall Tent

Weighing in at a handy to carry 4kg this practical little number apparently sleeps up to 3 – but I’d take that with a pinch of salt!

At a modest £70 this is a great investment; enough porch space for your muddy boots, double skinned to keep you dry and the material helps keep the light out to give you some extra snooze.

Stay tuned for our full festival tent buying guide which will be coming very soon!

Festival packing checklist

04 : Bedding & Sleeping

My attitude and preparedness towards my festival sleeping situation have definitely matured over the years… I mean, no one does very much sleeping at a festival, but when you do get to bed you want it to be restful! Here’s everything you need to add to your festival packing list for the best nights sleep:

Sleeping bag

If I’m parking close to the campsite I’ll often bring a full duvet and sheet to a festival, cause I’m bougie like that… but you can’t beat a proper sleeping bag for practicality. The UK can get cold at night during the summer and sleeping bags are designed to properly insulate you… vital if you plan to go to bed before sunrise!

I would recommend something that packs up super small like this Vango Sennen 250 Sleeping Bag – from a good outdoors brand so you know its quality and tested and it also packs up super small! If you want extra comfort or you’re fetivalling as a couple, this Outwells DOUBLE sleeping bag looks cosy af!

Sleeping Mat / Airbed

Airbeds are the comfiest budget option but you always risk a puncture – I love the airbeds with the built-in foot pumps like this single deluxe airbed and this double air bed – it means you don’t have to bring a pump and you literally just repetitively step on the corner of it for a while, so easy to pump up a bit more if you need to. I stayed on one for a week at the last Glastonbury and it was great.

Sleeping mats definitely last longer, budget ones can be uncomfortable but if you invest in something like one of these 7.5 cm self-inflating Vango sleeping mats, as recommended by our UK Festivals Facebook group, you’ll be sleeping like a baby!

Remember, however hardy you think you are, you always need some sort of mat just for insulation alone. Sleeping straight on the floor of your tent is going to get cold.

Pillow

I don’t usually bring a pillow to festivals! It is really nice to have but as I’ve said before – I hate carrying stuff. I usually use a soft jumper or a coat or something. You can get handy camping pillows – but if I was to take one I’d just take a normal one.

Sleeping accessories

To help you get the best night’s sleep (considering it might be the early morning rather than night!) I would highly recommend considering bringing a few extra things to help you out.

The best festival accessories to pack for a decent night’s sleep:
  • An Eye Mask is helpful to keep the light out in the morning. Most tents aint light-proof ya’ll. Bung on one of these super light proof eye masks and you’ll sleep like it’s the depths of the night.
  • Ear plugs are essential for a quiet night. Foam earplugs are easy and lightweight but squishy silicone earplugs are the most effective.
  • If you’ve ever been camping in a tent and tried to lie in on a sunny day you’ll know that the heat is going to be one of your main barriers to a good night’s sleep! There are a few handy tricks, like moving to lie in your tents porch, having a reflective blackout tent or some people tie tin foil blankets over their tents! These can be quite noisy though so something like this Quechua Fresh & Black tarp camping shelter could be a good alternative.
  • Try and maintain a bit of a bed time ritual. Now I know this won’t always be possible when you’re stumbling back to the tent at some unholy hour, but you’ll have a much better chance at waking up fresh in the morning if you have a big drink of water, brush your teeth, take off your make-up and treat yourself to something like this soothing sleep balm.

05: Festival Electronics

✔ Phone

It’s funny how quickly things have changed in the past 10 years! Back in the day if you had an expensive phone you wouldn’t have taken it to a festival, you would have taken a 10 quid Nokia burner that didn’t matter if you lost it or got mud in the charging port (that one deffo happened to me). Nowadays everyone brings their smartphone everywhere! Make sure you take all necessary precautions, turn on find my iPhone if applicable, get a screen protector and a hardy phone case with a lanyard is always handy.

✔ Portable Charger

One of the most vital festival essentials!! A portable charger. Unless you’ve got access to power you’re going to want one or two of these babies fully charged so that you can top up your phone over the weekend, along with whichever leads you need. I use Anker Power Bank and it usually lasts me all weekend.

✔ Camera

Obviously these days you’ll usually be using your if your smart phone to take photos, but if you’re a keen snapper you might also want to bring an extra camera. Whether that’s digital or film! Ensure you bring the correct protective gear and don’t leave it in your tent if there’s any chance of a flood (another tragic personal story there, RIP my Canon DSLR Bestival 2015)! Disposable cameras are great fun at festivals, it’s always a lush process getting the photos developed afterward. Or why not skip the plastic waste and just get a small film camera like one of these cute Kodak Film Cameras?

✔  Lights

You’ll need at least one battery powered light to help you navigate the festival! But we reccomend you actually bring three – a lamp for the tent, a small torch for toilet trips and out and about and some fairy lights to wear or for the tent too!

battery powered fairy lights

Battery Powered Fairy Lights in a choice of colours, these fairy lights are waterproof, rechargeable and come in a load of different colours! String them up outside the tent to find your way home, inside as a softer alternative to a lamp or wear them as part of your costume!

lumi glow torch for festival evenings

9 LED Lumi Glow Torch – handy for those late night festival loo trips, this pocket sized torch is just the right size.

Coleman's speaker lamp

Coleman’s Speaker Lamp – yep you read that right, a bluetooth speaker and a lamp in one!? Offering five hours of sound and light when using both functions at once, this is such a handy festival item!

06: Festival Toiletries; Beauty, Hygiene & Medical essentials

Keeping Clean

One of the biggest concerns of first-time festival-goers about sleeping and partying in a field for a few days is often how to keep clean! Showers aren’t always readily available at festivals but there are lots of ways to keep fresh without them. Wet wipes used to be my #1 festival essential but there are so many alternatives that are a lot more eco friendly!

the perfect bamboo toothbrush for festivals

Truthbrush – the beautiful bamboo toothbrush

This Devon based ethical and sustainable toothbrush make beautiful bamboo toothbrushes with plant bases bristles and carry cases – perfect for your festival toiletry bag.

rustable cloth wipes for make up remover at a festival

ImseVimse Reusable Cloth Wipes – White

These Organic Cotton wipes from Ethical Superstore are handy for everything, from make-up removal on your face (just add micellar water!) to freshening up your body.

Filthy festival wash kit

Pits & Bits Festival Filthy Festival Wash Kit

This magical stuff from Pits & Bits is no rinse! Will leave you feeling (and smelling fresh) and just needs to be towelled off, quick and handy.

If you are planning to shower don’t forget your wash kit too:

Skincare & Beauty

In your toiletry bag, bring what you use for your personal skincare regime day-to-day is and add in some other essentials to helo you handle the elements.

  • Face moisturiser
  • Toner
  • Face oil
  • Suncream (50+ for face, and 30+ for body)
  • After sun
  • Body Moisturiser
  • Talcum powder – amazing for hot sweaty days, chafe or even use it in your hair.
  • Perfume

Festival Make-up bag:

  • Lipbalm
  • Foundation
  • Bronzer/ blusher
  • Concealer
  • Mascara
  • Eye-liner
  • Eyeshadows (colourful!)
  • Lipstick
  • Face paint
  • Glitter

Don’t forget a mirror!

wideye body butter for festivals

Rehab Body Butter from Wideye

A vegan repairing body butter perfect for sun and wind damaged skin which doubles as After Sun.

Foldable Festival mirror

Magic Mirror

Created in Bristol these shatterproof mirrors fold away and can be hung up to get a full view of your outfit!

Face florals festival glitter

Face Florals festival gift pack

Complete with real dried flowers, biodegradable glitter and adhesive – everything you need for a beautiful natural festival look.

Read our guide to the Ethical and eco-friendly Festival Beauty essentials!

Festival Medical Kit

Packing a small medical kit for your festival bag is vital. Some festivals will have corner shops where you might be able to purchase these kinds of basics but it’s best to come prepared for every eventuality.

festival medical kit

Wilderness Kit

Yarrow’s all-natural Wilderness Kit is a natural first aid kit with everything you need to treat stings, bites, cuts and sprains.

after party vitamin energy shots

After Party Vitamin Energy Shots

A perfect solution to the morning after the night before – Potion Life’s ‘Afterparty’ vitamin shots.

Tea tree balm from wideye

Tea tree balm

Formulated with lemon, WiDEYE’s natural tea tree balm is antiseptic so perfect for bits, spots and any sore patches!

Festival Hair Essentials

Your hair can be one of your greatest festival accessories, but it also has the potential to get pretty unruly and downright annoying so don’t forget your festival hair care essentials:

  • Hairbrush. I use a Tangle Teezer and it’s genuinely changed my life.
  • Hair ties & hair bands
  • Kirby grips and clips
  • Dry shampoo! Such a festival essential – I love using a powdered one as it doubles as a great volume giver too.
  • Hair oil – I use a little of Lush’s R&B to keep my ends hydrated.
  • A wig!! Solve all your festival-Sunday problems in one fell swoop.

07: What Clothes & Accessories to Pack for a Festival

So, your festival wardrobe is obviously a pretty personal thing. I can’t tell you what to wear! But the following list is the things that I pack and the practical must-haves to have a comfortable time at any festival.

Read my full guide to shopping more ethically and sustainably for festival outfits.

Shambala Fashpack by Carolina Faroula

The Shambala Fashpack by Carolina Faroula

Some tips for packing your festival wardrobe:

  • Firstly, if you’re going to a UK festival, pack for all eventualities. I don’t care what the weather report says – this country’s climate does not work like that. Ignore my advice at your peril!!
  • Secondly – think very hard before you buy festival wear; do you need it, will you wear it again, will it last you, can you repurpose something you already have?
  • LAYERS!!! It gets cold outside and also really different depending on the time in summer and where you are in the country – for example, Shambala is freeeezing  at night. Bring layers. Hoodies, jumpers, scarves, faux fur coats,
  • BIG HEADPIECE! I like to wear some outrageous headgear… feathers, lights, flowers, disco balls, dolls, plants you name it… how is this practical advice you ask?? Because f*** flags, recognisable headwear is the single best way to find your mates in a crowd! Thank me later.
  • Enough clothes in case stuff gets wet / gross / you’re in a paint fight etc. etc. But not too many clothes that you don’t know what to wear and you can’t carry it.

Festival Clothing & accessories for men & women

✔  General festival outfits

  • Clothes; t-shirts, shorts, skirts, dresses, leggings etc. Some comfy colourful clothes for when you want to look fun but can’t be arsed to go full festival fabulous – clothes you want to be hungover in.
  • Fancy dress outfit if there’s a themed day!
  • Underwear & socks
  • Something to sleep in
  • Swimwear! If the festival has a pool, a water slide, hot tubs, commual showers etc.
  • Warm layers; jumpers, hoodies, thick socks, long leg wear.
  • Rain coat – something you can fit in your bag is best!
  • Really warm gear eg; fur coat, ski suit, tracksuit.

You can’t beat a catsuit for a festival – it’s an entire outfit and it packs up small! Shop my guide to the best festival catsuits.

✔  Festival Accessories

  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat; cap, bucket hat, straw hat, head scarf etc.
  • Warm hat
  • Hair bands
  • Wigs!
  • Bumbag
  • Fun jewellery
  • Face mask – for dust or if you need it queuing / going into staff areas.

Some of my favourite independent festival fashion stores:

Some of our favourite independent festival outfit shops: Lady Jane SequinsBang Bang CrashCrooked StoreAshanti EmpressL.O.MPica Pica FeathersJackfruit ClothingBeksies BoutiqueTirade 13Ciara MonahanFestival UniverseMadwag ClothingDakota Rae Dust

Top tip: my friend told me was to pack each day’s outfit into packing cubes, not only does it make packing easier, unpacking in your tent tidier and keeps everything clean and sorted!

Shoes

The key here is COMFORT. Shoes at a festival are not where you wanna be expressing your style (unless you can do this comfortably) you wanna be able to dance for hours and walk tens of thousands of steps each day in them.

  • If you’ve read any of my other posts you’ll know by now that I swear by Blundstones. Waterproof, comfy af and they go with everything (in my opinion at least!)  I’ve got a black pair and a brown pair and I’ve been wearing them non stop for 3 years.
  • Wellies for the rain – your boots might do you but it depends how deep the mud the mud it. I swear by Hunters.
  • Whatever works for you though to be honest; comfy trainers, comfy sandals if its gonna be really hot – useful one for going to the loo in the middle of the night too!
  • SOCKS! You can never have enough (I never have enough)

Top tip: Don’t wear a new pair of shoes to a festival for the first time. Only bring footwear that you’ve worn in.

08: Food & Drink

How much food and drink you choose to bring to a festival is up to you as well. Personally, I like to treat myself to quite a few meals from traders as for me the food is a big part of the festival experience – but this will add A LOT to your budget.

  • Refillable water bottle
  • Alcohol (if you drink it!). Some easy festival booze includes: bag of wine, premixed spirit and mixer cans, cans of beer or cider. If you’re bringing alcohol make sure you check the limits of what you’re allowed to take in and don’t bring glass.
  • Easy snacks that will keep for a few days: crisps, cereal bars, tangerines etc.
  • Re-usable cup – like this Stainless Steel Travel Mug that comes with a a handy carabiner handle so you won’t lose it!

If you’re planning to cook your food you’ll need:

  • Small gas stove (check what’s allowed where you’re going)
  • Cooking Pot
  • Mug / bowls etc
  • All purpose spork!
  • Easy to cook meals (pasta, pot noodle, etc. )
  • Cool box – can just bring this for booze or whatever anyway!

Top tip: If you’re bringing a cool box then freeze everything you can in it (milk etc.) and everything will stay so much colder for longer!!

09. Miscellaneous Festival Essentials

So, we’ve gone through where you’re staying, how you’re going to sleep in style, how you’re keeping clean and looking fresh, the electronics you’re bringing, what you’re wearing and what you’re going to eat! You’re pretty packed up now! Now, this final section is some last-minute miscellaneous festival gadgets and essentials to make your trip that bit more special.

Handy miscellaneous things to bring to festivals:

  • String. Has a multitude of uses, use it to make a makeshift washing line or tie up a broken bag.
  • Gaffa tape, same as above. Use it for tent fixes or use the two in conjunction to never lose anything again!
  • Cable ties.
  • Loo roll! Its doubtful that the portaloos will always be stocked up so use some environmentally friendly dissolvable toilet roll. See also; a pack of tissues – a very bum bag friendly alternative.
  • Bin bags: for rubbish in case the festival doesn’t provide them or for keeping your stuff dry.
  • Camping chairs. Not something I can ever be bothered to bring, but handy for an extra bit of comfort – very small fold up style ones are nice for sitting all day on the grass in front of the main stage! (My parent’s personal festival technique!) If you’re looking for the COMFIEST camping chair of all time, it’s this Outwells Camping Chair – trust me.
  • Car jump start cables. If you’re driving these might save you from a nightmare Monday.
  • A fan! Whether its a small electronic one or a fabulous fold out one, will be a lifesaver in the heat.
  • Filtered ear plugs. These are non-negotiable for me. Being around live music can be so damaging to your ears and hearing and I DO NOT want to be stuck with tinnitus for the rest of my life – get a handy pair of EarPeace filtered ear plugs and you’ll still be able to hear your mates chatting to you (and the music of course!) but your ears will be protected.
  • And finally… SOME FUN STUFF!! Cute things to gift to people, a whistle, some medals to give out to your friends who’ve done a real good job festivalling, a flag (for your campsite / to wear / to wave in the crowd), bunting, spare dresses to dress up your male friends, garden ornament to stick on a flag pole… the list is as long as your imagination.

EarPeace HD Concert Ear Plugs

My #1 festival essential. Hearing protection is sexy y’all!

Hand sanitiser from wideye for festival goers

Hand sanitiser

After the year we’ve had I’m sure everyone will have some of this handy anyway. Pop it in your bum bag and use it regularly!

The good mood co recovery pack

The Good Mood Co. Recovery Packs

High-quality, affordable supplement packs specially formulated for socially active party-goers.

Camping festival packing

Shambala arrivals by George Harrison

Wow. Well, that was by far our most detailed and longest post of all time! What did we miss? Have you got any more camping festival packing essentials that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Some final festival packing tips:

  • Don’t over pack and only bring what you’re going to take back home with you! Leave no trace.
  • Work as a team on your packing – if you’re going with pals then spread the responsbility for bringing different things amoungst you, and share outfits!
  • Write your number on any valuables, use the lockers if need be and always register missing belongings with Lost Property.
  • Invest well in your camping gear / festival kit and it will last you a life time! Don’t forget to consider borrowing this kind of kit as well – it’s way more sustainable to share.
  • Save this post for later so that you never forget anything!

Pin this festival packing post for later:

THE ULTIMATE MUSIC FESTIVAL PACKING LIST

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click through and buy something I might get a very small percentage – this doesn’t cost you anything but it does help me to afford to run this site!

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