Diaries Magazine

Grown-Ups Packing List for a UK Festival

Posted on the 15 July 2019 by Rachael Dunne @WhatRachDidNext

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It’s that time of year again, the sun’s out (finally!) and festival-goers across the land are getting very, very excited. Properly preparing in advance can turn your weekend into the best festival experience ever! This is especially true for proper grown-ups packing for a UK festival.

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What’s so Particular About Grown-Ups Packing for a UK Festival?

When you’re young, forgetting things and having to beg, steal and borrow from your mates is half the fun. When you’re in your thirties, forties or even more-ties, being ill prepared is not quite as acceptable. Organising in advance gives you time to remember those creature comforts that will make your festival experience more comfortable.

Having experienced several festivals, in the UK and Europe, I’ve learnt that UK festival goers need to be better equipped. For example, it would be completely unnecessary to take wellies to a Croatian festival. In the UK, not only might you need wellies but also a bikini, sunglasses and a wooly jumper!

Whether it’s your first UK festival or your memory just needs a little help, here’s a check list to help you. I’ve split the list into sections so you can pick the bits that are relevant to your trip. Click on the links to jump to the section relevant to your needs.

  • Festival Camping Essentials
  • Sleeping Essentials
  • Women’s Festival Clothing
  • Festival Toiletries
  • Emergency Supplies
  • Extra Bits and Bobs That Will Make Your Festival Experience Awesome
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Festival Camping Essentials

Whether you buy a new tent or reusing an old one, it pays to have a dry run before hand. That way, you leave yourself plenty of time to make sure you have all the bits and pieces you need.

If you do find you get caught short, most festivals have a camping supplies stall somewhere on site. They can be expensive though and when you get there, would you rather be shopping or enjoying yourself?

  • Tent – Gone are the days when a two man pop-up will do. Your back will thank you for buying a tent with room to stand in.
  • Tent pegs – did a few of these get bent last time you went camping? Make sure you have enough. As an added bonus, glow in the dark tent pegs will minimise trip hazards in the dark.
  • Camping hammer – there’s nothing worse than being unable to properly get your tent pegs into hard ground. It’s no fun waking up in the middle of the night and the whole thing caving in on you! Make sure you take a proper camping hammer though. A regular one that you would use for DIY might be confiscated at the gate.
  • Wheeled holdall – Anything you can get on wheels to transport things in will make your life so much easier.
  • Hanging lantern – you don’t realize how much you need one of these until don’t have one! A torch like the one below is great but a lantern you can hang from the roof of your tent is absolutely invaluable for when you need to find your way around your tent in the dark.
  • Small LED torch – great for avoiding other camper’s guy ropes on the way back at night. Also extremely handy for assessing the state of portaloos before entering.
  • Fairy lights – or some other unique identifier. Finding your tent in the dark, after a few beers is no mean feat. Solar powered fairy lights make it way easier to spot. I say solar powered because battery powered ones never last as long as you think. Check before you buy but can usually get a good 6 hour charge from them even when it’s raining.
  • Gorilla tape – if you’ve checked your tent before hand, there should be no nasty surprises when you get there. but it never hurts to have a back up plan. Gorilla tape is better than ordinary gaffer tape for repairing rips in a tent because it’s clear so you won’t have a trashy silver stripe down the side
  • Bin bags – leave no trace. Seriously, come on, you’re a grown up!
  • Kitchen roll – you never know how much you spill stuff till you don’t have it.

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Sleeping Essentials

  • Air mattress – sleeping on the hard floor might be fine for teenagers but grown ups need a little more comfort. Make sure you buy a reputable brand though. I’ve learnt from experience that cheap ones are a waste of money.
  • Repair patches – most air beds and tents should come with these.
  • Pump – battery operated pumps are an absolute no brainer. Just don’t forget the batteries!
  • Sleeping bag – even in scorching hot weather, you’d be surprised how cold it gets in a tent in the middle of the night. Trust me, you need one.
  • Thermal blanket – If it’s a warm night, sleep on top of your sleeping bag for comfort and throw a thermal blanket over you. If it’s cold, snuggle up and sleep with your blanket around you inside your sleeping bag
  • Inflatable camping pillow – an ergonomically designed inflatable pillow might cost a few pounds more than a standard one but they are worth investing in. You’re more vulnerable to the cold when sleeping outside and a seriously stiff neck could ruin your weekend
  • A hoodie, t-shirt and snuggly full-length PJ bottoms. Even if it’s 20+ degrees during the day, you will really feel the cold at night. It’s better to pack a few warm layers and not need them than to need them and not have them. Extra festival points for funny character pjs which make excellent conversation starters with the neighbours. Styles to avoid are onsies or playsuits which are a nightmare to wrestle with in a portaloo!
  • Herbal sleeping aid – in case you need a little help drifting off among the weird campsite sounds. Avoid chemical ones, they’ll make you feel drowsy the next day.
  • Eye mask – unless you have a blackout tent, the sun will wake you up around 5am. If you want a decent night’s sleep, these are a great help.
  • Earplugs – in case your neighbours are either party animals or heavy snorers.

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Festival Clothing

I’ve written this from a female perspective because that’s what I am. Guys, I’m afraid you’re on your own!

  • Underwear – make sure you take enough to see you through with a few changes a day. Work out in advance, what you need to go with each of your outfits with a few changes in case you get soaked.
  • Swimsuit or bikini – for sunbathing if it’s sunny, also doubles up as a bodysuit to wear with jeans or shorts.
  • Beach cover-up or kaftan – throw this over beachwear with or without shorts for a boho chic look.
  • Jeans – are extremely versatile and go with anything but will stick to your legs if it’s wet which can make them ache.
  • Hiking leggings – are better than jeans in wet weather because they are designed to regulate body temperature and dry quickly.
  • Shorts – for sunny days. You can create an entire capsule wardrobe out of a few pairs of jeans, shorts and a couple of t-shirts.
  • T-shirts – a festival band t-shirts, slogan tees, cute animal tees etc can be great conversation starters at festivals!
  • Waterproof jacket – a foldaway rain mac is an absolute essential. Festival ponchos are expensive for one wear and won’t do the job in a torrential downpour.
  • Scarf or Pashmina – The contrast between a sweaty dance tent and the cold night air can be a bit of a shock to the system! Tie a scarf around your waist whilst dancing and whip it around your shoulders when the night is over.
  • Comfortable shoes – I can’t stress this enough! You’ll probably be walking at least 25,000 steps per day even at a small festival. Don’t take your favorite pair that you just bought. You’ll only be upset if they get ruined. Merrell make a few styles which are great for walking in but passable as fashion items.
  • Wellies – to a certain extent you get what you pay for with wellies. If it rains and the place turns into a mud bath, you’ll be glad you invested in a decent pair. Even if it doesn’t look like you’ll need them, it’s a good idea to keep them in the car.
  • Small shoulder bag (or bum bag) – you want this to be as small as possible because you’ll be carrying it around with you for days. A crossbody bag that’s just big enough to fit your cash, phone and lip balm in is all you need. Whatever you do, don’t take a rucksack. Rucksacks should be make illegal at festivals – there’s nothing worse than dancing behind someone who keeps smashing one into your face!
  • Hat – either a baseball cap or a brimmed hat will keep the sun off your face and the rain out of your eyes so you’ll be winning whatever the weather.

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Festival Toiletries

Everyone pretty much accepts that when they go to a festival they’ll get a bit stinky but everyone’s in the same boat. If you don’t like that idea, most festivals offer a VIP upgrade which usually includes hot showers, hairdryers and hair straighteners. That said, they can be pricey and the queues can be shocking!

Fortunately, there are a few bits you can take with you that will help freshening up a little easier. If you have miniatures left over from a hotel break, festivals are a great opportunity to use them up. If not, don’t buy more, they’re really bad for the planet. Instead, get a set of travel tubs that you can fill with your favorite products and reuse when you go away.

  • Moist wipes – go for pocket sized packs you can take out with you. As delicious as it is, festival food can get messy.
  • Packs of tissues – portaloos never have enough toilet paper so these are handy to have on you at all times.
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Dry shampoo – Batiste is my personal favorite. I’ve tried them all and most of them are a bit meh. Batiste really works though and gives your hair a bit of volume too.
  • Deodorant – pack a good one, you’ll need it.
  • After-Sun – even if it’s forecast rain, it’s better to be prepared.
  • Moisturiser & eye cream – festivals can be dusty so you need to be especially kind to your skin.
  • Make up – don’t forget the glitter!
  • Hair products – I ordinarily wear my hair poker straight but at a festival that’s just not possible. I find a blob of mousse and a good scrunch gives it a nice grungy festival look.
  • Collapsible bowl – the best washing facilities you can expect on a festival campsite are cold taps in a trough. Collapsible bowls are great because you can fill them with water and take them back to your tent. If you leave it in the sunshine for half an hour, you’ll have a nice bowl of warm water.

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Emergency Supplies

  • Lipbalm with SPF – festivals can be dusty places so you’ll be glad of a little lip lubricant. I love this one I’ve linked to by Carmex. It has a slight pink tint to it so it doubles as make up. Guys may want something a little less tinted – although you never know, it is a festival after all!
  • Sunscreen – festivals are wide open spaces with little shelter so you’ll need sunscreen with a high factor if the sun comes out.
  • Paracetamol – you’ll be glad of this if you get a hangover.
  • Prescription medication – forgetting this could be disastrous.
  • Hayfever/allergy tablets – because duh… you’re going to be living in a field for a few days.
  • Rehydration salts – will help you rebalance if you over indulge or have a bit too much sun.

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Extra Bits And Bobs That Will Make Your Festival Experience Awesome!

  • Table – if your tent has room, a foldable table will make your life so much easier but go for a roll up design that’s easy to carry
  • Camping chairs – even if you can’t manage a table, you’ll be glad of a chair to sit down on. If you get foldable ones, They’re super easy to carry and you’ll be glad you made the effort when you’re watching the sun go down with a glass of wine in your hand
  • Camping trolley or cart – I don’t have one of these but I’m always so jealous when I see people who have. If you do decide to invest in one, make sure it’s substantial and has pneumatic tyres. Flimsy ones are complete waste of money
  • Camping BBQ – The thing I get most excited about at festivals, besides music – is the variety of food vans! That said, you can’t beat having your own BBQ at breakfast time, especially if you’re with a good crowd
  • Coolbox or coolbag – even if you just plan on eating food from the festival, it’s great to have one of these to keep bottles of water in. There’s nothing worse than waking up in a red hot tent with a hangover and discovering that the only thing you have to drink is warm water.
  • Picnic plates – don’t buy disposable stuff. It’s horrible to eat from and it’s terrible for the environment. Instead, buy a nice set that will make you want to take it home with you. Melamine picnic sets have a much nicer texture than plastic and they are available in some really cute designs.
  • Picnic cutlery – the set I’ve linked to is a little pricer than most but it’s compact, well organised and includes everything you need. It even has a chopping board and tea-towel.
  • Picnic blanket – choose one with a damp-proof lining so you don’t get a soggy bum when you sit on it!
  • Glow in the dark guy ropes – Your tent should come with standard ones attached but if you can be bothered restringing them, it’s worth investing in glow in the dark guy ropes to minimise trip hazards
  • Crazy costume – I always think that people who make the effort to dress up at festivals contribute massively to the overall festival experience! Extra points for making your own fancy dress outfit.
  • Glitter – If you don’t have the confidence to wear a full on fancy dress costume, glitter is a cute way to join in with the festival frivolities.
  • Vaseline – if you buy a glitter kit like the one above, they usually come with some kind of facial glue but if they don’t or you just buy an individual pot, vaseline will do the job.
  • Reusable straw – if you’re like me and you have sensitive teeth, you’ll be glad of one of these. Plastic straws are a thing of the past now but paper ones never seem to last as long as your drink does. Or is that just me?

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