The summer of 2020 was the most turbulent that many of us have experienced in our lives. It will likely claim that top spot for years to come. One aspect that was particularly impacted by the pandemic was live music, particularly, music festivals. Unfortunately, every event was swiftly cancelled as the UK entered lockdown. For many of you, this summer would have involved your first-ever festival experience. Losing your proverbial “festival virginity”, if you will.
This is heart-breaking to everyone who planned to don their wellies and take to one of the UK’s finest mudslides. What this year gap allows though is extra preparation for next year. Being ill-equipped for what a festival may bring is the biggest cardinal sin of pundits experienced and new. From the erratic weather to long walks and more. The following list should have a little something to remedy every occasion.
Buy Your Tent Wisely
Without a doubt, the most important item that you take with you is your tent; hence it will take up several slots on this list.
It is the focal point of your experience, your home and storage space for the entire weekend. Naturally, after your tickets are ordered, supplies bought and transport arranged, the overall cost could skyrocket when a tent is added to the growing shopping list.
However, the general quality of your tent, the waterproofing and sturdiness are typically reflected in the price. Therefore, you should not cheap out on it. Finding that balance of good quality and reasonable cost can be difficult. From experience, you can typically purchase tents at considerably cheaper rates during the autumn and winter months. So keep a lookout online and you could snag yourself a top-quality tent without the price to match.
Opt for a Bigger Tent that Stands Out
The size of your tent should be determined by the number of people using it, ideally doubled. What I mean by this is a person camping alone should consider a two-man tent, two people sharing should bring a four-man and so forth.This may seem excessive but you will be grateful for the extra space.
This rule of thumb ensures personal space and plenty of room to store your supplies. Just because two people could squeeze into a two-man tent, you will be packed in tight like sardines. Not ideal after a day of getting pungent in the sun.
Additionally, you want to ensure your tent stands out. Of course, you know what your tent looks like, you bought it! But in a field among thousands more, it will be hard to find, especially after a few warm beers. Consider attaching a flagpole, or at least pitching near one you can see from afar. Alternatively, you can target a memorable path or location, like next to the burger stand or bar, it’s a win-win!
Pack Clothes for Any and All Weather
Keeping a close eye on the weather forecast leading up to the weekend is wise but ultimately it can dramatically change in a moment’s notice. We’re not talking about blizzards and typhoons here, but not far off…
Most of the festivals I have attended have had equal doses of blazing sunshine and torrential downpours, both occurring in the one weekend. The best way around this conundrum is to pack for mild weather. The nighttimes can get unbelievably cold and you won’t be too hot in the sun with mild wear. Combined with a couple of sets of waterproofs, wellington boots and a bottle of sunscreen, just in case you get lucky, weather-wise!
This applies for when you go out into the festival arena, take a hoodie with you, just in case. At Download Festival 2019, I ventured out in nothing but a Mario costume on a rainy day. Not my brightest idea.
Pack Plenty of Wet-Wipes and Pocket Tissues!
Cheap, ergonomic and essential. Tissues and wipes will be the most inexpensive and readily available items for you to stock up on before the weekend.
There is no guarantee that your campsite will have showers. If you are fortunate enough to have these facilities on-site for free, expect them to be communal with potentially long lines. This is where those trusted wet-wipes come into action. Whether you’re head-to-toe in mud or violently perspiring from a long trek in the sun, you’ll be more than grateful for a wipe-down wash when you are at your most ‘fragrant’.
The same applies to pocket tissues. With the sheer number of festival attendees; there is always a chance of toilet roll being scarce after a few days. To put it gently, you do not want to get caught short in one of the portaloos!
Bring Several Pairs of Footwear
I have some bad news if you are trying to save space or reduce carrying weight. There sadly is no ‘one show fits all occasions’ when it comes to footwear.
Your faithful wellies will have your back when it starts to get muddy but when the miles start to clock up, they can be murder for your feet. It might be a good idea to take an old pair of walking shoes or comfy trainers you don’t mind getting muddy to wear around the campsite.
Bonus tips: A pair of flip-flops are great to slip on and off in case you need to leave the tent late at night. They are also generally very affordable. Furthermore, don’t rely on ankle wellies to keep you dry. Mud puddles can easily exceed the height of your ankles; I learnt this the severely hard way!
Double-Check what you are Allowed to Bring
Each festival is likely to have its own unique set of rules regarding what you can bring with you. However, many other restrictions will be universal and obvious, such as illegal substances and weapons. But others might not be so clear.
From my own experiences, camping stoves, gas lighters and generally all things flammable are strictly prohibited from entering the festival. Alcohol is allowed on the campsites so long as there are no glass bottles present. Furthermore, all personal medications typically need a doctor’s note for authorisation.
Honestly, the full list of prohibited items can be vast, so keep checking the festival website to ensure you don’t breach any regulations.It is guaranteed that you and your bags will be searched at some point so play it safe and leave the crossbow at home.
Hopefully this list has gone some way to help you prepare for the next batch of summer festivals in 2021. In all honesty, the full list could easily stretch to fifty items. That being said, try not to stress too much if you forget anything. As long as you have the essentials, you can usually buy anything else you need on-site.
So use your time wisely, grab yourself a bargain by picking up a tent early and don’t forget to start stocking up on wet-wipes and pocket tissues for next year. And leave the ankle wellies at home, trust me.