Walking, Camping, and Dancing: 10 Essentials To Get You Through Your Next Festival

By: Ellie Marvin | ellie.marvin@activecities.com

Festivals can be especially fun during the summer. There are all kinds of festivals out there: music festivals, camping festivals, art festivals, beer festivals, and many other fun ways to spend your day. Although listening to music on your favorite set of headphones is fun, there’s nothing better than taking in some sunshine while listening to live music. Music festivals have become huge, two- to four-day long events that require lots of preparation and planning. This summer festival season, be sure to bring along these ten essentials to ensure you have a fun and safe experience.

1. Water

Every year, safety concerns cause festivals to add more restrictions on what kind of hydration devices can be brought in. Be sure to pay close attention to the guidelines of what can be brought in. Typically, single-pouch, Camelbak-style backpacks are a safe bet for any festival and they tend to be the best way to go (check out this one). They’re lightweight, easy to carry, hold a lot of water, and are easy to use. If a hydration backpack is not allowed, opt for a clear, BPA-free bottle that can hold a lot of water. Make sure it closes tight and doesn’t leak so that it can easily be placed in a bag. It’s also important to stay safe and learn where water stations are within the first hour of your arrival to the fest; watch out for signs of dehydration, like dry mouth, muscle cramps, and fatigue.

2. Sunscreen

The only thing more important than sunscreen is water, but sunscreen is definitely necessary for any outdoor activity, including festivals. Festival goers will likely be subjected to hours of continuous sunlight, which can be particularly gruesome in the summer. Apply generous amounts of sunscreen every hour and if you’re feeling burnt or looking red. Make sure to cover all areas which could be exposed, especially the face, shoulders, and chest. Don’t forget your hairline and scalp, unless you have a hat. Again, be sure to check restrictions on what can be brought in, as many festivals have restrictions on size and types of sunscreen (for example, aerosol sunscreen sprays typically aren’t allowed). Try to find small sunscreen bottles in the travel section of your local pharmacy or Target. Solid sunscreen sticks are helpful for people who don’t like having sunscreen residue on their hands, especially when it’s difficult or impossible to get to a sink.

3. Bug Spray

People don’t often consider bug spray when packing for festivals, but, trust me, you’d rather be jamming out than itching mosquito bites. All fests will likely have some kind of bug annoyances, but southern festivals like Bonnaroo or Hangout are plagued by mosquitos like you wouldn’t believe. Be sure to throw some bug spray in your bag before heading out to any fest this summer. To make it most effective, look for sweat-proof or waterproof bug spray, and make sure to totally coat your legs, arms, and other exposed areas every hour. Mosquitos are most active after sunset but putting bug spray on before dusk will ensure you stay bite-free.

4. Comfy Shoes

Some festivals can be huge. Festival goers will likely walk a few miles per day and may be subject to walking through difficult terrain like gravel or sand. For this, comfortable shoes are a must. The type of shoe depends on what kind of festival you’re going to. For beach and sand-based fests, opt for sandals with built-in support or havaianas flip flops. For the more common field-based festival, hiking boots or stylish sneakers are your best bet. Festivals are all about the fashion but it’s important to prioritize comfort and health over aesthetic appeal when it comes to big fests. Avoid heels and older shoes, which can offer less support. Also, be sure to test your shoes out with a few long-distance wears beforehand to make sure they can stand up to miles of treacherous terrain and constant wear.

5. Sunglasses

Sunglasses are essential for any festival experience. Be sure to get some with UV-protection and polarized lenses to best protect your eyes from a weekend of endless, unrelenting sunshine. Spring for some cheaper sunglasses rather than bringing your usual, everyday pair. Anything can happen at a festival, and there’s no telling what will happen to your favorite shades, between getting lost, damaged, or stolen. Reflective sunglasses make for the most ‘gram-worthy pictures, especially those with purple, blue, or pink lenses; check out this pair. To be safe, pack an extra pair, or be on the lookout for free sunglasses giveaways at various booths and tents.

6. Rain Protection

At least a little rain is to be expected with any summer festival. Umbrellas typically aren’t allowed at most musical festivals because they can block views. However, there are other options. Ponchos and rain jackets are the best way to go. Choose something light, as it will likely be hot during the day and you don’t want to drown under the weight and trapped humidity of a heavy rain jacket. Disposable ponchos are good and cheap but be sure to buy one before getting to the fest as they’ll likely be more expensive once inside. Clear ponchos allow your outfit to shine through. Hats and hooded ponchos are good investments to keep hair, makeup, and facial sunscreen intact.

7. Baby Wipes

Unfortunately, personal hygiene usually goes out the window at most fests. Showers and sinks are hard, if not impossible, to come by. By the end of the day, you’ll be covered in sweat, mud, dirt, dust, sunscreen, bug spray, and who knows what else. Water bottle showers can only go so far. For that reason, baby wipes are absolutely essential to any festival experience, even just a daylong fest. Baby wipes are handy for cleaning your supplies as well as your body. Phones and shoes will likely need a wipe down every morning or night and any water bottles or CamelBak spouts will need to be wiped down as well to be sanitary.

8. Layers

Even during the summer, some festival nights can get chilly, especially more northern fests like Firefly or Governors Ball. Once again, check the weather before you go, but bring a flannel or light jacket to throw on once the sun goes down. Bring something that can easily be rolled into a bag or tied around your waist if you don’t have a bag. Also, when picking what to wear, keep in mind that it might be hotter than anticipated once you’ve been standing in the sun for hours. You might need to take some layers off as well.

9. Tapestry or Towel

Tapestries are the most underrated festival essential on this list. For many acts, you’ll want to be standing and dancing in the crowd. But for some bands, sitting is the way to go. In order to spare your pants, bring along or tapestry or towel that you don’t mind getting dirty. You’ll probably have to throw it away by the end of the festival, but, if the conditions are right, it can be washed and saved. Chairs aren’t typically allowed into festivals but there are no rules against ground covers. Be sure to bring something thick enough to keep you safe from mud and dirt but not so thick that it will weigh you down.

10. Waterproof Tent

If you’re camping, make sure to check the weather forecast leading up to the festival. You’re likely to experience some rain, and  it’s best to be prepared and just expect heavy rain. Bringing along a packable tent (like this one) is always a good option. There are lots of methods for waterproofing a tent depending on how much breathability or how much waterproofing you want. Check out online tutorials or waterproofing materials to decide what works best for your needs. If waterproofing isn’t your thing, or you don’t have enough time, you can simply drape a tarp over your tent for some protection.