Surviving Festival Camping

From V and Download, to Leeds and Reading, Britain is world renowned for its outrageous festival culture. But, despite the amazing atmospheres that are generated during these pastimes of the British summer, festival camping is a tricky thing to get right.

Festival camping is a delicate mixture of comfort, practicality and enjoyment, so it’s important that you know what to expect and plan for every eventuality – no matter how unlikely it may seem. Perhaps you’re wondering what needs to be considered when choosing a tent, or protecting yourself from falling victim to a crime - here are some of tips to ensure that you are fully prepared for a festival to remember.

Write a Checklist

Mapping out a festival checklist is one of the smartest things you can do. A good festival checklist will plan for before, during and after your festival camping experience. And with today’s advanced technology, it needn’t be written out on a sheet of A4 stuffed into the bottom of your backpack anymore; you can jot it in your iPhone and access it quickly now.

Firstly, gain as much knowledge about the rules of the festival site you plan on attending before writing anything. Visit their website, ask friends who’ve previously attended the event and give the event organisers a call just to find out important bits of information – such as prohibited items, parking, campsite locations and available amenities.

Once you’re aware of what to expect, you can begin drafting an effective festival checklist. Your checklist should account for price and space, and should prioritise depending on your specific needs. There are some things that are absolute must-haves when festival camping – such as the right festival camping kit, changes of clothes, and, in particular, sustenance. Food can be expensive at campsites but the choices have improved since the days of warm hotdogs and 99 ice cream cone. Save some money by, first, enjoying a hearty pre-festival breakfast, a packed lunch for the first evening and some non-perishables and camping cookware.

Finally, there are some relatively simple items you may want to include on your festival camping checklist, but it’s easy to forget the significance of them until you’re at the festival…and really need them. Check out this quick list:

  • Ear plugs: Music festivals are awesome; sleepless nights – not so much. Between the revellers and the acts, ear plugs are your only route to relative tranquillity.
  • Waterproofs: Never trust the British summer. Rain is always just around the corner. Pray for the best, prepare for the worst.
  • Wet wipes: We don’t do festival showers. Best you can hope for is torrential rain and, trust us, it’s no substitute. Sanitation is doubly important in an environment that is a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Arm wallet: This is the safest way to keep your money away from thieves.
  • Portable phone charger: Chargers that can be connected to the lighter socket of a car or that use solar power are lifesavers.

Pick the Sweet Spots

With festival camping, as with choosing a new home: “it’s all about location, location, location”. If you don’t get the prime location spots, it can seriously hamper the entire experience, so don’t take this festival camping tip lightly.

Arrive early for the festival. If you arrive late, you’ll find that there are no good parking spots, pitching areas, or even viewing spots, left.

A good parking spot means that you can park in a place that is generally more convenient and accessible for you to and from the campsite. Your ideal festival camping parking place should be close enough to the campsite that you don’t have to struggle with heavy belongings to and from your car, and it should be closer to the exit than the entrance to avoid the aggravating rush at the end of the festival as much as possible.

Because you’re there early, you’ll have a lot of choice regarding where to pitch your festival tent. This free reign won’t last long though as the masses descend pretty quickly. Soon, your tent will be but a drop in the ocean of tents, therefore, your location must be in a recognisable area – particularly as you will need to find your festival tent again on dark evenings. If memorising the topography of an area is a little too taxing, you could, alternatively, mark your area. Typically, campers do this by erecting colourful flags.

Your festival camping tent spot should also account for the event of rain (tents pitched downhill will be flooded), harsh heat and unsanitary conditions. Once you’ve achieved this, clear your area of any hazardous materials (sticks, stones and other sharp objects) before setting up your festival tent.

Get the Tent Right

Festival tent

Choosing a festival tent isn’t quite the same as choosing a tent for a 6 month expedition in the North Pole; the considerations are vastly different, so don’t neglect how critical it is that you choose the right tent. Pick a tent a tent specifically for the occasion, always remembering that comfort comes first.

Possibly the most critical thing to ponder is tent size. The natural way to address this is to think, if you’re alone, for instance, that you only need a single birth (one-person) tent. Or a two berth tent for you and a friend, and so on. But quick pitch tents are designed to offer only sleeping room to the occupants – not living room also. With that in mind, where will you keep all of your belongings? This is why a good festival tent will have enough room to house occupants and personal items easily. Purchase a tent with space for another occupant; so if you’re sharing with somebody, order a three berth tent, instead of just the two berth.

Test the tent out before buying it – just to be sure that it offers enough room, and that it offers warmth, insulation, and protection from rain.

Sod’s Law on the Weather

British summers are often tempestuous. It can be challenging keeping up with the caprices in weather. That’s why it’s a good idea to waterproof everything you’re taking. This doesn’t mean laminating all of your items; instead, simply pack your festival camping belongings in waterproof carry bags (including waterproof casing and Ziplocs for your phone and wallet) and wear the appropriate attire.

Wellies have become a staple of British festival camping. They not only protect your feet from getting drench, they also help to prevent your clothes from getting dirty – and they’re simple to clean. They’re essential bits of kit.

Mind Your Stuff

People totally engrossed in their festival camping experience is a haven for thieves looking to take advantage of individuals when they’re at their most vulnerable. Remember: You’re not moving houses – you’re only spending a weekend away. Bring only the things that you absolutely need, and avoid bringing showy, expensive items.

Keep your money and mobile devices with you at all times. Carry them on your person – using a  bum bag, or an arm or wrist attachment. And at night, keep your belongings as close to you as possible. Avoid leaving them by the entrance at the opposite end where they are easily accessible.

Festival camping is about having a great time but, also, being savvy about it. Try not to allow the occasion to overwhelm you so that you become complacent and the event ends up being a washout.