Travel and holidays

The Ultimate Festival Survival Guide


Summer is finally here, which can only mean that festival season is finally upon us. Good music, great friends and plenty of sunshine, a weekend at a festival can be exactly what you need to get you through to Christmas. However, there is an art to doing festivals right, so read our festival survival guide to make sure you get the most out of your ticket!

What type of festival is right for you?

There are hundreds of festivals across the UK over the summer months, and more and more crop up each year as demand grows. However, if you’ve never been to a festival before, or are just looking for a new one, then there are a few things you should consider before purchasing a ticket.

What sort of music are you into?

First and foremost, the festival(s) you choose to attend should be based upon your taste in music – if you’re an indie-lover in the middle of a mosh pit, you’re probably not going to have a great time. Have a look at the line-ups, and listen to some of the artists you might not have heard of – they could end up being your new favourite band!

Do you mind crowds?

If you’re not a fan of crowds, there are plenty of smaller festivals that have a more “chilled-out” vibe that you’ll enjoy. If you feel uncomfortable in large groups, check out some of the festivals that have 5,000 people or less. It could be that you just fancy heading down for the day, rather than making it a weekend event.

Find out what the demographic is – if you’re heading down with small kids, then probably best to avoid some of the larger (/ messier) festivals and stick to the ones that promote themselves as family-friendly.

Equally, if you’re heading down with a huge group of friends, then you’ll want to avoid any festivals where it won’t be acceptable to make noise late at night.

Is it easy to get to?

Be careful about the location – you don’t want to purchase a ticket, only to realise that it’s a five hour drive away! Festivals are usually set in remote locations, which means that the roads can sometimes be slightly treacherous to navigate, so make sure you’ve mapped out your journey before you set off.

You’ll probably also need to pay for parking at the festival, and you’ll usually need to purchase a parking ticket for each car in advance – this can cost anywhere between £5 and £50, and some of the larger festivals will now only accept payment in cash on the day of arrival, rather than pre-paying for parking online. Check the festivals website for parking details so you’re not caught out when you arrive.

You’ll also want to consider how large the festival is – some festivals have hundreds of thousands of people, which means that you might need to walk for 15-20 minutes just to get to the stage you want to be at. If you don’t fancy hightailing it across the site to catch a band, then it might be worth investigating some of the slightly smaller festivals.

How much does it cost?

Obviously cost is going to be a factor. Festival tickets vary massively, from under £100 to up to £250 for some of the larger festivals - but none of them break the bank. If you’re a little tight on cash, you could look into purchasing a day ticket instead, but you’ll want to factor in distance before deciding how long you’re going to stay for.

What do I need to take with me?

As a general rule, everybody forgets at least one thing whenever they go to a festival – and if you’re lucky, it won’t be something key to your survival at the festival. However, occasionally you’ll forget to pack a must-have item, such as toilet paper. That’s where networking comes in handy - don’t be scared to ask nearby camps if they have a spare of anything that you might need. Worst case scenario is that they say no! But luckily, festivals have a very sociable vibe, and you’re unlikely to come across many people unwilling to share. Even so, it’s always better to be prepared by making sure you at least have the following:

  • A tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat
  • Cooking equipment (camping stove, saucepan and mugs)
  • A small amount of food (including UHT milk for tea and coffee)
  • Wellies
  • Your ticket and your ID
  • A torch
  • A camp chair
  • Cash
  • Duct Tape (you’ll be amazed how many uses a roll of duct tape has)
  • Plenty of water

What food should I bring?

There will be plenty of food stands at the festival, and when it’s boiling hot and there’s bands to see down at the main tent, you’re probably not going to want to mess around cooking on a camping stove. It’s also a good idea to take a cool box – even if you don’t use it for storing food, you’ll be grateful that your water bottles have been kept chilled. Take foods that are easy to snack on or cook quickly with minimal washing up, and then budget to buy at least a meal a day down at the main site. Most of the food served at festivals are pretty stodgy (and delicious), so one solid meal a day and a few snacks might even do the trick! Some handy foods to take might be…

Cereal Bars

Cheap, quick and individually packaged, cereal bars are perfect for when you need a quick burst of energy on the move.

Bananas

After a day or two, your body may start to crave fruit and vegetables, so take some nearly-ripe bananas to satiate your cravings.

Instant Noodles

If you take nothing other than a camping stove and a kettle, you’ll be grateful for having a slightly more substantial snack that’s quick and easy to make, with low maintenance clean up.

Pre-cooked pizza

Pizza is great festival food, so you can sort out a few meals by pre-cooking a pizza or two, slicing them up, and storing the slices wrapped in aluminium foil in the cool box. However, bear in mind that you’ll probably want to consume it all within the first day or two, especially if there’s meat involved.

Dried fruit and nuts

Similarly to the rest of the foods on this list, this item is for one reason alone – to help sustain energy whilst you sniff out a nice, greasy burger from one of the pop-up food bars! Dried fruit and nuts are also made to last, so they’re unlikely to spoil in the heat.

10 Hacks for Surviving Festival Season

1. Don’t wear a hat on the first day

If you’re going to survive the whole season it’s important to always take a hat to festivals, especially if it’s forecast to be sunny – just don’t make the mistake of wearing it on the first day. Hat hair is bad enough, but after three days at a festival with only dry shampoo for support, you’ll bitterly regret jumping the gun and wearing it too soon.

2. Take walkie-talkies

Mobile phones are not festival friendly – not only are they at risk of getting lost or stolen, but you’re also unlikely to have signal, which means that if you lose your friends you might find yourself a bit stuck. Invest in some walkie-talkies with a vast range so you can always keep in touch with someone. Besides, it’s a great excuse to come up with awesome codenames.

3. Invest in a portable charger

As well as not having any signal, you’re unlikely to have any phone battery either. Instead of forking out to charge your phone at one of the manned kiosks at the festival (this can cost up to £5 for an hour of charging!) invest in a portable charger. You can usually charge your phone at least once or twice before it runs out of juice – but it might be a nice opportunity to take a break from your tech anyway!

4. Get your headphones as soon as you arrive

Not every festival will have a silent disco, but if yours does, make sure you pick up your headphones first thing - the queues get very long very quickly, and you’re not going to want to wait around in the heat when there are bands to see. You’ll also usually only have to pay a deposit, which you’ll then get back on the last day when you return your headphones in one piece.

5. Take plenty of water

You’ll inevitably end up walking around a lot, and you’ll spend a lot of time in the sun with no shade so it’s important to make sure you stay hydrated.

6. Take a pillow case

Why carry a massive pillow across the campsite when you could just take a pillow case and stuff it with hoodies and jumpers to rest your head on at night?

7. Assume that there will be nowhere to wash

No-one, after a few days at a festival, smells as fresh as when they arrived. Make sure you’re prepared for the fact that you’ll be unable to wash up by taking dry shampoo, baby wipes, deodorant, toilet paper and a towel with you.

Whilst we’re discussing toiletries, it also goes without saying that you should take sunscreen, as there’s unlikely to be any shade from the glaring sun.

8. Dress for wet weather

Whilst the forecast might be for beautiful sunshine, the weather can change quickly – we do live in the UK, after all. Pack some waterproof clothing and some spare underwear, just in case you get rained on.

9. Make friends with the camp next to you

Everyone’s at a music festival for one reason only – to listen to some music, and to have a good time. Which means that nobody is going to shoot you down if you try to make friends. Equally, it’s useful to have allies at nearby camps, as you can cash in on your new found friendship later when you inevitably run out of toilet paper. Keep an eye out for truly spectacular camps, as they’re usually the best prepared for every eventuality.

10. Make sure you’re covered

Whilst the majority of people attend festivals to have a good time, there are some that are opportunistic, and so there is likely to be a high risk of theft of your mobile phones and gadgets. Our gadget insurance covers mobile phones anywhere in the UK, and up to 30 days worldwide against theft, accidental damage and loss, so make sure you’re covered when attending festivals this season.

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