Fool-Proof Festival Survival Guide

You’ve furiously clicked the refresh button to bag your tickets, bought yourself a tent, neon paint or glitter, and started weaving your flower headband. You’re all set for your music festival right? Wrong.

Those things are essential, no question. But returning to civilisation, having had your money’s worth of muddy fields, music and memories, isn’t that simple.

Whether you’re off to scream your lungs out with Iron Maiden at Download, change the world with Adele and Jeremy Corbyn at Glastonbury, or shake it with Calvin Harris at T in The Park, feast your wide-eyes on this essential festival guide.

The early bird… packs well and bags a spot far, far away from the loos

Your music festival is the one place on Earth you don’t want to arrive fashionably late. Most will get there early doors to rinse their wristbands for all their ear-watering worth – so you want to join the herd as soon as you’re able.

Look for a camping spot on a hill, never at the bottom of a slope. Avoid the long-drop toilets which will hum to high heaven within an afternoon, opting for any other scent-free landmark instead.

It’s well worth chipping in for a trolley to carry your bags across the wilderness, and leaving your gazebo at home. They just won’t let you keep it. Only pack what you can carry a fair distance, and maximise valuable space by removing packaging from everything before you leave home. Make sure to remember your ear plugs. You’re obviously not heading to the festival for your beauty sleep, but trust us, you’ll want them.

Hoist the sail

Pity the fool who picks their way through guy wires by night, only to arrive at the wrong tent after a full day on their feet. As bad luck would have it, everyone will have the same tent as yours, and it’ll be impossible to spot your new abode in the festival’s pop-up city. So raise a flag that’s original, bizarre and instantly recognisable. Anything but your garden variety St George’s flag…

Communication is key

Music festivals are liberating for so many reasons, like no longer being a slave to your mobile. To save as much battery as possible, dial down the brightness, get offline and stick it in power saver mode if you can’t bear to turn it off completely. The middle of nowhere isn’t known for its incredible phone signal, so arrange to rendezvous with your mates at a specific time and place instead of over WhatsApp. Use a head torch, not a flashlight app. And a dirt cheap camera. Instagram can wait.

If the worst happens, and your phone’s stolen or lost to the festival forever, get in touch with EEThree or O2 to report the phone as missing as soon as possible.

Water good idea

Dehydration from boozing, dancing, or sunlight is a rookie mistake. But bottled water fetches a pretty penny at music festivals. So do the smart thing, pack your reusable water bottle, and fill it for free at water stations across the land.


Money talks

ATMs soon run out of cash at music festivals. Take as much as you think you’ll need, so you’re never left out of pocket. But remember to keep it safe.

It’s only a bit of mud

It goes without saying that your creature comforts will be a thing of the past. If it’s a toss-up between washing in an icy public tap and spritzing on some dry shampoo and using baby wipes from Superdrug – go for the latter. It’s only one dirty weekend.

Swap your umbrella for a poncho and take a fistful of plastic bags – they’ll help you to sit in the mud, carry your broken shoes, and waterproof your tent. But be warned. Nothing prepares you for the lanky dude’s head eclipsing the headline act. Apologies.

Bring your own bread and mini bar

Warm, flat beers fetch London pub prices in these fields. You’ll just have to lump it. Literally. Keep a beady eye on TescoCo-opASDA or Morrisons for some pre-festival bargains, and take as much as you can carry. While the fun police will confiscate anything beyond personal use, or in glass bottles, you’re entitled to bring your own booze.

Spending £7 on burgers will drain your wallet just as fast. Luckily, the biscuits, bread and boil-in-the-bag goodies you packed will tide you over until Monday.

Dress down

Celebrities leading the fashion pack at Coachella didn’t drag their wardrobe across acres of farmland. But you might. So pack light, and keep one complete set of dry clothes in something utterly watertight. Pair summer dresses, shorts and cami tops from ASOS and Very, with sturdy boots, sunglasses, and a water-proof. Keep it cheap, cheerful and colourful.

Your crazy animal onesie, pirate costume or mismatched fancy dress will boost morale and win you plenty of high-fives on Sunday morning too.

Didn’t get tickets? For some safe, clean fun in the comfort of your own back garden, don’t forget that the BBC’s live streaming Glastonbury for free this summer.

But most importantly. Have fun!