Festival survival guide

Camping Festival Survival Guide

Festival season is upon us, but whether you’re a seasoned festival-goer or a complete beginner that finds them a bit overwhelming, there’s a lot to remember and organise ahead of time.

To steer you in the right direction, our team of outdoors experts have put together this festival camping guide that covers everything you need to know about before you dive into the party season. We’ve included insights on what the biggest festivals are, what to bring with you and what to wear, camping advice, and various budgeting tips to ensure you don’t destroy your wallet along the way.

What Are The Biggest Music Festivals In The UK?

In terms of popularity, Glastonbury, Somerset is still number one in the UK with almost half of all people viewing the festival positively. The festival sees over 200,000 people attend every year over an impressive 900 acres of land, making it the biggest festival overall.


According to Google Trends, these are the top 10 line-up searches in the UK this year:


  • Glastonbury

  • Coachella
  • Reading
  • Download
  • Wireless 
  • Leeds
  • Creamfields 
  • Boardmasters 
  • Kendal Calling 


Other popular festivals in the UK that enjoy very positive perception ratings above 30% include Radio 1’s Big Weekend, the BBC Proms, and Cheltenham Music Festival, according to data from YouGov.

Festival Packing List And What To Bring With You

festival packing guide

Getting To Sleep

If you’re going to be camping at a festival this summer, you’re going to need all the sleeping essentials. These include a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, head pillow, eye mask and ear plugs. An eye mask is going to be vital to ensure you don’t get woken up by the early morning sunshine, and ear plugs help ensure you block out noise.


I would also advise bringing a torch in case you need to navigate the area late at night when the lights are off, or when trying to find your way back to your tent.


Even if you’ve never been to a music festival before, you’re bound to have heard horror stories about the portaloos. That’s why it’s important that you bring the right toiletries, to include toilet rolls, toothpaste, deodorant, handwash, SPF - as you’re likely to be spending all day in the sun, and moisturising skincare products to keep your skin hydrated and healthy throughout the event.


If you’re camping, opt for dry shampoo as you might not have access to clean showers, and remember to bring paratemol for aches and pains, indigestion or stomach pain relieving tablets, and antihistamines in case your hayfever causes discomfort. 


You should also remember to bring bin bags with you to dispose of any used paper, wipes, or toiletry packaging, as this helps to reduce littering.

Food And Drinks

Some festivals, like Glastonbury, allow you to bring food and drinks into the grounds of the festival itself. However, you will be limited on bag space and may have to walk quite far to get between camping and music sites. My advice would be not to bring too much food or drink with you as they will really weigh you down. For alcohol, select types you don’t mind drinking lukewarm.


You can purchase food and drink on the grounds of pretty much any music festival, but non-perishable high carb or high-protein snacks would be a good idea to pack in moderation - think protein or chocolate bars, as these can help if you’re in a pinch. Remember to store food and drinks items in a cooling bag if possible, as they are likely to melt or go hot in the heat. You could also attempt burying them beneath the soil outside your tent, so long as they’re wrapped up and contained.

Festival Accessories To Bring With You

Even if you don’t plan on taking any drinks into the festival, definitely bring a refillable water bottle, especially if you’ll be camping overnight. There are many water refilling stations to be found around festival grounds to ensure you can continually keep yourself hydrated.


While some bigger festivals have phone recharging stations, they shouldn’t be relied upon as there are often large queues which mean you might go for long periods of time without any battery. Instead, opt for a portable phone charger that you can fit easily into your bag.


It’s easy to get lost at a music festival, so make sure you share your live location with friends, or download apps like SearchParty or What3words to make sure friends can find you no matter where you are. 


Some nice-to-haves that you might also consider bringing if you have room, would be a picnic blanket to place food on, folding chairs to sit, and plasters in case your shoes start rubbing on your feet.

What To Wear To A Music Festival?

what to wear to a festival

UK weather is incredibly unpredictable, so it’s best to come prepared for all possibilities. Our advice would be to pack layered clothing like hoodies, jumpers and raincoats so that you can cover up if its cold and wet, and take layers off and wrap them round your waist if it gets too hot.


If you’re only going to be a festival for a day or two, you might want to wear your fanciest garments. However, if you’re camping for several days it’s always best to prioritise comfort as you’re limited on bag space, likely to get dirty, and you’ll want to reduce the weight of the baggage you’re carrying around for ease of movement.


It’s likely to rain at some point during the day at a UK festival, so make sure you have a lightweight raincoat or poncho that you can wear which also easily fits into your bag, or can be tied around your waist to save bag space.

T-Shirts, Vests And Shorts

Festivals get warm, especially ones in the south of England where the temperature tends to be higher. Even if it’s a cooler day, you’ll find yourself moving around a lot and surrounded by large groups of people which can make you overheat quickly. Make sure you have lightweight base layers to wear so that you can cool off quickly.

Lightweight Bag Or Satchel

A small backpack or satchel that you can fit essentials like water bottles, snacks, power banks, medication and toiletries is essential. Something that isn’t going restrict movement in large crowds or cause you to overheat would be ideal - stay away from bulky backpacks or shoulder bags as people could easily reach into these and remove items. 

Walking Boots Or Wellies

While wellies can be useful for when it starts raining heavily to ensure your feet don’t get stuck, a good pair of walking boots are more essential if you’re going to be walking longer distances. At Glastonbury you can easily rack up 30,000 steps a day, so prepare accordingly.


Prepare For The Festival Season With Cotswold Outdoor

With nearly 50 years of experience, our mission remains to help you enjoy the outdoors. Every piece of advice and kit recommendation is rooted in personal experience – countless walks, daring climbs and stories shared around campfires. We’ve explored new trails, pursued the first light of day and braved the elements.

So no matter what type of festival you’re going to, Cotswold Outdoor will provide you with all the necessary outdoor equipment to ensure you’re warm, comfy and well-equipped for any situation.

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