The Ultimate Festival Checklist: Everything You Could Possibly Need

We’ve all been there. The sun is shining, you’re happily enjoying the festival with your friends and chatting about how lovely and hot it is — then there’s a storm overnight. You wake up to chaos and floods. You sprint to the stalls and find yourself in a long queue — in the pouring rain — praying that the shop doesn’t sell out of wellies before you get to the front.

All music festivals are different, so you might not need everything here, but this festival checklist aims to be exhaustive enough to cover all the essentials and any extras alongside, to ensure you don’t end up [literally] stuck in the mud. Anything missing? Feel free to make suggestions in the comments!

ESSENTIALSTravel & Festival TicketsIdentificationDirections / MapsCash & CardsKeysCLOTHINGRaincoat & WaterproofsWelliesSunglassesHeadgearClothes & ShoesLUGGAGECameraPhoneTorchUmbrellaTentSleeping Bag / Pillow / MatChargers / BatteriesBooks / MagazinesMP3 PlayerBin Liners & Laundry bagTOILETRIESToothbrush & ToothpasteDeodorant / Anti-persperantBrush / CombTowel & ClothSoapShampoo / ConditionerTissues / WipesMirrorContraceptionMEDICATIONPrescriptionsFirst aid kitParacetamolSunscreenInsect RepellentGlasses / Contacts & SolutionEXTRASLighter / MatchesGaffa TapePenknifeBottle & Tin OpenersCutleryCooking EquipmentFlagPicnic BlanketFood & Drink

Festival Checklist

    • Tickets – You won’t just need the obvious festival tickets, but also your bus / tram / train tickets, too. Book travel tickets in advance, so they can arrive in time. Leaving it until the last minute runs the risk on not getting a seat, paying extra and getting stuck in queues. You’ll need them for the return journey too, so keep them safe.

    • ID – If you’re travelling abroad, you’ll have your passport anyway, but for domestic festivals having a driving license or other form of ID is often a requirement to get in. Glastonbury, for example, doesn’t let you in if your ID doesn’t match the name on the ticket! Check the festival terms and conditions beforehand.

    • Directions / Maps – If you’re driving, get organised and plan a proper route, even if it’s just making sure your satellite navigation knows where to go. Those using the trains and buses, make sure you know the correct stations and where to go when you arrive. When you arrive, grab a map of the site and mark on it exactly where your tent is located and where your car is parked if you’ve brought one.

    • Cash & Cards – Festival cash machines tend to charge you for use and also have large queues. To save wasting time once you’ve arrive, it’s best to get cash out before you go, but keep it safe and split it up into a few chunks in different bags and pockets.
    • Keys – An obvious one, but easily forgotten and it’s not particularly nice to get home from a festival and find yourself locked out. Leave a spare pair with your neighbour, if you don’t trust yourself to remember.

Back up to festival checklist.


Festival Checklist

    • Raincoat / Waterproofs – A must for British festivals, you never know what’s going to happen with the weather. Venues are likely to sell ponchos anyway, but they can be thin, poorly made and expensive, so it’s better to take your own.

    • Wellies – Navigating huge mud marshes is harder than it looks and you will ruin your shoes or trainers, if you don’t take a pair. Again, they can be bought on site, but they tend to go very quickly. Save yourself the bother of hunting around for a pair all day.

    • Sunnies – Keep your eyes happy. Outdoor stages can often be in front of the sun, leaving you blinded as you try to watch.

    • Headgear – A cap, bandana or winter hat, depending on the weather, is always useful.
    • Spare Clothes & Shoes – Take enough clothing for each day of the festival, enough for changing after muddy mishaps and clean pairs of everything for trip home. Going all the way home wet and caked in mud is horrible for everyone involved. Combat trousers are best if you’re planning on carrying a lot around with you.

Back up to festival checklist.


Festival Luggage

    • Camera – Make sure you’ve got a case and strap for it, as they’re easy to drop and lose in crowded environments. You also might want to check you’ve got plenty of room on it before leaving and take an extra memory stick or film if necessary. If your phone has a camera, just use that and save some space.

    • Phone – Fully charged and primed with all your friends’ digits. It’s likely to run out if you use it a lot, so try and stick to texts and leave it switched off while you sleep to save those vital bars.

    • Torch – Navigating back to your tent after an entire day of drinking is likely to end in disaster without light. It’s also essential for fiddling about in your tent at night, as you desperately try to take your contacts out and get into your sleeping bag.

    • Umbrella – Just don’t go using it while you’re watching bands, it’s hugely annoying to the people behind you and don’t be surprised if things get thrown in your general direction. It’s best for keeping rain off your morning barbecue or keeping dry as you wait in the food queues.

    • Tent – Make sure you know how to put it up and that you’ve got all the right pegs and pieces before leaving. You wouldn’t believe how many people arrive in the dark and discover they don’t actually know how to pitch their brand new tent.

    • Sleeping Bag / Pillow / Roll Mat – Camping grounds aren’t particularly comfortable, having a mat and pillow to go with that sleeping bag helps save waking up in agony.

    • Chargers / Batteries – You don’t want to run out of digital juice. Some festivals will have charging areas, but the queues get unbearable, so avoid them however you can. If you’re lucky enough to be off to a festival with power and plug sockets, be sure not to forget the charger.

    • Travel Fodder – Books, magazines and plenty of music on your fully charged phone or mp3 player for the journey there and back. If you plan on playing at bit of music at your tents, take some portable speakers to hook up your player to.
    • Bin Liners / Laundry Bag – You’ll make tons of mess while you’re at the tent, so a bin liner or two for rubbish is really useful. Also, keep those muddy jeans or filthy shoes in their own bag to avoid ruining everything else. Try and get them dry before bagging them up, though else they’ll stink.

Back up to festival checklist.


Festival Toiletries

    • Toothbrush & Toothpaste – You can get those little finger toothbrushes now, which are really handy for saving space and are dispensable, too. It you’re going in a big group, it might make sense to just share things like toothpaste, to save everyone bringing it.

    • Deodorant / Anti-persperant – Again, travel-sized sprays are easy to pick up.

    • Hair Brush / Comb – You’ll need them for de-tangling if you’ve got long hair, after a not so pleasant wash under a running tap.

    • Towel & Cloth – Bring a few if you’ve got the room, in case one doesn’t dry in time. If it’s baking hot, you could hang it up outside your tent afterwards, but if you leave there you run the risk of it getting soaked should the rain come!


    • Soap / Shampoo / Conditioner – Washing and showering essentials. Facilities range from festival to festival, but there’s usually enough running water for a quick shower. Get up at dawn to beat the crowds.

    • Tissues & Wet Wipes – Toilet roll often runs out, so it’s good to have your own back ups. Wet wipes help you to easily freshen up on the move.
    • Small Mirror – For the vain or finding out how muddy your face is.
    • Contraception – Because you never know.

Back up to festival checklist.


Festival Medication

    • Prescription Medicine – Whether it’s insulin or inhalers, make sure you have everything you need for the duration. Get an appointment with your doctor early enough to be able to get all your required elixor.

    • First Aid Kit – Plasters, bandages, sterile wipes and the like are always handy. Especially if you’ve got youngsters with you who are rolling about all over the place.

    • Paracetamol – The morning after might be a long way away now, but you’ll be thankful for packing them. Just be aware that drinking again with them in your system is dangerous for your health.

    • Sun Lotion – You get burnt quicker than you’d think. Since you’re spending all day in the sun, keep the bottle on you, so you can top up as the day goes on.

    • Insect Spray – These kind of repellents aren’t essential but are definitely useful at the more humid International festivals.
    • Glasses / Contacts & Solution – Be sure to bring spares if you have them, as once you drop a contact in the mud, there ain’t no getting it back.

Back up to festival checklist.


Festival Extras

    • Lighter / Matches – Getting your stove or barbecues lit, or even joining in the nightly vigils with the rest of the crowd.

    • Gaffa Tape – If you get a hole if your tent, this is the best and quickest way to patch it up.

    • Pen Knife – Handy in ways you never realise until the time comes.

    • Bottle & Tin Openers – You don’t want to find yourself resorting to using your teeth to desperately tear into that beer. Get a small key chain opener, if you need to save space. Or bring along a Swiss Army Knife to have all those fiddly instruments in one place.

    • Disposable Cutlery – Unless you eat out of tins, using a sausage as a spoon, you’ll need cups, cutlery and plates.

    • Cooking Equipment – There’s nothing like a summer festival BBQ. Don’t forget the food! A folding chair is also great for relaxing in as you prod those burgers. And if you’re going to be cooking everyday, perhaps a small stove, a pan, a kettle, a mug and some gas. It’s better to split things like this up amongst a few people to save one person struggling with it all.

    • Flag – It’s so easy to lose your tent, even if you know what area it’s in. A big flag to stick in the ground by your base is perfect for finding your way back in both day and night.

    • Blanket – For throwing down in front of your tent to sit, picnic and sunbathe on.
    • Food & Drink – Remember that glass bottles aren’t allowed at a lot of festivals and will be confiscated at the entrance. So transfer anything you have into plastic ones. Soups and noodles are easy to carry and cook, but also bring some chocolate or energy bars to keep going throughout the day.

Back up to festival checklist.

118 thoughts on “The Ultimate Festival Checklist: Everything You Could Possibly Need

  1. Very helpful, made a checklist from this site, just to make sure i didn’t forget anything. Thanks

    BRING ON LEEDS FEST 2012

    OSSSH!

  2. Great list but one extra thing I’ve learned from festivals: Bring some Imodium. At the least it could save you some discomfort and at best it can save your pride and/or your pants ;)

  3. Alcohol soap is always good. As for cooking equipment – a Trangia for cooking, meths to light it, matches, a plastic plate/bowl and a spork will do the job. Take some pasta n sauces or innocent veg pots and all you have to do is heat them up….saves HEAPS of money :)

  4. Sack off the phone (obviously keep it in your tent for emergencies) get some walkie talkies for you and group. Saves on an extortionate bill from o2 when you get home and is less gutting when they break or get damaged.

  5. Some festivals have very little light in the camping area so… I thought of attaching solar garden Christmas tree style lights to my flagpole as an easy way to find my tent. You can pick them up quite cheap from eBay in various colours and don’t take a huge amount of space in your bag.They can be easily attached using garden twist tie wire. I tried it out in my backgarden, it looks pretty cool. I’ll be using this idea at Wacken Open Air this year as well as a smaller one for inside my tent.

    As far as food goes, I recommend using the trekmates flameless cooking system. I’ve got the flask version. I am pretty impressed by it and the good thing about it is that you can use it without leaving your tent. An added bonus if it is freezing cold or wet outside. It also doesn’t keep blowing out in the wind either. You just add water to the heat pack within the container, insert the metal container and fill with water or the hydrated food and wait until hot. The heat pack soaks up the water and can be thrown away with normal household rubbish. It is only good for 1 use though and the concept is a relatively new thing, the heat packs aren’t very cheap at the moment but I am sure after a while the costs will come down. The size of the containers and heat packs are small enough to fit into your rucksack.

    Indigestion tablets are also a must!

  6. I’ve been to Leeds twice now, 3rd time this year but I always forget what to bring! This list is so helpful! I found that I brought too much food, I only used energy bars and some crackers in the end to build up the energy while waiting for bands! Also make sure you leave some sealed bottles/cans for each day so you can save a bit of money, as your not allowed in the arena with opened bottles or cans :)

  7. After planning for weeks for this leeds fest 2013 I think ive actually got everything. Gaffa tape etc. Just little things that could be a life saver.

    I did forget two thing tho and that was I.D! HAHA even tho im 23 but still get asked so… and an umbrella (small one obv) squeeze it in the rucksack im sure but once again didnt think about how I would protect the bbq or pocket stove if it started raining.

    Great post!

  8. Pingback: 8 tips for stress-free festivaling | To Make Each Day Count

  9. Very helpful list. I’d say a couple of the technological things (Mp3 Players, Cameras etc.) are a needless extravagance and simply present something that can run out of battery quite quickly and get lost/stolen easily.

    Besides, if you’re having a great time at a festival (like I will be shortly) you won’t need gadgets to entertain yourself or photos to remember your time :P

  10. y-not 2013. These websites are really helpful. weve got everything we need now for a 5 day camp out. BRING IT ON THA NOS

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