10 Must Have Things You Need At Every Music Festival
If you’ve never been to a big music festival, it can be intimidating to contemplate the enormity of the task that lies ahead of you—preparation! Even if you’re an old hand at festival-going, it’s easy to forget some of the essentials. So in order to prevent you from experiencing the panic that arises when you arrive at an event and realize you’ve forgotten one or more of the essentials, here’s a checklist to remind you what you need to bring to any festival you attend.
Many festivals are one-day events, but many more take place over the course of an entire weekend, or even an entire week. Most festivals involve camping for at least one night, and a great many involve lengthier stays. Some events are within range of hotels, but others are not—one well-known event takes place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, which is as far from the comforts of civilization as you can get.
- Camping Gear
Since most music festivals involve camping for at least one night, you’ll need to bring a tent. You’ll also want something to sleep in … and on. A sleeping bag on the ground is a recipe for misery, so bring an inflatable mattress or a roll-up foam pad. Also bring pillows and extra blankets.
There’s more to camping, however, than just a tent and a bed-roll. Camping gear also includes a variety of easy-to-forget small items, such as a pocket knife and a headlamp (a little flashlight with an elastic band that enables you to wear it on your head; these are the best things ever invented for any purpose!). If you’ll be staying for a few days, you may even want to bring a little stove to do your own cooking.
- Sun Protection
It goes almost without saying that you’ll be spending a lot of time in the sun at almost any music festival you attend, even if it’s just a one-day affair. Strong sunblock is the obviously the first requirement, but you should also bring a wide-brimmed hat. This will serve two purposes: it provides additional protection for the skin on your face, which burns more easily, and it shades your eyes. Make sure the sunglasses you bring are rated to afford you protection from UVA and UVB rays.
Umbrellas and parasols are also a good idea if you’re going to spend a lot of time walking around, and you may also want to bring materials to set up some kind of shade structure next to your tent (and a lawnchair to sit in while enjoying the shade).
Finally, don’t forget to bring lip balm and aloe gel. Chances are, despite all your best efforts, you will experience a mild sunburn at least once during the course of the event.
- First Aid Kit
Different festivals have different levels of urgent medical care available, and if something happens you want to be able to do whatever you can to minimize the damage as quickly as possible, especially if you end up having to wait a while to receive proper medical attention. You need a first-aid kit containing bandages, gauze pads, hydrogen peroxide, and antibiotic ointment, at the very least.
- Costumes, Body Paint, and Other Fashion Accessories
It’s important to remember all the everyday necessities when attending an event like a music festival, but it’s equally important to remember that you’re there to have fun! Bring your wildest outfits, and don’t be afraid to wear them! If you’re not sure what’s appropriate for the event, take a look at its website. Most music festival websites contain photo galleries that should give you a pretty good idea what you should wear.
Light-up LED sneakers are a particularly stylish item at most music festivals, and they have the added value of being functional because they allow people to see you in the dark—an important nighttime safety consideration at most festivals.
- Change of Clothes
Many festivals are held in desert environments where the temperature can vary wildly over the course of twenty-four hours, from high-nineties and triple-digit temps down to the forties or even the thirties, depending on the location and the time of year. Dress and pack accordingly. Also bring rain gear, just in case.
- A Camera
If you’re like most people, you probably bring your phone with you wherever you go, and that may be all you need. On the other hand, you may want to leave it at home to avoid the possibility of theft or loss. Or you may want to bring a professional-quality SLR, if you know how to use one. There are pros and cons to both approaches to photography at a music festival. With an SLR you can bring lenses of different lengths, and a good zoom lens—preferably 200 mm or longer—will enable you to get much closer, sharper photos of distant objects, such as performers on a stage.
Then again, a smartphone is a lot less hassle, and many festivals do not allow bigger cameras, or require you to ask for written permission to bring one. Check the guidelines on the website of the festival you’re going to.
- Food and Water
Food is available for sale at some festivals, but at many such events you need to bring your own. Even at events where food and water are available for sale, they are invariably expensive. Bring simple items: nutrition bars, canned tuna (with packets of mayo), peanut butter and crackers, dried meat, etc.
Water is an even more pressing need, especially at an event that takes place in the summer sun. Dehydration is a serious concern, so find out whether water will be freely available at the festival you’re attending. If not, plan to bring 1.5 gallons per person per day. A reusable water bottle is a good idea—and a camelbak is an even better one.
It bears mentioning here that many music festivals, especially EDM music festivals, have a bit of a drug culture surrounding them (yes, shocking, isn’t it?)—specifically, a culture centered on MDMA, aka Ecstasy. The purpose of this article is not to pass judgement, but you should be aware that Ecstasy use and dancing in hot environments can cause severe, medically dangerous dehydration. Strangely, however, there is also the danger of Ecstasy-related overhydration. This happens because Ecstasy can cause water retention, and if you’re high, dancing, and sweating, you may drink too much water. Initial symptoms can include headache and vomiting. So be careful, and seek medical attention immediately if this happens to you.
How much cash you should bring with you is a difficult question to answer—after all, you don’t want to be out too much if you get robbed. However, most festivals are held in areas where ATMs are not conveniently available. Think it over, weighing how long you’re apt to be there against the availability of ATMs. Will you be walking distance from urban streets? Even if you will be a short drive from town, is getting in and out of a parking lot going to be difficult or impossible? Think ahead and use your best judgement.
- Miscellaneous Necessities
- Earplugs. If you’re going to be in a loud environment for an extended time, you need to protect your hearing. Also, if you’re camping, you may find that your neighbors don’t subscribe to the same notion of “bedtime” that you do.
- Toiletries. TP is first on this list—and don’t count on there being a good supply of it in a pot-o-potty. Also don’t forget your toothbrush and contact lens supplies, and if you’re a woman, bring tampons or pads.
- Medication. It’s great that your asthma is so well controlled that you hardly ever need your inhaler anymore. Bring it anyway. Bring any prescription meds you can possibly imagine needing.
- If you smoke, bring something to use as a portable ashtray and a place to dispose of butts. A mint tin that closes securely and fits in your pocket is perfect.
- An extra set of car keys, just in case.
- A solar charger for phones and cameras.
- Baby wipes for wiping down your sweaty body.
10. Duct Tape!
No one has ever gone anywhere and regretted bringing a roll of duct tape with them.
So use this list to prepare, even if you’ve been to a hundred festivals. Plan meticulously, pack carefully … and then go have fun! Once you’ve put all the necessary effort into preparation, you can relax and stop worrying. Festivals are about relaxing and enjoying the moment, and if you follow these directions, you’ll be able to do just that.
Just don’t forget to bring your ticket!