As the festival season kicks into high gear, many people are busy booking their tickets and getting ready for their first festival experience or to return to their favorite festivals. No matter which category you belong to, knowing what to bring to a festival with you is one of the most important parts of enjoying your experience.
Festivaling, or going to a festival, usually refers to people attending multi-day music, art, and cultural events like Coachella, Stagecoach, Mardi Gras, Burning Man, International Balloon Fiesta, and Bonnaroo. Most of these large-scale events are primarily outdoors. Whether you’re attending for the day or the whole run, you’ll definitely want to know what to bring.
As you read the list below, it is important to keep in mind that there are quite a few differences among festivals regarding what can and cannot be brought onto the grounds. You should check the festival’s website for more specific details.
There are a few tips and tricks from veteran festival guests that will ensure you have a fun and safe time your whole festival weekend!
Making sure you stay cool during a festival is crucial. Ways you can stay cool include snappable cool towels, drinking plenty of water, and bringing along a portable fan that is either battery powered or plugs into your phone.
There is always plenty of food available at most festivals, but if you are looking for a way to save some money, it might be a good idea for you to eat a large meal before leaving for the day. While you’ll likely have to get food later in the evening, this keeps you from spending huge amounts on food over the weekend.
When you are attending a festival, you are likely to be on your feet quite a bit, which is why you should wear comfortable shoes. In many cases, people recommended closed-toe sneakers or boots with proper support for their feet. The shoes should also be waterproof as rain and spilled drinks can ruin them.
A meeting spot and check-ins are essential when attending a festival with friends. Having a meeting spot with friends is essential when attending a festival. This spot should be easily accessible and visible for all involved. Additionally, it is wise to agree on check-in times to ensure everyone is safe and accounted for. Doing this will create a secure environment that allows you to have fun and make memories with your friends at the festival.
- Portable chargers
- Plastic Water bottle
- Credit cards and cash
- A bag
- First aid kit
- Appropriate outfit
Making sure you have both your ticket and a backup located somewhere safe is vital. A lot of companies now will allow you to download your ticket on your phone as well, so you can have multiple copies around.
There are many reasons to keep your phone on you at festivals, whether you want to have a paperless ticket, capture memories, write down contact information for news friends, or want to keep in touch with the people you came with, phones are an essential part of festivals these days.
Related to making sure you have your phone on you, having a portable charger is vital. As many venues won’t have charging stations, ensuring that you have a few portable chargers on hand can ensure you’ll always have enough power to keep partying.
As many festivals take place outside, sunscreen is an absolute must. Experts recommend SPF50 for prolonged exposure and reapplication every two hours, additionally making sure your sunscreen is sweat-proof or water resistant is vital if you’re planning on dancing a lot.
Water bottles are finicky when it comes to bringing them to festivals. While staying hydrated is critically important, not every festival will allow in water bottles. Buying a cheaper reusable plastic bottle is typically the best, as you’re not out of too big of an investment if your bottle isn’t allowed in.
Money in both forms is a must when going to any festival. Whether you want to pick up some merchandise to remember your time at the festival, or enjoy one of the many food booths or trucks that festivals often have scattered around, some form of payment is necessary. As places can often vary in what forms of payment they accept, it’s important to have both kinds of money with you.
At a festival, you will be required to present an ID almost always, regardless of whether you are choosing to drink or simply verifying your ticket. If you want to ensure that your ID is always readily available and safe, it is often a good idea to use a lanyard.
A bag is a necessity for any festival, but this is one item where it’s really important to check festival policies. Some venues will restrict on the type of bags you’re allowed to bring, while others might request clear bags or bags within a certain size.
Even though checking the weather is one of the first steps any festival-goer should take, it is also important to be prepared for anything that may come your way during your festival. When it rains, having a poncho handy can prove to be very convenient.
A first-aid kit is another great item to bring along with you to remain prepared. It’s important to check festival regulations to ensure everything in your first aid kit is allowed in, but some great items to include in your first-aid kit include electrolyte packets, band-aids, Neosporin or another ointment, and pain relief like Tylenol or Advil. Narcan can be helpful, but it’s important to note that not all festivals allow you to bring it with you and encourage you to bring people to first-aid tents instead. If you have severe allergies, you’ll also want to look into rules about carrying an EpiPen.
In spite of the fact that this may not be a thing to bring, but rather something you should wear, making sure you wear the right outfit is an extremely important part of any festival. Typically cooler clothing during the day like shorts and tank tops are suitable, with some light items for layering in the evening.
Now that we’ve covered what you should bring, it’s also important to note a few common items that will be confiscated or turned away at security. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, these items will vary by festival and venue, so you should look on the festival website for specific policies.
Outside alcohol is an item that is prohibited most of the time at festivals. While festival-goers have found creative ways to save some money and bring in their own alcohol, we recommend sticking to what is sold at the festival.
Another item that is commonly prohibited is fireworks. The reality is that most people are unlikely to bring fireworks meant to be set off, but the same rule usually applies to sparklers and other small fireworks that could be dangerous in tight crowds.
More and more, drones and other drone-like devices are being prohibited from being used at events, as they can pose a serious danger to the performer as well as other festival-goers. Additionally, if the festival is being filmed, it could violate broadcasting rights.
One item that is prohibited almost completely across the board are laser pointers. Due to federal aviation laws, they are illegal in some states, but most of the time they are banned due to the potential to blind others.
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Morgan Mulac is a freelance writer who has spent years on the road as a nomad and now has settled back in California with her family. Some of her favorite spots to travel to in California are in Orange County and the many beaches along the coast. She’s an avid writer about her journeys and enjoys sharing the beauty California has to offer.