August is peak festival month: the sun is shining and every weekend is packed with more festival options than you could possibly attend.
Whether you love a literary festival like Wilderness, foodie lifestyle festivals like Port Eliot, or a sun- and music-packed weekend like Boardmasters, preparing for your days away can be hectic. While you’re busy packing clothes for every possible combination of weather from blazing sunshine to gale-force winds and endless rain, it’s hard to remember everything you need for a happy few days camping in a muddy field.
Getting back to basics is all part of the fun of camping, so there’s no need to bring too much with you - that said, your festival experience will be much more enjoyable if you bring a few home comforts with you. A good night’s sleep, provisions to make coffee and a hearty breakfast in the morning, and a few extras to make your camp a nice place to hang out will make all the difference and give you somewhere you look forward to heading back to at night and to wake up in in the morning.
To help make packing a breeze (and help you ensure you haven’t forgotten anything) we’ve put together the ultimate festival checklist with everything you could possibly need for an awesome weekend - without bringing the kitchen sink. Have a read through and let us know your festival essentials in the comments below!
There are always lots of good food options at festivals, but they can be expensive if you’re eating out for every meal of the day. Waking up, making coffee and getting everyone together for a relaxed breakfast is a great ritual to start your day with: you can catch up on the previous day’s adventures and plan your day together.
Our cooking essentials:
- A Horizon Stove. We always make sure to have our Horizon with us at a festival: it’s light and easy to carry, ready to cook on in seconds, and it won’t burn the grass or smoke out your neighbours.
- A huge frying pan (we love this one from Netherton Foundry) big enough to cook up a hearty breakfast for everyone in just one pan.
- A camp cooking kit with salt, pepper, olive oil, and our favourite spices (we always have cumin, smoked paprika, and garlic powder on hand). Decant into or buy in small bottles/containers and keep together in a caddy or Tupperware box, ready to grab when you pack up the car.
- Tins of beans, tinned tomatoes, hardy veg like peppers, carrots and potatoes, and a bag of flour. Fry-up essentials like bacon are great if you can keep them cool somewhere.
You don't need a blow-up mattress and a tealight chandelier for a comfy night's sleep at a festival (although they definitely wouldn't hurt...). A roll-up Thermarest mat is a great option: they pack up small but do the job of insulating you against the ground and giving you a comfortable layer to sleep on so you don't wake up black and blue. Here are our go-tos:
- Thermarest or similar mat for sleeping on. Failing that, a couple of thick fleece or wool blankets that you can fold up underneath you and spread out in the sun during the day would do nicely.
- A good medium-weight sleeping bag. It can get quite cold at night in the UK, even in summer, so a three-season sleeping bag should be enough to keep you warm whatever the weather. If you're too hot, unzip the bag and use it as a quilt (you can even zip two or three together to create a big quilt and stop them slipping off).
- One word: layers. Make sure you've got a cosy hoody and some warm socks that you can pull on when you go to bed at night if it's chilly, and easily remove when you wake up sweating in your tent in the morning!
- Go for the best tent you can afford: it's much better to invest in a good one you can use again and again than a cheap throwaway that'll only last for a couple of festivals. A bell tent is a great option if you can afford it and you've got room in the car: they're huge inside, with lots of room for your bags, and you can stand up inside them. They don't get as hot in the morning sun either, giving you a much-needed extra hour or so in the morning before you have to get up. Ask around to see if any friends have one you can borrow.
Make it feel like home
Making your camp a nice place to hang out means you've got somewhere to go if the weather turns foul or you just need a break from the music. Create some shade and make sure you've got room to sit comfortably if it rains (this is where a big tent comes in handy).
- A waterproof tarp or two strung up in the middle of your tents will provide shade and protection from the rain, and mean you don't have to stay squashed up in your tent.
- Bring as many blankets, throws, and rugs as you can fit in the car and spread them out under your tarp for sitting on while you're cooking and hanging out.
- A few strings of battery-operated outdoor fairy lights will make it feel cosy - and make it easier to spot your tent in the dark. They provide a surprising amount of light and are much easier on the eyes than electric lanterns.
- Camping chairs. They're bulky, but your back will thank you!
- A folding camping table. You can use this to prep food, and you can even place your Horizon on top to bring it up to a better height for cooking if it's a metal one.
What are your festival camping tips? Let us know in the comments below!