Gone are the days when music festivals were only about pot-bellied heavy metal fans and men who didn’t shower for three days in a row. I’ve drunk my share of 10am-beers whilst sat in a fold-up camping chair on a muddy field (and thoroughly enjoyed it, too!)… but especially in recent years, festival culture has become a lot more diverse and than that.

photo by NME magazine

Music festivals have a special kind of charm that can hardly be described, it needs to be experienced. If you’ve been to one before, no doubt previous festival posts (Rock am Ring festival, Super Rock Super Bock festival in Portugal, Hurricane festival 2010) will stir up nostalgic feelings and make you want to don those wellies and head out the door. If you haven’t yet experienced the mix of camping and open-air concerts, it’s about time, girlfriend!

photo by NME magazine

The bare necessities

These are the most obvious things to take along, it would be foolish to ignore anything on this list (unless you have nice friends that you can steal from share with):

-Tent, sleeping bag, some type of  mattress and pillow, fold-up chair, flash light, toilet paper, cutlery and crockery, insect repellant, sun screen, refillable water bottle, pocket knife, band aids, medicine to cure headaches/hangovers/stomach aches, condoms (if you don’t need them, one of your friends may) sunglasses, compact mirror, rain jacket, rubber boots (also known as wellies), flip flops for showering, ziploc bags to protect valuables from rain, camping stove or disposable bbq set for cooking, ear plugs.

Remember, functionality doesn’t have to mean lack of style. These will be my new best friends in the upcoming months…

French Connection UK rubber flip flops in bright pink/orange

Extras

Although every additional item you pack means less space in the back pack and more weight on your shoulders, allowing yourself a bit of luxury is always acceptable. Many festival-goers, especially in the UK, like to bring fancy dress. However, don’t go overboard and leave bodypaint, very intricate or furry costumes at home. Personally, I like to stick to a couple of funky accessories to mix things up.

During the daytime, this fella would have been sweating it up (photo by NME)

I like taking my ukulele to a festival because it’s a simple way to entertain yourself and make new friends on the camp site. Ukuleles are light to carry and the basic ones for beginners are usually pretty cheap as well.

If you decide to bring portable speakers, cameras or other electronic gadgets, make sure you’ve got enough batteries packed as well.

It may sound silly at first, but I would advise anyone to always pack an extra pair of shoes. One year, I foolishly decided to bring along only one pair of shoes, and they were stolen from right outside my tent while I was sleeping inside. Luckily, one of my friends lent me his extra pair, but this traumatic event certainly taught me to be more careful (even with seemingly worthless items such as battered trainers).

My beloved Converse, just hours before they disappeared…

Last bits of advice

Take along something that will help you identify the way back to your tent from the festival grounds at night, for example a self-made flag that you can perch on top of your tent.

If you want a good spot near the front to see your favourite band perform, arrive a few hours earlier and use the playing time of other bands to slowly push to the front.

Make friends with your neighbours, they might be able to help you out when your flashlight runs out of batteries or the tent just won’t hold up. A welcome drink on the first night on site should do the trick.

Showers, especially hot ones, are sometimes impossible to have without the three hour queue. Go early in the morning or right after you come back from the concerts to avoid the long wait.

Don’t try to see every single band in the line-up. I can guarantee you it won’t work and chances are, you will spend more time running from one stage to another than actually enjoying the gigs. Pick your favourites, leave a little bit of buffer time between them and give yourself breaks in between to eat and drink.

For more helpful tips and tricks, check out The 101 on Open-Air Festivals. Also, watch out for further updates from various festivals across Europe.

In the end, what it boils down to is having an amazing and memorable time with good friends and good music.

The Travelettes wish you a happy festival season!