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Festival season is a big part of summer, especially in places like Montana where summer is so fleeting. We’ll take any excuse to get outside and appreciate the sunshine. One of my favorite things about music festivals – after the music, of course—is the camping and outdoor activities that often go along with on outdoor music festival. This list of what to bring to a music festival and camping packing list should make your festival packing easier. Use this festival checklist and camping essentials list to make sure you have everything you need for a great music fest experience.
Festival Packing List
Backpack. The best festival backpack will fit all your music festival essentials. It needs to be easy for you to get in the gate and claim your piece of property without lugging around a bunch of loose items. I like the Osprey Nebula for a festival pack (and a travel backpack).
Festival Bag. Music festival bags to carry around the actual festival can be smaller and essentially hold water, phone, and money or credit card and are festival must haves. The Vibedration packs holds two liters of water, your music festival gear, and fits in your bigger festival bag making it one of the best festival bags.
Festival Blanket. The Wenzel Camp Quilt doubles as a picnic blanket to sit on during the show and cozy blanket to warm up with when it cools down outside. Along with the best bag for music festival, this is should top your music festival packing list.
Festival Chairs. This may be showing my age, but I like somewhere comfortable to sit down (when I’m not dancing, of course). Check to be sure low chairs are allowed. Alps Mountaineering makes a sturdy, comfortable, easy to carry chair that’s perfect for your festival list.
Shade Tent. Not every festival allows these and you will have to park it in the back or off to the side, but having a place to get out of the sun is really nice. The Kelty Shade Cabana has mesh windows for airflow and covers to keep the sun out. This is can go on your festival camping list if you don’t use it at the show.
Umbrella. We always have an umbrella on out music festival checklist. It keeps you dry when it rains and provides shade when it is sunny.
Picnic Cooler. A small cooler (if allowed) will keep your lunch items and snacks from getting gross. This isn’t one of the festival necessities, but it can be nice.
Binoculars. If you are going to a really big festival, you may want to add binocs to your music festival checklist. We mostly use ours to look for birds or on a hike before the music starts.
Sunscreen and Bug Spray. You have to protect yourself from the sun and insects. I like to a good-for-you, good-for-the-planet sunscreen like MyChelle and an all-natural bug spray. (But I keep a toxic bug spray tucked away in case the critters are really bad and the natural stuff just isn’t working.)
Glowsticks, Bubbles, Fan/Sprayers, Tattoos, Face Paint. When considering what to bring to a festival, don’t forget the fun stuff.
Festival Camping List
Next up is the camping list of things to bring. Not all festivals have a camping component, but we think the best ones do. If you are going to be hanging out for a few days you want to bring all the festival camping essentials (tent, sleeping bag, stove), but don’t forget the fun things to bring camping (festival campsite decorations, yoga mats, paddle boards, and a Frisbee).
Tent. Hopefully you already have a camping tent that can double as a festival camping tent, but if not, check out the Wenzel Shenanigan Teepee Tent – it might be the ultimate festival tent. It looks cool, is easy to set up, and sleeps five comfortably. There is an 8-person version, too. If you have fewer people in your tent, you get to spread out. The three windows zip close, as do the screens on the doors.
Sleeping Bag and Pillow. A lightweight sleeping bag will probably be fine for a summer festival survival kit. You could even get away with a couple blankets if you are somewhere hot. For music festival camping gear we prefer cheap, rectangular sleeping bags with soft interiors. Save the backpacking gear for backpacking.
Sleeping Pad. Unless you are under 15-years-old or passed out drunk, a sleeping pad is a music festival must have. Unlike the sleeping bag, I’d suggest investing in a decent pad so it doesn’t pop on you during the night. Put this on your stuff to bring camping list.
Cot. A cot is on our camping shopping list and will soon be one of our things to bring to a music festival. Since you are car camping, might as well be as comfortable as possible.
Tarp. At least one tarp needs to be on your music festival camping list. A tarp can be used for extra protection for your tent from rain, put it under the tent if you forget the footprint, to create a festival campsite outdoor room, to sit on if the ground is wet at the festival. You can even make a slip and slide out of it.
Camp Chairs. You can use the same chairs you bring to the festival, but we like higher chairs for the campsite, so these make our music festival camping list. This one is a rocker and has a drink holder – there is no reason to ever stand up.
Camp Table. Not everyone includes this as things to bring to a music festival, but I like having a workspace for cooking and eating, so it makes our music festival camping checklist. This table folds up really easily and is pretty sturdy. We’ve had it for years and never had a problem.
Cooler. Pack it with as much ice as possible and keep your food and beverages cold.
Stove. Not everyone wants to cook on vacation (*raises hand*), but being able to make tea or coffee in the morning means a stove is on our camping stuff list. Plus, sometimes you just don’t want to spend the money on festival food or want something a little healthier (or earlier in the day if the festival starts in the afternoon). We use our old double burner Coleman that will probably last forever. Don't forget the propane.
Cooking Kit. Add a cooking kit to your things to bring to a music festival if you are bringing a stove. That means pots, pans, spatula, wooden spoon, matches, plates/bowls, utensils, biodegradable soap, a sponge, and paper towels.
Headlamp. You know, so you can see at night. Or read in your tent. Or shine around like a strobe light. Or use for a shadow puppet show. Or make sure there isn’t anything too weird in the porta potties. Just some festival camping ideas for your headlamp use.
Ear Plugs. Maybe it’s just me, but I want to go to sleep at some point so I can be ready to dance the next day. Ear plugs are on my camping festival packing list. I even wear them when the music is too loud. Yes, I am that person.
Phone Charger. If you want to get your Instagrams, you are going to need to keep your phone battery charged. If you are looking for festival gear for guys as a gift, a solar charger could be the thing. Gals like them, too.
Decorations. You need some music festival campsite decorations. Not only is it a fun music festival campsite idea, it can help you find your tent in the sea of tents (another reason for that teepee tent – it stands out. Solar powered string lights, flags, and tapestries are all fun things to bring to a music festival.
Paddleboard. It has to be the right location if you think a stand up paddleboard is what to pack for a music festival. Fortunately for us, we often attend music fests near lakes or rivers. Getting into the water (or on top of it) is a great way to cool down, get some exercise, and have fun before the music starts. I have this SUP from Body Glove and try to take it everywhere I go.
Frisbee, Yoga Mat, Hacky Sack. If you are looking for what to bring to a festival camping that’s fun, entertaining, and small, a disc, yoga mat, or hacky sack fits the bill, and fits in your car. A guitar or tambourine or other things to make campsite time fun are music festival necessities.
Kindle or Book. I think a book or Kindle is what to take to a music festival, though some might be playing too hard to read. When there is still noise at midnight and I can’t sleep, I like to pull out my Kindle and read. That’s just one of my music festival camping tips.
I hope this music festival essentials list helps you gather festival supplies for your next festival adventure. To make packing for a music festival easier, we like to keep all the stuff we don’t use every day in a music festival survival kit so it’s ready to go when we are. Keep a list of your music festival camping essentials taped to the outside of the kit or just inside the bin so you always know what’s there and what you need to pack.