It Is the Age of Our Discontent – Festivals Are Over
Marcel Proust had a theory that all time converges in one single moment – the past, the present, and the future. So all three are congregated in precisely this moment when you’re reading this article! Whatever you experienced in the past influences how you view the present. Everything happening right now already defines your future. Also, time is a human construct. All these long words, only to say that wherever I am in that time matrix, the festival season is over – Autumn is here, the rains are only warming up, and big events have passed. #sad
However, since time is flattened anyway and all future is in the present, we can already start creating a next big festival checklist – so as not to be surprised when you run into Summer again.
Festivals are great fun – you get to spend time with your besties, listen to your favourite bands, and try out different foods and drinks. They also push you out of your comfort zone with all the travelling to and fro, camping around, sleep deprivation, and, well, unexpected mosh pits.
But how do you prepare for a good festival adventure?
Festival Essentials – Checklist Beyond Simple Clothes
If you’re out to get the full rundown of what to pack and bring to a festival, you’re in the right place. However, before we get to the material aspect of packing, you should be ready to bring along some mental fortitude if you’re going for the first time.
Check yourself and your:
- Open-mindedness. First and foremost, you have to leave any preconceptions and prejudice at home. You’ll meet the most colourful array of people at festivals, from different cultures and clothing styles to life goals and modes of behaviour. Leave your judgement aside and appreciate this insanely diverse world coming to the same place.
- Ideas of comfort. Festivals don’t have to be uncomfortable per se, but there will be some discomfort one way or another. It’s either long train or bus rides (because festivals love to be in the backs and beyonds of everything) or reduced shower facilities. Better prepare mentally before you leave than have these details ruin your experience.
- Safety. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to say this, but we don’t live in a perfect world, and there is news of accidents, assaults, and agitations from festivals all the time. To make sure you’re safe, you need to work on your awareness. I know you’re at a festival to have fun, but you must mind your surroundings – if someone is acting strange, do yourself a favour and move elsewhere.
- Sense of practicality. In other words, leave your heels and fancy trousers at home – you’ll be trudging and trampling through an unimaginable amount of mud. Wear comfy clothes and have a few spares.
- Expectations. In fact, don’t check your expectations; just leave them all at home because festivals will both exceed them and not meet them at the same time. Grab a friend, don’t forget your tickets, and be ready to be surprised!
Now to those practical things.
Music Festival Checklist
There are many types of festivals – book festivals, music, game conventions, ComiCons, symposia/science fairs – you name it. Still, today we’re diving into the rowdiest and trickiest ones to plan – music festivals. These lovely manifestations usually last between two and five days, tend to be outside of cities, and are a great place to diversify your taste and view of the world.
Assuming you’re going to a music festival, you must consider the following:
- Money. Festivals, like many other pleasures of life, are things you do WITHIN your own means. You don’t have to forego all pleasures in life (especially if your favourite band is there), but you don’t have to bleed yourself dry. Set aside some cash from your job and ensure your ticket and the accompanying expenses.
- Your ticket. Plan well in advance for this because festivals with big headliners tend to sell out quickly. Have a reminder on your phone when the tickets go on sale and get it done ASAP.
- Transport. Check what the best way to reach the place is. Buses, trains, car-sharing – even planes if you’re going to a different country. The good thing is that there will most likely be some organised transport for people who don’t have their own cars, but it may also have to be booked in advance.
- Accommodation. Are you commuting from a hotel in a nearby city, staying in an Airbnb close to the venue, or going full-festival mode, i.e. camping? Again, all of these need some planning and booking.
- A quality backpack. Now we’re talking! It’s especially important to have a good backpack with several compartments to keep your wallet and important documents without having them readily available to a potential pickpocket.
- Good, BUT NOT NEW, shoes. We’ve already talked about the Sam Vimes’s Boots Theory, but the premise is simple – it’s better to invest in a good pair of shoes and wear them for years than to buy cheap ones that you have to replace every year. I suggest wearing your sturdiest but not the newest shoes for a festival. Festivals can be rough on footwear, so you better wear something that will survive and that you won’t regret being damaged should it come to that.
With the pre-festival intricacies out of the way, you can start thinking about packing.
Festival Packing Checklist
Let’s assume you’ll stay somewhere else or just walk through the night before the first train (I have done both) – no need for a tent. Still, there are some essentials you mustn’t forget:
- All-weather clothes. Festival weather is fickle – it can flip like a switch, and you should be prepared. Hoodies are great as you can remove them easily, as are leggings (no flapping around). Sneakers or good shoes are a must, as are short sleeves and tank tops.
- Underwear and socks. It should go without saying.
- Enough cash. For food, drinks, and, if necessary, emergencies.
- Convenient snacks. Trail mixes, granola and protein bars, beef jerky (and relevant vegetarian and vegan replacements).
- A water bottle.
- Band-Aids. No feet blister-like festival feet!
- Power bank for your phone. Usually, there are charging stations at festivals, but it’s good to have some backup.
- Weather-relevant accessories. Sunscreen and a hat or a raincoat/poncho.
- Festival etiquette. Leave the grounds as you found them and respect others as you wish them to respect you. Festivals are communal experiences, and everyone present contributes to this.
Whether It’s a One Day Festival Checklist or More…
… most of the basic items will appear on it.
One-day visits to festivals are relatively stress-free. You get there, have a blast, and leave. No extra clothes, no worrying about space or carrying too much on your back.
On the other hand, if you’re staying longer, you’ll have to consider enough changes in clothes and check out your showering prospects. I strongly advise bringing a small towel. You should also account for at least some of your meals. Whether you bring your favourite cereals or are thinking of cooking up a storm, it’s highly recommended that you don’t eat fast food for the whole thing as it may leave you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable, which would seriously influence your overall festival experience.
Festival Checklist for Your Camping Adventure
If you haven’t camped at a festival, have you even been there?! Even the most stalwart lovers of a comfy bed should bring their jam out on the camping grounds at least once. If only for the sake of never wanting to do it again. Others may, on the other hand, fall in love with camping.
These are your camping basics:
- A small tent. Festival camping grounds won’t be in the mountains where you have to secure your tent and sleep on a slope, so you don’t need anything fancy. In fact, a one-person tent will do (or two people if you’re sharing with your BFF or SO). Make sure to buy (or borrow) one that’s waterproof and has at least some wind resistance. Most good tents come with their own backpacks where you’ll have enough space to pack your other necessities too.
- Sleeping bag. With a proper one, you don’t have to worry about blankets, insects, or cold feet – just zip yourself up!
- An inflatable mattress/bed. For increased comfort. Don’t forget a pump for it! (Although, someone will have it at the festival. The great thing about festival camping is that everyone is willing to share.)
- Some basic cutlery and bowls. Bowls are supreme dishes – you can eat everything out of them. Bring your favourite one along with some basic eating utensils. Just because you’re out in nature, you don’t have to go all natural and eat with your hands.
- Portable camping cooker. You don’t need anything big, just one gas cooker (such as this one) will cover your basic needs. Camping grounds usually have food joints and even makeshift supermarkets where you can get food, but it’s good to be able to make some soup too!
- Trash bags. Don’t you dare litter and leave your trash when you go.
- Toilet paper. If only you knew how many people found themselves up to their eyes … you get the idea.
- Duct tape. Everyone knows the impeccable value of having one when you need it.
- Hand-disinfectant and anti-bacterial spray. Add some wet wipes and tissues too.
- Basic hygiene products. Toothbrush and toothpaste are a must, as is soap. Check the availability of showers on the camping grounds.
- Several shirts, socks, and undies. You know, the regular stuff.
And there we go – you’re ready to rough it to the sounds of music and the usual camping chatter.
Your Final Planning-a-Festival Checklist
Festivals are fun, everyone knows that, but they can also be tricky to plan. Here are the essentials you must keep in mind:
Before the festival:
- Getting there and back
- Accommodation arrangements
At the festival:
- Sleeping bag, mattress, inflatable bed
- Basic utensils, bowl, pot
- Trash bags
- Essential hygiene items and a small towel + toilet paper
- Portable gas stove
- Enough cash
As you’re packing, don’t forget to leave your prejudice and false expectations at home and bring a good mood and flexibility! If the past, the present, and the future are all in the same moment, you’re already at your next festival! 😉 Have fun!