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What to bring to a music festival

If you're here, you must be getting excited to see your favorite musical acts, maybe check out some new ones, and ultimately make some memories.

We've compiled the essentials and the nice-to-have supplies for your next music festival. We'll also try to set some expectations so you can mentally prepare. Spending a single day at a festival is a marathon, not a race, but we'll also cover what's different about preparing for a multiday fest.

There's a lot of fun and excitement to unpack before you begin preparing for a music festival, and here's your guide.

How to prepare for a music festival

Before we list what to bring to a music festival, here are a few tips for your prep.

Check how the tickets work

This is simple but crucial. For many festivals, you can buy tickets that are good for a specific date. For multi-day festivals, you might have access to ticket packages that are good for more than one date or every day of the festival. The final option is a ticket that is good for a certain number of days, but those days can be on any of the dates that the festival runs.

Nowadays, digital tickets that you can store on a smartphone are very common, but you may still have an option to print your ticket on paper. Maybe you're the lucky person who gets to buy all the tickets for the group going with you. Either way, know how you can store your tickets and if you have to hold on to all of them, or if you can share them with others in your group. You can usually access all this information as you checkout with your tickets or on the festival's website.

Review the festival rules

Rules are usually posted online well ahead of time, so you can consult them as you prepare. The rules about restricted items are important to review when considering what to bring to the music festival. It's common for festival organizers to restrict weapons and liquids. Food and chairs might also be restricted, but every event is different.

Read reviews of previous years

If you've read reviews of products or destinations before, you know that people comment on just about everything. There's usually a wealth of information you can find in reviews of a music festival, especially an annual one. For example, reviews might explain how strict the rules are, how confident you can be in security and sound quality.

In addition, helpful reviews may even pile up ahead of brand new, first annual fests, before they even happen. That's because musical festivals are special type of event that professional organizers put on regularly. Although the location, theme and schedule could be different, aspects like the rules, security and ticketing process could be the same as in previous years. People who have attended those might be offering information as a preview of the festival you're attending.

Coordinate with everyone you're going with

This last tip will help you prepare for a music festival but depends on your companions. Above all, communicate ahead of time about your plans for getting to and leaving the festival. That includes discussing the ticket situation, deciding who you want to rock out with, and planning to get there early so you're not squeezed into the back.

Next we'll cover essentials for your festival, and you'll want to coordinate what everyone else can bring and carry for the group.

Essentials to bring to a music festival

Some items can be vital to ensure you have the experience you're looking for at a music festival.

Bag

At least one small bag can be essential for a day-long outing. Fanny packs are good options because they don't get very heavy and can keep some air on your back. Most music festivals are warm-weather affairs, after all. When items get too big for your pockets or fanny pack, a backpack becomes essential. Maybe you have one lying around you can use, or maybe you'll want something durable to withstand some rain.

Reusable water bottle

This isn't just to avoid festival prices of water. Hydration is very important. Festival rules may not allow you to bring a full water bottle into the grounds, but an empty one should be allowed.

Sunscreen and sunglasses

Have you noticed a trend yet? Sometimes an essential balances necessity and comfort. Sunscreen protects your skin, and sunglasses protect your eyes. There's no need to bring your best pair, but trust us— you'll be glad you brought shades to make taking in the sights easy.

Medicine

If you require any daily medications, the time to remember them is a day or days-long music festival. If you don't, bring medicines for issues like headaches and upset stomach. Not having these remedies could ruin your day.

Money

Cash or card? Think about merch stands, festival vendors and that taxi ride home if you lose your phone. Some stands and vendors might also accept only one form of payment. It's best to have cash and plastic for convenience or emergencies.

Charger

A dead mobile device or camera is last thing you want in the moments you want to capture. Bring the chargers or battery packs that fit your situation. Do you need a charger for a one-day festival? If not, you might want to make friends with that person standing next to you who has one.

Sometimes in very fortunate circumstances, booths or vendors might help you out with a charge. But you can't count on this, so we definitely recommend you bring your own.

Nice-to-have items to bring to a music festival

If you and your companions still have room, here are some items to bring that can be very nice to have.

Bandana and hat

Either of these pieces will protect your head from the sun. However, dust and dirt can be kicked up easily at a music festival, so it may be good to have a bandana.

Chairs

A chair may not sound essential, but little breaks throughout a long day on your feet can be. Don't sacrifice this if the festival rules allow you to bring one. Most chairs are lightweight and have shoulder straps; some are also extremely compact. If a chair still seems like too much to carry, a beach towel can be a good substitute for a quick sit-down.

The schedule

Sometimes this is posted in several places around the festival grounds, but sometimes it's not. Consider printing a copy or having it handy on your phone. It could save you time going from one act to another and trips to and from the posted schedules.

Snacks

There are many snack options to keep you energized in between delicious but pricey vendor food. These snacks can also be easy to share and can hold up in the heat:

  • Jerky
  • Trail Mix
  • Chips/Pretzels
  • Hard candy

Hand sanitizer and first aid

While public events like music festivals aren't usually dangerous, they can be dirty. Hand sanitizer and first aid may both be available at the festival, but they may not be close-by when you need them. These items also come in travel sizes that fit in your fanny pack, backpack or large pockets.

What to bring to a festival depending on the weather

Musical festivals don't typically get rain dates unless the storm or weather warnings are severe. The same can be true for heat. The grounds for cancellation vary from event to event, but in excessive heat, the show might go on.

Rain prep

Some of the best items to help you prepare for a rainy music festival happen to be pretty bulky. They're all about comfort, though. If that's not a priority, enjoy dancing in the rain. If it is, consider bringing these to the music festival:

  • Umbrella
  • Poncho
  • Change of clothes
  • Waterproof shoes

Heat prep

We've covered several items to protect you from the sun, such as hats and sunscreen. However, heat is dangerous at certain temperatures and time frames. One item that becomes more useful as your exposure to the heat increases is a hydration supplement. Fluids keep you hydrated, but products that mix well with water may rehydrate you more effectively.

What if the music festival is more than one day?

Festivals that span multiple days can work differently depending on the organizer and event location. Besides the items we've already covered, here's how to prepare for a music festival that lasts longer than one day.

Overnight supplies

From sleeping bags and tents to dry shampoo and toothpaste, exactly what you'll want to bring depends on your preferences and those of anyone accompanying you. We already put chargers in our list of essentials, so that should cover your tech. Decide what you find essential for the length of time you're staying and how comfortable you want to be.

Sleeping bags are borderline essential for overnight stays, even in the summer heat. You might also want a tent, of which there are many shapes, sizes and setups. Some good features in both sleeping bags and tents include a light weight and water resistance.

Prepare your body

Even if you brought a chair and a world-class, luxury yurt, your physical condition can affect your experience. The time you don't spend sleeping could involve a lot of walking and standing. In the weeks before the festival, consider doing some regular walking or exercise. In addition, doing some light stretching on the day of the festival can be very helpful.

Festival checklist

Here are the steps and items we covered to help you prepare for a music festival:

  • Check how the tickets work
  • Review the festival rules
  • Read reviews
  • Coordinate with your group
  • Bag
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Medicine
  • Money
  • Charger
  • Bandana
  • Hat
  • Schedule
  • Snacks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First aid
  • Hydration supplement
  • Rain supplies

In conclusion

If you're here, you're probably the type of person who benefits from at least a little planning. Even if you're not, your future self will thank you from gathering some essentials and nice-to-haves to bring to the music festival. Regardless, your plan and preparation will help you make the most of your experience.