How to Camp at a Music Festival, The Right Way

It’s finally summertime and you’ve embarked on a weekend journey to see your favorite band, and many others, at one of the premier music festivals in the country. Freedom, great music, and even better company is truly a recipe for one of the most memorable experiences you’ll ever endure.

If you’re not prepared or have never learned how to camp at a music festival, however, a couple mishaps can make your weekend take a turn for the worse. From being careless with your belongings, to not bringing the necessary materials for nutrition or extreme weather conditions, it’s easy to forget essential items with all the excitement in the air.

Don’t let a lack of preparation become a hindrance to your weekend. We at The Manual are here to give you the rundown on how to camp at a music festival, and more importantly, how to do it the right way to guarantee a weekend filled with pure bliss and no worries.

Sleeping Arrangements

A quality tent is surely a must-have for camping at a music festival — unless you’re one of the lucky ones with an RV or a camper. Mesh tents are a good way to make sure you sleeping arrangements acclimate to any climate, keeping you cool enough to get sleep in the mornings, while also protecting your tent from cool air condensation or unexpected periods of rain.

music festival camping campground

Next you’ll want to pack is either a sleeping pad, a heap of blankets, or an air mattress to make sure you’re relatively comfortable for your stay. The last thing you want is to be too tired to enjoy yourself. And also, this makes for a nice soft place to pass out after one too many beers and a few too many hours in the sun.

To complement, saddle-up a quality sleeping bag that conserves heat under cold conditions at night. Even though it’s summer, remote areas where many festivals are held experience significant drops in temperature come sundown–e.g. the desert.

Gear

No matter what your itinerary is for the weekend, you’ll be spending a substantial amount of time back at your camp. And you can never underestimate the power of comfort.

And comfort means having to bring more gear with you than you normally would. We recommend these as essentials: a fold-up table, camping chair(s), some kind of propane grill or camp stove, basic cooking utensils (pot, pan, spatula, tongs), plastic or reusable kitchenware (plates, cups, cutlery), a quality cooler — and for the ultimate experience, a canopy tent.

(Note in case of wind: When you go inside the festival grounds, collapse your canopy tent or lower it to its lowest setting to make sure it doesn’t fly away.)

young adults camping

You could also get away with not bringing some of these items and hoping the campers around you are friendly and giving — but do you really want to be that guy? Pack our essentials, along with some portable speakers, and show others how to camp at a music festival the right way.

Clothes and Footwear

Be prepared for absolutely anything. By this we mean bring clothes for any kind of climate: layers, long sleeves, and jackets for night time or unexpected storms; shorts, short sleeves, and tank tops for heat waves. Heck, even bring your rain jacket or a poncho to be safe.

In regards to footwear, think comfort. You’re going to be on your feet for a lot of the day so you want to make sure you keeping your feet well-maintained and protected for the long run. Allbirds sneakers are comfortable, light, and you can wash them when you get home. You should also bring some sandals or flip-flops if you plan on using the communal showers.

Food and Drink

To power through a three to five days at a camping music festival, eating is an inevitability. Most camping festivals have food carts and tents available to get your grub on and some even feature amazing eats from local restaurants that are must-tries during your stay.

However, if you don’t want to spend a fortune on eating every meal inside the festival grounds, plan out one or two meals for each day you’re there.

If you don’t have a stove or a grill, bring the following to make sure you have something to eat: bread, peanut butter, jelly, lunch meats, cheese, condiment(s), beef jerky, trail mix, or you can be a real man and eat Chef Boyardee cold. You could also bake a pizza the night before you leave, ziplock-it, and eat it for cold for dinner on the night you arrive.

Recipe idea: Pre-assembled skewers with your choice of vegetables and protein is a great and easy meal idea to keep your juices flowing. Bell peppers, onions, broccoli, steak, chicken; everything is on the table when you’re cooking kebabs.

bbq skewers

Drinks vary based on personal preferences, of course, but they’re definitely easier to prepare than food. All you essentially need is a cooler to keep beer, water, and mixers cold, cups to mix in, and your alcohol of choice for recreation.

Thanks to advice from a Canadian camping neighbor at Sasquatch! Music Festival, Saturday mornings are suggested to be dedicated to mimosas. They’re easy going down and uplifting after your first, maybe second, full day of shenanigans. An additional beverage that’ll get your days started off well is coffee, with a spiked splash of Makers Mark.

Other Things You’ll Need

Water: Staying hydrated is priority number one on the list for how to camp at a music festival. Bring ample amounts of drinking water to hold you over for the weekend. The grounds will have water available, too, but it’s best to come prepared.

Light: As we mentioned, most festivals are in remote areas. With remoteness comes darkness, so you’ll want to bring a flashlight or keychain flashlight to help with trips to the bathroom. Having a lantern or portable light is also useful at camp.

(Hack: If you have an iPhone, a portable charger to make sure your phone stays alive, and a bottle of water, Gatorade, or just about any kind of bottle filled with liquid, use the flashlight accessory on your phone to illuminate the bottle.)

bottle flashlight camping hack

Courtesy of Flickr

Wipes: If you don’t want to pay to shower, having wet wipes to use for cleaning up yourself or simple sanitization after using the bathroom is something that’s easily forgotten. Goodwipes offers great wipes that’ll help you in shower-less situations.

Sunscreen: This is a no-brainer. If you’re going to be in the sun all day, all weekend — bring sunscreen that will protect you.

Portable/ Car Charger: This would normally be in the “things you’ll want” section, but seeing as it’s utterly easy to get lost in a crowd of thousands of people in a new place, you’ll want to bring a phone charger to make sure you can stay in contact with your crew, or simply find help if necessary.

Deodorant: Dancing leads to sweat. Another no-brainer.

Items You Might Want

Extra Toilet Paper: You never want to be that guy who gets up to take a dump in the middle of the night and the port-o-potties are out of toilet paper.

Mosquito Repellent: If you’re one who tends to get eaten alive, big spray is absolutely essential.

Tarps: These work wonders in terms of blocking out wind from your campsite or protecting you from the sun.

All music festivals have their own rules on what they do and do not accept. Make sure you check the FAQs and camping information on that specific festival’s website and plan accordingly.