Music festivaling is not just contained to the camping experience anymore. Plenty of fests are setting up shops in parks, beaches, and stadiums smack dab in the middle of cities. Think Pitchfork in Chicago, Outside Lands in San Francisco, and Primavera Sound in Barcelona. Sure, you don’t need to pack a car full of gear – no overnights here — but if you’re going to survive a full day, it’s worth the time to make some preparations.
Check The Web
It’s always a good idea to check in online before you leave for the venue. Take a gander at the official website to make sure you’re not bringing any banned items. Festival social media websites will post last minute schedule updates and important transportation updates. A quick glance at the weather report can save hours of uncomfortableness later.
What? What? WHAT?
Take it from someone who’s been to their fair share of shows without earplugs. You’re going to want them. Maybe not now, but in some far flung future where you want to hear anything, take along a pair. They weigh next to nothing and fit anywhere. Check out some recommendations from us here.
Charge It Up
Pro-tip: if you run out of phone battery at a single-day festival, you are on your phone way too much and not actually experiencing the festival. Take a few pictures for the memories, but
What’s in Your Pocket?
It should be cash. Bring a credit card for backup, but don’t be that friend that didn’t bring any money. Yes, festival technology is increasing at such a rate that someday all you will need is your wristband, but until that happy day arrives bring some cold hard currency.
Don’t forget your ID. You might need it to pick up tickets, and in the United States, they will card you for alcohol until well into your forties.
The Holy Trinity of Sun Protection
The sun is cool and all with that whole “human life needs it to survive”, but why does it need to be so hot in the summer? Besides ruining the weekend by torching you on the first day, the hot heat of summer can also sap much needed energy for dancing.
You need three things to fight back against the sun – sunscreen, lip balm, and a hat. The hat does not need to be fancy, although that’s certainly encouraged, and the wider the brim, the better the protection. Travel size sunscreen is perfect, and if you plan it right, only one person needs to bring it.
Everyone forgets about lip balm until it’s too late. It’s small and portable, so there’s no reason to forget it.
Sun screen. Do I have to explain this one? Just bring it or make someone in your group has it.
Depending on your level of style, sunglasses may be mandatory as well, but remember there’s a strong possibility of losing them or seeing them crushed in a mosh pit so you might want to wear your Ray-Ban knockoffs instead of the real deal.
Wet Wipes/Sanitizer Are Your Friend
As someone who once put my hand into a purse full of vomit at Leeds Festival, I can’t recommend enough having some cleaning products on hand.
Are You Carrying?
It’s going to be long day and it’s up to you how much stuff you want to lug around. Keep in mind that whatever you bring, you’ll have to carry it around all day. A small backpack might feel fine during the first hour, but by the early hours of the evening, you’ll wish you left it at home especially if it gets too crowded (and back sweat, ugh). At MFW, we’ve always been big fans of the hip pack. Check the details of the festival – more and more are now offering on-site lockers if you get tired of lugging your stuff around.
Flip flops may seem look a good idea, but right around the sixth time someone smashes your toes in a large crowd, you’ll wish you had put on something a little stronger. Footwear is a constant battle between fashion and function, but your feet will thank you if you pick something with a little support. Those stages might not seem like they’re that far apart, but after a day of dashing back and forth, the miles add up. Protect your feet!
And Now For The Weather
Hopefully when you jumped online (see #1), you took a glance at the weather report, so we’ll call the following items situational. Remember that most festivals will ban umbrellas so bring along a decent raincoat. Fall festivals mean cooler nights so bring a long-sleeved shirt or light hoodie for chilly evenings. The big advantage to a downtown festival over camping is that if it’s pissing rain or the temperature is just too cold, you can always bail back to the comfort of your hotel room. If you’re a wimp.
Single Day Festival Packing List
Hand Sanitizer/Wet Wipes
If you are heading out to a camping festival, check out our exhaustive of packing for camping here!