Camping experiences can come in all forms and guises. From recreational campsites with plenty of on-site facilities and national parks to wilderness camping and Camping On The Beach – there is seemingly no end to where people choose to pitch a tent on a camping holiday.
One of the biggest increases in camping activities over the past few years has been in festival camping. Throughout the summer months, music and other performing art forms can be heard proliferating from fields and outdoor arenas all over the UK, often attracting several thousand people all congregated in the one area, and many of them choose to camp.
While certain elements of any camping trip, such as your tent and Sleeping Bag, are common to all forms of camping, this article is aimed at items you should consider bringing (or not bringing) if you’re planning on a festival camping trip, as well as other useful advice and precautions to take.
Things to Bring (and what not to bring)
It’s a sad fact of life that where there are thousands of people congregating, such as at a music festival, there will be a few unscrupulous people who will see it as an opportunity for rich pickings. So, as there’s no way to Make A Tent Secure, only bring with you what you can afford to lose.
You should travel as light as possible. At some festivals, you can even buy your own tent when you get there. Take some warm and waterproof clothing with you. Even in the summer, the weather can take a turn for the worse with little warning and being soaked to the skin and covered in wet mud for 2 or 3 days is not going to be a pleasant experience for most people. If you’ve got a bit of spare cash, ditch the camping stove and food as festivals tend to generally cater for all kinds of food preferences from burger vans to speciality vegetarian food mobile food outlets.
Wear a pair of decent shoes and take sun cream, wet wipes and a torch. There’ll be that many tents that it won’t be easy to spot yours amid the thousands of others even in broad daylight and virtually impossible at night, not forgetting the countless number of guy ropes you’ll end up tripping over if you don’t carry a torch.
Only bring the bank cards you need and leave a note of the card numbers at home to make cancellation easier should they be lost or stolen. These days, many festival sites provide cashpoint facilities so you’ve no need to carry lots of cash on your person. Only come with the keys you’re likely to be using (perhaps just your car keys) in case they get lost, and remember to bring along any vital medication.
Be prepared that you’re not that likely to be getting much sleep, but if you want a little more space and slightly less noise, stewards will usually be able to advise you which area you should Pitch Your Tent in. Beware though, that if you’re a sleep lover, festival camping is not for the faint-hearted.
You’re going to encounter thousands of tents, all pitched closely together, so try to establish some geographical points in your line of vision to your tent in order that you can locate it more easily. Some people make a flag or some other form of eye-catching decoration to help make spotting their tent a little easier.
Festival camping is very much part of developing a community spirit. You’re all here because you enjoy similar tastes in music after all, so say ‘Hello’ to those who are camping nearby and get to know them a little better. It can help in building a community feeling and can add to your sense of security.
One of the most common mistakes people make is to put a padlock on their tent when they’re out and about. Tents are basically made of flimsy canvas. They are not in the least bit secure in terms of protecting any valuables and padlocks scream out, “I have something worth nicking in here”. Some of the more established festival sites have property lock-up facilities which you can rent while you’re there but, once again, the basic rule of thumb should always be, if you value something greatly, leave it at home.
Fortunately, although you’ll still be unlikely to recover any stolen valuables, most large festivals have a police presence these days which you should go to immediately if you become a victim of crime.
The thought of a massive crowd surging towards a stage to catch a glimpse of their music idols can be daunting for some people. If this should happen, you should try to move away from the surge area if possible, find a less intense spot to sit down, try to relax and listen for any announcements offering alternative routes away from a potential build-up of people. Remember, the closer to the stage you put yourself, the more likely you are to experience crushes and surges of people.
Getting Around and Staying in Touch with Fellow Campers
The vastness of the crowd, unfamiliarity with the area, the multitude of tents and any alcohol you’ve drunk can all add to a feeling of disorientation. This is heightened even further after nightfall where it’s more difficult to locate geographical points of reference. Use your mobile phone to locate your friends if you’ve been separated and try not to go too crazy on the alcohol, as if you’re too drunk by being seen by some as an easy target.
Looking After Number One
When there are so many people all gathered in one place in what is somewhat of a surreal environment, you should look after yourself even more than you’d normally do. Keep your eye out for petty thieves and trouble causers and keep clear of situations which could get out of hand. Unprotected sex and problems caused by drug taking and spiked drinks can all ruin your experience, and could even have more unpleasant ramifications beyond just the festival.
Most festivals these days have their own websites, so visit these before you go to find out about any useful advice and tips. However, providing you take the necessary precautionary measures and don’t completely lose all your inhibitions, a festival camping experience can be something exhilarating to look back on and to tell the grandkids about in years to come.
Camping in wet weather
As most people will appreciate, camping during British summertime often means enduring rainy days. Find out how to be prepare for Camping in Wet Weather and any additional supplies you should take in our Locations For Camping section.