It may be the middle of winter, it may be cold and raining, but after almost two festival-free years my brain is completely fixated on upcoming spring and summer music festivals.
Dates for music festivals around the country are being announced left, right and centre, line-ups are dropping weekly and the first festival of the season, Splendour in the Grass, is finally back IRL on July 21 after two cancelled romps.
If you’re out of practice, here’s a refresher course on how to not only survive but thrive at a multi-day music festival 101.
What to pack for a music festival
You need to prepare for all weather conditions and the way to do that is to bring clothes that layer. Bring warm jumpers and light waterproof jackets you can tie around your waist or stuff into a tote bag, rather than a giant heavy coat, bring thermals, a beanie and gloves for nighttime and bring something light and flowy for hot days.
Assume that everything you bring is going to get filthy so leave your white linens and any fancy clothes or accessories at home.
You need sturdy, comfortable, waterproof shoes. You will regret bringing only open-toed shoes.
Not all camping music festivals have showers and even if they do, do you really want to spend your mornings lining up?
If you choose to shower, hot tip: go late at night when everyone is partying. If you choose not to shower, have a baby wipe shower in your tent instead. And please bring deodorant. Smelly pits in the crowd are yuck.
Your face deserves more than a baby wipe, however, so bring your regular skincare products too. Sheet masks at a music festival are also an absolute treat.
You need hand-sanitiser with you at all times. COVID is out there and festival toilets are an unholy place. Get a li’l bottle with a carabiner that straps to your bag or belt and keep your hands clean. And please, for the love of God, wear a facemask in the crowd.
Do you really need it? You do you, but everyone’s going to be grubby, we say just lean in. Mascara will be the first thing to rub off and the last to leave properly so embrace bare-faced freedom. Otherwise stock up on cleanser and makeup remover, wipes that aren’t rough on your skin, and get a mirror you can prop up on an esky. And remember glitter is terrible for the environment so please make sure whatever you have is biodegradable.
Sunscreen, sunnies, a *proper* hat and light clothes that cover your skin are non-negotiable. Don’t argue, just do it.
5. Camping gear
All I’m going to say here is don’t forget your tent poles. And make sure you have a mattress pump and earplugs. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.
Food and drink
1. BYO water bottle
Bonus points for a thermos bottle to keep water cool! Keep it on you at all times and fill it up at free water stations. Remember you need to drink a cup of water for every standard drink of alcohol on a normal day, let alone when you’re roaming around in the sun all day. Dehydration is a killer, so remind yourself and your friends to drink water.
When you’re dehydrated you lose electrolytes, so bring some hydralyte or Berocca tablets, coconut water or sports drink with you. A hit of electrolytes is a Godsend in the mornings. A couple of Panadols in your bag couldn’t hurt either.
Do not just bring a few boxes of Shapes. Dry food = bad. You’ll end up more dehydrated and probably constipated. Try to bring some healthier foods like fruit and veggies to snack on at camp — dips made from actual vegetables (not just a giant tub of sweet chilli Philly), nuts or even ingredients to make sandwiches or wraps to save money. Remember you have eskies and access to ice so bringing food is an easy way to budget and look after your guts.
If you are indulging in the delicacies of music festival cuisine, try not to eat the same thing every day. You still need vitamins, boo.
How to be organised at a music festival
1. Pick a meeting spot
Your phone’s not going to have reception, I’m telling you now. And doof sticks are annoying to lug around (if your music festival of choice even allows them) so establish a meeting place at each stage. Are you a front left or a front right gal? Try to be more specific. In front of the sound booth? Under the leftmost red lantern? If you get lost, you’ll know where to go.
2. Go with a good crew
You should be partying with people you like and trust. If you know your friend’s shit ex is going, how about just don’t camp with them? Establish your core crew of besties and look after each other.
3. Respect your campsite
This is your home for the next few days so keep it clean, tidy and welcoming. Everyone needs somewhere to chill out and take a moment sometimes, and trashing nature is not hot.
Pick up some bin bags and keep your surfaces can-free. If it’s dusty, bring a crappy old rug to lay down in your communal space. Bring enough comfortable chairs for everyone — being stuck sitting on the esky for two hours sucks. And bring shade in the form of a sturdy gazebo. Remember you have to take all your trash and any rooted gear away with you.
Now all that’s left to do is have fun. Don’t try to over organise your days, leave time to discover new artists, hang out with your friends and go for a wander. A good multi-day music festival is one of the best things on this Earth so be safe, lean in and enjoy.