ThePineapple - Festival 101 Essentials

Festival 101, The Absolute Basics, and My Top 10 Essentials

Don’t forget the essentials you’ll need, toiletries, tickets, and party goods indeed, Let the music beats fill the air, and move your feet to the rhythm without care!

If you’re a first-time attendee or a seasoned veteran, it never hurts to brush up on the basics to ensure an unforgettable festival experience. As your trusty guide and someone who has been attending raves and music festivals for over 15 years, I am here to provide you with a comprehensive list of basic essentials that will help you enhance and optimize your experience. 

Whether you’re planning to go for a single, multi day, or camping event (find my camp essentials “link here”), there are certain items that you should always have on hand and that I simply cannot do without. From basic necessities like reusable water bottles and sunscreen to more specialized gear like earplugs and a portable phone charger, I've got you covered! 

So if I were you, I’d take a couple minutes to review this guide before your next event so you never miss a beat! Trust me, having speakers tear through your ears or having your phone battery die before you can meet up with your friends or being super far from water stations and vendors in a large crowd is always a memorable experience, but the furthest thing from exciting.

A few notes:

  • The listicle below will not include your phone, keys, ticket/parking pass, id, or wallet because you should ALWAYS have those going into a festival including a secured bag to keep your essentials organized and within reach throughout the day but if you’re the type to forget, this here is your reminder! 
  • It is always a good idea to go on the festival's website and check the rules of what is/is not allowed in before they throw one of your favorite goods away. 
  • Cash is king but with how advanced and high tech some festivals are becoming aka card activated wristbands, you’ll need to make sure you have both cash and debit/credit card for food, drinks, merchandise, and emergencies! 
  • 1-6 are my absolute essentials and 7-10 are dependent on what kind of festival I’m attending, location, time and duration!

My Top 10 and Why!

  1. Ear plugs: Music festivals can be aggressive on the ears and prolonged exposure to loud noise can cause hearing damage. This is a high recommendation and an essential for me and my veteran friends - pack a pair of earplugs to protect your hearing and still enjoy the music. I invested in a pair that is specially molded to my ears, pricey but after all the years of rail-raging and abuse to my body, I know my ears are worth the price. If I had to recommend anything to all attendees, it would be to protect your ears. I often pack an extra pair of cheap ones in case I lose mine or have a friend who might be in need! (ACS Custom MoldsLoop Experience Ear Plugs)
  2. Comfortable shoes: Music festivals often involve a lot of walking, standing, and dancing, so comfortable shoes are a must for me! I’ve risked my comfort for cuteness and “beauty is pain” does not apply here. You want to be comfortable! Closed toe shoes will protect your feet and make sure they can handle all sorts of weather and dancing activities. You can always find me in a pair of vans or chucks, every now and then a pair of doc martens or timberlands (as long as they are broken in) but I usually opt for sneakers because they’re lighter in weight and I don’t mind them getting wrecked.  Pro-tip: get cushioned inserts if you want the extra cushion and support, they make a difference (ConverseVansDocsTimberlandsShoe Inserts )
  3. Camelbak/reusable water bottle: Staying hydrated is crucial during a music festival especially if you’re partaking in recreational activities such as drinking, tripping, rolling, and/or dancing and spending a lot of time in the sun. Bringing a reusable water bottle is not only environmentally friendly but will also help you stay hydrated throughout the day. This is only if festivals allow it in and have refill stations which these days, most do. Here are some options depending on the type of festival partier you are!
      1. Pros: can hold a lot of water, allowing you to stay hydrated longer without having to refill as frequently, mouthpiece/tube makes it convenient for dancing and moving around, some have extra pockets for storing essentials
      2. Cons: can be heavy and bulky, difficult to thoroughly clean, can taste a little like silicone/plastic, may not be allowed in certain venues, may not have enough extra pockets for storing essentials
      1. Pros: can add ice to it and it will keep your water cold for a long time which can be refreshing especially in hot environments, extremely durable, and available in a variety of sizes
      2. Cons: can be heavy, may have to hold while dancing, or buy a hook to latch to your bag
      1. Pros: lightweight, compact, easy to carry when empty, can be flattened and stored away when not in use
      2. Cons: holds less water than camelbak and some hydro flasks, can also have a plastic/silicone flavor
  4. Portable charger + charging cord: Between taking photos and videos, checking the lineup, signal issues and staying in touch with friends, you’ll definitely be using your phone throughout the day (unless you’re in the ZONE if you know what I mean haha). Bringing a portable charger will make sure that your phone stays charged and ready to use, thank me later! I’m the type to bring a big one for multiple charges because someone always needs a boost but a lipstick size charger is most practical.
  5. Hand sanitizer: Not only will it help you avoid exposure to bacteria from all the people and activities around, but it's also essential for keeping your hands clean after using the public restrooms, most likely porta potties… remember, at some point they always run out of hand sanitizer and water at the sink pumps. I always bring in hand sanitizer sprays or antibacterial wipes which are definitely a worthwhile luxury to have. 
  6. Chapstick/lip balm: Trust me when I say festivals can be hard on your lips. Whether it’s hot, cold, windy, or you’re super high, maybe all of the above, you’re likely to experience some form of cottonmouth or dried lips. I always stay hydrated but chapstick is essential for me. Also, cracked lips are painful and far from cute! Remember: some security is cool with it but some will toss it… always check the rules. Tubed Lip Balm is my favorite, plus it allows you to share with others and keeps it relatively free of contamination.
  7. Bandana or face mask: This is always a good idea, not only will it help protect your face from dirt, dust, and dirty air, but it will also protect you from breathing in anything harmful such as smoke and other pollutants that could be present at the festival. (Classic BandanaProtective KN95 Mask)
  8. Sunscreen: Double check the weather but always do your best to protect your skin, it’s important! Better safe than sorry, and if we are being real, no one likes a sunburn, especially for a multi day festival. (Sunscreen stick)
  9. Hat or Sunglasses: Protect your face and eyes from the sun and bright lights with a hat and/or sunglasses. Not only will they provide necessary sun protection but they can also be a fun, stylish addition to your festival outfit! I prefer baseball caps because they pack easily and I always bring trendy, but cheap sunglasses in case they ever get lost or broken! (CapsSunglasses)
  10. Light jacket or sweater: Even if it’s hot during the day, temperatures often drop at night. Bringing a light jacket or sweater can keep you comfortable when the sun goes down or when you’re walking back to your cars/waiting for rides. I’ve gone to so many festivals without and 95% of the time I always wished I brought one. Remember if you forgot a jacket and it's freezing, you can usually find a vendor to buy one. I’m a big fan of oversized flannels because they cover enough, pack nicely, and can easily be wrapped around the waist but if the weather forecast says it’s going to be COLD, you best believe I’ll be bringing multiple layers or one big jacket that I have to carry around.

Remember some venues will have lockers you can rent, but most of the time they don’t have enough for everyone who may want one! Plan ahead. 

A few additional things that my friends and I consider a bonus luxury but I often have on hand are: 

Anyways, festival season is officially upon us! Woohoo! Stay ready by using this guide before your next event and I hope this season is better than your last ~ stay hydrated my friends and see you out there!