An Idiots Guide to Music Festivals

Summer is fast approaching and this means one thing and one thing only: Music Festivals!

Going to your first music festival is a right of passage for many of us young’uns. Do it right and it can be one of the most amazing and unforgettable experiences of your life. With different festivals for every type of music genre and personality, there’s bound to be something on each lineup that will tickle your fancy this Summer. Coming from someone who was a festival virgin up until two years ago, I have made every mistake in the book.

So in order for you to avoid making the same blunders that I did, and to ensure that you have the most unreal weekend at whatever festival you decide to go to, here is a guide of essential tips for every festival go-er.

The Essentials

Now it should go without saying that if you’re heading to a festival, especially one that includes a weekend of camping, then you’re going to need somewhere to rest your head. Make sure to bring a tent, and don’t rely on a mates to let you kip in theirs. Tents are usually tiny on the inside despite the box saying ‘sleeps up to four people.’ Added to this, you will need a sleeping bag. Believe me, it is absolutely zero craic when you realise you’ve forgotten a sleeping bag and you’re shivering your bum cheeks off in the middle of the night!

Other camping essentials can include a flag and a flash light; these are to ensure that you can easily identify your camp among a sea of tents when you drunkenly stumble your way home after the gig. If you’re extra organised bringing some of those foldy-up camping chairs. They're extremely handy for when it’s been raining and the grass is soggy and gross. Also, bring a bag that's easy to carry for all of your other essentials. A Festival last year saw me trekking up a muddy hill with a suitcase. YES AN ACTUAL SUITCASE. Not my finest moment.



Festivals are great craic, but for those of you who are a little bit OCD when it comes to personal hygiene, the idea of living in your own filth for three days is the stuff of nightmares. There are a few magical items that you can pack in your bag in attempt to stay as squeaky clean as possible while you enjoy the festivities.

Number one on this list is baby wipes. They are an absolute god send when at a festival and can solve a multitude of problems. Not only are they a way of having a quick armpit shower (gross, I know), they also double as makeup wipes and the general go-to wipe for all of your self cleaning needs. Many festivals also now offer shower facilities on site for a small fee which is personally my preferred option.

The next is a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash. This is a fairly obvious one too, but you’d be surprised how many people forget these essentials when packing their festival bag.

Dry Shampoo = The Saviour of Festival hair. Dry shampoo is a must have in any festival go-ers backpack. With just a few spritz into the roots, it can hide the days of built up dirt in your hair. Another bonus is that dry shampoo adds tonnes of volume to your locks for that added messy hippie-goddess hair-do.


Deodorant & Body Spray are an absolute must. Having spent three days sleeping in a field without access to proper washing facilities, the likelihood that you don’t smell a bit funky is very small. Make sure to pack some good quality antiperspirant or body spray in order to tackle or completely mask that musk.

Condoms...Yes condoms! You never know when the mood may strike and you feel like getting freaky in the wilderness with a fellow festival go-er. Be sure to pack a few just in case. What happens at a festival stays at a festival…. Except herpes, that may come home with you if you’re not careful.

And finally, the number one essential to pack in your bag is loo-roll. You never know who might need some and you never want to be the one caught out with your trousers around your ankles.

Food & Drink

It’s common knowledge that festivals can offer up some of the best grub from a van that you can get your hands on. It’s always a treat to munch into curry chips or a hot dog when you’re out and about, but eating from vendors three times a day for a weekend can seriously add-up (€6 for a breakfast roll, WTF?). So to save some dosh, and to fend off the munchies, make sure to pack some food into your bag; A loaf of bread, a 6 pack of hula-hoops and a few rice crispie bars never go a miss when you're feeling peckish!


A lot of festivals are BYOB, which is absolutely necessary. However, some of them have a limit for how much drink you’re allowed to bring into the campsite, so check the guidelines before you go. A general rule is to bring cans; great for day drinking and not letting you get too hammered pre-music. If you’re more of a spirit drinker, remember to pour your spirits into plastic bottles beforehand as a lot of festivals won’t allow glass bottles to be brought past the security gates. And never forget to bring a few bottles of water. Whether it’s to cure your hangover or to help a friend who’s feeling a bit unwell, I can’t stress enough how important a few bottles of H2O will be.


This is by far my favourite part of any festival. Music festivals give us the chance to don a few feathers and release our inner hippie. You can be as colourful and creative as you like when it comes to a festival and you can be sure that no matter how crazy you decide to go with your outfit, you’re bound to see someone whose taken it a little further.

For the girls, I would advise looking at some past Coachella pictures to get ideas for festival fashion. My favourite style icons include Vanessa Hudgens, Kate Bosworth, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and of course, Kendall and Kylie Jenner. This look can include flowy dresses, John-Lennon sunglasses and fedora hats, teamed with some face jewels or Indian head dresses for that added festival-chic.


For guys, I think wear whatever the heck you want! For blokes, festivals are a bit less of a fashion show and more of a chance to be creative and comedic with their outfit choices. You’re guaranteed to see a gang of guys wearing coordinating morph suits or onesies bopping around the arenas.

Also remember to bring some winter woollies for when it gets dark. It may be all fun and games strutting around in your little booty shorts, but once the sun goes down, so does the temperature and you’ll be sure to want to cover up and keep cosy. Added to this pack loads of pairs of socks because you always manage to go through about ten pairs at these sorts of shin-digs. 

Next is face paints. One of my favourite parts of festivals is the face painting. If you’re feeling adventurous with the paintbrush, be sure to throw a set of face paints into your bag. You can get a multitude of colours at any art and hobby store and even extra trippy glow in the dark ones!

And finally- WELLIES! They are the ultimate festival essential. Whether it's raining or not, there is sure to be heaps of muck and mud and there is nothing less glamorous then being up to your knees in sludgy crap. So remember to grab a pair before you head off.

My final tip for survival and to ensure you have the best weekend possible is to be safe. Try not to get too wasted, stay close to your friends and always have your phone charged and in your pocket. And above all else- HAVE FUN!

Justine Halpin Mulligan
Article written by
22 year old Sociology and Social Policy student in Trinity College Dublin. Interests include romantic walks to the fridge and anything to do with elephants. Wants to be a TV personality when she grows up.

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