16 UK Festival tips for first-timers

Are you anxiously anticipating your teenager journeying off to their first music festival? Feeling at a loss for how to advise them and want to find solace in some simple and reassuring festival top tips for a safe and enjoyable experience? If you’re searching for music festival safety tips look no further. There are so many easy tweaks to make to a packing list, or a day plan to ensure your time at a festival is as easy as it can be. In addition, I sympathise with all trying to deal with a first time festival goer and a disability at the same time, so in my top 16 festival tips, there’s some which will prove particularly helpful to teens with disabilities. 

Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

Festival tips – camping

Get there EARLY

Don’t underestimate how early you need to be there; as far as music festival camping hacks go, the most important one to remember is that if you want a good camping spot you need to either get ‘early bird’ tickets, or arrive at least an hour before the gates open. There’s always a mad scramble for tent spots near the music, or near a silent disco, so get there early, and plan where you want to pitch ahead of time. This way when you arrive, you can speedily dash to your preferred spot, rather than dithering and missing out on a good spot.

Beware of theft

Don’t leave anything in your tent that you’re emotionally or financially attached to, as it’s very easy for someone to get in and take stuff. Always take your phone and cash/card out with you, even if you’re just popping to the toilet, as it’s better to be safe than suddenly find yourself without any money or form of contact. 

Check your 4G before you pitch

For first time music festival tips I’d recommend checking your data coverage before you pitch up. If there’s any chance you’re going to want to communicate with anyone while you’re at the festival it’s worth checking that your mobile phone provider covers the field you’re in. For diabetics using a CGM (continuous glucose monitor), I’d recommend checking your signal before you pitch your tent, because then you don’t run the risk of setting up a whole camp, before discovering you can’t get any readings because you have no data. 

Pack clothes in a smart way

Try and avoid bulking out your bag; if the weather’s warm, bring one jumper, and one pair of joggers to wear at night and in the morning. You won’t wear three jumpers across three days, and it takes up far too much space that you could replace with decent food. 

Festival hygiene tips

Bring baby wipes, and avoid the showers

Everyone approaches their first festival experience, towel and swimsuit in hand, assuming that they’ll shower at least once. In my experience, don’t bother. The showers tend to be far out, busy, and something that will divert either your lie-ins or your music schedule. In lieu, bring a packet of baby wipes, biodegradable for the environmentally conscious, and use those instead of a shower. I promise, no one will care about your lack of showering, and baby wipes work almost as well. 

Bring toilet roll – it’s like currency!

Either pack your own, or stock up at the local Tesco before you head in. Either way keep some in your back pocket, and you’ll a) never be caught short and b) have something to trade when you’re looking for water/food/shoulders to sit on for a better view.

Bring sliders

A must-bring item is definitely an old pair of sliders; it means you can quickly dart around the campsite to grab food or go to the toilet without having to lace up trainers and boots. However, you really don’t want to bring your favourite new pair, as by Sunday, the tracks are dusty and you will ruin your shoes.  

Music festival survival tips

Plan your lineup

Before you even leave, plan the acts you want to see and write down the times and stages in your notes. This way, you have a plan so you know where everyone is at a given time, and you don’t waste battery and mobile data trying to use the app. Obviously you can also flit around and see whatever is on, but this strategy means you don’t miss out on must-see acts, and you conserve your battery. 

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

Don’t pay for battery packs

The Charge Candy scheme is a smart idea for those who are not prepared to bring battery packs, but I’d recommend bringing one fully charged battery pack per night, as when you get in you can just put your phone on charge like you would at home. This saves you money, and time, as you don’t have to trek out to the charging banks to get your battery packs. 


If you know you’re going to struggle carrying a great deal of weight to your campsite, bring a small trolley. This way you can take lots of food, and not be worried about hurting your back lugging it to a campsite. However, be wary, as if you’re going to try and sneak alcohol in without ID, you’re much more likely to get searched with a trolley.

Have a designated meeting place

Before the music even starts, decide on a designated meeting place in the arena, and make plans to meet there if you get separated, or after an artist; this way you aren’t running around like a headless chicken trying to use the pathetic mobile signal to get in contact with your friends, only to find out they’re in a mosh pit that’s a ten minute walk away from you.

Medical conditions at music festivals

Talk to the queueing staff

This one is disability specific; I’d recommend entering through the disabled entrance and then talking to the queuing staff, as they put me at the front of the queue and I was able to get in fairly quickly after arriving at a normal time. For more tips on your first music festival with type 1 diabetes visit this post.

Leave medical stuff in first aid area

This one is also safety conscious; it guarantees that any important medical equipment isn’t stolen, but it also takes the pressure off, as you know you’ll be able to quickly access any of your stuff in an emergency without having to go all the way back to your tent. 

Festival food tips

Take a trip to Tesco if you can

Outside Reading Festival there’s a big Tesco, and I’d recommend popping out for a couple of meal deals and breakfasts if you can be bothered to make the walk. The food prices are extortionate, so it’s potentially only worth buying for one meal a day. Also, the food prices in the arena are much more expensive than outside, so if you do buy food at the festival, buy it in the camping area. 

Water storage!

A water bottle is not enough, because as soon as you pitch your tent, you can never be bothered to go back and forth to the water tap to fill them up. I’d recommend taking a large plastic water container, so you can refill your bottles at your tent. This also has the added bonus of allowing you to brush your teeth before bed without having to trek out to a sink. 

Water bottles

You will end up berating yourself if you bring a heavy flask-like water bottle, trade this in for a plastic collapsible water bottle, and if you can find one with a metal clip, even better. This means when you’ve finished your bottle, you don’t feel the need to go back to your tent to get rid of it, instead you can collapse it, and clip it to your belt-loops or your bag.

These are my best music festival tips for your first festival, following my first Reading Festival visit. I had an amazing time, and so will you, but it pays to be prepared!

Guest post by Madeleine Wills

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