19 Music Festival hacks you and your family need to turn your experience from basic to ballin’

I’ve been going to music festivals since the 1990s, I think my first was long-since defunct Phoenix Festival, I’ve been to Glastonbury, Reading, T-In-The-Park, V-Festival, Latitude… I’ve picked up a few hacks along the way to share with you.

If, like me, you’re not a natural happy camper and the thought of even using the VIP fancy toilets makes your gag reflex kick in, these tips are for you.

These are the festival hacks that will make your festival experience with your kids in tow sweeter and more pleasant.

They are also really useful to share with your teens if they’re heading off to a festival with friends (and without you) for the first time.

1. Make a flag so you can find your tent

Back in the day I worked with a marketing agency who created a Text Me Home Dome tent for Glastonbury. When you texted it, a little beacon rose up and started flashing.

Unfortunately, it was just a publicity stunt for the brand I was managing, but the issue of finding your tent after a long day of festivalling remains.

So… in the absence of a tech solution, make a flag.

I’m putting the emphasis on MAKING the flag, because you don’t want to make the mistake of buying one on Amazon and then finding that hundreds of others have the exact same flag.

You can buy portable flag poles on Amazon though!

Can’t be bothered making a flag? See pitching hacks next…

2. Be strategic about pitching your tent

Tempting as it might be to pitch up as close to the entrance/exit to the main festival ground, this is not the best spot.

  • Away from main walkways
  • Close to toilets, but far enough you can’t smell them or have a constant stream of toilet goers trampling your tent.
  • Avoid the bottom of hills… if it rains, you’ll become swamp dwellers.
  • If you don’t bring a flag, try and pitch near a landmark (and make sure it’s a static one!).

3. Bring your own bottle lids

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One of the biggest money soaks (no pun…) is the amount you end up spending on keeping hydrated. Not least because vendors remove the lids, which means you have to drink up more quickly.

So, squirrel away some lids you can bring to the festival and enjoy drinking at your own pace.

4. SPF and hats/caps are everything

Sunburn and heat stroke are nobody’s idea of fun, especially if you’re living in a tent or camper van, far, far from home.

Make sure to take plenty of high factor sunscreen and make sure everyone has a hat or cap.

5. take a stash of hairbands or scrunchies

You might have high faluting ideas of everyone showering every day. But if that doesn’t come to pass, and the festival weather is scorching, you will want to keep your hair tied back.

I always take a stash and then wear one or two around my wrist (one for me, one for someone in need).

6. wet wipes

Yes, I know that there are issues with eco-friendliness. But I am also realistic about just how grimy you can end up feeling at a festival.

Wet wipes are everything. Take plenty, just try and go for the most eco-friendly biodegradable wipes (I like Cheeky Panda wipes, which have purified water and no other stuff) around and make sure you dispose of them properly.

7. bring reems of toilet roll

It might be bulky, but it’s pretty light to carry and to be safe in the knowledge that you can always wipe is a pretty sweet place to be on day three or four of a festival.

8. hand sanitiser

Sanitiser goes hand-in-hand with wet wipes as a festival essential. Need I say more?!

9. mosquito/bug repellent

I know that for the majority of us, the festival-chic style splattered across social media is far from a reality.

At the same time, no-one wants to be the one sporting great red weeping mosquito bites.

So take plenty of repellent and also avoid heavily scented body wash, lotion or perfume. Basically avoid anything that is the equivallent of basting yourself up like a delicious meal for a flying bug.

10. Fanny pack/bum bag/uniqlo crescent bag

Until 2023 I would have all out recommmended a fanny pack/bum bag as an essential festival accessory.

Post 2023, the Uniqlo mini crescent bag, which you can sling across your body, has become the festival bag of choice for thousands. Having taken one to Reading Festival and Latitude, I can vouch for its usefulness.

It’s the best way to keep your essentials to hand and safe from pick pocketers.

11. emergency cash

Some festivals are now cashless, but if the one you’re heading to isn’t, it is well worth folding a couple of big bills/notes behind your phone in its case.

12. Agree a designated meeting place

The first thing we do everytime we get set up at a festival is to agree a designated meeting spot in the main festival arena and to make sure everyone with us is sure of its whereabouts.

Phone signals can’t always be relied up and despite best efforts, it can be fairly easy to end up separated from your pack.

It’s also a great way of allowing older kids and teens the freedom to explore without you worrying.

13. pac-a-mac

Not every festival is drenched in sunshine, especially if you’re in the UK! So bring pac-a-macs or a kagool that folds up into a neat little bag.

I still have two Gap half-zip pac-a-macs that I bought in the late 90s, they’re so old they’re now retro chic.

14. snack low gI

Festival days (and nights) are long. So try and make sure everyone chows down on low GI snacks that will keep them going, rather than high sugar snacks that will see them crash and burn.

15. beat the crowds

Want to get close to the stage? Don’t ever try to work your way through the middle of the crowd.

Instead, make your way towards the side of the stage and crowd and then work your way in from there.

Another tip… politeness works wonders and is often so unexpected that it works like magic.

16. trash bags are the accessory you never knew you needed

Trash bags aren’t just for trash! They make great emergency ponchos, they can be rolled out to protect stuff in your tent if rain leaks in. They make great seating if you don’t have festival chairs.

17. bring water bottles

Different festivals have different rules about what you can bring. Some will allow you to bring an empty plastic water bottle.

Others will allow you to bring water bottles on bigger than 500mls.

Many won’t allow metal bottles.

Whatever the rules, if you can bring a water bottle of some form, do it. It’s a great money-saver and hydration is so important.

18. Study the festival schedule

It is well worth taking time in advance to work out a rough plan of who you want to see. You don’t have to stick to it, but there’s nothing worse than missing out when you’ve gone to all the effort of getting there.

19. Check the festivals rules before you go

Always, always read through the festival’s rules before you go. Some festivals have really strict rules about what you can and can’t bring in, both to the camping areas and the main arena.

20. power up with a backup charger

Many festivals offer phone charging stations, but it’s also a great idea to bring your own backup charger and backup chargers for kids.

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