It's been a hot minute since we all packed our bags and headed off for a weekend of frivolity and debauchery at our favourite music festivals - but finally, Glasto is back, Coachella is on and bloody hell, we are SO ready for it!
Whether it's your first time or you're a seasoned pro, you're probably quite aware that planning and packing can make or break a festival. Nothing worse than heading to bed on your first, happily tipsy and a little chilly, to discover you haven't brought a sleeping bag, or waking up a little groggy and realising there's nothing in your kit to sooth that banging headache or raging indigestion...
So many survival guides I've read witter on about wet wipes, plastic bottles and mini shampoos, but I wanted to make this guide as eco friendly as possible, whilst still being effective, chic and easy to find. So, if you're interested in what Team Til Dawn will be packing this festival season, from the dry and dire to the sparkly and exciting, read on...
What the hell to PACK?!
You can probably guess that I'm not a pack-light kind of girl, but I also don't think it's worth stressing yourself out with bringing stuff you don't need. So many items are multi-use, especially when it comes to style essentials, that you can pack relatively light!
However, when camping, there's a tonne of things you just can't be without, so here's a broken down list of everything you might wanna pack before heading to your favourite festival.
This section is pretty dry, I can't lie. It's all boring stuff, so I won't blame you at all if you skip to the good parts. The only thing is - they're all kind of important, and sure, you'll always get that festival seasoned pro who swears all you need is a sleeping bag and a crate of beer, but these investments will make any festival experience a lot less chaotic and a whole lot more comfortable...
You might not spend much of your time at your chosen festival sleeping (I didn't pay £250 to sleep, man!) but it will be somewhere you go to seek a little respite from bass line beats and busy dance floors, so you may as well make sure it's comfortable and chill.
- Tent - duh! But make sure whichever one you pick, it's roomy enough for both you and your tent-friends, but also your stuff! Make sure it fits about 2 extra "men" than your party so you have plenty of space.
- Spare tent pegs - sometimes they go walkabout, sometimes bad weather can rip them right out of the ground, whichever it is, make sure you pack a spare handful as they could come in super handy for either you, or a camp-mate.
- Sleeping Bag - pick one which packs down small and is light to carry, but most importantly is super comfy and cosy to sleep in.
- Pillow/pillowcase - a pillow can make almost any bed feel like home, but it's a pain to carry. If you don't want to carry one, bring a pillowcase and stuff with t-shirts, socks or other clothing items you don't mind getting a little squished!
- Air Mattress/Rollmat - depending on the length of the festival, you're going to want something underneath you to not only give you a little extra comfort, but provide a bit of warmth from the cold. For 1-2 night stints, I make do with a yoga mat, for 3-4 nights, a rollmat or self-inflating rollmat is great. Any longer? Invest in an airbed, it'll make the world of differencee!
- Extra Blankets - Even in the hottest months, the UK temperatures drop at night and that 4/5am spell is mighty cold if you don't prepare for it. Plus these are great tied to trees as sun shades, laid out as picnic rugs, and generally rolling around on while you moan about your hangover in the hot 9am sun...
Tech n Wellbeing:
These are going to make things a lot more comfortable during your stay at camp...
- A USB Powerbank - these things are super useful, and if you get one big enough, you can power pretty much your whole camp off it. Invest in a good one which holds loads of power, because you'll inevitably need to charge up your...
- Phone - bring your normal phone and make sure you have battery saver mode on, and make sure you have a USB charging cable BUT also remember an old phone! Phones get lost, stolen, and run out of juice trying to find signal at festivals, so grab a super old brick phone, save all your friends numbers, and keep it in your bag for emergencies.
- USB Charged Portable Speaker - it's pretty anti-social to be playing music at all hours of the night when people are trying to get some shut-eye, but a speaker will make your camping experience so much better. I love a little chill Lo-Fi when getting ready in the morning, and it's great to put on something more upbeat to get you all ready for another day of partying after 3 hours sleep!
- USB Charged Torch - whilst a torch won't always save you, it will help when you're doing a mission impossible and climbing through guy-lines trying to get back to your tent in pitch black darkness! The little ones you can find cheap often use disposeable batteries, so a USB charged one is a great zero-waste option.
- Stove and Spare Gas - not all festivals allow stoves, but if you're lucky enough to be allowed one, it'll make your days so much better! From hot coffee without having to leave the campsite, to saving mega bucks on festival food with a pot noodle, it's one of the handiest things you can take if you're on a budget.
- Enamel Mugs/Metal Mess Tins/Reusable Cups/Cutlery - boring but necessary - too many times I have camped and started boiling a kettle only to realise I have no mug, or made a tin of beans to see I haven't any cutlery. Plus, you'll feel super sophisticated having a proper cup to drink that warm can o'beer from!
Camp Bonus Bits:
These aren't going to make or break your stay, but damn they're SO useful to have with you!
- Eco Friendly Bin Liners - bin liners are so handy, from using as an impromptu rain poncho to gathering up rubbish on your travels. Heck, I've even sat on them on a rainy Sunday afternoon to avoid getting a damp arse.
- Spare Ground Sheet - you can find groundsheets and tarps at camping stores super cheap and they're great for making things a little less soggy and muddy if it's a wet one. Pack one with you just incase, they're perfect for sitting on or using in tent porches.
- String or Washing Line - again, if it's a wet one and you're blessed with rain and mud, being able to hang things up to dry or off the floor is an essential. Take a spare washing line or string and hang it between tents or off trees and fences to dry off towels, raincoats or blankets.
- Trolley/Sack Truck - Heaving everything from car to campsite is a total mission, especially if there's already been rain and the ground is a bit churned up - so a really sturdy, big-wheeled trolley can be a total gamechanger. Just make sure it isn't too flimsy and won't get too stuck in the mud!
- A Pack of Lighters/Multi-Pack of Matches - you'll hand them out to strangers, they'll fall on the floor, and inevitably you'll lose them, so don't hedge your bets with just one, take a pack and pack them in different places, i.e. one in your big rucksack, one in your day bag, one in your wash bag.
- Dr Bronners Soap - this stuff is amazing so I'm sure I'll mention it again - but you can literally use it for EVERYTHING. From washing up, to cleaning dried on mud off your legs, washing your face, your hair, heck - it can be used for almost anything. Plus, they're a pretty incredible company doing amazing things - check them out HERE.
- Quick Dry Towels - these camper, hiker and backpacker favourites are super useful. Not only do they dry super fast, but they pack down tiny so you can squeeze them in your washbag!
- Picnic Blankets - specifically, the kind with the waterproof coating underneath. Perfect for sitting on outside your tent, having a pint on whilst watching Diana Ross on Sunday arvo at the back of the Pyramid Stage, and generally a handy thing to have to prevent damp bums and muddy butts.
- Incense - look, festivals are kind of smelly affairs. Whether you accidentally camped 15ft from the portaloos or there was some four-legged farm dwellers staying in your spot last week, they kind of just are stinky. So take a pack of incense, light it in a central spot (away from your tents and anything flammable!) and enjoy some good vibes and sweet scents whilst kicking back and chilling out.
Slightly less dry than the last, but still not exactly fun - whether you like it or not, at some point you're gonna have to think about fuelling the party (you're the party in this instance, FYI). Whilst I'd love to say you don't need to think about it, festivals are pretty hungry work, and festival food is delicious but super expensive, so here's some things that come heavily recommended from both myself and my Instagram followers...
- Empty Water Bottles - almost all festivals will have free drinking water taps on site, so take a handful of empty water carriers and drinking bottles and top up once you're there. Staying hydrated is super important, so make sure you always have some water both on you, and at your camp.
- Soft Drinks - I love the totally debauched festival culture of opening a G&T with your breakfast, but even the seasoned pros of festival drinking will tell you that absolutely nothing beats a tin of lemonade or cola on a hot day.
- AeroPress - I'm not really a real human until I've consumer caffeine - and when I've been dancing for 20 hours of the day, this is even more important. With an AeroPress, you can make smooth, strong espresso style coffee with zero power and minimal kit. An absolute godsend on a hangover. Just don't forget the...
- Ground Coffee - no explanation needed.
- Booze - skipped to the good part! Plan your festival drinks wisely - don't pick that one drink you love but makes you a sad teary drunk. Pick what makes you happy, gives you energy, and most importantly: something you don't mind drinking warm. I am usually a craft beer fan but during festivals I stick to fruity ciders as they don't taste too bad when they've been sat in the sun for a day. I'm also a huge advocate of taking a selection of different things - you'll get bored of the same thing very, very fast, especially at longer festivals!
- Easy Breakfasts - I've already mentioned this, but festival food is EXPENSIVE. Like, hella spenny. So I love taking things that I can munch on for breakfast that firstly, I don't need to spend any cash on, and secondly, I don't need to move from my bed for. Things like longlife pastries, chocolate chip brioche, cereal bars, bananas, flapjacks, tins of beans and sausages, and spagetti hoops are all great options. Bonus tip from Jo of Hoodlum - Rice Pudding is a great gluten free breakfast!
- Snacks - same thing as above, but always have some snacks in your daybag. I like biscuits and fruit for a quick bit of energy on the go!
If you're reading this, you're probably more interested in this - and possibly intrigued by the No Wet Wipes rules. Thing is, wet wipes are total trash. They're literally trash in that they're single use and made of plastics, but they're also trash for your skin, trash for sewage systems, and trash because you need like ten for any one job.
So, here's a wet-wipe free packing list for all your natural, eco-friendly, festival self care needs:
- Flannels - Old school flannels are the best. They're reusable, gentle on skin and you can take them home and wash them after. I like to take plenty for washing my face, using with a little Dr Bronners and some water for a quick pits, tits n bits wash, but they're also good for gently cleaning dried on mud from your skin. A great all rounder!
- Deodorant/Body Spray/Perfume - I feel like this doesn't need explaining...
- Scented Body Butter - Get your hands on a nice, natural, scented body butter. Skin, especially on legs, can get super dry when you're camping and in mud and dusty fields, so being able to wipe down and then moisturise feels like a little touch of luxury in a field. Plus, if you're tattooed, they keep those tattoos looking healthy, vibrant and gorgeous!
- Toothbrush and Paste - take a bamboo toothbrush and some Toothpaste Tabs for some zero-waste, sustainable oral hygeine - trust me, after a day of drinking cider, you'll be so glad to scrub those gnashers.
- Loo Roll - festival toilets have a reputation for being awful, and I've seen my fair share of bad ones, but you just need to take it for what it is. I've often forgotten loo roll and been subjected to the festival shake post-pee, but it's much nicer and you feel much cleaner if you always have a roll in your bag.
- SPF - we all hope for a sunny one when we buy festival tickets, but in the summer, even in bad weather the UV rays are powerful. Make sure you pack an SPF and layer it over your...
- Skincare - You're going to be dehydrated, you're going to feel dry, and tired - so take some great skincare and treat your tired, hungover self to a mini facial each morning while you wait for your coffee to cool. This is one part that people so often deem as unnecessary and don't bother with but I promise you, it'll make all the difference. Thank me later, friend.
- Medications - from your essential prescriptions to over the counter remedies like paracetamol, antacids, upset stomach tablets and anti-histamines, make sure you bring a little first aid kit with all the essentials. I never, ever go to a festival without Berocca and Diaoralyte for a morning cocktail of rehydration salts and vitamins - tastes awful but feels brilliant.
- First Aid Kit - not the band... we hope you won't need it, but plasters, alcohol wipes and some bandages might come in handy for blistered feet and grazed elbows.
If you're here, I'm going to take a wild guess and say you're way more interested in looking cute rather than plasters and diarrhoea medication...right?
I thought so. Well, it's around here that this list get's a little less dry and a lot more fun!
- Your Standard Make-Up Bag - the best festival beauty starts with wonderful you - but whilst you probably are just excited to throw glitter on and start partying, a base of your normal make up will not just help you feel better, but it'll stop your skin having a paddy at all the new things it's having to deal with.
- Facepaint Palette & Brushes - A simple water activated face paint palette like this one from Mehron or this Kryolan one will be a great base for so many fun festival looks - whether you just use it as a flick of bright eyeliner or go all out for a Burning Man inspired look.
- Eco Glitter - glitter is the shit, but it's also actually shit for our planet. So it's a bloody good job the queens at Eco Glitter Stardust have made these amazing environmentally friendly glitters that are totally biodegradable. They come in tonnes of colour options, different sizes and different packs for a gorgeous cohesive festival look.
- Shrine Peel Off Glitter Glue - anyone who's ever worn glitter will probably tell you it's a pig to get off. There's a chance you might still have it in your eyebrows 6 months from now...but the chicas over at Shrine have worked out a genius solution - peel off glitter glue! Made from the same skincare ingredients as our favourite peel off face masks, it's totally biodegradable! Just brush a thin layer onto skin, stick your favourite glitters to it, and then let it dry. It'll last all night and when you're ready to remove, just peel straight off!
- Mirror - most festivals have super strict no glass rules, so it might not be as simple as grabbing your normal make up mirror. I massively recommend a Magic Mirror - it's acrylic, it folds down flat, and it's super handy.
- Hair Elastics - grabbing a handful of hair elastics is an essential always. I love them for speedy messy buns and half up styles, for securing french braids, and for bundling things together whilst packing.
- Dry Shampoo - You can totally wash your hair at a festival if a) you can be bothered to wait in line at the showers and b) you don't need or desire a blow-dryer in your life. But me? I don't like letting my hair air-dry, infact I think it looks best several days out, when it's wild and full of product and dirt. Gross? Yes. But hey, you're at a festival and everyone's gross! So take some dry shampoo to soak up any oils lingering on your scalp - and my top tip? Use it pre-emptively before it even gets greasy, and it'll work so much better.
Oh, this is the good bit! Until Dawn started as a festival fashion brand, and whilst it's certainly evolved since then, it's definitely still a huge passion of mine. At a festival, you can wear things you never normally would, you can experiment with new styles, colours and aesthetics, and wear as wacky and wild an outfit as you like.
Sadly, a big part of festival fashion is fast fashion. With major brands taking over the industry and selling cheap, mass produced, plastic sequin covered items which are often only worn once before being discarded by the consumer, it's becoming a huge environmental issue. So here, I'll chat about what to pack for super chic festival looks, that you can continue loving for years to come...
- Wellies - let's get practical here. You're gonna need wellies. I mean, we hope for hot, dry, glorious weather, but if you're reading this in good ol' blighty, you'll know that it's certainly not guaranteed. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst with some waterproof wellies - and make sure you test wear them first, you'll get in tens of miles walking in just a day at a big festival, so test them out and make sure they're comfortable before you leave.
- Boot Socks - while we're on the subject of wellies, let's chat about what goes inside them. Good boot socks are a must, and long socks which go higher up you leg than the wellies are essential. Why? Well, wellies rub your skin something chronic, and wellie rub around your calves can not only be painful, but is very open to infection at a festival. Go for something long and lightweight layered up with a pair of wool socks to keep your feet at a good temperature.
- Waterproofs - I know these totally aren't chic. But my god you'll appreciate some good waterproofs. I have a waterproof all in one from Waterproof Onesie Co and it genuinely saved me in 2016 - but any good waterproof coat will work, especially anything thin, lightweight that can easily be rolled up and carried.
- Slip On Shoes - whether it's got pottering about base camp or wandering to the loo at first light, a pair of shoes that are super easy to slide on and off are an essential. I like a pair of old vans, but crocs, sliders, flip flops or Birkenstocks will all do the job too!
- Loungewear - and whilst we're on the subject of pottering around camp, don't forget to take some super cosy, deliciously comfy loungewear. From keeping you cosy while you sleep to throwing on first thing, a great pair of joggers, an oversized hoodie, some yoga pants or leggings, and a couple of super soft t-shirts will be a total gamechanger. Make sure you include cosy bed socks, long sleeved layers and maybe even your favourite beanie.
- Roomy Day Bag - you've probably got a massive rucksack which you've packed all your essentials in, but don't forget something roomy, practical and cute for during the daytimes too. Whilst not all festivals allow you to bring booze into the arena like Glastonbury does, you'll still want to be able to pack a waterproof or cosy layer, a bottle of water, some snacks and maybe even a picnic blanket to carry around in the daytimes. I like a backpack style bag with room for at least 4 drinks, but if a messenger bag or tote is more your thing, go wild and have fun with it!
"Ok, so I've packed your medicine, tent, dry shampoo, toothbrush, pyjamas...I thought you said there was gonna be something exciting here?"
I did, you're right, and here's a glimpse of some of my favourite pieces to make any festival outfit instantly transform from 'oh...' to... 'WHOA!'
- Fedora Hat - nothing says "I'm with the band" like a cool girl, wide brim fedora. They have that understated off-duty model chic with a bohemian, rock n roll edge, but they're as practical as they are pretty. They're perfect to keep sun from burning noses and cheeks, they hide greasy roots without anyone ever knowing they're there, and if you're cursed with a bit of drizzly rain, they stop mascara running and panda eyed peter coming to play.
- Vintage Scarves - I'm pretty sure I've chatted about this before, but I truly believe that vintage scarves are the ultimate in multi-use styling. I love the super oversized numbers for festivals, perfect for tying bedraggled locks back into a chic turban, tying bandana-style for 90s hippy vibes, or plaiting into long tresses for a pretty but easy summery style. They're also great to add a zing of colour when tied around necks, waists, wrists and handbags - just pick a colour and print which either blends in or totally clashes with your festival aesthetic, and have fun with them!
- Sunglasses - these possibly should have been in the basics section, but whatever. I'm not sure, to this day, there is any accessory as stylish as a pair of sunglasses. And at festivals, you can experiment with styles you wouldn't usually reach for - it'll probably give you the confidence to wear them long after the weekend ends. I love big, round, exagerated John Lennon styles but I'll never say no to a 90s cat eye...
- Statement Vintage Jackets - I mean, I wasn't going to write a festival style blog on Until Dawn and NOT mention statement jacket was I? But in all seriousness, they're the ultimate way to cover up bare shoulders come nightfall and make a serious style statement. From layering ladylike beaded pieces over distressed band t shirts and cut off Levi's for Kate Moss Glasto chic, to retro tasselled numbers which move with you as you sway to the music and wouldn't look out of place at Woodstock. Plus, unlike buying your festival goodies from big retail outlets, with vintage it's incredibly unlikely you'll ever see someone wearing the same thing as you - kerching!
- Big Jewellery - if ever there was a time to pack on those jewels, it's festival season. Layer up stacks of necklaces, wear the biggest of earrings and attach brooches to everything - you can wear the sparkliest, most OTT of costume jewellery to festivals without it looking at all out of place.
- MORE Jewellery - I'm just going to say - really stack it up. Tie it into your hair, fasten it to bags, wear a different pair of statement earrings in every piercing you have. Have fun with it.
- Headdresses - some of you will remember that Until Dawn started as an avant-garde headdress company - and whilst it's totally evolved from the madcap nature of this, it's still something I really love. The best way to elevate a set of waterproofs is with a fabulous flower crown, and there's no better way to make a statement than with a fabulous bejewelled headdress. Head to your local craft store, invest in some faux flowers or dried blooms, and, glue gun in hand, create something totally you and endlessly inspiring that you can bring to festivals for ever more.
- Vintage Sequins - Sequins are brilliant, but sadly they're also made of plastic, and often not sewn on well enough to last a good wear. So shun cheaply made repro pieces in favour of the real deal, and get beautiful vintage sequin and beaded items from Depop, eBay and your favourite vintage stores. I'm personally a huge fan of an 80s silhouette, and the colour palettes are always bold, garish and beautiful.
- Vintage Military Surplus - inspiring catwalks since the dawn of fashion, military styles always have a super chic look, and all those boho retro vibes. Did you know the flares came into 1970's fashion because people were buying up Navy surplus uniforms? From captain style hats, to camoflage jackets and handmade epaulettes with sequins and tassels, military style has been a festival staple since the 1960's and it'll continue to be a classic for years to come.
- A Smile - the best way to look great at a festival? Have fun. At the end of the day, what you wear is a tiny part of the experience. The best bits are watching the sunrise with friends, impromtu dance-offs with strangers in an EDM tent, singing along to your favourite pop songs with a field of thousands, exploring the best of the healing fields and relaxing with a massage, trying new world foods and laughing about slipping over in the mud. Have fun, be free, dance until dawn - and regardless of what you wear, you'll look the part.
So there we have it - everything you might fancy taking to a festival, avoiding all single use plastics and other naughty things!
I appreciate, this list probably looks a little (or a lot) overwhelming, but stay tuned because in a few weeks I'll be putting together a blog on how best to pack, and some hot tips on getting through that weekend without any stresses...