17 Top Music Festival Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2019)

Updated on April 23, 2019 by Asher Fergusson

Music festivals are an awesome way to spend time jamming with you friends and maybe even exploring a new part of the world. Festivals come in all shapes and sizes, with music of all types, ranging from indie rock, classic rock, and world music to hip hop, jazz, americana and bluegrass. Be prepared for this year’s lineup of festivals by checking out this go-to festival packing list.

What do I need to bring to a music festival?

1) Comfortable Shoes – Any sort of festival is going to require a lot of standing, walking and hopefully dancing! Make sure to wear a super comfortable pair of shoes so that you can jam out without your feet killing you. These sneakers have awesome reviews and and very colorful – perfect festival-wear.

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2) Tarp or Carpet – Some festivals like Bonnaroo and Burning Man involve camping, and others you might just attend during the day. If you plan on staking out a home base for you and your friends, it’s a good idea to lay down a tarp or carpet for a chill spot. A simple blue tarp from the hardware store always works, or your could invest in a solid waterproof tarp specifically for using outdoors. This one is super durable and even camper-approved.

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3) Water – Any outdoor festival can dehydrate you real quickly. Between drinking beers and sweating in the sun, you’ll need to also consume LOTS of water. Especially if you’re going to a multi-day music festival, the rule of thumb is one gallon per day per person. Stock up on a few huge tanks before you go, and make sure that the festival venue allows you to bring outside water. If not, bring an empty jug or bottle and refill at water stations throughout your time there.

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4) Simple Energy Snacks – Keep your energy up by bringing low-maintenance, zero-prep snacks with you to the festival. Fresh fruit that you can grab and go, like apples, bananas and oranges, are a great option. For more filling snacks, bring some trail mix or cereal bars like these ones.

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5) Daypack – You’ll be glad you brought a daypack with you to stash your water, beverages, snacks, pocket money, etc. finding the right fit is key, especially since there are so many options on the market today. A simple one is fine, but if you want to go the extra mile, get one with a water bladder like this one to help you stay hydrated.

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6) Waterproof Dry Bags – Don’t let anything rain on your parade. Rain and condensation may occur while you’re trying to enjoy the festival, so keep all your stuff dry by storing the important things in dry bags. If you’re bringing your phone or camera, this is extra important.

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7) Sunscreen – Many music festivals happen in the summer, when the sun is blazing down on you. No matter what season it is, any festival requires loads of time outside. Bring some sunscreen with a good amount of SPF, and apply it every couple hours. Don’t let a nasty sunburn ruin your festival experience!

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8) Costumes – At some music festivals like Voodoo Fest, it’s expected and encouraged for festival-goers to wear costumes. For example, one of the coolest parts of Burning Man is the costumes that people deck themselves out in – they range from Mad-Max-inspired to glow-in-the-dark light suits. If you’re one to dress up in outrageous outfits, stock up on a few entertaining costumes. These LED hand gloves are perfect for the late-night techno at the festival.

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9) Tent – If you’re going to a festival where you’re going to be camping, like Bonnaroo or Burning man, you are going to need somewhere to sleep. Most festival-goers use tents, which are ideal, although hammocks could work too. This tent is a great option – it can fit up to two people, and has a wide entrance for easy entry and exit.

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10) Large Cooler – If festival rules allow it, you will not regret bringing a big cooler with you, especially for multi-day festivals. It’ll keep all your food and beverages nice and cold, and you can pack it with water bottles, easy snacks, and maybe a bottle of aloe vera in case you get sunburned. This one comes on wheels so you can easily roll it from the parking lot to your spot.

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11) Air Mattress – If you’re camping out for your festival, an air mattress will make your sleep at the festival infinitely more comfortable. There’s a huge difference in the comfort of sleeping on the hard ground versus sleeping on a comfy air mattress! Just make sure you bring the air pump with you, and make sure that your pump can be hooked up to your car as a power source!

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12) Charging Phone Case – There’s no time to sit somewhere to charge your phone during a music festival. A phone case that charges your phone is an awesome alternative to charging stations or even external batteries. Don’t let a dead phone stop you from making it to the next music set!

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13) First Aid Kit – Anything can happen at a festival, and a first aid kit filled with bandaids, Advil and neosporin will definitely come in handy at some point. I’ve had blisters, splinters, scrapes, cuts and burns happen at festivals, and have had to use my first aid kit on myself, friends and strangers more times than I can count.

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14) Camping Chairs – When you’re not roaming around the festival grounds and checking out all the live music, you’ll most likely be hanging with your friends at your homebase. Before you leave for the festival make sure to pack some folding chairs to relax in. These ones are ultralight and foldable!

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15) Lanterns – Especially if you’re camping at the festival, decorating your group space is a fun way to help everybody in your group distinguish your site from everybody else’s. Lanterns are a cute and noticeable way to decorate. They’ll also help you find your way back in the dark, and set the festival mood!

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16) Solar Shower – If you’re staying overnight at a festival, you may want to shower at some point during your time there (especially if it’s in the middle of summer). A solar shower will come in very handy, and make you feel super fresh after spending the day in the hot sun at, say, Burning Man. This solar shower packs down small and is easy to use.

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17) Solar Charger – Needless to say, outlets can be hard to find at outdoor music festivals, and charging stations are always packed. For those times when you absolutely need to charge your camera or GoPro, a solar charger will save you.

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Other packing list items for a music festival:

What to wear to a music festival:

What you wear totally depends on what festival you’ll be attending. Generally speaking, less is usually more. Try to dress in layers, and bring a light jacket for nighttime (especially if you’re camping). During the day, casual festival clothes like jean shorts and tee shirts are a good fit. For the car or plane trip there, wear comfortable clothes that you can re-wear throughout the weekend so that you don’t overpack. Do a quick weather-check before you head out. If you’re totally lost for what to wear, browse through blog posts with pictures of the particular festival you’re going to!

What NOT to take to a music festival:

The following are banned from most music festivals (including Burning Man, Jazz Fest & Bonnaroo):
1) 🚫 Weapons – Festivals are a time for peace and love (Bonnaroo in particular was heavily influenced by Woodstock and other “peace and love” gatherings of the 1960s and 1970s, after all)!
2) 🚫 Animals or Pets – Sorry, but you’ll have to leave your furry friends at home.
3) 🚫 Glass – Bring any alcohol in cans instead of glass bottles. Check beverage rules first, though!
4) 🚫 Generator – Most music festivals don’t allow you to bring a generator. If you need energy at your campsite, bring portable chargers or battery-powered devices only.
5) 🚫 Drone – Drones can be dangerous and annoying to other concert-goers. Bring your selfie-stick instead if you want to get pictures from a higher angle.
6) 🚫 Fireworks, explosives, or aerial flares – No need to risk a forest fire.
7) 🚫 Valuables – Don’t bring any valuables! If you absolutely must, keep them locked and out of view in your vehicle.
8) 🚫 Firearms of any kind – This includes BB guns, air rifles and paintball guns.
9) 🚫 Hand-held lasers – Leave these at home. All other lasers must be registered.
10) 🚫 Wood chips, loose feathers, tubs of confetti – They’re bad for the environment.

FAQs about music festivals:

1) If I’m camping and the festival is during the summer months, how do I stay cool in my tent?

Bring some ice packs or chilly pads and keep them in your cooler. When you’re getting ready for bed, cool down by setting one on your forehead. You can also bring portable fans to use in your tent.

2) At multi-day festivals, what am I supposed to do with my trash?

At most festivals that involve camping, staff will give you a trash bag when you go in that they will collect at the end of the festival. At Bonnaroo last year, they even gave festival-goers a raffle ticket for every bag of trash they turned in! If you can, try and spend a little time picking up trash to keep the Earth clean!

3) How much money should I bring with me?

It depends on how long you’re going for and what kind of music festival it is, but if you’re staying for a few days you should plan on bringing around $100-300 in cash. Make sure you bring enough money to purchase any souvenirs if you wish to.

4) How can I make the most of my music festival experience?

Make the most of it by losing yourself in the music and taking lots of pictures!

5) Are music festivals safe?

Yes. In general, the main dangers at music festivals are those you can easily avoid – that is to say, if you don’t overindulge and you take standard sun and safety precautions, you shouldn’t have any issues. Don’t carry excessive cash, keep any valuables close and hidden, wear sunscreen and stay hydrated, and pay attention to your surroundings. You’ll have a fantastic time, and enjoy memories of your experience for years to come!

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