Festival Survival Guide - Copyright Colin Gillen

Ultimate Festival Survival Guide

Heading to a music festival this summer? Whether it’s in the foreign lands or on our own damp shores, let me take you through some top tips in this ultimate festival survival guide for making it out of the upcoming festival season alive and with keeping at least a shred of dignity.

Learn how to pitch a tent

Nothing is more tragic than seeing a group of people in a wrestling match with their tent. Especially when the tent is clearly winning. Yeah, it all looks easy when Bear Grylls is doing it, but putting up your tent is no walk in the park if you haven’t done it before. To avoid this embarrassment, practice pitching your tent in the back garden. Being able to avoid the sniggers of former Boy Scout onlookers and the constant fear that your tent is about to cave in will make the practice worthwhile.

Check the weather forecast and don’t trust it

In fact, I would go as far as to say that you should prepare for the complete opposite of what is predicted by Met Éireann, who seem to think that a rain shower will be a welcome surprise for those who have a sheet of fabric as shelter for the weekend. Wellies and coats are a must if you’re camping out in Ireland or Britain. If you’re heading to hotter destinations, there’s a good chance the people there will never have seen a pair of wellies in their blissful, sun-filled life. In which case, a light raincoat will suffice.

Bring a torch

Oh, how I and many others mocked my friend for bringing a headlamp to a festival. We laughed and jeered until we could jeer no more. Then night arrived and she was the only one able to see further than a metre in front of her. Luckily she forgave our foolish ways and kindly (a bit smugly, actually) shared her torch with us. Swallowing our pride was tough, but the privilege of not using a Portaloo in the dark was priceless. The moral of the story here is that unless your phone has an inbuilt torch, it’s not going to do the trick. You can be the smug headlamp-wearing friend this time around.

Baby wipes are your best friend

Not just for the use of cleaning little bottoms, your typical baby wipe can clean your wellies, your tent and most importantly, you. From removing make up to a half assed shower, Johnsons will become your go to product when running water is seen as a luxury you no longer possess.

Bring toilet paper

Or even better- train your bladder to never pee. The latter being a much more difficult ask, I think toilet paper might be your best bet. With thousands of Portaloo users in a day, if you’re not prepared you may find yourself in a less than pleasant, empty toilet roll situation.

Learn how to smuggle drink

This is something your average student is well trained in. Sneaking many a naggin past various bouncers has become a general Thursday night hobby for some, and those people will have no trouble doing the same when bringing drink from the campsite to the festival area.

Don’t spend most of your time in your tent

This is a deadly mistake I learned from last year. When the cans are flowing and you’re having a concert of your own inside your humble triangular abode, it is all too easy to disregard the top notch acts rocking the stage a few hundred metres away. Realistically, you may as well have pitched a tent in your back garden, put your iPod on full blast and saved yourself a few hundred euro. Avoid that at all costs and go to every act possible. I still kick myself for missing Kodaline at Indiependence last year.


I don’t mean during the festival; that’s just not going to happen. But after. When you get home, a solid twenty four hour sleep should set you straight. A warm bed will never have been more attractive.

With some stellar festivals planned (Don’t mention Oxegen), this summer is shaping up to be a great one. If you’re in doubt as to whether or not a music festival will be to your liking, try a small, more local event first. The greasy hair and mud only lasts a weekend, but the memories last forever. Unless you get too drunk. Then you’ll probably have no memory of it at all. Either way, a weekend of music and mud-filled madness is well worth trying. Happy camping!