2018 Definitive Guide To Festival Camping Essentials

    Festival Camping will save you money on hotels and eating out and allow you to meet more people and make new friends.
    There are a number of great camping music festivals that go on around the country every year and no 2 are the same.
    It's important to understand what each festival offers before you commit.
    Remembering to stock up on plenty of food and snacks alone will save a few hundred dollars while you're at the festival.

As the winter frost begins to thaw around the country now marks the perfect time to start planning out your camping festival goals for the year.

Warmer weather means outdoor stages showcasing your favorite musical acts will soon be upon us.

There are a lot of different ways to experience a music festival, but without a doubt, the best way is to camp.

Camping will save you money on hotels and eating out and allow you to meet more people and make new friends.. which is really what a good music festival is all about.

Not to mention most of the big festivals accommodate campers with affordable campsite passes and facilities.

That’s not to say that festival camping is a walk in the park. 

If done wrong camping at a festival can be a huge bummer.

There’s a lot you need to know before you pack up your tent and cooler and head out for a long weekend of music and partying.

Each festival is different and there are plenty of hacks that festival campers have compiled over the years to help make your experience the best it can be.

RELATED: Best Multi-Room Tent For Glamping in 2018     

CAMPING FESTIVALS

There are a number of great camping music festivals that go on around the country every year and no 2 are the same.

Each festival offers its own vibe which comes through in the acts it presents, the people it attracts, the outdoor setting and even the food and merchandise sold.

The fact is that you may not jive with the vibe of every festival.  Heck, you may only jive with one or two of the fests on our list.

All the different factors that go into making the festival possible will affect you in some way while you’re there.

Whether its the weather, or the food, or the people, or even the porta-pottys, all of these pieces can make or break your trip.

That’s why it’s important to understand what each festival offers before you commit.

You may see that your favorite act is performing at Bonnaroo, but if you can’t handle heat and humidity, you may have a tough time enjoying the show.

Below is our list of top camping festivals to check out in 2018!

RELATED: 21 Coolest Camping Gadgets To Conquer The Trail In 2018

1. Bonnaroo

Bonnaroo is a 4-day music festival in June bringing together a variety of top acts spanning all different genres of music on 10+ stages showcasing more than 130 bands.

Along with the music you’ll see top comedians, experience silent discos and have access to Bonnaroo Cinema.

There’s a ton of activities to keep you busy all day including yoga, parades, a 5k run and even spaces for those choosing to stay sober and those with little kids. 

For camping, there are a number of different options.

The most popular is camping out of your car or RV which is great for the seasoned camper.

However, if you’re not a seasoned camper and don’t have your own supplies you can rent a Le Bon tent and let them do all the work for you.  Or you can join a community camp or a group camp where everyone pitches in and shares the experience.

For glampers, there are surrounding hotels and shuttles going back and forth to the fest throughout the day.

Each of these requires its own pass.  

2. Coachella

Coachella is a music and arts festival out of Indio California focused on bringing a wide mix of today’s top musical acts together spanning genres such as hip hop, electronic dance, rock, and indie.

There is 2 separate 4 day weekends of music and entertainment to accommodate the rising number of people who come to this festival every year.

Along with music, there is a ton of large-scale art that add to the ambiance.

As far as camping goes you can choose to car camp with a camping spot next to your car and get a 10×30 foot spot for your car and tent.

Or you can camp in the campgrounds where you’ll get a 10×15 spot which is perfect for a tent + canopy.

For glampers, you can get one of Coachella’s safari tents which are 4 person tents with amenities like showers and coolers.

Amenities for all campers include free showers, portable toilets, free Wi-Fi areas, mobile device charging stations, shuttles to the grocery store, a farmer’s market, and free water refilling stations.

3. Lightning In A Bottle

Lightning In A Bottle Fest is a 4-day festival located on San Antonio lake in Bradley, Ca in May focused on promoting sustainability, social cohesion, personal health, and creative expression.

There’s a lot of great music at this festival on a number of different stages along with yoga, speakers, art activities, speakers, cooking classes and so much more!

For campers, you have the option of general camping which doesn’t reserve any spots or car and RV camping which will get you your own spaces.

For glampers, there are several boutique camping options complete with a setup tent, bed with linens and towels.

4. Firefly

Firefly music festival takes place in June in Delaware and features top headlining musical acts combined with up and coming acts all set in the lush surrounding Delaware greenery.

Along with the main-stage musical acts, there is a coffeehouse and a silent disco where you can enjoy more music, a cool market, and hammocks to lounge in the trees.

Campers are given a number of camping options including car/RV camping, general no-car camping, infield camping, glamping, and tent rental.

Showers are $5 to use and there is an onsite market.

5. Electric Forest

Electric Forest is an 8 day, 2-weekend music fest in Rothbury, Michigan featuring electronic artists, jam bands, and top artists.

For campers, there’s general admission camping (includes a parking space), you can join a camping group, or you can go with a number of VIP camping packages.

There’s plenty of amenities including showers, food, concierge, etc.

6. Camp Bisco

Camp Bisco takes place in Mid July in Scranton, Pa and features 3 days of music from top Electronic music acts.

Along with music, this festival offers a full water park with water slides and a lazy river, volleyball courts, zip lines overlooking the whole area and plenty more!

This festival is all about camping as they provide a completely “tents-only” campground with no car camping.

There are a number of camping packages available including general admission, VIP camping that includes drinks, activities, and BBQ; and then glamping packages with hotel quality services.

There are separate on-site parking passes available.

They also provide off-site parking shuttles for those who couldn’t secure on-site parking and want to park in Scranton. Just contact the festival organizers to make arrangements for pickup.

7. Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival

The Bean Blossom Bluegrass festival is an 8-day music festival featuring some of the best acts playing bluegrass today!

The festival takes place at the Bill Monroe Music Park & Campground at Bean Blossom in Morgantown, IN.

There’s plenty of camping available on their private campgrounds. 

They include hot showers, clean restrooms, two dump stations, stocked fishing lake (no license required), walking trails; assorted picnic tables, fire rings, and barbecue grills; large covered pavilion, camp store, gift shop, museum and free WIFI is available in the camp store for all campers

8. Telluride Bluegrass Festival

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival is a 4-day music festival in Telluride, Co the 3rd weekend in July which has traditionally featured the best in Bluegrass from around the country but has recently been open to more mainstream acts as well.

Visitors are given the option of camping in several different campgrounds in Telluride within 7 miles from the festival. There are camp only sites and spots where you can car or RV camp. 

Free shuttle buses run throughout the day to and from the festival.

9. RockyGrass

The Rockygrass music festival is a bluegrass festival at the end of July in Lyons, Co and features some of the top names in Bluegrass.

The festival magic really takes place at the campgrounds.  There are 4 different campsites available, all within a short walk to the festival grounds.

Unless you need your vehicle for camping then you don’t need a vehicle pass. Typically most folks will use their car to drop off their gear then purchase a parking pass for Planet Bluegrass Farm parking area in Lyons.

10. Electric Daisy Carnival

The Electric Daisy Carnival one of the biggest electronic dance music festivals in the world and is just an all around blast.

There are 8 stages pumping EDM all night with rides including roller coasters, and other carnival rides.

There are art displays featuring three-dimensional superstructures, colorful, glow-in-the-dark environments, and all manner of LED-infused flora and fauna. Much of the art is interactive which adds another layer of cool to this fest.

Camping at EDC is what makes this a truly must-do music festival.

There are a handful of camping options that all revolve around staying in their pre-setup ShiftPod2’s which are pretty cool. You can step it up and get one with a bed and linens.  There’s also RV camping available.

The Mesa is where all the campers hang out.  There are a ton of amenities including a pool, yoga, reiki, rave aerobics, go-kart racing, sound baths and plenty more.

FESTIVAL CAMPING TIPS

Whether it’s your first time going to a music festival or your a seasoned festival vet each time you go will be a unique experience where you’ll pick up some camping knowledge that you didn’t know before.

Some things to keep in mind when camping at a festival

  1. Be sure to arrive with your whole party if you need multiple lots. You can’t save spaces for friends showing up later.
  2. Make sure you cover your tent with a rainfly or canopy. A wet inside of a tent will ruin your whole weekend.
  3. Make sure all of your electronics are battery powered and don’t need to be plugged in.
  4. Bring a solar power charger and cords.  Most festivals like Bonnarroo and Coachella have charging stations but they’ll be crammed with people and long waits.
  5. DRINK LOTS OF WATER. The importance of staying hydrated can’t be overstated. Bring refillable water jugs and bottles as most festivals have refillable water stations. Or you’ll spend a lot of money and time waiting in lines for water.
  6. Bring a backpack or fanny pack to keep your essentials in.  Also invest in a money belt that you can wear under your clothes to store cash and cards. This will help avoid any pickpocket or lost money scenarios.
  7. Don’t limit yourself to traveling in a big group. Not everyone in the group will want to do what you want to do or see who you want to see. Travel in small groups, do a buddy system, or just wander on your own. This is your experience and don’t let anyone else’s intentions slow you down.
  8. Get to know your camping neighbors. This is one of the funnest parts about festival camping.
  9. Don’t forget any medication you may need. Also make sure you take care of yourself well before you go. Get plenty of sleep and take in plenty of vitamin C to boost your immune system as much as possible. Also stock up on Emergen-C to bring with you.
  10. Bring ONLY a POSITIVE ATTITUDE.  It’s shocking to think that anyone would commit to a festival with anything less than a positive attitude.. but there are plenty of debby downers out there who want to ruin your fun. Things can get a little uncomfortable at times but as long as you commit to a great time you’ll have a great time.

WHAT TO BRING TO A MUSIC FESTIVAL

Packing for a music festival can be an overwhelming process especially if it’s your first one.

There’s so much for a festival camper to plan for.

On the one hand, you don’t have to worry about overpacking for survival scenarios like you would if you were camping in the backcountry.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be too shorthanded and end up having to buy stuff from the festival’s markets that you already own and have a high markup.

TOILETRIES

As far as toiletries go, the basic necessities and not much more work fine. 

There will be access to showers, but keep in mind there’s a good chance you may not use them or use them once when you absolutely can’t stand yourself.

Leave your hair dryers, your curling iron, hairspray, gel, and any other glam products at home.  Replace them with body paint and you’ll fit in even better.

If it’s hot and humid out there’s a chance that everyone around you is going to be in the same boat so don’t stress it too hard.

Stuff To Bring:

soap/shampoo

– deodorant

– toilet paper

– bug spray

– sunscreen

– toothbrush/toothpaste

– Lip Balm

– Hand sanitizer

– Baby Wipes

– Condoms (this is a music festival not a broadway show)

CLOTHES

Pack only comfy, light, breathable clothes that you feel comfortable dancing, raging, and sweating in.

If you’re doing it right you’re going to get wet at some point.

Wear comfy shoes that you don’t mind throwing out if it comes to that.

Between the walking, jumping, mud and getting stepped on I wouldn’t suggest wearing anything you plan on wearing out in public ever again. 

Some other essentials include:

– Sunglasses

– Hat

– Poncho or Raincoat

– Sleepwear

  • Flip flops
  • Hiking shoes

– Bathing Suit

CAMPSITE

The awesome thing about festival camping is that for 3 or 4 days you’re apart of a new community.

So when it comes to setting up your campsite, assuming you’re not glamping and everything’s already pre-made for you, go big with how you set up.  Make your and surrounding lot space as comfy and conducive to fun and comfort as you can.

Don’t hold back and be that guy or girl asking to borrow a lawn chair.

Some stuff to bring for camping include:

– Tent with fly

– Canopy

– Zero gravity or lawn chairs

– Sleeping bag

– Air bed

– Sleeping pad

– Solar Charger

– Portable solar shower

– Folding table

– portable fan

– Camping stove or grill

– utensils and plates

– Can opener

– Cups

– Biodegradable soap

– Large Plastic Bags (for garbage)

– Large rotomolded coolers

– Paper Towels

– Duct Tape

– Tent lock

You also want to think about how you’re going to decorate your festival tent.

In a general admission campground, it can be hard to find your tent in a sea of other tents. 

Some things that can help distinguish your tent include:

– Balloons

– Towels

– Crazy art

– Flags

– Banners

Don’t hold back on festival tent decoration. It’ll make spotting your tent easier for you and potential new friends.

FOOD

Remembering to stock up on plenty of food and snacks alone will save a few hundred dollars while you’re at the festival. 

That’s not to say that you should only rely on your own rations since most festivals offer some amazing food that you can’t find anywhere else.

That being said there’s only so many $15 burgers you can eat before you have no more money for other stuff.. like beer!

Unless you have a reliable way to store it don’t bring meat or dairy items.

Some food items to consider bringing include:

– bread/bagels

– Chips/pretzels

– Dried fruit

– Nuts/Trail mix

– Peanut Butter

– Breakfast food like granola, cereal, oats

– Canned beverages

GENERAL FUN STUFF

More than anything else you want to enjoy yourself. 

After all, you’re not sitting at your campsite all day reading and evaluating spreadsheets.. unless that’s your thing.

Bring plenty of toys to play with and stuff to keep you entertained.

  • Playing Cards
  • Folding Table
  • Book
  • Portable speakers

Assuming you have a charged phone make sure you stay up to date on festival specific Instagram and Twitter hashtags. 

These will keep you up to date on what’s happening at the festival including band set times, giveaways and any other special announcements.

Also, make sure you check the set times of all the performers so you know when you’re favorite acts are on.

You may have come all this way to see one specific band.  Don’t get stuck all the way in the back or even worse completely miss their performance.

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Erik

Erik grew up as a desert rat in Arizona. After exploring the backcountry of the west coast he came east for a job but still finds time to explore the beauty of the northeast.