July 29, 2021 8 min read

It’s summer 2021 baby, and music festivals are BACK! Now if you’re anything like me, this information has you scrambling to buy tickets to something, ANYTHING, to get out of the house. I looked up ‘music festivals 2021’ and found tickets to a folk concert in a park by my house, and let me tell you, the speed with which I bought myself a ticket has not yet been measured by science. I was like a rabid animal. And I don’t even like folk music. 

My point is, everyone is excited to get out there and have some fun for the first time in a year and a half, and who can blame them? BUT, before you sprint out of your house and into the nearest venue, you have to prepare yourself. How, you ask? Well, I consider myself somewhat of a festival aficionado. A connoisseur of the concert circuit. A sage of the stage. So I’ve compiled a helpful list of essentials, questions, and answers to take with you - whether you’re going to one of the biggest music festivals available, or just a local folk event in the park by your house, this guide on 2021 music festival essentials will surely help you enjoy the experience to the max. 

How Do You Prepare for a Festival? 

This sounds like a pretty straightforward question, but it’s actually quite abstract. For you see, I am asking you both physically and mentally, how do you prepare for a festival? I ask because if this is your first rodeo, you are gonna see some pretty wack stuff (and if it isn’t, you’re still probably going to see some wild stuff. Maybe even Burning Man level wild). And listen, I’m all about it, but you might not be, and that’s why you have to prepare. People go completely hog wild at some of the big music festivals, so make sure that you’re prepared to see some fully eccentric, fully torqued people! And most importantly, open your mind to something new. Some of my closest friends are the ones I’ve met while watching them hula hoop with glow sticks at 3am by a food truck. 

Overall you need to have a checklist to pack, a cell phone, a backpack, a tent, some cash, and an open mind

In terms of more detailed physical and material preparation, I’ve got a helpful list right here: 

What Do You Need at a Music Festival? 

I personally feel like this depends on the venue you’re going to. Size of the venue is important, as some of the biggest music festivals often include food, water, and supplies for purchase. Smaller music festivals with lower budgets might require that you bring your own materials. However, almost every multi-day music festival has a festival campsite that requires you to bring your own tent, so be sure you don’t forget that! This especially applies to 2021 music festivals - as we’re coming out of a pandemic, they will most likely want you to be extra careful and will ask that you bring all of your own supplies to avoid too much physical contact. 

Before I get into essentials, I feel it’s important (and often overlooked) to bring up things you SHOULDN’T bring. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a festival and had to watch someone get booted out because they had one of these things, or they’ve lost their pricey possessions along the way.

What NOT to Bring to a Music Festival 

Don’t get caught at the entrance with these things if you want be let in! Most festivals don’t allow any of this stuff: 

  • Weapons. This seems obvious, but I guess not to everyone. Either way, don’t do it. It’s lame. Summer music festivals are a time for peace and love! 
  • Pets. You gotta leave your furry friends at home, folks. All of the action and noise happening around them might make them overstimulated, and most festival tents don’t allow animals. 
  • Expensive technology. You’re just begging to get your prized possessions stolen! Don’t do it!
  • Glass. This mostly applies to beer bottles, as they easily shatter and create a danger for those who are barefoot (and trust me, a lot of people will be barefoot). 

This is a short list of things that are most often banned from festivals. I highly recommend looking at the rules of the festival you’re attending to make sure you don’t bring anything that they won’t let you in with. 

Now that that’s over, let’s dive right into the essentials! 

5 Festival Camping Essentials to Bring to a Music Festival

  • Waterproof Tent: Festivals aren’t cancelled just because it rains - you simply party through it! That’s why waterproof tents are essential. Plus, they keep all of your belongings and clothes nice and dry for when you come back from a concert wet and groggy. 
  • Windproof Lighter: These are super-cool, ultra-useful plasma lighters that will light up even in the windiest conditions. We recommend this Sparkr mini lighter for a portable, soft-to-the-touch lighter that won’t let you down! 
  • LED Tent Lights: Everything is way more fun with colors! LED tent lights are the latest craze of any and all 2021 music festivals, so don’t stay out of the loop! Here is a great set of color-changing LED lights that will take your tent from boring to bright in a matter of seconds. You’ll be the talk of the entire festival camping site!
  • Waterproof Bag: Just as essential as a waterproof tent. With one of these, you can take all of your belongings with you without the worry of damaging them or leaving them to be stolen! Just don’t forget it at the venue because you’re having too much fun. 
  • Portable Charging Station: My personal favorite, and the savior of my last trip to Bonnaroo. I know I said to avoid bringing valuables, but some valuables (such as smart phones or watches) can’t really be avoided. I personally use this multi-device charging station to get my devices charged up and ready to go for a day of adventure and picture-taking. It’s compatible with Apple and Android, comes with multiple type-C and micro-USB cables, and adjustable dividers. Make sure you charge it up before you go! 

What Do I Wear to a Music Festival? 

If you’ve been to a music festival before, I’m sure you’ve seen what people wear (or choose not to wear if you’re going to a summer music festival. No judgement, just an observation!). However, the most important thing to think about is comfort. You’re not going to enjoy yourself if you have 30 blisters on your feet from wearing those rad-as-hell shoes you bought online that you didn’t break in. Lucky for you, I’ve got a great list of essentials (and things to avoid) right here! 

What NOT to Wear: 

Music festivals in 2021 are all about fun and self-expression. But on top of fashion comes comfort, and for that I believe these trends should be avoided:
  • No leather. Leather and suede are hot, and not in the ways we like. They’re also not great in rain or against spilt drinks. Plus they’re mad heavy. 
  • No heels. No matter your gender, heels are hard to walk in. You may think they look good, and they do, but after about 4 hours of walking you’ll be wishing you could remove your feet completely.
  • No rompers. When you’re facing down the onsight porta-potty, the idea of stripping down completely to pee isn’t quite so appealing.
  • No flower crowns. No reason for this, I just don’t like them. They’re a 2017-2020 trend, and it is time to let them die. 

What to Wear: 

  • Good walking shoes. Find some that build the bridge between form and function, you won’t regret it. 
  • SunglassesThe sun gets bright, bro! How are you gonna see your favorite musicians if you can’t see 6 feet in front of you without squinting? 
  • Comfortable clothes. You can get decked out in uncomfortable clothes if you want, but at least bring some comfortable clothes to change into back at the festival campsite. 

Common Questions 

What Should I Know Before Going to a Music Festival?

  • Don’t worry about having the right clothes. I know I just mentioned this, but I want to bring it home. It’s totally okay to come wearing that fishnet dress with the crazy belts and buckles, or that horse head mask you bought recently, or whatever the 2021 music festival fashion trend might be, but just make sure you have a comfortable backup for when you’re trying to lay down or relax.
  • You’re gonna see some weird stuff. And that’s okay! Weird is good! Just be ready to see people wearing wild stuff and acting outside of the ordinary. Festivals are where people go to let loose! If you haven’t, you should try it! 
  • Plan ahead. Don’t get to the festival and realize you only packed 1 pair of jeans and 0 pairs of underwear. Get your handy-dandy checklist and keep track of what you bring. I’ve lost too many shirts before because I didn’t do a good job of planning and tracking what I brought. 
  • Stay safe. Pickpocketing and theft are common at summer music festivals especially, and security can only do so much. If you feel unsafe, however, don’t be afraid to ask security to assist you.


What Kind of Food is at a Festival?

This depends on the festival you’re attending! Most 2021 music festivals have food trucks to keep you fed and hydrated (be warned, though: these food trucks might be a little overpriced). The food at these trucks are always really diverse and (almost always) really delicious. Festivals are where most food trucks make the most money, so you’re bound to find at least 5 trucks with something you like or will want to try. Burgers? Check. Korean-fusion gyros? Check. Ice cream with something crazy like crickets in it? Probably! 

Some of the big festivals might even have restaurants or tents with food for purchase as well! No matter what your food preferences are, you’ll find something. 

Can You Take Food to Festivals?

For those who might not have the cash to spend on purchasing food every day, I understand. You’ve already spent like a bajillion dollars on the tickets, and you want to buy at least ONE souvenir shirt. You can’t do it all without spending boatloads more than you have!

However, the good news is this: a lot of festivals will allow you to bring a cooler with your own food. Just be sure that the food you bring doesn’t spoil easily, like sandwiches and premade pastas. It’s also essential that you make sure to check the rules and regulations of the festival you’re going to in order to make sure outside food is permitted. I recommend bringing food, but you should try at least one of the food trucks - more often than not, one of them will have the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen. It’s worth a try.

Music festivals are amazing, wonderful places where you can meet new people, try new foods, see new music, and wear (almost) whatever you want. But before you launch into your next music festival in 2021, I hope reading this article has helped you feel a little more prepared. I honestly wish I had this article for my last concert - then maybe I wouldn’t have wound up sleeping under a tarp at the edge of camp with only 1 shoe. Who knows. 

Heed my advice, pack efficiently, and most importantly: HAVE FUN! 

Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor