The Madame F essential festival survival guide

It's time for sequins, sleeping bags and glamping. Our festival survival guide has everything you need to pack and remember for an epic weekend.

Latitude. Creamfields. Womad. Reading. All events in the calendar that eager festival-goers may have missed over the last two years – but not anymore. The sequins are out, body paint stocked up and sleeping bags aired. Whether you’re glamping (only lux yurts and bell tents for us) or cramming into a two-person pop-up (careful) – you need a serious plan to take on summer festivals and win. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate Madame F festival survival guide.

We’ve packed a rucksack’s worth of practical tips and tricks to get the most from the UK’s festival season, including essentials to bring, what to wear and the secret to beating the loo queue.

The Madame F festival survival guide

Pitch to win

Early starts are never fun, but there’s nothing worse than showing up late and being left with the worst camping spot or stuck at the back of the crowd. Showing up early means you can find a prime spot on the campgrounds. Our advice is to pitch near a main path for easy access, ideally a few minutes away from the loos. Some festivals such as Reading Festival have VIP camping areas, such as Camping Plus, which includes warm showers, security and even a pamper area complete with hair straighteners. These areas tend to be nearer the stages, too.

Where to pitch your tent at a festival

Caught in the act

When heading to the stages for the acts, set yourself up for success by ensuring you have all your essentials on hand. An insider tip is to make sure that you’re on the side of the crowd closest to facilities and water refill stations – that way, you don’t have to give up your prime gigging spot halfway through the set.

If you’re planning on catching a few acts in quick succession, make sure you scope out the stages beforehand, grab a map of the site (such as this map of Womad) and stay at the back of the crowd during early sets so you can hotfoot it / spludge through mud (weather dependent) to the next performance more quickly.

Best foot forwards

A 2015 study found that festival-goers walk nearly 15 miles during a single festival weekend, so make sure you’ve got the proper footwear. In the UK, it can seem that it comes down to a toss-up between wellies and flip-flops, but smart festival-goers know different.

Nothing ruins festival vibes more than blisters and swollen ankles, so pick out shoes already broken in. Stick to closed-toe styles for extra protection when in crowds, or go-to staples such as well-worn Converse or Vans.

Chilling in your yurt after a long day of dancing with a glass of Madame F? That’s when you should swap your festival footwear for a pair of flip-flops to give your feet a well-deserved break.

Wellies and summer festivals

Meet and greet

Smart festival-goers have a few plan B’s up their sleeve. It’s easy to get separated from your friends, and with festivals across the country being infamous as mobile signal blackspots, finding yourself alone from friends is at least a once-per-festival event.

Best bet is to agree on a spot and a time to meet with your friends if anyone gets separated or lost before plunging into the crowds. Most festivals have handy markers to point you in the right direction and helpers handing out maps, making linking back up with your group a breeze.

Flow rider

Of course, getting separated from friends does open up a different possibility. Instead of anxiously wasting valuable time hunting for mates, go with the flow and explore the festival solo for a bit. It’s your chance to visit stages and see acts you genuinely want to experience without going through the usual group think scheduling debates and stage visit lottery.

What to wear at a summer festival

Pack to the future

Weirdly, backpacks and tote bags actually aren’t bottomless. This does mean you need to think carefully about what you’re packing when working through our festival survival guide.

Packing clothes you can wear in different ways will help you maximise space while maintaining at least an air of style. Opt for travel minis of your go-to toiletries to stay fresh. Pack all your bits into individual, differently coloured carrier bags such as one for toiletries, one for foods and so on to make rummaging ten-times easier.

Don’t forget to be weather-appropriate, too. Leave the denim at home if the forecast is soggy – you honestly will not wear it – and prioritise layers to keep yourself comfortable throughout the day and into the night.

Stay hydrated

Drinking is a big part of UK festival culture, and a glorious Madame F Rosé or refreshing Madame F White are ideal festival companions that should be part of any self-respecting festival survival kit. That said, remember to drink in moderation and keep topped up with plenty of water to stay hydrated. A collapsable water bottle is your friend.

Get out while you still can

Unsurprisingly, a simply astonishing number of festival-goers tend to have the same idea and leave at the exact same time as everyone else. Result? Spending the tail end of your festival in a tailback lasting hours. The trick is to turn your festival rucksack into your exit go bag the night before, packing up everything except essentials so you can chuck them over your shoulder and make for the exit.

Celebrating with friends summer festival

The Madame F festival survival guide – essentials checklist

Stuck on what to pack? Can’t seem to quite cram your entire wardrobe into a tote bag? No worries – our helpful what to pack festival checklist has you covered.

Personal bits

  • Baby wipes.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Hand sanitiser.
  • Toilet roll.
  • Deodorant and perfume.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste (and gum for extra minty freshness).
  • Ear plugs (for an early night or rowdy neighbours).
  • First aid kit – include pain killers, antiseptic wipes and blister plasters.
  • Cash – avoid contactless cards as they can be easily used if stolen.
  • Tickets and ID

Camping equipment

  • Sleeping bag.
  • Tent.
  • Folding chair.
  • Foldable pillow.
  • Blanket.
  • Collapsable refillable water bottle.
  • Secure storage for valuables.
  • Colourful decorations to mark your tent.
  • Cool box for keeping your Madame F perfectly chilled.

What to wear

  • Hoodie (can also double as a pillow).
  • Statement top for effortless style.
  • Extra socks and underwear.
  • A bumbag or small backpack.
  • Comfy leggings for sleeping and relaxing.
  • Waterproof poncho or jacket.
  • Throwaway flip-flops.

Techie stuff

  • Mobile phone – ideally, use an old one and swap the sim.
  • Disposable camera – incredibly, these are still a thing.
  • Rechargeable torch utilising a hand crank or solar panels.
  • Powerbanks with USB ports for charging phones.
  • Mini battery fan (for stuffy tents and hairlines).

If you’re not done with the fun and fancy continuing the vibes, read our guide on how to host the ultimate karaoke party