Festival etiquette: the ultimate guide to being everyone’s favourite camper

Whether you’re packing for your first or your fiftieth festival this summer, these are the things everyone will thank you for remembering

Nothing beats waking up at a festival. The feeling of being part of something so big and exciting and magical is a buzz that lasts far longer than a single weekend. This is the stuff memories are made of. This is where you find your summer. But it’s also the place where you have to watch a sweaty 50-year-old in a bucket hat rubbing wet wipes all over his body, just as you start eating your breakfast.

Festivals are amazing places because they bring people together, but no one wants to be the one person in the crowd everyone else wishes wasn’t there. Pack your tent, your wellies, your sun cream and your “I love Harry” flag, but don’t forget what really matters… 

The festival starts in the queue

Brits love a good queue. But if you’re carrying your entire weekend on your back and it’s 32 degrees outside, festival queues can test the stiffest of upper lips. Leave the cruel, cruel real world behind at the car and make as many friends as possible by lending trolleys, swapping line-up notes and not hogging the shady spaces. If someone tries to jump the line, start booing and get everyone else to join in.

Festival etiquette

Don’t pitch slap anyone 

Picking a good pitch site is an art form (level ground, smooth surface, close to the edge/toilets/water but not too close to the edge/toilets/water) but space at a festival is usually first-come, first-served. If someone else already has their tent set up in a good spot, give them enough room to enjoy it and find somewhere else – and don’t try and reserve a massive encampment for your own mates who are turning up the next day either. 

Be a good neighbour

Sleeping in the same bedroom as 90,000 other people means it pays to be kind. Don’t start a portable speaker war. Share your coffee if you have any spare. Keep your camping chairs off everyone else’s guy ropes. Clean up your own mess. Offer to do a water run for your neighbours. Make friends. And open those wet wipes inside your tent… 

Festival etiquette

Respect the crowd

Festivals are big. Even small, boutique events can feel crowded when the headliners come on, and moving through a crowd can sometimes be tricky (especially if you’re holding a tray of drinks). Learn the art of the weave, not the shove, and you’ll actually get through a lot quicker. If you have a camping chair, keep it on the fringes. And if you need to try and show your friends where you are in the crowd, don’t do that “crab-claw-in-the-air” thing, since literally everyone else will be doing the same. 

Take memories, not hour-long videos 

Photos are a great way to remember a festival (sometimes the only way…) but every time you hold your phone above your head you’re sort of getting in the way of everyone standing behind you. Everyone’s doing it, and everyone understands, but a quick reach/frame/click is very different from trying to film your favourite song in its entirety. Also, have you ever actually watched one of those videos back?!

Festival etiquette

Make Festival Toilets Great Again

Anyone who moans about long drop horror stories probably hasn’t been to a festival for a few decades, since most modern on-site festival facilities are great. They only stay that way, of course, if everyone shows them the respect they deserve. Enough said. (Top tip: always carry a packet of tissues with you.)

Keep it clean

When the circus finally leaves town, festival sites go back to being lovely parks, farms and gardens. Teams of thankless volunteers have a horrible job cleaning up after everyone on a Monday morning, so the least you can do is to dispose of your own rubbish and recycling. Tents are hard to take down, but it’s not exactly rocket science so don’t leave them standing. The only thing you need to leave is a good impression (which is usually in the shape of a crispy brown rectangle of squashed grass where your tent once stood…).

Find tickets for this summer’s best festivals and outdoor shows on sale here.