Essential Festival Guide For Teenagers & Their Parents

The Festival season is upon us and for teenagers it is a time to break free of their parents' shackles and take great gulps of independence.  Attending a festival is an undisputed rite of passage for teenagers.

Reading and Leeds are notorious for attracting the newbie teenager festival goer celebrating the end of their GCSEs.  Last year my eldest was among them and in preparation I spent days, (maybe weeks) talking to not only parents of teenagers that had already been, but also young twenty somethings full of festival "know-how", sucking information from them like a greedy parasite.  In my opinion you can never be knowingly under prepared as a parent or a teenager!

This year Teenager No. 1 is off to a 5 day event in Cornwall but after last year I know what to expect, as does he.  Friends are now contacting us for advice so for those in a similar situation take heed of my definitive guide for surviving festivals for teenagers and their parents.

  • Ticket PDF: we learnt the hard way!  Make sure they download a PDF of their ticket onto their phone in case they forget the paper version!
  • Tent: Don't send them with your best "family" tent, as it will smell like an underground toilet as people stumble past and pee at will in the middle of the night.  Buy a cheap pop up festival tent from Argos which they can just leave behind. It is also a good idea to buy one slightly bigger than they need so there is room for them to store their kit and still have room to collapse after a day's partying.
  • Flag: It acts like a lighthouse guiding them back to their tent through the sea of identical pop up tents.
  • Phone+Portable Charger: They will get separated from their friends and will regret it if they don't take their phones. Reading has lockers with charging sockets which are worth hiring otherwise get a portable charger such as iMuto which they can use to charge their phone several times over.
  • Bum-Bag: To store their valuables when they are partying.
  • Wellies: They are ubiquitous with festivals but there are 2 important things to bear in mind, firstly don't send them with cheap ones or they will return with blisters aplenty after days of sweaty dancing and secondly they will want a change of footwear at some point - wellies 24/7 is really only for the foolhardy or for those that just don't dance!
  • Mac-In-A-Sac: Even if the forecast is non-stop sunshine, remember this is England after-all.
  • Headtorch: For those moments when they may need to find the loo in the middle of the night and want their hands free.
  • Bin-bags: To store dirty clothes, rubbish and stick over any holes that may appear in their tent.
  • Giant Wet Wipes: These are a shower in a bag essentially and as the novelty of being dirty wears off after 36 hours, they will thank you for forcing that extra packet in their rucksack as they head out of the door.
  • Deodorant/Toothpaste: No explanation needed, but make sure it is a roll-on deodorant, our teenager had his spray can confiscated in a bag search at his last festival.
  • Plastic Bottles:  Some festivals are more rigorous than others, but glass bottles are a no-go so decant liquids into plastic bottles to ensure you keep hold of it.
  • Food: Festival food is expensive and even teenagers have a limit on how many buns they can eat containing a variety of meat.  Fruit in a tin is perfect for those mornings when they wake up wanting something resembling fresh and juicy, plus it will help to get their blood sugar up.  Beyond The Beaten Track is also a good range of hot meal kits recommended by DoE, but they will need a stove.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Festivals are germ farms and anti-bacterial gel is a necessity before they tuck into their festival grub, to avoid spending days huddled in a tent with food poisoning.
  • Loo Roll: They can never have too much!
  • Medical Kit: Neurofen (because they will get a headache!) and blister plasters!
  • Berocca: A high dose of vitamins and energy in a tablet for the days when they are wilting and need a pick-me-up.
  • Sunscreen: All teenagers dismiss it, but sunstroke is not a good look when you are trying to be festival cool.
  • Water: For re-hydrating and cleaning.

A final word of warning goes to the parents....Teenagers like to think they are invincible but humans were not designed to withstand 3-5 days of continuous drinking, eating rubbish food, jumping and sleep deprivation, they will return smelly, grumpy and exhausted and totally disinclined to answer any questions.  Expect grunting of a disproportionate nature from anything you may have experienced before and for them to sleep for close to 24 hours - yes seeing is believing!

Please share any festival tips you may have so I can build my list further for next year!


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  1. August 23, 2016 / 9:14 pm

    A great list here for any parent with teenagers going to festivals. My festival days are long gone, well those that involve a tent and no shower, and instead we opt for the day festivals now that we have a baby. You’ve listed some brilliant tips, especially the tins of fruit, as you do get a bit of sick after burgers after day 2, however the food now is festivals is pretty impressive with a wide range of offer – but it can be pricy. I hope that they festival experience goes well…..oh and don’t forget the suntan lotion. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x
    The Pramshed recently posted…The Partner’s View – Upside MumMy Profile

    • August 28, 2016 / 9:53 pm

      You sound like you are a pro! Good point on the suntan lotion, the teenager got sunstroke after 5 days in the Cornish heat without it and a hat – he had them when he left but they were swiftly lost. #fortheloveofBLOG

  2. August 19, 2016 / 11:42 pm

    One thing with taking a pop-up tent to leave behind, hopefully they’ll pop them in the bin as I have just seen photos of the aftermath of Boardmasters down here and it is pretty shocking the level of disgusting mess. That many teenagers in one place it is bound to happen though 😉 I hope he had a great time down here, some fab tips here. Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    Stevie x
    A Cornish Mum recently posted…Pick ‘n Mix Fridays – 19th August 2016My Profile

    • August 21, 2016 / 10:02 pm

      You are right but sadly I think the aftermath of festivals is never a pleasure to behold with that many people in one place for five consecutive days. Hopefully the money they charge for the tickets and food etc covers the cost of a good clean up operation and if it doesn’t it should, particularly for the benefit of the locals in the areas of all these festivals. The flipside of course is the boost to the local economy which must be extensive. #PickNMix

  3. Mud cakes and wine
    August 19, 2016 / 6:29 pm

    Brilliant post, brought back a few memories 😱 great ideas too. Mine are only 6,4 and 7 months but still want to learn #picknmix

    • August 19, 2016 / 9:48 pm

      Happy memories I hope??!! At least you will be well prepared. Thanks for commenting. #picknmix

  4. August 19, 2016 / 10:47 am

    Great advice though after reading it I am dreading my daughter being old enough to go to a festival! haha #picknmix

    • August 19, 2016 / 5:10 pm

      If you are prepared it makes it easier….felt much better about it this year than last. #picknmix

    • August 19, 2016 / 8:33 am

      Not sure why I never got into the whole festival thing, maybe I will have to give a go. Thanks for commenting. My daughter is desperate for a dog so will be popping over to read your tips. #BigPinkLink

  5. August 15, 2016 / 9:34 pm

    This is a brilliant list, I’ll be referring to it next time we’re off to a festival. And I completely agree about wet wipes and hand sanitiser. Love the suggestion of a head torch, you really don’t want to be taking a hand held torch to a port-a-loo in the middle of the night!! Thank you for linking to #bigpinklink

    • August 15, 2016 / 9:45 pm

      Glad you have learnt something new even as an old hand. #bigpinklink

    • August 19, 2016 / 8:31 am

      Glad you found it useful. The more tips the better for me. Thanks for commenting. #bigpinklink

  6. August 15, 2016 / 8:06 pm

    Mine haven’t ventured to festivals yet, however, this is brilliant advice from a woman who knows – thank you for sharing 🙂 Alison x #AnythingGoes

    • August 15, 2016 / 9:44 pm

      All advice is good advice I think. Good luck for the day it they do head off. #anythinggoes

    • August 19, 2016 / 8:29 am

      They will soon enough and it is great fun. The washing when they get back isn’t of course. #AnythingGoes

  7. August 15, 2016 / 4:41 pm

    Ahhh. Thanks for this! My youngest is off to Reading next week and that list you’ve shared is ideal! Didn’t think about a torch or Berocca but def makes sense! I wish my girl hadn’t gone for the early bird tickets – just means she has even more days to start getting smelly and drunk (oh god help me!) My 20 year old son has been and told her not to bother with earlybird because by the time it starts in earnest, she’ll be exhausted and ready to get home! Lovely helpful post – glad I found you! Thanks. Lisa xx @ukglowology

    • August 15, 2016 / 9:43 pm

      So glad you found it useful..The great thing about the early bird tickets is you get the best spots for camping so surprised your son said that..may need to add that point. Hope she enjoys it. xxx

  8. August 13, 2016 / 4:35 pm

    Great tips! I don’t have teenagers but this all sounds like very sensible information, and I’m sure the packing list will be useful to anyone thinking of attending a festival, teenager or not. #fortheloveofBLOG

    • August 13, 2016 / 6:00 pm

      Thanks Elaine – you can never have enough top tips I find. #fortheloveofBLOG

  9. August 11, 2016 / 2:57 pm

    That brings back lots of memories of my first Reading and Glastonbury festivals, albeit they were actually pretty affordable back in the 90s!! A hat is generally useful if it’s a sunny one – all the rest of the things you mention are essential with as much waterproof bags as you can fit in especially as cheapo tents tend to flood with condensation and soak all of your clean stuff!! #BloggerClubUK

    • August 11, 2016 / 4:45 pm

      Yes of course – the hat! Although I had that discussion with my son as he headed off and he said “It will ruin my hair!!!” I should add he is sporting a buzz cut so was mildly amused! #BloggerClubUK

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