Going to music festivals has become a mainstream activity. Some 4 million people attended a festival in 2019 with around 30 million going to live music events generally in the UK and many people now treat going to festivals as an alternative to traditional holidays. For music fans it’s the ultimate staycation.
Festivals are great fun and come rain or shine you’re sure to create some lasting memories. The weather, how comfortable you are and how much sleep you get, can play a big part in how good or bad those memories are. So, if the thought of an entire weekend cramped up in a wet and muddy tent doesn’t appeal much, there may be another option, if you’re still keen to get involved in the festival vibe.
Taking a campervan to a festival is highly recommended. Having access to your own little house on wheels and all the creature comforts that come with it is the best way to camp at a festival. The extra comfort and being able to bring more clothes and equipment make for a much better experience.
Lots of festivals allow campervans, motorhomes and sometimes caravans. Many of the bigger more organised festivals like Glastonbury, Download, Reading and Leeds have dedicated campervan areas separate from the other camping areas.
You will normally have to pay a bit more to take your campervan/caravan, but the advantages are, in our view, well worth the extra spend.
Have your kit with you and avoid the long walk to the campground.
The second worst thing about festival camping is the, usually very long, walk from the car park to the campsite area. At big festivals like Glastonbury and Download, people regularly report 1-2 hour walks with rucksacks piled high and dragging trollies through mud. The worst thing about festival camping is, you guessed it, the walk back to the carpark (including the effort of finding your car) with a 5-day hangover.
How much more relaxing to turn up at your chosen festival in a campervan. No marathon walks for you at the beginning and end of the weekend. Plus, you get to take all the kit, clothes and beer you like without needing to carry it anywhere. As you cruise past other envious festival mortals when you enter the site, try to keep the smug grin off your face.
Easy access to a toilet (especially at night) is a godsend
Everyone loves a festival toilet . . . not. They are generally getting better, but queues can be long and it’s a lottery as to how hygienic it’s going to be when you finally get in. Whether there will be any useable toilet paper left, is anyone’s guess. And then there’s the smell.
If your campervan has a bathroom, you are effectively festival royalty with your own clean, private, queue-free toilet and as much toilet paper as you can wind round your hand.
Keep your beers cold
Festival camping often means one of two things. You’re either too hot or you’re cold. If it’s windy and rainy, you can get pretty cold, especially at night. If it’s sunny, you’re going to get a little too warm and, unfortunately, so is your beer and other food and drinks you have brought.
If you’ve spent too many years drinking warm beer and cider at festivals, having access to a gas fridge in a campervan will seem like five-star luxury in comparison. Being able to crack open a breakfast cold one on a warm summer morning, should be a basic human right. In a campervan . . . it is.
Creature comforts and room to swing a festival cat
You need to be some kind of contortionist to be able to get changed in a festival pop-up tent. Especially if you’re a festival veteran and teenage is a distant memory. It’s hard enough when its dry but ten times worse if you’re wet and covered in mud and trying to keep the tent clean. Good luck with that.
If you’re bothered about your appearance and, lets face it, some of you are, not having access to a mirror can be a major issue. Most festivals do not allow glass on site, for reasons of safety. This includes mirrors.
Fortunately, this ban does not include fitted mirrors in a campervan. So, if you see anyone at a festival who appears well groomed or has beautifully applied makeup, chances are they are staying in the campervan field in a well kitted out van.
Festival vanlife means dressing and undressing in comfort with less mud, and access to warm water and mirrors. Why wouldn’t you choose vanlife?
Comfiest bed at the festival
A comfy bed at the end of a hard day’s walking, standing, dancing and moshing is worth its weight in gold. In your campervan, you can slip under a proper quilt accompanied by fluffy pillows and have yourself some quality slumber.
Arise refreshed the following morning, ready to face the festival day ahead and party hard again. Unlike your friends in tents, who will have experienced extremes of hot and cold, a hard floor, excessive noise and people tripping over their guy ropes all night.
Being able to wash your self and your dishes in warm water
After a day in the field getting covered in rain, mud and other dubious, airborne fluids, wouldn’t it be lovely to have a wash or even a shower in nice warm water. Lots of festivals have showers but some don’t. Festival showers means more queuing and maybe hot water, if you are lucky.
Some festivals don’t have showers in the campervan field and the shower block can be a long walk away. A campervan with a bathroom can be a big advantage in this situation. Also, if you’ve ever tried to wash dirty plates, mugs and pans in cold water you know that access to hot water, when it’s your turn to do the dishes, is a big bonus.
Living in a nicer neighbourhood
Obviously, most people in festival camping areas are perfectly lovely but tents aren’t exactly the best at keeping out noise and alcohol isn’t known for making people quieter. Partying often doesn’t finish until the early hours when it’s coming light again.
Then there’s the issue of people tripping over guy ropes and, at worst, landing on your tent. At festivals, tents are typically packed together like sardines so it’s hard to pick your way through without tripping in daylight, never mind in the dark. Having one or more people crashing down on you in the middle of the night, can be quite a shock.
All this this can lead to minimal opportunity for a good night’s sleep.
None of this is a problem in the campervan field. It’s hard to see how someone will land on you in the night unless it’s somehow been arranged between consenting adults – and that’s your business.
Also, campervans are much more soundproof than tents and campervanners typically turn in a bit earlier or keep the volume at a more sensible level, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting some shut eye.
Maintaining a comfortable temperature
Living in a tent at a festival means you’ll either be freezing cold or you’ll be boiling hot. Even the best tents can get a bit chilly in the wind and rain. And, if the sun comes up, your tent will turn into a sauna in minutes.
Again, campervans have the edge here. They have better insulation than your average tent and are usually equipped with heating that works off electricity or gas. Often, 10 minutes with the heater on is enough to take the chill away and create a pleasant sleeping temperature.
The insulation and better sun protection in your campervan will also save you from being woken in a pouring sweat at sunrise, so your beauty sleep can be assured.
Some bigger vans and motorhomes are also equipped with air conditioning so you can maintain a perfect temperature no matter what the weather is like outside the van.
Better meal options
Festival food is typically expensive and average at best. It’s not uncommon to pay £8 – £10 for a cardboard pizza. It’s no wonder festival diners seem to cover everything in gallons of mayo.
In a campervan you’ll have a fridge and enough cooking equipment to be able to cook up a Michelin star meal every night. Take a couple of frozen pots of chilli or curry and dine like a king or turn a basic BBQ into a cordon bleu dinner with a few added extras from your campervan kitchen.
Keep up with events outside the festival
Attending a festival is all about getting away from your normal routine but sometimes you need to keep up with important events. If your campervan has a TV installed, your can do just that.
During various world cups and in Olympic years, campervanners with TVs make a lot of friends at festivals. Clearly you will be focusing on watching all your favourite bands and partying hard, but festivals can be exhausting so the occasional chill-out in front of the telly can be excused.
Keep your devices charged
If you’re in a tent your phone, camera, e-cigarette etc will last only as long as your charging pack does. You may have carefully calculated your charging requirements down to the nearest amp, but you probably forgot about all your ‘friends’ that didn’t come prepared . . . and there goes your power on the first night.
Charging phones in a campervan is a piece of cake so you can start every day with a full battery and continue your reign as a social media giant. If your phone has a poor battery you could also charge up a small charging pack up to pop into your pocket for later in the day.
Be more secure
A tent ain’t no Fort Knox. If you’re at a festival with 50,000 people, there is bound to be one or two bad apples. Thieving from tents is a fact of life at all festivals. It can pretty much ruin your weekend if you come back to your tent and find it’s been robbed. You also feel a bit stupid when you know you have left valuables in there and just trusted to luck.
A campervan, whilst not impenetrable, is a much tougher prospect for a would-be thief than a tent is. It’s the old steel Vs canvas argument. Your campervan may also have an intruder alarm, so stay in a campervan, make yourself a hard target and the bad guys will go elsewhere.
Hopefully, this article will convince you that there are a whole host of reasons to have a go in a campervan at a festival. If you do, we hope you enjoy it and we look forward to seeing you in a festival campervan field next summer.