Ten Things to Pack for an Outdoor Music Festival

This guy flaunts his flash tattoos at Coachella.
This guy flaunts his flash tattoos at Coachella. Shane Lopes

With Denver heating up, it's time to start planning your escape from the city. And there's no better place to go than one of Colorado's outdoor music festivals, from the Ride Festival in Telluride to the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons. But before you hit the road, make sure you're prepared. Weather can be unpredictable, and the logistics for gathering a bunch of festivarians at an outdoor location can be a nightmare (think Woodstock or, more recently, the Fyre Festival). As you're putting together your packing list, make sure the following things are on it.

The small things count. Bring a portable charger, bug spray, a fanny pack (they’re back in style), ear plugs, a medical ID bracelet and your meds (especially allergy meds).

If you’re camping, load up your cooler, but don't bring anything in glass containers, because they're rarely permitted. Want beer? Bring canned brews. You won’t be allowed to take drinks inside the festival grounds, so carry an empty, reusable water bottle to fill up once you're there. Don’t worry, the vendors will gladly sell you more beer. Also, bring Gatorade for the mornings, because you're sure to need the electrolytes!

It will cost you a pretty penny to buy your food from festival vendors. A better option: Bring snacks. You’ll be surprised how hungry good music and sunshine make you.

This guy flaunts his flash tattoos at Coachella. - SHANE LOPES
This guy flaunts his flash tattoos at Coachella.
Shane Lopes
Fun extras
Never skimp on the party favors. Must haves include glow sticks, flash tattoos and neon headbands. No, you can’t bring fireworks.

Hygiene Products
Don’t come back smelling like a wet dog. Bring deodorant, toothpaste, toiletries and shower supplies. Pro tip: Bring dry shampoo and facial wipes to avoid paying for overpriced showers.

Read on for more must-have items at a summer music festival.

Lounging at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons. - BRANDON MARSHALL
Lounging at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons.
Brandon Marshall
Lounge Equipment
Standing for a couple of days is not so enjoyable. Instead, set up your own lounge on the festival grounds. All you'll need need are a tarp, blankets, some collapsible chairs and a few good friends.

If you forget something or you want to buy a beer or merch, you'd better have spending money. Do some research before you go. Some festivals require you to use prepaid money bands, some only accept cash, and for others, all you might need is your credit card. Whatever else you bring, keep a few bucks handy for emergencies.

Rain Gear
Yes, this is Colorado, and the weather can shift drastically. This is especially true in the mountains, where afternoon rainstorms are the norm. Bring a raincoat or poncho and an umbrella, and be prepared to use them. Also, think layers, as it can get chilly at high altitude.

Paul T. Bradley
No, you can’t just sleep in your vehicle. Most towns hosting festivals have strict ordinances, and if they find you snoozing in your car, you’ll get slapped with a hefty fine. Thankfully, most festivals offer camping close to the festival grounds. Buy camping permits early, though, because campsites sell out fast. Bring your tent, your sleeping bag, a headlamp, toilet paper, your lantern, and anything else you’d normally take camping. Of course, you can always look for a hotel room, but that’s not as much fun.

click to enlarge Passion Pit at the Divide Music Festival in Winter Park. - RYAN COX
Passion Pit at the Divide Music Festival in Winter Park.
Ryan Cox
Sun Gear
Trust me: You don’t want to return to work on Monday looking like an overripe tomato. Stock up on sunscreen, lip balm, cool shades and a hat – and use them. But don't forget your sandals and tank tops, so you can soak in the Colorado sunshine.

Trying to figure out which festival to go to? Check out our lists of Rocky Mountain festivals and Denver festivals.

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Sage Marshall is a freelance writer and editor covering outdoor recreation, environmental issues, Denver's music scene, the arts, and other Colorado stories. You can check out more of his work and connect with him here.
Contact: Sage Marshall