It’s been a long winter. The cold and snow seemed to really bring people down this year, and it seem to extend long into our traditional spring. The energy and wonderful feelings of the last outdoor festivals of last year are fading a bit, but that wonderful season is about to start again. It’s time to get out your camping gear, clean things up, and check you list twice before heading out to some great events with fabulous people. But what do you really need when you go camping at a Pagan event?
First and foremost, you need shelter. Whether you use a tent that’s been in your family for years or a new one out of the box, or even have a camper, you need to make sure it’s in good working order and you know how to set it up. Consider if you are going to be by yourself or if you’ll have others staying with you and make sure everyone knows how to set up and take down the equipment. Before you head out to your first festival of the season, make sure all the seams are waterproofed and that it’s all nice and clean. There’s nothing worse than setting up your home for the week and realizing there’s a hole in the fabric or that it’s moldy. Ok, maybe there’s one thing that’s worse. Realizing you left poles or tent stakes at home.
Along with shelter, you need bedding. Make sure it’s bedding that you are going to be comfortable with for the duration of your festival, and take at least one more blanket than you think you need. You never know if you’ll get a night that is a bit colder than normal, or if you’ll get a sunburn (like I usually do) and want a little extra warmth for a night or two. Take care to make sure you have batteries for an air mattress pump, and that you have an alternative plan if your bed springs a leak. My favorite that I’ve used for a few festivals is a thinner queen size air mattress with a memory foam mattress pad over the top. The pad is washable, which is perfect after a hot and sweaty festival. I actually hate going home to my big king size comfy bed after I’ve been on the air mattress.
Will you be cooking at the festival or are you going to eat from vendors? If you’re cooking, precook everything you can. Make sure you have a list of meals and all the ingredients, including spices. You don’t necessarily need a list of what meals on what day, but don’t take your whole kitchen “just in case” either. If you are planning on eating at the vendors, do some research as to what types will be there and how people like their food. Take plenty of money and put it in a safe place. And don’t forget to inquire about ingredients if you have allergies.
Water or other hydration is exceptionally important at summer festivals. There are two festivals that are a must for me in the summer, and I have to treat the water issue differently at each one. The first one is held at a location that has very iron-filled water, to the point that it comes out of the spigot orange. I can’t stand the taste. The first year we tried to filter it with a Brita filter. Even running it through twice didn’t make it better, although keeping it cold and adding lemonade mix made it tolerable. This year, I’m bringing bottled water, in gallons to produce less waste. At another festival I attend, the water is perfect with a Brita filter, if I remember to change the filter from the first festival. So know the quality of the water at the location you are going to and make adjustments as needed. Staying hydrated is very important!
Now that the basics are covered, it’s time for the fun stuff! Clothing, depending on the festival, can be any variety. Think of comfort, especially with the weather. I love flowing dresses, capris, tanks, sandals, and just easy things to wear. Don’t forget a light jacket or sweatshirt, and if you like, jingling skirts for dancing around bonfires. Festivals are a time where you can shed your mundane clothing and get creative. I see a lot of people, men and women, in sarongs and they look pretty darn comfortable.
Other things to bring to a festival are musical instruments! Drums, rattles, guitars, anything that can make beautiful music and you are comfortable in playing is perfect for festivals. I have a djembe that I adore and take with me, as well as a rattle egg.
Lastly, take a moment and make yourself up a portable altar, if you are so inclined. It doesn’t have to be fancy and probably shouldn’t be expensive, but pack up a few things that make you feel at home. I usually add a few crystals, a Goddess statue I made, a battery operated candle, and an altar tile. I have a little handmade table that packs flat and a pretty cloth I toss over it, and it’s a great focal point when I need to take some time and meditate or just get away for a few minutes.
There are a lot of other things you can and might need to take with you. Before heading out to any festival you haven’t been to before, ask other people that go what you need to bring. Most often, the festival has a list they can provide for you. Camping at Pagan festivals is one of the most rewarding things I do during the summer. The friendships I’ve made and connections I forged are wonderful things that keep me going through the long winter months. I heartily recommend hitting up some Pagan or other festivals. It’s well worth your time!