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How to Survive a Festival in the Sun

Festival season is upon us and we are all wishing for lovely warm weather to enjoy it. Staying cool at a hot festival can be challenging, but here are some tips to help you beat the heat and stay comfortable. You may have attended many a rainy festival and been bogged down in a mosh pit of mud but have you had one of those hot muggy ones where you can’t find shade and are melting? I have and there were quite a few points I learned along the way and wish I knew before I went. 

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Festivals can be huge, crowded and pretty much open to the elements meaning you can get extra hot in the sun or blooming cold in the rain. The festival ground area often has large tents for shade but there is never enough seating or undercover for everyone. 

These are my top tips for How to Survive a Festival in the Sun and Heat. 

A hot sunny festival with sun high in the sky and people sitting on the ground

What is heat stroke and why should you keep cool at a festival?

At a summer music festival, you can be standing for hours outside in the sun and it can be very dangerous. Many festival-goers suffer from heat stroke, heat exhaustion or sunburn which is the last thing you want after a hot day and it will not make it the best music festival experience you had hoped for.

If you are extremely hot you could get Heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a heat-related condition that occurs when the body is exposed to high temperatures, extreme heat and experiences excessive sweating and dehydration. It is often a precursor to heatstroke and should be taken seriously. Heat exhaustion typically arises from prolonged physical activity or prolonged exposure to hot environments. If you are standing waiting for your favorite band you will likely be outside and exposed to the elements. 

Common symptoms include heavy sweating, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, and muscle cramps. Unlike heatstroke, in heat exhaustion, the body’s core temperature does not rise to dangerous levels. However, if left untreated, it can progress to heatstroke. 

Heatstroke is a severe medical condition when the body’s core temperature rises dangerously. It is typically caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or strenuous physical activity in hot environments. During heatstroke, the body’s natural cooling mechanisms, such as sweating, fail to regulate temperature effectively, leading to potentially life-threatening consequences. Symptoms of heatstroke include a throbbing headache, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, nausea, confusion, and even loss of consciousness. If left untreated, heatstroke can damage vital organs and result in irreversible complications or death. 

Sunset over Glastonbury from high up on hill
Sunset over Glastonbury

Ways to stay cool at a hot festival and avoid heat stroke

Although much of it is common sense some of these tips can help your experience whatever the weather. So if it is excessively hot and sunny use these tips to avoid an emergency or illness which could ruin your favourite music festival. 

Being prepared for boiling hot temperatures will help you enjoy the festival and not get burnt or pass out with heatstroke!

Do not over-exert yourself.

I know it’s hard you will want to dance, but leaving the dancing for when the sun goes down will stop you from passing out in the hot weather. Avoiding excessive physical exertion in hot weather are essential preventive measures to mitigate the risk of heatstroke.

Buy the right tent.

Choose your tent carefully and select the right material in a light colour. Make sure your tent has air vents for good air circulation.

Keep your tent cool.

Keep your tent cool; Air your tent open the doors or vents and even the rain fly at the top to let the airflow. Just remember to check the weather forecast first in case it decides to rain. You do not want to go back to a wet tent. 

If you have the luxury of glamping in a teepee open the top or open two sides to let air move through.

Consider using an awning.

Awnings are great for rainy festivals but they are also great for shade. Take an awning to sit under and keep you cool. Check first that the festival allows this; as festivals such as the Glastonbury Festival do not allow awnings. 

​Use a fan

Consider using cooling accessories like handheld fans, misting fans, or cooling towels. These items can provide a refreshing breeze or a cooling sensation when you need them.

Take a battery-powered fan. You can get all types of fans from ones you can pop in your tent to hand-held battery fans. There are even fans that sit around your neck! If you do not want to use a battery one, a regular fan for walking around the festival is a must and they look pretty too! 

two ladies holding hand-held fans at a festival

Take a Parasol or Umberella

Buy a parasol or umbrella. Standing in a hot field waiting for a music event to start can be exhausting in the heat. Buy a pretty parasol or a large golf umbrella. Remember to take it down once the concert starts or people behind you won’t be very happy. 

Take a sheet as well as a sleeping bag.

Sometimes all you need is a sheet at night! You will thank me if you take one.

Cover your tent in a heat-reflective blanket.

Cover your tent in a heat-reflective blanket which can reflect the sun. You end up in a much cooler tent when you return at the end of the day. 

Where the right clothes

Wear loose, lightweight, and breathable clothing that allows air circulation. Opt for light-coloured clothes to reflect the sun’s rays instead of absorbing them. Cover your shoulders to stop them from getting burnt. Ladies can wear light cotton loose dresses and light, loose tops. 

The octopus Garden 60's shop at Glastonbury
The Octopus Garden Shop at Glastonbury

Keep your feet cool.

If your feet are hot you will likely stay hot try to keep your feet cool. Flip flops however are not always safe at a festival as the floors can be rough and dirty. Try a pair of Crocs! Yes, I know what you are thinking but they are great for festivals keeping your feet cool and protected too.

Brown Croc shoes with pink jibbitz on grass

Stay hydrated

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration. Carry a refillable water bottle and refill it regularly so you drink water all day. Most festivals give free drinking water. Glastonbury prides itself on the fact all of the water on site is drinkable. 

Hand-holding slushy cocktail at a festival that says enjoy

Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol.

It goes without saying really but avoid excessive alcohol. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages as they can contribute to dehydration.

Wear a Wet Swimsuit or Bandana

Use the festival showers to shower in a bikini or swimwear, and leave it on! Believe me, this works! It can be unbearable in the summer heat but cooling down with water is great! Remember to change into something dry once the sun goes down or you will be freezing. 

You can stay cool with wet towels or bandanas too. Soak a small towel or bandana in cold water and place it on your neck or forehead. This can provide instant relief and help lower your body temperature.

Check out where the shade is on day one.

Seek shade: it can be extremely hard to find shade at a festival especially the likes of Glastonbury where there are thousands of people trying to do the same thing. Find places for shade on day one and make a note. Whenever possible, find shade under trees, umbrellas, or canopies. Taking breaks in shaded areas will give your body a chance to cool down.

people standing inside a striped tent at glastonbury

​Use Sun protection 

Use sunscreen: Apply sun protection with a high SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays in the hot sun. Reapply sunscreen every few hours, especially if you’re sweating or spending much time under the sun. Some festivals such as Glastonbury offer a free squirt of sunscreen at the info desk in case you need it.

Wear a hat

Use a hat, wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap to shade your face and protect your head from direct sunlight. 

You can also try a Sauna hat! You will see lots of people wearing funny, tall felt hats. These are sauna hats that originated in Central Europe. It was a popular German custom to wear them in saunas to cool you down! Believe it or not, they keep your body at a constant temperature.

A man dressed as pineapple at festival wearing a pineapple sauna hat
A man wearing a pineapple sauna hat

Don’t forget your sunglasses.  

Don’t forget to take your sunglasses! Use sunglasses to protect your eyes and prevent squinting, which can lead to fatigue.

Check out the festival’s water features.

Take advantage of water features: If the festival has water features like misting stations, water sprays, or water slides, take advantage of them to cool down. You can also dip your feet in a shallow pool or bring a small spray bottle to mist yourself.

Eat light foods

Opt for light, hydrating foods like fruits, salads, and chilled snacks. Avoid heavy, greasy, or spicy foods that make you feel hotter and sluggish.

Plan your activities strategically.

Try to schedule your activities and performances during the cooler parts of the day, such as mornings and evenings. This way, you can avoid the peak heat of the afternoon. Which acts are under the shade in a tent and which are not?

Seek medical attention when needed.

Find where the medic tent is on day one in case you need it. Remember to listen to your body and prioritize your health. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or excessively fatigued, find a cool spot and rest. Stay safe and enjoy the festival!

Be prepared for a change in weather.

Even though it is hot one day it may not be the next. It can also dramatically change the temperature by the evening. Allow for this by taking layers of clothes in case it is suddenly cold.

Remember to enjoy your festival but always try and stay sun safe!


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