How to Pack Light for a Festival in 2019: Outfit Inspiration + Packing List

13 min read
Attending festivals in Belgium from the age of 15, I’ve become an expert on how to pack light for a festival. For years, I tested outfits, camping gear and the best way to get through a multiple-day festival.
 
With Coachella weekend 2 coming up, a lot of you are packing for your festival weekend. If you’re based anywhere else in the world, you’re probably counting down the days to your first festival of the year. For you, I’ve put together a complete guide on how to pack light for a festival. I’m not only covering the practical stuff. We will also be diving into the best 2019 festival outfit trends.
 
Attending a festival is one of the few times in the year that anything goes. Pink hair and an undercut? Sure! Taking a nap amidst 50.000 partying people, aaaah we’ve all been there.
 
One of my dreams has always been to attend festivals all over the world. It doesn’t matter which festival you have a ticket for, whether it is Sziget in Budapest, Tomorrowland in Belgium or Coachella in California, packing light for a festival will make or break your festival experience!
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Packing for Coachella (pictured) and other festivals around the world is not easy (Photo Credit)
 

How to Pack Light For a Festival in 2019: Festival Outfits + Complete Packing List

 What to pack to a festival? Start with the basics

As a teenager, I would spend hours and hours working my way through the crowd to see my favorite artists. At an average festival, you stand and dance for 12h straight. Finding that last shred of energy to dance to Steve Aoki. It’s such a special environment and it takes a special kind of light packing to make the festival just perfect.

A festival is no good if you are anything but comfortable. The following basics are an absolute essential in every festival packing list.

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Festival love (Photo by Anthony DELANOIX/Unsplash)

The best festival shoes

Getting a brand new pair of shoes and wearing them first for a festival is a no-go. With all the beer, rain, mud and who knows what else on the floor, your shoes will get very dirty! Most likely, they will even be destroyed by the end of the weekend. Opt for shoes that are on their way out or shoes that will clean easily.
Every festival outfit starts with the right pair of shoes. Shoes are by far the most important element of your festival outfit. If you cannot dance or stand for hours at a time because your feet hurt, your festival experience is ruined.
What not to do? A big no-go at festivals is wearing heels. There is no reason to wear heels to a festival as they will only get destroyed and it’s impossible to stand for so long. Sure, lots of celebs go out in heels, but that’s because they have access to the VIP section. 
I would also strongly discourage wearing flip flops/thongs or sandals anywhere outside of the campground. When the crowd starts moshing, you do not want to be stepped on a million times. Or even worse, lose a shoe!
If you can’t bear wearing a solid shoe due to the heat, I can recommend wearing an old pair of espadrilles (expect to throw them out after the festival)!

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Anne-Marie giving us a great festival outfit with her Vans sneakers (source)

What should you be wearing to festivals this year? Sneakers are happening in 2019. We’ve all noticed the ‘ugly dad sneaker’ everywhere. Superstars such as Billie Eilish and Ann-Marie also love their chunky sneakers. Leave your platform sneakers or your brand new white fabric sneakers at home.

Go for comfortable, sturdy and, why not, colorful!
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Billie Elish is never spotted without a pair of sneaker, find her Jordans here (source)
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Not my personal favorite for festivals, white sneakers, but she wears it well (source)

The desert of Coachella and most of the urban festivals around Europe lend themselves perfectly to a pair of worn-down boots. It will add that instant rock vibe to any dress and will protect your feet. Get your festival ready boots below.

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Boots are the perfect versatile shoe for a festival (source)
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Classic Dr. Martens boots will last you for years and make every outfit super cool (source)

 

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Prepare for the weather

Before you pack anything, check the weather forecast. Pack for the weather and account for anything else from a thunderstorm to a cold night.

The musts: Sunscreen, Rain Jackets and Sunglasses

At festivals such as Burning Man and Coachella, you can expect high temperatures during the day, cold during the night and the occasional dust storm. Any festival in Australia requires a high degree of sun protection. Festivals in Europe, especially festivals such as Glastonbury, require packing for all weather options. Just in case it starts raining for three days straight. I didn’t say it was going to be easy to pack light for a festival!

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Guaranteed rain at Glastonbury festival: rain jacket not optional! (photo)

Regardless of where in the world you are going, always pack a rain jacket and a good (non-toxic) sunscreen. When it comes to rain jackets, I swear by my RAINS jacket that I got many years ago. It weighs nothing and has saved my camera from rain on multiple occasions. If you want to get into the neon trend this summer, a rain jacket would be a perfect choice!

Sunglasses are another must on your packing list. Go for your favorite pair or have fun with an extravagant pair. There are a few amazing sunglasses brands that allow you to buy high quality polarised sunnies for a decent price. In Europe Ace and Tate and Komono are pretty awesome. In Australia, Bailey Nelson is my go to and I will always love Warby Parker from the US.

Always include a hat

Baseball caps loop back into fashion every few years and 2019 is one of those years. There are plenty of cool looks that don’t look like you’ve come straight from the gym either.
Baker Boy caps are still a great hat as well. The Baker Boy cap in midnight blue velvet or in Camel Corduroy is still my go-to cap for a hot day to finish off a look super easy.
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Hailey Baldwin nailing the dad cap trend (source)
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This outfit has it all: sneakers, an oversized bumbag and a dad cap (source: ELLE)

Oh man, guys…bucket hats are back. How do you feel about this trend? A part of me wants to resist them, but I secretly think they’re pretty freaking cool when they’re in a print. We can thank Billy Eilish for the neon green versions floating around though.

 

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Lack of Color bucket hat (source)
 

Don’t forget to pack a bandana!

Another accessory I love and that is perfect for a festival is super versatile is the bandana. With Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton both coming out with high-end pieces, you know you’ll be right on trend. Usually, they are super cheap, colorful and you can use it in a million ways. You can’t go wrong.
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Bandana as a protector against duststorms at Coachella 2019 (photo)

What not to do?

Give wide-brimmed firm hats a miss during the festival season. They simply don’t work at festivals. There are too many people packed together who will hate your hat. Plus, it will most likely end up being trampled. Wide-brimmed floppy hat though? go for it! The more sun protection, the better!

Festival Outfit Ideas based on 2019 trends

Anything goes for festival outfits. Your favorite band shirt and denim shorts or a neon bikini and blue hair? Why not! It’s that time of year you can let loose. 
Packing light for a festival is not easy, but it’s not impossible! It’s all about planning your outfits in advance. Covering your bases with the weather forecast and knowing how to make your outfit fun. And last but not least, packing ONLY WHAT YOU NEED.
I tend to overpack when I haven’t planned out my outfits. Not thinking about your options in advance will result in packing much. You only need one outfit per day and you can reduce your packing list by re-using staple items such as denim shorts.
I don’t want to encourage you to go on a massive shopping spree for things you will only wear once. Choose items you already love and create your festival outfit by combining it differently. You’d be surprised what you can do by rethinking your own wardrobe.
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Photo by David Caldaron via Unsplash
Want to make your festival outfit a bit more on-trend? Here are the festival trends that will be big for 2019.
Nothing new here, but you’re always good with a boho floral dress. A good boho outfit has dominated the festival scene all around the world for the last few years. It’s the perfect way to look feminine and cool by combining it with your favorite sneakers or boots.

Pack_Light_for_Festival_2019_travelblog_neon_bumbag_plaid_festival_trends_coachella_seethroughdress_slipdressBoho queen Elise Cook wearing Kivara at Woman Festival

 

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For this year though, let’s go beyond the boho dress/flower crowns combo and mix this up.
Coachella 2019 weekend 1 already showed us quite a few awesome new styles. These are the 2019 trends that will spread across the other festivals on its own are as a combination of the following:
biker shorts, neon, plaid, see-through dresses (the updated boho look) and oversized pieces
. If you’re wondering what that can look like, have a look at below looks.

Neon

The neon trend is massive this summer. Celebs from Hailey Baldwin to Billie Eilish are wearing them and there having many sightings on the fashion weeks around the world.

Personally, I find this trend difficult. Festivals, however, are perfect if you want to go outside of your usual comfort zone and rock a full neon outfit! In everyday life, I would recommend using neon for accent pieces only or toning it down underneath a more neutral piece.

 

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Shop my favorite neon pieces here:
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A full neon oversized look for Hailey Baldwin (source)
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bumbag and oversized neon sweater, three birds, one stone

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The perfect neon outfit for summer (source: Refinery 29)
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Neon oversized pants, a crop top and neon sneakers, why not! (photo)

Oversized Looks

Are you ready to rock this look? I love it when it’s done well. There are quite a few people who are able to stay feminine while hiding most of their shape. Personally, I would go crop top with oversized pants for a 2019 festival.

You saw Hailey Baldwin rock the look a few times above already, often combined with a second summer trend such as neon or bucket hats. If you’re unsure about this trend, combine different shapes to make it more yourself. A fitting top would contrast well with baggy pants.

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Neon shirt with sweatpants (@lissyroddyy)
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Oversized t-shirt over a maxi skirt. Worn, of course, with sneakers (photo)

Here are my favorite oversized pieces I found you can buy now:

Bike Shorts

Bike shorts or cycling pants seem to go with just about everything. We see a lot of combinations of bike shorts with another popular summer trend, neon. Add something oversized or a bumbag and you’re right on trend. Biker shorts really are everywhere this year! Another pro about this trend, they are actually pretty cheap to get!

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Neon and biker shorts on Chiara Ferragni
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More neon and bike shorts, told ya (photo)
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Boots, an oversized t-shirt and bike shorts: works like a charm (Kaia Gerber)
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bike shorts and a band shirt, festival perfection (photo)

Alright, alright, just one more!

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Very cool combination with plaid, denim and bike shorts (@pipedwards)

If you’re going to be shopping for any of these trends, it’s probably this one. Here are the best bike shorts at the moment:

Plaid

Let’s not forget about plaid, there is so much plaid to be spotted on the streets! I love how versatile it has become and it can literally be combined with all of the above trends.

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I mean, plaid jacket, plaid bucket hat and chunky sneakers. Very 2019 (@claudiaabadiia)
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An oversized plaid blazer combined with neon long sleeved top works like a charm (photo)

Pack_Light_for_Festival_2019_travelblog_neon_bumbag_plaid_festival_trends_coachella_seethroughdress_slipdressProbably the most wearable combination of bike pants and plaid in this line-up (@weworewhat)

We’re not done yet, here is my favorite plaid look, do you think it’s too much?

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She’s on top of it: plaid jacket, plaid bumbag and bike shorts, oh yeah (photo: Harper’s Bazaar)

The Slip Dress

My personal favorite for this festival season is the slip dress. On a hot day on its own with a pair of sneakers or combined with a t-shirt underneath.
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Neon dress with an oversized t-shirt underneath: works so well (Photo:  Urban Outfitters)
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Slip dress combined with a neon long sleeve (source)

You can even make it a bit more office worthy by making the straps a bit longer and combining it with a shirt.

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Bum Bags are back!

Looking for a more basic look, but want to style it up with an accessory? The bum bag or fanny pack is here for you! Some bloggers have been styling it for years, but over it has definitely gone mainstream. There are so many examples of how influencers combine the bumbag with other trends. I love it combined with the oversized sweaters or as I’ll wear it, over the shoulder.
Looking to pack light for the festivals this season? A neutral color bumbag could be your answer this year. It fits everything you need for the day and you only need one bag for the entire festival.
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Paris Fashion Week or Coachella, the bum bag is very on trend right now (photo)
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Yet another bike shorts look with a logo-fantastic bumbag? (@lissyroddyy)

Here are a few of the best fanny packs for this festival season:

The See-Through Dress

Probably the most Instagrammed trend at Coachella 2019: the see-through dress. I’ve owned one for years due to an earlier Coachella look I posted about before, this one:

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Source

The see-through dresses this year have definitely gotten a lot more transparent than in the above Coachella look, but they are still going strong. Here are a few of my favs:

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@lululus
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See-through dress at Coachella 2019: photo / photophoto

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photo

How to pack your festival kit

The best trick I learned through packing and unpacking every day during my travels is the joy of packing cubes and/or compression bags. You can organize one packing cube per outfit and another one for nighttime outfits and/or some extras. In that way, you’re getting ready super quick in the morning and you’re never losing anything.


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Photo by Andrew Ruiz via Unsplash

What to pack for camping at a festival?

My favorite festivals tend to be overnight and involve some kind of camping. If you are looking to pack light for this festival, look at the outdoors scene for inspiration. There is so much lightweight camping and hiking gear available. All the hard work has been done for you.
Camping might seem scary if you have never been before, but it’s so much fun! Here is a quick list of everything you will need:
    • A tent: go as lightweight as you want, but leave your fancy hiking tent at home. I can recommend a cheap pop-up tent for festival camping. It won’t be a disaster if it gets destroyed. Don’t be a d*ck though and take your tent back home after the festival.
    • A lightweight mat and pillow: If you’re getting top of the line, Sea to Summit offers the best of the best. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, you can sleep on something easier for a few days.
    • A lightweight and compressible Sleeping Bag: You don’t need the newest state of the art sleeping bag for a festival. Check the weather forecast and get a sleeping bag warm enough for the circumstances.
    • Headtorch: I know it doesn’t look very cool, but it saved your phone’s battery power at the festival which is gold.
    • Battery Pack: anything to keep your phone alive for a whole festival. Put it on flight mode when you’re with your friends and make sure to take one (or two) battery packs.
    • Earplugs: with the chanting going far into the night, earplugs are essential to get through the night. I recommend these wax earplugs which have saved my life both at festivals and in hostel rooms. Make sure that you bring a different set of earplugs to protect your ears during the concerts as well. There is nothing funny about permanent hear damage.
    • Eye mask: Getting in bed at 3 am and trying to sleep in, is a challenge to say the best. Having an eye mask will help out A LOT. Want to protect your eyes against wrinkles? Get a silk eye mask and/or pillow.
    • Travel Insurance: If you’re attending a festival in a foreign country, make sure that you are safe and covered. A lot of people faint, sprain an ankle or sunstroke at festivals.
    • Biodegradable Baby wipes: essential for staying clean at a festival where water is limited or there might not even be showers. Most baby wipes to do not degrade in nature, so dispose of them properly.
    • Hand sanitizer: most festivals have drop toilets or some variation on them. Hand sanitizer is a must after every toilet visit and before you eat anything.
    • Your outfits divided up per day and packed in packing cubes or compression bags
    • Sunscreen
    • Rain Jacket: as light, compact and windproof as possible
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Food: Think as simple as you can when it comes to food. Don’t bring anything that needs to stay cold: cereal is great for mornings, granola bars for during the day and instant packets of food like pasta or ramen for dinner if you’re not buying something on the festival grounds.
    • Water: The heaviest item on the list, but one that is hard to avoid. Expect to have to carry in ALL your water at festivals such as Burning Man. Most festivals these days have refillable drinking taps and it’s key to bring your refillable water bottle. Make sure you always bring in a bit of water, just to be sure.
    • Drinks: For years I always brought some small juice cartons with me on the festival grounds. It was great if I was stuck in the crowd and needed some sugar. Drinks on the festival grounds are often more expensive than if you brought some drinks into the camping grounds. Therefore I do recommend bringing a few bottles of whatever you wish to drink before entering the grounds.
    • A small camping/hiking stove: If you are planning to cook instant noodles to save some money, the small hiking stoves are super light and compact. Perfect for festival cooking.

How to Pack Light for a Festival in 2019: Outfit Inspiration - neon, slipdress, see through dress, oversized- + Packing List

A word on waste and consumerism

A festival is first and foremost about music. While I love the fashion that surrounds festivals, let’s not forget what it is all about in the first place. Have fun with your outfit, but don’t let what you’re wearing overshine the experience of the music. I don’t want to encourage anybody to buy anything they won’t need and/or will never use again.
I recommend buying a lightweight cheaper tent for a festival because I know what it’s like to have your expensive tent destroyed. Before you buy a new tent, ask around whether anybody has one lying around. If you think you will never use this tent aside from at the festival, ask a friend whether you can share. I have a cheap pop-up tent myself (given to me by a fellow traveler) and use it on many occasions as it is good enough for most camping trips.
While there are so many cool things to buy for a festival, I would like to ask you guys to think about what you really need/what you will use again. Please don’t let this article encourage you to buy anything that you will never touch again.
Festivals are notorious for destroying a lot of stuff, whether its shoes, shorts or tents. However, over the years I have learned that if you choose a sturdy/dark fabrics, you will be able to clean out the stains.  Avoid delicate fabrics and give anything white a miss. For stubborn stains after a festival, a soak in Vanish/Napisan get just about anything out (even the Australian red dirt).

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 How to Pack Light for a Festival in 2019: Outfit Inspiration - neon, slipdress, see through dress, oversized- + Packing List
 How to Pack Light for a Festival in 2019: Outfit Inspiration - neon, slipdress, see through dress, oversized- + Packing List

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