Top 10 Things To Never Bring To Festivals

TO BRING OR NOT TO BRING? That is the question asked far too often (or not nearly often enough, perhaps) by us festival-go-ers in our preparations for musical weekend excursions that bring out the camping-friendly field dancing day-long sun-bask-er in us all. “Festival Season” is in full swing and that means it’s time to review those FAQ pages on the event websites to learn what is and is not permitted, both on the camp and festival grounds, as the lists for each may differ and vary. So fresh off my weekend at Firefly amidst totems and selfie-sticks, I have compiled the following list based on those FAQ lists as well as polling fellow Festival attendees and we at Rock On Philly now present to you what should not be brought to Festivals.



Photo via Pixabay

Okay, maybe not EVER but its important to give full consideration to what type of environment (which at times are unpredictable or far too predictable) you are bringing them into. Usually Festival communities tend to be pretty laid back, peaceful and kind but, that being said, the bigger and more mainstream a festival is, the larger and more diverse the crowds and acts are going to be. I saw this translate a number of times at Firefly both in ways that were very positive (respect for elders, festival areas designed to accommodate different age-brackets) as well as in ways that the diversity of the estimated 90,000 attendee demographic not pan out (young and/or heavily inebriated fans oblivious to and at times inconsiderate of those around them in their conduct)… The point is, I strongly encourage you to take in all the influential factors of a major music festival (the weather and heat, mixed crowd, what level of access you have- e.g. VIP and up is probably a lot safer, accommodating and a better atmosphere for young-ens than General Admission) All that being said, there are certainly family friendly festivals and levels of access that can be appropriate for the kids to join you if you do some homework on it.



Photo by Gord Fynes via Flickr

Like the obnoxious, annoying kind. To be fair, there is flexibility here… Like if you are a musician and people ask for your music, or is you are promoting your music in a way that is courteous and un-intrusive. Otherwise there are usually procedural avenues by which to receive permission for promoting things if they are on the level and you are willing to take a professional approach towards pursuing them- Beyond that, it’s a matter of understanding that there is a time and a place, and where that time and place are- The festival might not be it… You may, however, find the awesome community in the campsites to be quite receptive as long as you stay within legit guidelines.


Source: via Giphy

Probably best to leave the Frisbees back at the campsite, there should be plenty within the festival itself to keep you pre-occupied. If not, bring a hacky-sack. Floaties and beach balls are a fun Summer time staple of the festival scene if they are permitted, but no matter what it is probably best to refrain from inflating them PRIOR to entering the festival. Walking through security with them may appear too glaring or obvious for it to go over well.

7. ANYTHING THAT IS TOO LARGE (exceeding permitted items/measurements), IS SHARP or THAT EXPLODES


Photo via Pixabay


Make sure to check out the lists of allowed and prohibited items, totems are a festival tradition and staple of the community among the culture of festival-go-ers, but there may be measurement-restrictions that it would be good to factor in when making your festival-totem. Also, it is somewhat common sense not to bring sharp or dangerous things in or fireworks etc. Please don’t run with scissors, kids.

6. METAL AEROSOL CONTAINERS (includes sunscreen, pepper spray, bug repellent, or spray paint- Sometimes non-flammable ones ARE permitted)


Photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr

This gets understandably touchy in the sunscreen department especially… In this case its probably best to give the allowed/prohibited items list a good read ahead of time and to understand that there are going to be some conveniences and comforts that don’t officially gel in the festival setting.

5. FLASKS (or alcohol in general, or trying to hide it in things)


Photo by Nan Palmero via Flickr

Yes, this is still a thing even though it is one of the #1 things security is going to immediately check you for. The more people try to do this, the tighter security gets for the rest of the crowd. Be cool, if your consumption is responsible and meets festival guidelines, then you will be fine but please don’t be that apple that spoils things for the whole bunch, yeah?

4. TWIZZLERS or NUTTER BUTTERS (AKA Outside food or beverages)


Photo via Pixabay

Okay… It is pretty much common sense not to try and bring outside food and beverages to most events (there are some exceptions in the guidelines of some, however) and anytime food gets thrown out or goes to waste, its sad. Probably best to eat up beforehand and then supplement festival food in a volume and frequency that is budget-friendly. We lost a lot of good Nutter Butters out there.

3. DRUGS, WEAPONS or FAKE ID’S (Or anything else illegal)

Source: tumblr via Giphy

We need to preserve every brain cell we can and not endanger or waste them. Be cool and please save yourself (and those whom you are with) the trouble.



Photo via Pixabay

Campsite, sure… Festival grounds probably not so much. There are typically medical tents, general stores and services available on-site that are there to help if something comes up that requires attention.


Source: ohnotheydidnt.livejournal via Giphy

Its not the place or the time (not that there really is one in general) but if all you are there to do is get loaded or start fights or be inconsiderate of others, festivals probably are not the best place for you. Also, a false sense of entitlement, offense or lack of consideration towards those around you, or independent air of expectations can really backfire or compromise the experience of yourself or others. You may be better off going solo camping somewhere along with an iPod. Remember the golden rule (even when it is tested or may not feel convenient) and that any problem has a solution, focus on the good commonalities shared by everyone there, our mutual love for music and desire for a great experience. Let’s keep it posi.

BONUS: Some Things TO Bring:

A copy of the lists of allowed and prohibited items and an attention to detail!

Copies (whether in print or on your mobile device) along with some good old fashion patience and understanding can go a very long way in avoiding headaches. It is important to understand that many jobs at a festival, including security, are contracted to outside companies. They may have familiarity with those lists but may not have a detailed understanding of them, which if approached with patience and unconditional respect can be met with peaceful resolve, be it clearance from one of the staffers that day or by one of their supervisors.

A copy of any official medical document or note from your physician that clarifies and verifies any prescription medication and/or allergies (food or otherwise) for which you may require special accommodation!

This is something that is very important and valuable as to avoid good concert-go-ers encountering problems at the gate on account of unique circumstances and conditions. As they are unique to you as an individual, suffice to say that staffers from a company contracted to work security may not understand or may require some additional information or proof of condition to clear things… They may also not possess as detailed an understanding of the aforementioned lists of allowed and prohibited items. Having copies of such documents on hand can go a long way, especially if you approach or request contact with any of the great on-site coordinators for the main promotional company that the festival is hosted by, to aid in ensuring your clearance for special medical accommodations at the security check-point.

A good attitude!

A good mind-set and perspective, politeness, kindness, humility, optimism, generosity and respectfulness can go a very long way in the festival community in all your interactions and experiences, front the ground-up and from the top-down!

Have a great summer, enjoy the amazing acts at some awesome festivals, and please be sure to share your favorite experiences with us in the comments below!

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