Festival tent buying guide


If you’re staying for a few nights at a multi-day event, you’ll likely need a festival tent. Here’s what to look out for when buying yours. 

It’s often better to choose a smaller festival tent to make sure it will fit in a tight space (John Such / Unsplash)

What is a festival tent?

Festival tents come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but they are typically inexpensive options designed for short-term camping at an event. While you could go for a very cheap, basic option, we’d recommend paying a little more and buying a functional tent that you’ll reuse again and again. 

What to look for when buying a festival tent

Weight You often need to park your car far from the camping area at a festival, so it’s wise to opt for a lightweight tent. Aim for no more than a four-man option – anything larger will generally be too heavy. 

Cost Festival tents range from incredibly cheap – think £25 for a small design – up to hundreds of pounds. However, it’s best not to overspend as it’s possible your tent might get damaged at the event. To save money and help protect the planet, consider buying secondhand. Some camping companies resell used tents at lower prices after safety-checking and repairing them.

Simple setup A quick-pitching option is your best bet if you want to spend less time getting your camp ready and more time enjoying the activities. Pop-up tents are the fastest designs to set up, but they can be a little pricey. Dome tents take a little longer to pitch but are easy entry-level options for festivals, especially if you learn how to put them up properly.

Size Who are you heading to the festival with? If it’s you and a partner or a friend, opt for a three-berth tent to make sure you'll have space for luggage. For more info on the size to pick, read our tent buying guide. The festival may only allow you to bring tents under certain dimensions, so don’t buy something too large. Space is often at a premium in the camping areas at these types of events. 

Weatherproofing If your festival is in a warm climate, look for a tent with a removable flysheet to let more air circulate. You might also want to choose a design with breathable features, like mesh doors and vented sections. If there’s a high chance of rain, make sure your tent has a waterproof hydrostatic head rating of at least 1,500mm. This way, you’ll know it’ll keep you dry. 

Other features – Consider a blackout tent for morning lie-ins. After all, you’re likely to have stayed up late the night before. We’d also recommend an in-built porch to leave your dirty shoes, as festivals can be muddy. Nice-to-have extras include hanging points for fairy lights and built-in pockets to keep your phone and other small essentials easily accessible.

There’s no need to buy the most expensive festival tent – it’s likely you won’t spend that much time at your pitch (David Dvořáček / Unsplash)

What types of festival tents are there?

Pop-up festival tents

These tents take seconds to pitch, leaving you with more time to enjoy the revelry. All you need to do is take it out of the bag, let it pop into shape and then peg it down. Packing it away takes a touch longer but is still low hassle. Read our guide to buying the best pop-up tent for more information on which type to choose. 

Dome festival tents

Dome tents are usually cheaper than pop-ups but won’t take too long to pitch: you're usually looking at 15 minutes maximum for most modern 2- to 4-man options. They’re generally compact and lightweight, too.  

Blackout festival tents  

If you struggle to sleep in daylight, you might want to invest in a blackout festival tent. These options have darkened bedrooms that either fully or partially block the light.  

Festival tent FAQs

How to identify your tent at a festival

Purchase a marker flag so you can easily recognise your temporary home in the sea of other tents. You could also decorate your tent by tying colourful ribbons or bunting to it, making it easier to distinguish between similar models pitched up nearby. 

How to secure your tent at a festival

Wondering how to lock a tent at a festival? The answer is that it’s best not to. A tent with a lock draws attention yet is still easy enough for thieves to break into. Leave expensive belongings at home or keep them on your person at all times during the event.  

What accessories can I get for a festival tent? 

Add on glow-in-the-dark guy lines as they will help stop late-night revellers from tripping over them and crashing into you as you sleep.

How to tie guy lines

What happens to tents that get left at a festival? 

Discarded tents at festivals don’t tend to go to charity, as many people believe – it’s said that 90% are incinerated or end up at the tip. Whatever festival tent you buy, make sure to bring it home with you. Far too many people leave theirs on site instead of reusing it, which goes against the leave-no-trace principles of camping.