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Protect your health at a festival

Protect your health at a festival
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Staying safe and well at a festival abroad

Few things match the exhilaration of attending a music or cultural festival, and it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. Whether it’s the UK’s Glastonbury music festival, a mela in India, La Tomatina in Spain or Thailand’s Songkran water fight, festivals will give you lasting memories. But as with any adventure, it pays to plan ahead to protect your health and keep yourself comfortable.

Get health advice before attending a mass gathering

Six to eight weeks before you depart book a travel health appointment at Global Travel Clinics. Tell the travel health pharmacist that you will be going to a festival abroad. They can recommend vaccines and explain what you can do to protect your health in a crowded environment.

What are the risks associated with a festival?

When you attend a crowded event, you will want to take steps to reduce your exposure to some risks. These are:

  • weather conditions at the festival
  • communicable diseases at the festival
  • insect bites and stings at a festival
  • unsafe water and food at a festival
  • air quality at a festival
  • crowds at a festival

How do I avoid sunburn at a festival?

At any outdoor event, you will want to dress for the weather. If you are out all day and into the evening, the conditions can change dramatically. So layers are useful to protect yourself from the cold and from the sun. Be sure to use sunscreen on exposed skin, and cover up with a sunhat. If you are not used to the heat, plan to find a shaded spot at the festival in the middle of the day. We have advice on dealing with heat.

What infections will I be exposed to at a festival?

Attending a mass gathering like a festival will mean you are in close quarters with many other people. You would normally avoid people who are visibly sick, but in a crowd this might not be possible. You can get vaccinated against some communicable diseases, and your travel health pharmacist will make some recommendations. These might include a shot against meningococcal meningitis, and any catch-up shots you need to protect yourself from MMR, flu and covid-19.

What diseases do insects and mosquitoes carry?

At your travel health appointment you can get advice on avoiding bug and insect bites because mosquitoes and insects carry a number of unpleasant diseases including malaria, Japanese encephalitis, dengue fever and zika. Some of these are vaccine preventable, but not all. And insect bites are unpleasant in themselves, so don’t let them ruin your festival. You can learn more about staying safe from insect-borne diseases with our travel health article.

How do I make sure I have safe food and water at a festival?

The ill-effects of travelers diarrhea are well known, and festivals are famed for their dodgy food. It’s possible to pick up diseases like typhoid, cholera and hepatitis A from unsafe food and water at festivals. Read more about the steps travelers can take to ensure they have access to safe food and safe water at festivals.

Is air quality a problem at my destination?

Poor air quality can make health problems worse and make you more susceptible to respiratory disease. Some festivals are particularly dusty and smokey, and some destinations are notorious for bad air quality from pollution and wildfires. Read up about what to expect if air quality is likely to be an issue for you and talk with your healthcare provider about what steps you can take to reduce the effects.

Staying safe in a crowded festival

Crowds can be a danger in themselves, whether it’s pickpockets or a stampede. Maintain good awareness of your surroundings when at a festival, and learn about basic mass gathering safety from the Centers for Disease Controls.

Make sure your travel insurance covers you for all your planned activities: your insurers’ support should ease the admin burden that follows a theft on vacation. And if you need medical attention, you will definitely be grateful for your travel health insurance.

We hope this advice will help you to have a carefree festival experience.