Festival toilets

Visiting the toilet is the downside of any festival, no matter what kind of VIP access you've blagged. Even if you reckon you can hold out for three days, read our list of your options.

Group of people with backpacks one wearing a gas mask

A high tech way to avoid the stench

Using urinals

Think pig troughs with a dividing wall and you’re on the right lines. Sadly, at most festivals these steel piss-points are designed just for the boys, but there’s no reason why girls with knees of steel and no hang-ups shouldn’t use them too. It’s quick, it’s simple and you don’t have to touch any handles. Ladies, some of the larger festivals, including Glastonbury, offer pink She Pee urinals and funny-looking funnels to aid your flow. Fun!

Splashback risk: 8/10 (unless you’re one of those guys who hangs out at festivals on stilts).

Portaloo pooping

On paper, we’re talking about the kind of crapper that comes with various attractive options. It’s private. You get to lock the door, shelter from the rain, and sometimes there’s even a flush so you can leave it as you found it. In reality, you’re likely to open the door and be hit by an ungodly, slow-cooked stench from a blocked and clotted drain, while everything from the floor to the walls and the seat will sport the kind of smeary stains you would normally associate with prison protests. OK for taking a slash, though women should be accomplished bog-hoverers.

Splashback risk: 7/10

Long drop

Functions exactly as the name suggests. These are basically slurry pits with metal frames placed over the top. The frame supports a rank of basic cubicles (no locks), each one fitted with a plank-like walkway and a primitive seat. Invariably, you’ll find the seat to be quite literally crusted with all kinds of crap, so your task is to hover and heave without falling in. It may sound terrifying, and indeed it is, but on the plus side you still have fresh air circulating to prevent you from passing out. Just don’t look down.

Splashback risk: 0/10 (unless your legs buckle, you follow through with your entire body and cause the kind of splash that forms festival legends).


Not nice for the wildlife that live in it, or the people camping around it. If you’re really determined, and wading through the long grass to reach that leafy dell you’ve heard about, chances are you’re going to step in something left behind by an earlier, but equally anal, visitor. So stick to the facilities and think of others first.

Splashback risk: 2/10 (greater risk of shit on soles of shoes/feet, however).

Holding out

Taking a pee is one thing, but anything beyond that is another trial entirely. OK, you could just pledge not to bother taking a dump for the duration of the festival, and who knows, maybe you can make it. Then again, you have to consider the risk of winding up constipated, and the impact that’ll have on you. The fact is nobody actually enjoys visiting the facilities on offer, but for all the short-term suffering, you’re going to come away feeling so much better on the inside, which can only improve your long term enjoyment of the festival. Providing you make a point of washing your hands afterwards, then it really isn’t such a big deal. Is it?

Tips for dealing with festival toilets

Here are our top 10 guaranteed ways to make sure you’re not left in deep shit.

  1. Load up with some water-free antibacterial handwash – lifesaving.
  2. Join the back of the queue and begin to preach. Be sure to make up a religion to avoid insult, and don’t blink as you talk. Within minutes, that cubicle will have your name all over it.
  3. Failing that, tap on the shoulder of the person in front of you and strike up a never-ending conversation. When they can’t take any more, and duck out in favour of a quieter queue, repeat the process with the next person in front.
  4. Queue up for however long it takes – minutes, hours, it doesn’t matter – because once you’re in, you stay in. Lock the door. Clear up as best you can, and you have a toilet that doubles as a bathroom. Kinda.
  5. Pack a catheter and colostomy bag, and forget about the whole thing for three days.
  6. If you can’t lay your hands on that kind of medical equipment, wear waterproof trousers, no pants, and elastic bands around each ankle.
  7. Only visit the loos between 2am and 4am in the morning – thus avoiding “rush hours”.
  8. Steal a cubicle, drag it back to your tent, and leave a ‘contaminated’ sign on the door.
  9. Bung a tenner to one of the small minority of anal-festival goers who bring their own loo tents. When faced with the alternative, no price is too high!
  10. Sleep with someone backstage, anyone, just so long as they guarantee you can use the facilities before heading back to join the great unwashed.

Next Steps




Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo of young man with gas mask by Martin Thomas