Enjoying festivals with a stoma


Festival season shall soon be upon us once again and I can’t recommend a better way to enjoy yourself with friends and family and improve your own mental health.

You can see how easy it is to attend a festival as an ostomate, including camping, in my previous blogs. I started with family festivals first because I had Callum of course but also as by reputation they are generally cleaner when it comes to the toilets and facilities.

If you have a blue badge* or receive disability benefits* there are limited places in the Accessibility Camping area but sometimes this can be some distance from the main arenas. You can also pay for varying levels of Glamping, which come with differing levels of toilet and washing facilities (and sleeping!).

Just being in a festival environment gives you a sense of community that we don’t often get anymore. It also offers a sense of belonging and whilst exploring new things in new surroundings we are more likely to try and experience activities outside our comfort zones. Crowds and audiences can create excitement and a buzz that can be contagious.

The emotional & cognitive benefits of attending festivals include:

  • Reductions in stress levels.
  • Elevation of mood.
  • Increased self-confidence.
  • Better immune system stimulation.1

If this year is going to be your first year at a festival, since getting an ostomy, then you may want to plan ahead to reduce any potential anxiety. Being in new surroundings and not knowing the toilet situation can be nerve-wrecking no matter how long you’ve had your stoma.

For the first couple of acts, stay on the periphery, that way you can easily get out of the crowd should you start to panic or should you need to get to a Portaloo ASAP.

Make sure you have a bottle of cool water with you, always. Nearly everywhere now has refill stations where you can refill your reusable water bottle for free. Not only important if it’s mega hot and you’re at risk of getting dehydrated but if you start feeling anxious, a cool non-caffeinated drink to sip on is a great way to ground yourself.

You might not get a lot of sleep at night, if you’re enjoying all the entertainment, it can also get noisy on the campgrounds early in the morning. No one functions well on small amounts of sleep, there is a reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. So, rather than let it spoil your festival experience I recommend bringing earplugs and taking advantage of the chill out fields during the day to have a nap in the shade.

Carry a radar key, tissues (or even better a whole toilet roll) and hand sanitiser with you all day, every day, wherever you are on the festival site be it the main arena or back at your tent. This will help you avoid a lot of the toilet related anxiety.

There are medical tents and medical welfare services at every festival, be it a one-day festival or a long weekend. If you can’t find them, just ask a festival employee and they will be able to direct you. They can help you with both physical and mental health. They may also be able to help you out of a pinch with stoma supplies and may also be able to store medication for you. Do check with the festival organisers ahead of time to make sure.

Lastly, with Mental Health and Mindfulness being so important and talked about these days most festivals now also cater toward letting people take time out to recharge and reflect during the weekend. Be sure to check out the program for anything like yoga, meditation, sound baths, and mindfulness workshops. Step outside your comfort zone to chill out.

*Not limited to, please see individual festival terms and conditions.


1B. Hampshire, R. Topping, C. Burbano Cifuentes and L. Aubry, ‘Music & the Mind: A Research Study exploring whether Music Festivals affect the Well-being of Listeners’, Durham Undergraduate Research in Music and Science, vol. 3, 2020.

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by Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams

About the author

My name is Michelle; I live in Kent with my husband and son. I have a permanent ileostomy as a result of Ulcerative Colitis. You can follow me on twitter.