Discover how the free what3words app is a festival must-have for everything from saving the location of your tent to sharing a precise location in an emergency, and learn why festivals around the world are recommending it.

  • Save important locations so you know exactly where to find your car, tent and other key points
  • Navigate to meeting points using the what3words Compass – it even works offline
  • Giving a what3words address in an emergency can save precious time getting help to the right place

What is what3words?

what3words is a really simple way to communicate precise locations. It has given every 3 metre (10ft) square in the world a unique address made of 3 random words: a what3words address. It’s perfect for communicating exact locations that don’t usually have an address, like a tent pitch or a specific gate entrance.

The app (available on Android and Apple) is completely free, so make sure you download it before heading to any festivals.

Festivals across the globe, such as Glastonbury, Burning Man and South by Southwest are promoting the use of what3words so attendees can find and communicate precise locations on often sprawling sites, where regular street addressing doesn’t exist.

How can I use what3words at festivals?

Save important locations

Use the ‘Save’ function for those locations you need to remember, like where you pitched your tent, parked your car or the entrance to the medical tent. Outdoor clothing and equipment brand Regatta has a range of tents and chairs that have a built-in what3words chip that you can scan to quickly see the location’s what3words address.

Top tip: save all of your saved locations into one ‘Festival Favourites’ list and share it with your friends so everyone knows exactly where to find every spot.

Use what3words so you don’t get lost in the sea of tents.

what3words works offline

The what3words app relies on GPS to work so you can still find, save and navigate to what3words addresses without needing a data connection. This is especially important at festivals that are remote or so busy that connection can be unstable.

Top tip: If you want to find your current location, make sure the blue dot on the screen stabilises first, as this gives you a more accurate location. Then tap the ‘Locate me’ button (arrow on iPhone or compass on Android) to see your current what3words address.

Plan and navigate to a meeting point

If you get separated from your friends, use what3words to pick a precise place to meet-up. If you’re unsure how to get there, navigate using what3words Compass mode.

Enter the what3words address into the app, then tap ‘Navigate’ and select ‘what3words Compass’. Just follow the direction of the arrow to your destination. The distance from your destination will also be displayed at the top of the screen. The green arrow will turn into a tick once you’ve arrived.

Want to learn more about how to use the what3words app? Check out our ‘How to’ series on YouTube for more tips.

Use it in an emergency

Festivals are for having fun, but it’s also important to stay safe and be prepared in case of an emergency. Emergency teams, from Glastonbury Police in the UK to Baldwin County in Alabama , are encouraging festival-goers to have the app so they’re prepared to give a precise location. It can help save precious time when locating incidents on busy sites that are difficult to describe.

A tweet from Glastonbury Police encouraging people attending the festival to download what3words
Glastonbury Police called what3words a ‘top festival tip’, encouraging attendees to use it to remember the location of their tent, or to give a location in an emergency.

Always find the right entrance

what3words has been popping up at festivals around the globe to help people find important locations that would otherwise be hard to find.

Sign at Govball festival in New York encouraging users to use what3words
Signs at the Governor’s Ball in New York to help people find their way.
Sign at Govball festival in New York encouraging users to use what3words

Spot what3words on festival maps

With sprawling grounds, many festivals provide people with maps to help them navigate the site. Towersey Festival included what3words addresses on its map so attendees could arrive at the entrance they needed, saving time and hassle.

A map from Towersey Festival using what3words
Towersey Festival made it easy for guests to know exactly which entrance to go to.

A group of Burning Man regulars created this map with the what3words address of key locations so revelers could find their way through the desert.

Festival websites are also a great place to find extra location information. South by SouthWest’s merchandise page was updated to include the what3words address of where the merch truck would be on each day of the festival.

Whatever festival you’re going to this summer, don’t forget to use what3words.