Going to a faery festival? Costume tips and ideas

Young faeries at a festival

One of the best parts of attending any festival is putting together a killer outfit. Faeries especially love fashion, frivolity, and the art of disguise. But budget, weather, and travel concerns can have any faery feeling less than magickal. Costuming for outdoor festivals is challenging, but it’s worth it when you get to run around with other faeries in a beautiful natural setting.

Are you going to Faerieworlds? Glastonbury? Or another faery festival or Renaissance faire? Here’s some ideas to help plan the faery costume of your dreams.


Make a wish and dream up the perfect faery costume.

Maybe you already know what kind of Fae you want to portray. A fairytale godmother with a giant updo and a poufy skirt? A lusty satyr with body paint and a loincloth? If you’ve already got the character idea in your head, start by drawing out a few quick sketches. (Don’t worry—you don’t have to show them to anyone.) Drafting out a plan will help you figure out what costume pieces you need to obtain. There’s no need to be too practical at this stage—let out your wildest ideas out on the page.

If you’re stumped, try looking at books, movies, and past festival photos for inspiration. Keep a folder of your favorite accessories and ideas. Borrowing like crazy is totally encouraged: Victorian, Gothic, Steampunk, Disney, Renaissance, Medieval, Lolita, D&D/LARP, Hippie, Psychedelic, Rave, Circus, Gypsy, Ballet, Carnivale, Tolkien and Tribal fashions have all had a notable influence on the garb that appears at Faery festivals. Look up any of these styles to uncover a wealth of inspiration--then combine at will!


A homemade faery costume can be beautiful and charming.

In a perfect world, we faeries could just close our eyes, wiggle our nose, and (poof!) be transformed into a fantasy fashion plate. But we live in the (sigh) real world where money exists (and costumes cost a pile of it. A ready-made getup from a costume shop or clothier runs several hundred dollars or more, plus accessories. You gotta stay within your budget if you want to have any money left over for your ticket to the ball.

Fortunately, it is possible to put together a worthy costume without spending all the gold in Middle Earth. Faeries can be a scrappy lot, and nothing in the faery wardrobe need be shiny and new. What you do need is time. If you’re going to be scrounging, adapting, and making most of your costume, start early (like, several weeks before). Plus-size and teeny-tiny faeries may need even more time than that to find clothing in their size.

Thift stores and even your own closet can yield great base garments for your faery costume. Gypsy skirts, vests, sundresses, tunics and tights can all be easily modified or embellished. (Big tacky prom dresses are a great source for yards and yards of tulle!) Craft stores have fake flowers, ribbons, and feathers galore. Fabric scraps can be become appliques, junk jewelry can be taken apart and turned into faery bling.

It helps a lot if you can sew. If you can’t, take a class or have someone show you the basics. Faery sewing doesn’t have to be perfect—the messier, the better, really! But it sucks to have something fall apart the first time you wear it.

If you go the DIY route, be realistic. Some costume pieces take a lot of skill and are worth every penny. A circle skirt is relatively easy for a beginner to sew—a corset, not so much. It might be worth it to splurge on a purchase that will save you a giant headache. Plan ahead and build it into your figures—shopping at the last minute is a sure way to blow your budget.

Big multi-day festivals like Faerieworlds give you the opportunity to create multiple costumes and wear a different one each day. There are also various themed events (like Good Faeries/Bad Faeries). Obviously, this can get really expensive and cumbersome for travelers. A new hairpiece, overskirt, or bodice can freshen up yesterday’s costume (or last year’s) if a whole new outfit isn’t in the cards.

Transportation and Packing

A simple faery costume is easiest for travel

While admiring your new 36” wings in the closet mirror, you realize that you have to get them to the festival. Oh crap. Make sure there’s enough room in your vehicle or luggage to bring the costume(s) you’re planning to wear.

Fabrics like rayon, silk, and cotton voile are wonderful for traveling faeries because they’re lightweight, compact, and wrinkle-resistant. With any luck, you can just shake them out upon arrival and be ready to go. But other accessories aren’t so forgiving. Pack flower wreaths and headdresses in boxes (if you can) to prevent crushing. Small wings can be folded and packed between two layers of stiff cardboard. A mesh cover is great for keeping wigs in line. One more tried-and-true faery travel rule: Anything with glitter gets its own bag.

Lost luggage is pretty rare on commercial flights, but of course that knowledge won’t help you when the airline loses the suitcase with your Swarovski-encrusted bodice. Valuable or irreplaceable costumes should be carried with you at all times.

Being Prepared

Hiding from the rain under a mushroom

Outdoor festivals come with a special challenge for costumers: The weather. Over the years, Oregon’s Faerieworlds has been held in weekend-long rain, scorching sun, and plenty of fair-weather days.

You can’t exactly have a different costume for each weather possibility. But you can plan to dress in layers and still look the part. Toasty leggings and an elf cape are good things to have if the weather turns chill. A stylish parasol is handy if you’re not a dancing-in-the-rain type faery.

In addition to rain and wind, your costume will probably come into contact with the following: Sweat, perfume, sunscreen body paint, copious glitter, mud, sticky children, intoxicated adults, UV light, animals. Oh well. Your costume will definitely be tested for durability by the festival. So will your feet!

Live music and dance performances are a big part of many faery festivals, so don’t let your costume be a buzzkill. Accessories like stilts, oversized wings and headresses may block the view of the stage and keep you from dancing. Have a plan for ditching them so you can join the crowd, if you wish.

In case of an emergency, you should have a set of human clothes, too. (I know! Boo!) You can leave ‘em in your duffel bag until it’s time to go home.

Last-Minute Faeries

A white dress made into a faery costume

Okay, so not everyone is able to spend months planning a festival costume. If you’re down to the wire, but you still want to look faery-fabulous, there are options. Lots of stores have off-the-rack clothing that fits the general vibe: Sundresses, bohemian-style skirts, blouses, tunics and leggings. Top it off with a festive wreath or garland and you’ll be fit for the faire.

If you’re still feeling drab and human, try another accessory. A bright hair color, horns, mask or face paint can help transform you into a Fae creature. These things can almost always be found within the festival gates. In fact, if you’re truly strapped for time, you could do all your costume shopping at the festival—the vendors will thank you for it!

Have fun at the festival, and don't forget to take pictures!

Are you camping? Read our article on Pagan camping here, or check out our archive.

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