Nothing embodies the spirit of summer like a picnic in the park. This timeless tradition combines the beauty of the great outdoors with the simple pleasure of good food and even better company. But, to elevate your al fresco dining, you need to make sure you have all the picnic essentials to hand. From blankets to sun cream, we’ve compiled a list of the top 13 items you need to create the perfect picnic to enjoy the sun!

1. Blanket/rug

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Having a picnic blanket or rug to sit on is important as it helps you create your own little boundary from the rest of the park or wherever you are. It’s also comfier and cleaner to sit on a blanket or rug than on the grass.

2. Cushions

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If you want to glam up your picnic, you could always bring a few cushions for people to sit on, but these can be a pain to carry, so we would only suggest doing this for a picnic in your garden or close to home.

3. Food

picnic essentials - food

Food is one of the most important parts of any picnic, and some of the classic items to bring are sandwiches, crisps and sweet treats. However, you could always mix things up by packing small pies, quiches, and maybe even some pasta salad. Just don’t forget to bring some cutlery if you need it, and some plates or bowls.

4. Drinks

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Aside from food, drinks are also really important, especially as the weather gets warmer. Remember most parks don’t let people drink alcohol publicly, but you could always bring a bottle of juice or smoothies for everyone. Just don’t forget to bring cups or a bottle opener if you need one.

5. Hand sanitiser

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It may seem like an unusual picnic essential any other year, but in the midst of the pandemic hand sanitiser is definitely an essential. Either have one big pump for everyone or to make the load lighter, ask everyone to bring their own little bottle.

6. Cool box

picnic essentials

With the power to preserve, the cool box ensures your picnic fare remains as fresh and tasty as when you first packed it, all the while thwarting off the heat of the day. Plus, a good cool box can also serve a dual purpose as a compact table or a makeshift seat, making it a versatile addition to your picnic setup.

7. Sun cream

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The sun is starting to shine once again, and thanks to months in lockdown you are probably lacking some Vitamin D. But to make sure your ghostly flesh doesn’t burn, make sure to put on plenty of suncream and keep a bottle with you to top up throughout the day.

8. Music (and speakers)

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Playing some background music can really help lift the mood of a picnic; just make sure not to play it too loudly, as if you’re in a public park it would be rude to have it blasting on full, but if you’re just in a back garden, you could probably get away with playing it a little louder.

9. Park games

Credit: The Bay Area’s Picnic Company

Games are a great way to make a picnic better and therefore one of the ultimate picnic essentials. Games like frisbee, badminton, or a classic soccer match can add an invigorating dose of activity and competition to your picnic. They work really well if you’re with a big group of mates. Alternatively, if you’re having more of an intimate picnic with your partner or small group of friends, why not look at things like board games, cards against humanity or even chess. Scrabble always goes down well (surprisingly), and we even know the best Scrabble jokes around. 

10. Plastic bags

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Whilst it may seem unusual, a plastic bag is one of the picnic essentials many forget. You’ll need it to put all of your rubbish in, so you don’t have to litter or mix used stuff with clean stuff. You can clean as you go, making it easy to pack up afterwards. Simple.

11. Tissues or napkins

picnic essentials include tissues or napkins

Finally, not the most exciting of picnic essentials, but essentials nevertheless! Tissues or napkins are critical for any spills, stains or general food around the face situations. They come in handy for every situation – see below too!

12. Hay fever tablets

avoid hayfever this summer

If you’re one of the unfortunate souls who suffers from hay fever, we see you! Nothing spoils a picnic like feeling as if you’re coming down with the flu all of a sudden. Itchy eyes, sweats, runny nose…no thank you! So make sure you pack antihistamine hay fever tablets – or better yet take them before you go. However, it’s always a good idea to take some for a top up or for a mate later on.

13. Sunglasses


Avoid being blinded by the sun by using sunglasses. They’re the type of item that’s easy to forget if you’re in a rush, but definitely noticeable if you leave them behind. Make sure you pack your sunglasses so you can see where you’re pouring the wine bottle!

Summer is the perfect time for exploring the best of the UK with a great picnic packed with all the essentials. If you’re searching for the ideal spot, check out the least crowded places in the UK to explore.

Last Updated on June 12, 2023