What is a 'pop-up' campsite?

Some of our favourite campsites are pop-up ones; temporary sites that appear and disappear like sunshine during the British summertime. Here, we’ve set out to answer some of the questions we get asked about them most often: what is a pop-up campsite and what’s so good about them anyway?

Campsites that open for a limited time

A pop-up campsite is essentially a temporary campsite. Any site that opens for a limited amount of time might call itself a pop-up – but it’s a concept that has taken off in the last decade. The “pop up” prefix is used for shops, bars, restaurants and, of course, campsites which open for a limited period giving owners a chance to test the market to see if a business idea might boom. It also gives customers a chance to try something new, exciting and, as it’s time-limited, exclusive. It’s this that gives camping at a pop-up campsite an edge of cool.

Temporary campsites in farmers’ fields

While it’s pretty modern to call your campsite a “pop up”, the basic concept of pop-up camping is far from it. Landowners, typically farmers, have been flinging open the gates to their fallow fields in the summer to provide temporary pitches for campers for generations. These sorts of places make the most of the summer holidays by increasing the number of camping pitches available in an area. They will typically offer basic facilities, perhaps a stand-pipe and a Portaloo, and often don’t charge too much. In the past they would have been the sort of places where the farmer would come around with a bucket to collect your camping fee – but these days there are plenty which are bookable online too including right here on Cool Camping of course.

28-day pop-up campsites

You might sometimes see pop-up campsites called ‘28-day sites’ too. That’s because there’s legislation in place that allows camping on a casual basis for up to 28 days in a year. Some campsites choose to open for a single, continuous 28-day period, usually in the summer holidays, while others open for the most popular times of the year – summer weekends, at Easter, school half terms and bank holiday weekends. Other pop-up campsites will operate to serve the needs of a particular event such as a music festival, carnival or sporting event.

Pop-up campsites in special locations

Whether it’s a campsite that’s within earshot of the main stage at Glastonbury or a place to pitch that’s usually grazed by cows (it might even be both), pop-up campsites are often found in special locations. A temporary campsite is often welcomed in a place where a permanent one might not be; bringing tourism to an area without requiring building. Away from big events and attractions, it’s often the natural world that makes a place suitable for a pop-up campsite. Environmentally sensitive areas like national parks, nature reserves and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) offer some of the best scenery and wildlife making them fantastic places for camping holidays. A temporary campsite in a wildlife hotspot can offer an unbeatable opportunity for seeing birds and animals up close as their habitat will be undisturbed for most of the year.

Campsites that leave no trace

The need to protect ecologically-important areas means temporary campsites in these special locations are sometimes more appropriate than permanent ones. A temporary campsite limits the impact on the surroundings and we think the best pop ups are the ones that leave no trace. It’s an ethos which fits in with The Countryside Code, designed to help people respect, protect and enjoy the natural environment. At a temporary campsite it’s not just the campers who pack up and head home but the campsite itself. While that’s great for the environment, and therefore gets a big thumbs up from us, it gives these campsites a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it quality. Pitches can fill up fast, especially if the campsite pops up on an annual basis and attracts returning customers. Check out our guide to the newest campsites in the world of pop-up camping to make sure you don’t miss out.

View Our Pop-Up Campsites Collection