With summer comes swimming, heat, the sunshine, and (my personal favorite) outdoor music festivals. If you’re not going to one of these 20 outdoor music festivals, perhaps you’re preparing to go to one of the other hundreds that happen in the U.S. and Canada every year. If you’re really lucky, maybe you’re even headed to your first one ever.
Whether you’re new, a veteran, or somebody that likes to dabble here and there, here are 5 ways to make sure your outdoor music festival season goes off without a hitch.
1. Set Up A Comfortable Tent and Sleeping Gear
When it comes to festival camping gear, you have different options to choose from. Budget campers like myself might opt for a small tent, but beware: just because it says it will comfortably fit three people doesn’t mean it actually will. Mine claims that a trio could sleep like babies, wrapped up in its innards, but in reality, it might fit one and a half. My significant other and I are cuddlers, so it was no problem. However, if you’re going with your best mate and spooning isn’t on your “guys’ festival-to-do-list”, opt for a larger tent. A good rule of thumb is to divide by two, so if you’ve got two people, shoot for a tent that claims to comfortably fit four.
Of course, this doesn’t account for all of the stuff you may be bringing with you. Some people recommend a four-person tent for those who want a lot of space and perhaps the addition of an air mattress. If you don’t go the air mattress route, you’ll want to consider throwing down a foam mattress pad, or at the very least a heap of blankets to soften a night or two of dirt and rocks you’ll be sleeping on.
Another tip: make sure you know how to set your tent up before you embark!
2. Bring an Easy-Up Living Room for Rain or Shine
Whether or not you’re going with a big group of people, you’ll still want a place to comfortably chill when you’re not in the festival grounds dancing your faces off. Lay down some old rugs for carpets, deploy the easy up canopy, and kick back in a lawn chair or two. Pack a couple of blankets in case you get cold at night, and remember to bring coolers to keep your food and drinks cold during the day.
Folding tables also help keep things out of the dirt and grime, but they’re not essential. Basically, just bring all the things you’d want with you if you were spending a cozy night in your own backyard, minus the fire pit.
Professional tip: Remember to clean while you party! Festival camping gets dirty, and trash bags are your best friend. Pack it in, pack it out.
Of course, if you have access to a mobile home, that’s also a fantastic commodity to utilize. A house on wheels that has a bathroom will save you from using the port-a-potties every time you have to relieve yourself. Additionally, most people forget that they don’t have easy access to electricity while camping, so a car battery will definitely do the trick if you need juice. Extra points for those who have solar panel roofing on their rig or simply bring their own solar charger.
3. Pack the Right Food and Drinks
Everybody has to eat, right? When it comes to the food you bring, you’ll want to bring solid food that you can easily pack and store in a cooler. Not all festivals are going to have outdoor grilling areas, only some do (for example, What the Festival generally does). Unless you’re bringing your own portable grill, don’t pack anything that you wouldn’t eat if you couldn’t warm it up. My suggestion is to pack some junk food.
Remember that you’re going to probably dance all day and all night. Fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, pineapples, and watermelons, all represent great health food packed with energy and water. Fighting dehydration is a major festival concern. Jerky, cheese, and granola bars are also great sources of energy.
Water is just as important to remember to pack, as food or at least receptacles/containers for storing it. Hydration packs are great for festivals because they double as a backpack as well as an H2O container. Athletic kinds of people like runners, campers, and bicyclists may already have them.
When it comes to non-water beverages, remember that alcohol purchased inside festival grounds is going to cost an arm and a leg. First of all, if you plan on drinking, make sure you’re not mixing alcohol and other substances because you’ll have a bad time. Second of all, consider bringing your own bottles and mixers because they’ll be literally three times cheaper. Also, if you plan simply you can still create mixed drinks like margaritas at a much lower cost.
4. Festival Attire & Accessories
I cannot stress enough, when it comes to not only clothing and accessories, but also to your camping gear, check the weather before you embark. If it’s going to be warm, pack accordingly. If it’s going to rain, bring a poncho or a waterproof jacket. Remember, if you’re going to dance hard, you’re probably going to soak your clothes in sweat. Bring at least two pairs of clothes for each day you’re going to be there, not including jackets and extra warming layers. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and it will definitely take up more room, but if you want the safest bet, that’s the way to go.
Of course, as we’ll see in the next section, you’re going to want to bust out your flair and get weird. Gaudy jewelry, face paint, masks, and footie pajamas tend to work for most people. A word on footie pajamas (or the “onesie” as it’s lovingly referred to as): I used to think wearing it was just a stupid fashion statement by the EDM crowd, but it turns out that onesies are actually nice and toasty when it’s cold out.
Another important item that too many people forget is the all-important totem. Now, not everybody is going to need one, but if you’re going in a group, at least one person in your crew is going to need a proper totem. These are generally just really tall poles with signs on them, and while they’re usually entertaining, they also serve a more important purpose. When you’re in a crowd of 5,000 plus people, finding your friends is hard unless they’re flying a 15-foot totem that lets you know where they are at all times. Don’t forget a totem, unless you’re okay with getting lost and separated from your friends for a whole night.
5. Have a Good Attitude and Prepare to Get Weird
The last but most important thing you’ll want to remember to bring to a festival is a good attitude. Things aren’t always going to go as planned, sometimes it will be too cold, and other times it will dump rain on you for 12 hours straight (What the Festival 2016). Remember, the only person able to make you have a bad time is yourself. With the right attitude, you can overcome any obstacle and remain happy about anything.
Another thing to remember is that people at these festivals run around naked, and do all kinds of weird things. A friend, I like to go with to the music festivals has a tradition of brushing his teeth with whiskey and swallowing the mouth-goop mixture instead of spitting it out (don’t want to waste whiskey now!). The point is that if you’re going to go to one of these festivals, be prepared to get weird.
I’m not saying you have to run around naked while doing weird things and brushing your teeth with whiskey to fit in with the crowd. I’m just saying that if you’re not prepared for weird behavior around you, you might be a tad bit uncomfortable. My advice? Be weird yourself. Step outside of your comfort zone a little bit. Shed the assumptions that you’ve been unknowingly burdened with by society and go a little crazy. You might be surprised at how liberated you feel.
Bonus Tip: It’s Okay to be Frugal!
Festival tickets tend to cost a lot of money. For example, attendees of the pricey EDC Las Vegas spent anywhere between $900 and $1200 for their trips and tickets (not including camping costs). I’ll probably be going to five festivals altogether this year, which may cost a little more than that (I have my ways, though).
The point is, when you’re camping, you have the ability to be more frugal, spending less on hotel rooms, fancy drinks, $15 packs of cigarettes, and more on your own gear. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with spending money on festivals. Research has shown that many people don’t regret spending money on good experiences. So, if you can’t do it on the cheap, don’t fret; you’ll probably still have a good time anyway.
Above all, remember to be safe this festival season. Take the same precautions as if you were going to summer camp — bites, rashes, dehydration and heat exhaustion can all be major concerns. EDC 2016 had a zero death count, the lowest for the first time in three years. Here’s to hoping that the trend carries over to other festivals.
Peace, love, respect, and enjoy your festival season!
Featured photo credit: Wiki Commons via commons.wikimedia.org