Music & Culture

Music Festivals 101: The Ultimate Crash Course in Surviving Festival Season

Ah, music festivals. They never seem like they’re going to be as grueling as they are.

And then, before you know it, you’re at said music festival, burnt to a crisp, exhausted, dehydrated, and starving because you forgot to bring cash and the only food vendor that takes card has run out of supplies for the day.

Listen, music festivals aren’t for the weak—and they definitely aren’t for the unprepared—but you don’t have to suffer for your favorite bands. Or, at least, you shouldn’t have to, because you know better. (If you choose to suffer, that’s not on us. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

So if you’re ready for a better music festival experience, buckle up and read on.

Tip One: Plan Your Day Out in Advance

While some music festivals don’t plan their set times until day of, it’s now become a pretty rare practice, and most events have their schedules down to the minute, if not the second.

Pre-planning may not sound very punk-rock, but what sucks even more than being a nerd with an itinerary is missing every band you wanted to see because you couldn’t make it to the right place at the right time. Trust us.

Tip Two: Don’t Forget The Sunscreen

Music festivals almost always happen during the warmer months, or at least during a time that it’s safe to be outside, and that usually means plenty of sun. Even if you’re someone who “doesn’t burn,” spending eight-plus hours under (pretty much) non-stop UV rays will do a number on you. We don’t care how tough you are—you’re probably not tougher than melanoma.

Tip Three: Bring Those Reusable Drinking Receptacles

Whether it’s a Camelbak, a Hydro Flask, or a squeeze bottle you got for free, most, if not all, music festivals have a water refill station designed specifically to ensure that concert-goers don’t dehydrate and die. Sure, the lines may be long, but nobody wants to get sick from dehydration, or worse, spend five dollars on a little plastic water bottle that they have to take the lid off of. (Which, yeah, means you can’t save it.)

Speaking of five dollar bottled waters, that brings us to our next point…

Tip Four: Be Sure to Bring CASH

We said it in our “What’s in my Bag” article and we’ll say it here—cash is king. At music festivals, you almost always have to pay for parking, and not every venue lot takes a card. More than that, there’s always one or two food vendors that just… don’t take credit or debit cards. Plus, with the outdoor nature of most festivals, there’s a good likelihood that even the vendors that do take card will have a malfunction and will end up being cash-only. Come prepared!

Tip Five: Have a Phone Charger at the Ready

Think losing your pals in a concert venue is bad? Try losing them at a music festival. You may never find them again.

Long hours paired with spotty service means that phone batteries often won’t make it a whole day without some backup, so be sure your portable charger is ready for action when the time comes. There’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve not only lost your friends, but also your ride home.

Tip Six (BONUS TIP): If You Can, Bring Backup Snacks

This is mostly for the dietary restriction crew, but if you can bring food, be sure that you have backup snacks so you’re not starving by the end of the day. Music festivals are long and strenuous, and without proper nourishment, you’re probably not going to be a happy camper. For those of us who can eat anything, the worst part about not bringing snacks is dropping mad cash on the world’s smallest portion of food, but if you’re vegan, or have a gluten allergy, not bringing your own grub could be the difference between having a great time and passing out, cold. Gnarly.

Do you have any tried and true music festival tips? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting us @soundigest!

Featured Image: Unsplash (by Aranxa Esteve)