How to Prepare for a Music Festival: Tips for First Timers
How to Prepare For Your First Music Festival
“Preparation is key” is a saying that you hear all the time. Generally speaking, this will apply to most experiences in your life. But when it comes to music festivals, preparation can be the difference between simply having a good time versus having one of the best experiences of your life. Knowing how to prepare for a music festival is crucial. Whether you got your ticket months in advance, you made a last-minute decision, or you’re still on the fence; you want to ensure that you are ready! In this guide, you’ll find tips and tricks to assist in making your first music festival the memory of a lifetime.
Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride
First and foremost, you want to ensure that you have your ticket/wristband/pass acquired. Nowadays, there are numerous ways in which you can acquire your ticket to the music festival. Some require more work and due diligence, whereas some methods are much more simplistic.
A grand majority of music festivals offer discounted ticket prices to customers who decide to buy their tickets in advance! They will generally release tickets in different tiers, thus making the early tiers the cheapest option. These initial tiers are often referred to as early-bird tickets and will most likely give you the best bang for your buck. This is a commitment, however, because you are sealing the deal usually months in advance so be sure to do your research on the Festival and make sure that the lineup is worth the money.
Keep in mind that the more popular the Music Festival is, the quicker they will sell out of their cheapest tiers. Follow their social media accounts to stay updated with tickets release dates, times, etc.
Festival Payment plans have made it easier for consumers to purchase tickets over an extended period of time through structured payment plans. For instance, you might be paying 25 percent of the value of the ticket up-front, and thus will be charged periodically (sometimes monthly or bi-monthly) leading up to the Festival until you are fully paid up! This is a great option for those who cannot commit to the full price amount of the ticket all at once.
If you’re a part of a large group of people or you have great marketing/salesmanship skills, referral programs can be a great way to get a FREE ticket! Nearly all Music Festival offer some type of referral program; it’s a win-win for both parties because if you meet their requirements you get a free ticket (sometimes more) and they get to increase sales. Typically, they will advertise their programs on their website or via social media. If you cannot find anything regarding a referral program on their website or social accounts, reach out to them via email.
Sometimes, Music Festivals sell out. When they do, there will more than likely be tickets/passes available on any of the major ticket exchanges (stubhub, seatgeek, etc.). Keep in mind that you will most likely be paying more for your ticket, especially if it’s already sold out! This is why it is a great idea to stay ahead of the pack and get yours before the festival reaches the point of selling out.
This includes sites and apps such as Craigslist, FB Marketplace, LetGo, etc. This option is usually hit-or-miss but almost always worth a shot. Keep in mind, you will be dealing with another person opposed to buying directly from the company/festival. With that said, be sure to follow the specific website’s safety rules/standards and ALWAYS try to meet in a safe, public space. Purchasing via these types of sites is inherently more risky because there are always scammers that are lurking. In my experience, I have found that you can more often than not find cheaper tickets this way, however, it takes more work and usually happens at the last-minute; sometimes days or hours before the event begins.
Packing for a Music Festival
So you secured your ticket, awesome. Now the hard work begins. I will go into detail on the necessities for camping festivals in the next section. There are numerous items that I would consider to be necessities for both camping and non-camping festivals.
- Your ticket/wristband — This might seem like an obvious one but you’d be surprised the amount of times I’ve seen people pack everything imaginable BESIDES their ticket. You don’t want to be the person that has to end up missing out on the fun simply because you forgot to bring your wristband. (Check this post for tips on how to effectively remove your wristband once all the fun is over.)
- Hydration Bags — These are a lifesaver. Having fun is important, but you will not have a good time if you have to deal with the effects of dehydration. Generally speaking, most Music Festivals will allow 2-liter hydration bags and will have water refill stations on-site. Be sure to double-check the Festival’s rules to make sure that your specific bag will be allowed in.
- Sunscreen — This mainly applies if you are going to an event during the day time. Be sure to re-apply every few hours especially if your skin is prone to burning.
- Cash and/or credit card — Most events nowadays will take credit card, however it is nice to have some cash especially in case of emergency. Be cautious with where you keep these items because there are definitely people who attempt to pickpocket. A general rule of thumb is to not bring more cash than you are afraid to lose
- Snacks — I love buying food from Festival vendors but sometimes money is tight! Bring snacks that are small in size, but will give you good energy. I would recommend things like Jerky, trail mix, protein bars, nuts, etc.
- Rain Jacket or Poncho — Most likely will not have to be used but always be prepared for the worst. Just fold it up, pack it into your book bag or hydration bag and you’re good-to-go.
What to Bring to a Camping Music Festival
If you’re attending a camping music festival, figuring out what exactly you need to pack can be a stressful experience. It’s even more difficult to do if it’s your first time actually camping! Don’t sweat it. Camping Music Festivals are incredibly fun but since you are subject to Mother Nature’s surprises you need to be prepared for the worst. Keep in mind, you don’t necessarily need all of these but they will make your experience more enjoyable.
- Tent — Although there are other methods for camping, 95 percent of people use tents. This is the tried and true method of sleeping at Camping Festivals and will assure that you have privacy as well as protection from the elements.
- E-Z Up Canopy (AKA Pop Up Canopy) — These are very convenient especially for hanging out during the day when not much is going on. It will keep you shaded and serves as an extra layer of protection if you place it directly over your tent.
- Extra Stakes — Much better to have extra than not enough. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve seen a rogue gust of wind take a tent or a canopy flying.
- Air Mattress/Sleeping Bag/Cot — This is personal preference. Be sure to bring a pump if you do plan on bringing an air mattress. Worst case, you can most likely find a friendly neighbor who will let you use theirs.
- Blankets and Bed Sheets— Better safe than sorry; trust me, I learned the hard way. Queen Size or bigger. Stuff them int your bag and lay them down where ever you find space at a show to sit down or take a nap. Rest is vital.
- Camping Chairs — Bring extras so your new friends will have a comfy place to lounge!
- Lantern or Battery-powered lights — These are vital especially if you plan on hanging out at your campsite at any point during the night.
- Tarps — These are especially useful for creating shade around your tent or canopy. They will also help keep your campsite dry in the off chance that it rains.
- Tapestries — Great for added privacy and photo-ops. Tie them around the sides of your canopy and fold them up during the day if you want additional wind flow.
- Cooler — Most festivals will also sell bagged ice but typically at a premium price. Pro Tip: pack some dry ice at the bottom of your cooler to keep everything cool for a longer amount of time.
- Solar Shower — Some music festivals will have free showers, but many will charge for this luxury. A solar shower is a great way for you and your friends to keep clean and save some money.
- Towels — Useful for cleaning up spills and/or drying off after a nice shower.
- Battery Powered Fan — These will help you to remain cool during the day while you hang out at the campsite.
- Personal Device Charger — If it’s not solar-powered be sure to have it fully charged!
- Bug Spray and/or Citronella candles — Will mostly keep Mosquitoes and other pesky critters away from your campsite.
- Zipties and/or rope — Always useful for when you have to tie anything up around your campsite, on your totem, or elsewhere
- Flag and/or Totem — This is a great way to express yourself! Also serves the function of being a nice campsite marker just in case you get lost finding your way back.
Check out Fun Things to bring to a Music Festival for more creative ideas!
Music Festivals are home to some of the most interesting and free-spirited people you will come across. This means that the outfits you find people wearing are often memorable. You’ll see festival-goers wearing things from whacky animal onesies to handmade flower crowns; the best part is that you are free to express yourself!
A good rule-of-thumb is to pack more outfits than you’ll actually need. That way, you have options and can make a last-minute decision if need be. Make sure that you look up the weather forecast beforehand as well so that you can select your outfits accordingly.
Lineup Planning and Scheduling
This step is optional but I personally like to have a rough idea of what my weekend will look like ahead of time. Most Music festivals will have an app where you can create your own schedule and I would highly suggest doing so! Even if they don’t have an app they will typically announce the schedule in the weeks or days leading up to the festival. Keep a tab on their social media accounts for updates.
Keep an Open Mind
Although it is exciting to see your most anticipated acts, sporadic decisions are usually how you create more memorable experiences and discover awesome artists. Don’t be afraid to steer away from your planned schedule; go walk around and see something new! A lot of the greatest experiences I’ve had at music festivals come from the times where I randomly stumbled to a stage or place that I didn’t originally intend on going to.
Health and Safety Tips
Many times, newcomers are not prepared for the sheer amount of physical exertion that will take place over the span of the weekend. Properly preparing your body for a music festival is of utmost importance if you want to have an enjoyable time. All the walking/jumping/headbanging that you will be doing while braving the elements tends to be rough on the body. Keep your health in mind leading up to, and throughout the Festival Weekend.
One of the things that can put a damper on your weekend would be experiencing the effects of dehydration. Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to the festival; at least 1.5-2 times the amount you’d drink on a normal day. During the Festival, carry your hydration bag on you at all times. Most events will also allow you to bring sealed bottles of water inside; double-check their website to confirm their policies on this.
It is very important that you fill up on your H2O reserve ahead of time. Especially if you plan on waiting at a stage for an extended period of time to get a good spot. I’ve seen too many people who will skip right past the water refill line just to save time. Do the smart thing; even if the line is long, it will be worth the wait and your body will thank you for it.
This tip isn’t intended for the more casual, relaxed attendees. But if you plan on going hard all weekend and raging with your favorite artists/bands, you will surely want to be prepared for the sheer amount of physical exertion that will take place. I’m not saying that you should train for a festival as if you’re training for a marathon. However, doing light exercise prior to the event will condition your body for a long weekend of raging.
Simple things such as light jogging and/or walking on a treadmill or even walking around your neighborhood a couple times a week should help. The point is, knowing how to prepare your body for a Music festival can be the ultimate difference-maker and it will give you one less thing to worry about.
Avoid over-indulgence AT ALL COSTS
Over-indulgence is by far the #1 way to ruin your festival weekend. Trust me when I say that I have been there plenty of times; missing out on so much simply due to the fact that I “had too much” that day.
Every individual has a limit, and it is your job to know when you have reached yours. A great rule of thumb is to avoid drinking heavily early in the day. It may seem fun at first but by the time things kick off in the p.m., you’ll be feeling tired and hungover. Know your limit and don’t be ashamed to say no to your friends or fellow festival-goers. Besides, you paid good money to attend so you should never feel pressured to extend beyond your limitations for the sake of having fun.
That’s all, Folks
Thank you for reading up to this point. I hope that this guide will help at least in some part of your Music Festival preparations. Now get out there, enjoy yourself and make some incredible memories.