How to Loosen and Remove a Festival Wristband
When the fun is over and the post-festival blues start to kick in, one common challenge I’ve seen people struggle with is knowing how to loosen and remove a festival wristband without cutting it and/or damaging it. Those pesky wristbands always seem to give people a hard time.
We want to salvage the memorabilia that will remind us of the greatest moments of our lives but can’t seem to figure out how to out-smart those damn wristband locks. Well, fear no more. I’ve collected the best practices and strategies found over the years by innovative fest-goers. Follow the methods listed in this guide to find out how to loosen a festival wristband without completely ruining it.
What’s the purpose anyway?
Before I get into the manual labor portion, it’s worth mentioning what festival wristbands are actually used for. Besides looking cool and idealizing the festival aesthetic; those wristbands serve a significant purpose.
- They are #1 on the list of festival preparation necessities
- They help to expedite the festival entry process
- They prevent a majority of scammers and ticket fraud. Think about how hard it would be to duplicate a counterfeit music festival wristband, opposed to a basic paper ticket.
- They serve as another form of marketing for the music festival. Think about how many people you’ve seen in the weeks and months following a festival that still rock their wristband. That’s extra promo!
- They enable festival organizers to collect valuable data on their patrons. Organizers can figure out peak gate hours, movement around the festival, and so on.
Different Types of Locking Mechanisms
By and large, there are mainly two different types of festival wristbands. While they all contain RFID tags that are used for tracking and emergency purposes; the locking mechanisms used to tighten and secure them can be one of the following:
Barrel sliding lock
These are little plastic barrel locking mechanisms that you slide up to tighten the wristband. Inside of the plastic barrel, there are two layers of tiny plastic teeth which cling onto the fabric when you try to pull it back off. These are the most common nowadays for bigger music festivals and, unsurprisingly, give people the most trouble.
These are the plastic hinged clasps with a tiny metal pin that you have to lock in place. The tiny pin pierces the fabric and prevents removal of the wristband. Shown in the picture to the right (notice the sharp pin). The problem with these is that once you clip it into place, there is no turning back. That is, unless you use one of the techniques listed below.
How to loosen and remove a festival wristband
Now that we have a fair understanding of the differences between festival wristbands, we’re ready to do the dirty work. There are various tricks of the trade that myself and other festival-goers have successfully used over the years.
The “Mc-twist” method
This only works if your festival wristbands has a barrel sliding locking mechanism. The idea is to twist up the loose slack on the wristband to the point where it is so tight that you can simply slide the locking mechanism back down the opposite way.
The plastic bag method
Where would we be without wook ingenuity? This is another creative way to remove your festival wristband. You basically insert an ordinary plastic bag into the space between the wristband and your wrist. From there, you pull the bag all the way through and back around the edges of the wristband using the bag’s handles. Now, you pull until the wristband is off!
The lube method
This can work for either type of wristband. You need something to lubricate your wrist to the point where the wristband can simply slide right off. Soapy water will usually suffice but you can also try using lotion, body cream, or… actual lube; the choice is yours!
The following video demonstrates the first three methods very nicely:
If none of the first three methods work for you, there is still some hope left. The next two methods will require the application of some force so be very careful.
The “brute strength with pliers” method
If your wristband is so tight to the point where neither of the above methods worked, you will have to use some brute force to pry that sucker off. This method works best if you have a friend to help you, but can still be done solo. With a pair of pliers, squeeze down very tightly on the locking mechanism until it breaks off. After all, it’s just a hard piece of plastic. It may take a few tries but eventually, you should be able to snap that cheap plastic off your treasured wristband.
The butter knife method
This method only works for the wristbands with smart locks. Essentially what you do is slide the end of a butter knife into the tiny crack located on the smart lock. From there, you simply pry the smart lock off; it will take some force so keep your wrist flat on a table and be careful not to stab yourself. You don’t want to be known as the person who injured themselves with a butter knife.
Wearing your wristband
Now that you have your wristband off, you might be tempted to use it as a fashion accessory from time to time. Especially since that tiny piece of fabric cost you hundreds of dollars.
If you decide to do so, one important fact to consider is that those festival wristbands contain an alarmingly high amount of bacteria. A study conducted by a Microbiology professor in the United Kingdom on an old festival wristband found that it contained 20 times more bacteria than a normal article of clothing.
Ultimately, this will only turn you off if you’re a true germaphobe. But if you work in healthcare or food preparation, I advise you do the smart thing and keep the wristband off! Otherwise, you run the risk of sharing all that nasty bacteria with other people.
Looking for more tips and tricks that will make your next music festival experience the best one yet? Check out this music festival tips and tricks post!
Know how to loosen and remove a festival wristband using other methods? Have any other topics you’d like me to post about? Let me know in the comments below or shoot me an email!