Whether it’s summer, fall, or winter, somewhere around the world there’s a festival. And while not all festivals are the same, there are a few common threads and things you should know. So, here’s a guide to help you get through whatever challenges you may face come festival season.
1. Bring an excessive amount of water
No matter what kind of festival you’re attending, always have water. However many water bottles you think is too much, plan to have a few more than that. You’re going to get dehydrated quickly walking around, dancing, or just drinking and partying. You might not always be able to bring water in, so be sure to bring enough cash to buy water there – or you cam bring a CamelBak to some festivals. The Camelbak backpacks are a neat invention, and you can refill it throughout the festival, which is great if you plan on being in the middle of the crowd for a long time. Even if you don’t necessarily want to drink all that water, you can totally use it to trade or just help your fellow festival goer out.
2. If the festival has a website, read it!
There’s all kinds of important information that could be on there, including rules, directions, what you can bring in, and artists’ playing times. Don’t be that asshole who didn’t read the rules and is getting busted for something silly, like wearing arm fulls of kandi when it’s been banned. If the festival you’re attending doesn’t have a website but instead a Facebook event page, more often than not they’re publicly visible so you don’t need an account to read the info. It pays to be informed when you’re dealing with staff!
3. Pack for comfort
Look at the weather for that time and pack accordingly! If you’re going to a festival where there’s predominantly dirt pathways, bring a bandanna or handkerchief to cover your mouth and nose – you really don’t want to be inhaling that stuff. Think about how much weight you want to be carrying on you at any given time and judge if you really need all that stuff in your purse. I’m guilty of overpacking, so what helps me most is a checklist. If you know what helps you keep your thoughts and items organized and it’s not a checklist, by all means do it! Take as much clothing as you need and pack your purse or backpack accordingly. If you know you’resomeone who chafes, plan your outfits around that. My best advice to you is to wear something loose but not ill fitting – free flowing shirts and dresses feel amazing with the wind going through them! And of course, wear sneakers or close toed shoes rather than flip flops. You’ll be happy you did when people accidentally step on you in the crowd!
4. Be courteous & generous
Pick up your trash – all of it. You have no idea what that staff person has gone through today already and the last thing they need is your beer cans on the ground. Actively look for trash cans, or bring a trash bag from home if you have a lot of waste.
Also, be kind to your fellow festival goer, whether it’s offering them a hit or simply not kicking their ass for being belligerent. You don’t know what they’re going through and they’re just trying to relax and have fun, same as you. If you’re offered a high five, take it. If you’re offered a drink or a hit, say thank you, even if you don’t want it. You never know what kind of interesting people you might run into at a festival. And of course, say thank you to the staff when you can.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Whether you’re asking the staff where to park or you’re asking a fellow festival-goer where the stage is or the mushrooms are, don’t be scared! The staff have heard sillier questions and the worst a stranger can do is say no or something rude, so there’s really no risk involved. Not only will you find what you were looking for, but you may even make a friend in the process!
6. Think risks when bringing your cell phone or camera
Is the festival really the best place for an expensive smart phone or camera? I’m all for taking pictures to remember your enjoyment, but it also puts a damper on your time and potentially on others if you lose or break it. Don’t spend the whole concert staring at your phone’s screen (I’m guilty of it too!) – get out there and experience it! You don’t want to spend the whole time worrying about where your phone is, but there are definitely things worth taking pictures of at festivals. Try to keep it in a safe, secure place where it won’t fall out, get pick pocketed, or crushed. The last thing you want to deal with is replacing it if it gets damaged, lost, or stolen.
8. Pay attention
You could be missing an amazing spot, fire spinning, or the friendly dealer you don’t know you need. There’s all sorts of things happening at a festival, take the time to explore and find them. At the same time, pay attention to where you’re walking. A crowd will stop you dead in your tracks so think before shoving yourself through it. Everyone is in the same line as you, so there’s really no need to push. Which brings us to our next point…
9. Be decisive or go with the flow
You either know you want to leave this set to get to the next, or you don’t. Don’t get into a crowd and then try to elbow your way out – you’ll make yourself some enemies very quickly. You can’t plan for everything and frankly, you shouldn’t. One of the best parts of the festival experience is experiencing new and unexpected things. If there are a lot of bands you know you want to see, have a rough idea of how you want to maneuver your way around. Don’t try to drag anyone down with excessive planning because it will not only get annoying but it also won’t happen the way that you plan it to. And don’t spend the whole time complaining or wishing for something different; you’re there to enjoy yourself and let loose and so is everyone else, why harsh it with bad energy?
10. Children & Festivals
Where there are All Ages festivals, there are children. If you’re a parent bringing your children to a festival, keep in mind that you ultimately decide what your child does and does not witness. Be mindful of other adults who are just trying to have a good time and steer clear of the rowdy ones. Some parents will try to shield their children from the drinking, drugs, and swearing, but the reality is that it will be unavoidable. If your kid asks you, tell them the truth: it’s something adults do. And if you don’t have kids in tow, be considerate of those that do – maybe wait to spark up that bowl or turn down the volume on your obscenities. The goal is for everyone to have a pleasant memorable experience, so do your part.
11. Play it smart
If a festival’s rules say no glass bottles, don’t bring glass bottles. Glass bottles of liquor are usually a bit more tolerated, but if you’re really worried about getting it confiscated, bring a flask or canteen. If you’re bringing a bottle of liquor and you want it to be cold, put it in the bottom of your cooler and put your water bottles and ice on top. If you’re a beer drinker, bring cans. Beer cans are almost always accepted (where outside liquor is allowed) because they’re easy to get rid of, so always opt for the can.
And above all else, have a good time! Let go and enjoy yourself. Dance your ass off. Say yes to something you’ve never done before. Give yourself a time worth remembering!