Over the past 10 + years I’ve been to dozens of festivals all over the world, but The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park is a really special place, and Hulaween is by far one of my favorite music festivals to attend. Every year my Hula experience gets better and better, and this year I’m stoked to return for my 4th year in a row. Over time I’ve picked up some useful tips to share with any of you who have never been to The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. Hulaween is not like other music festivals, and these 9 not-so-obvious tips will help maximize your Suwannee Hulaween experience so you can have the best fest possible! Jam out to this Hulaween 2018 playlist while you read this article…
1: Early arrival is the way to go!
- If you can make it to the Thursday night pre-party you should! If you can only do Hulaween for 3 nights, I recommend Thursday over Sunday night. On Sunday night all of the music is over by 11 pm or so due to a noise ordinance- but Thursday the party is just getting started, the music goes until 2 am, and energy levels are high!
- If you arrive any time after 2:00 am Thursday night- they will let you enter the campgrounds if each person in your group pays $20. So if you don’t want to buy a pre-party ticket, but still want to arrive as early as possible and get set up- time your arrival for 2:00 am Friday, Oct. 26th.
- Also, camping spots are first come first serve. Hula isn’t like other festivals that make you park your car in a big field side by side, giving you no choice.
- Suwannee is a massive property, and you can set up camp wherever you want (in the designated zones.) So arriving early gives you a chance to stake out a spot and get set up before it gets packed out on Friday.
- Friday will be peak check-in time, long lines, and the best spots will be long gone.
2: Bring layers! The weather is unpredictable.
- You may be sweating your ass off all day, but late at night get ready to go from sweaty to sweater as soon as the music stops. The cold will creep up on you!
- Although the weather is relatively moderate, there’s still going to be a drastic drop in temperature from day to night. A 20-degree drop from 85-65 degrees (F) is not uncommon!
- Every year, every night, my body temp would drop from feeling like 100+ degrees to freezing and shivering uncontrollably. Many times I had to sprint back to the campsite to bundle up before I could enjoy myself again. It got COLD!
- When you’re out in the elements any changes in the environment can seem extreme. Bring layers, and at least one thick jacket and a pair of pants. Rain gear is never a bad idea either, and waterproof packs for your electronics.
- On the other hand, if you want something to help you beat the heat- I’m a big fan of the hand fan. Buy a pack of them on Amazon for a few bucks, and bust it out when you’re front and center, deep in a sea of sweaty dancing hippies…
- I’m serious! It will provide you and your neighbors with the most amazing breeze in the midst of a crowded and sweltering sea of bodies. Get yourself a fan, bring it, and use that thing!
- Click >HERE< for an extensive packing checklist.
Photo Cred: Eric Allen from Emvision Festival
3: Get decked out!
- Hulaween is a music festival on Halloween, and at The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, people take Halloween very seriously. DRESS UP! Don’t hold back, dress to express!
- It’s perfectly acceptable to wear multiple costumes throughout the weekend. I would say to bring at least two.
- Oh yeah- and don’t plan on recycling the same costume and wearing it two days in a row. Trust me- at Hulaween any costume that lasts through the night is going to be way too dirty to last a 2nd round… If it ain’t dirty, you ain’t doin’ it right!
- Just keep one other thing in mind when putting together your outfit: porta potties… Don’t wear costumes with lots of bells and whistles or long tassels that will end up IN the potty by accident. Also, beware of costumes that are hard to remove in a porta-potty situation, you don’t wanna pee your pants cause of a wardrobe malfunction.
4: Get lit up so you don’t get split up!
- Keep the crew together at night by getting lit up, otherwise you’ll risk getting split up! Losing your friends can be a huge bummer, and is really easy to do in a festival environment. The first two years at Hula, losing members of our crew in the crowds was an ongoing theme.
- We’ve found that having some sort of LED light up clothing, gear or, accessories you can all wear can be very helpful. If you don’t all wear distinctive / lit up outfits, at least make sure one person is easy to spot and can be used as your leader/ beacon when you’re on the move. (The tallest girl/guy is a good choice.)
- Also, try to set a designated area for your crew to post up at each different stage. Establish the spot day 1 and try to stick to it every show so that you can find each other and meet up more easily.
- Having a flag or totem is another option if someone is willing to carry it. (Don’t be an asshole and hold it in front of the soundboard!)
5: Get your roll on!
- Bring bikes or golf carts if you can! Suwannee is huge! There is so much to see and do, and you can cover a LOT more ground in a LOT less time if you’re cruisin’ w/wheels. During an hour-long set, every minute counts! Walking is for the birds…
- Before you get too swervy, make an effort to explore the campgrounds by daylight to get your bearings and learn your way around. Once it gets dark things get a little weird and I doubt your navigation skills will be getting sharper by the hour…
6: The Hula App is the jam!
- Download it, >click here for a link< and put it on your home screen for easy access. if you’re like me (w/ a horrible short-term memory) you’ll be checking the app non-stop. Make sure at least one person from your crew has a phone on them w/access to the app each day/night.
- Highlight the bands you want to see and create notifications so you will be alerted when they are coming on, it’s easy to get carried away and lose track of time, you don’t want to miss your favorite shows!
- If your phone battery is getting low, take screenshots of the daily schedules and put your phone on airplane mode to save your battery from draining too quickly.
7: Don’t plan on having any “downtime.”
- Hulaween is not like other festivals, the line-up is insane, the music is non-stop, and Spirit Lake is an epic playground that you won’t want to leave.
- There’s not enough time in the day to see all of your favorite artists, and hardly enough time to cover basic survival necessities like eating, sleeping, and maintaining some semblance of personal hygiene.
- When you head out to the venue, bring whatever you’ll need for the whole afternoon or night. Your time and energy will be spent much more wisely maxin’ and relaxin at Spirit Lake in between sets, rather than truckin’ it back and forth to your spot.
- You don’t want to keep making trips back to the campsite to get necessities like extra layers, your ID, or cash.
- *IMPORTANT* You will need cash to purchase food and drink tickets. None of the vendors will accept credit cards or money for food or drinks. You must first purchase tickets from the ticket booth- using cash only. (you will need an ID for a wristband for alcohol too.)
8: Don’t overspend on groceries.
- When it comes to shopping for food before Hulaween, don’t go overboard. Plan to cook a few meals at camp, and definitely get some nourishing snacks, but plan on buying most of your meals from vendors. Use that extra grocery money on alcohol/drink tickets! Trust me…
- After many years of buying way too much food ahead of time, taking up way too much space in our coolers and cars, and then watching it all spoil, and leaving it- unopened – in the trash at the end of the weekend, I’ve learned that just buying a ready-made meal is a way better alternative than going back to your campsite and preparing something store-bought. You won’t even have time to go back to your campsite with this ridiculous line up anyway…
9: Don’t worry if you forget something.
- If you really needed to you can always leave the festival and re-enter as long as you have a wristband. However, that won’t be necessary because there are lots of amenities on site including a surprisingly well equipped general store that can provide you with anything you would really need inside the festival. From groceries to camping gear, and even costumes- you’re covered.
So those are some lessons I’ve learned, and tips and tricks that I’ve implemented over the years that are not so obvious compared to a “typical” festival. Like I said… Suwannee Hulaween is not like other music festivals! Hula’s website is loaded with all of the information you need to know to help you plan and prepare for the weekend- >Click Here< to check it out. I suggest you read all of it thoroughly as soon as possible, especially if you have never been before. So get stoked, and get ready to have an amazing time! I hope you’ve found this information useful and that you have the best fest ever 🙂
Here are some other resources to help you get ready. Cheers!
- How to Plan and Prepare for a Music Festival
- Complete Packing Guide and Checklists for a Music Festival