Thinking of attending a music festival? Below is a guide with 8 steps to help you choose the right music festival. It will help you decide whether or not you would enjoy a festival, and what type would be the best for you. I will go over all of the questions you should ask yourself before taking the plunge, and all of the necessary steps to making it happen. This post will cover over topics like- the pros and cons, different types of festivals, and how to choose, plan, and prepare for one.
Section 1: Selecting A Festival / Music Festival Survival Guide
WHAT IS A FESTIVAL?
A festival is social gathering, a party, or a celebration that usually has some kind of theme or focal point.
There’s all types of festivals all over the world, but In this guide, we’re going to focus on music festivals. Specifically music festivals in which traveling and camping are a factor.
Trying to explain what a music festival is like to someone who has never been to one can be tricky. Most festivals will have one, or all of these attributes:
- Live Music
- Artists & Performers
- Activities and Workshops
- Food Trucks and Vendors
- A Diverse, Rambunctous Crowd
- A Raging Party
PROS AND CONS OF GOING TO A MUSIC FESTIVAL?
CONS AND DRAWBACKS OF MUSIC FESTIVALS
- Festivals are not cheap, especially when there are multiple days and camping involved.
- There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when calculating cost, including tickets, transportation, camping gear, and consumables.
- A lot of work
- Festivals require a lot of planning, preparing, and coordinating.
- You need to recruit friends, arrange transportation and lodging, pack clothing AND camping gear, and that’s all before it even starts.
- Most festivals last multiple days, and you have to factor in travel time before and after as well.
- When you arrive after what’s usually a long drive, you have to set up your entire campsite, and when it’s over you have to break it down, and drive back home.
- You have to party and dance the whole time, not partying is not an option.
- There’s no room service, or delivery. Eating, staying organized, and looking fresh is a luxury you have to figure out on your own.
- Sub par Living Conditions (Lack of Luxury)
- You’re camping outside, in the middle of a raging party.
- You’re sleeping in a tent, you have no control over the temperature or the lighting, and there’s noise everywhere around you.
- You have to use the bathroom either in porta-potties or just pop a squat outside somewhere.
- If showering is an option it will be in some public facility, or a camping shower.
- You have to cook for yourself using camping gear, with utensils and dishes that after a while, are probably dirty.
- All of your food and drinks are stored in coolers, and you have to keep buying and refilling ice to keep it cold.
- *(assure them these things can be avoided and you’ll help)
- Physically Draining
- You’re living outside in the elements, which can sometimes be extreme.
- You’re either walking or dancing your ass off all day and all night, or else you’re sitting or lying on the ground.
- You’re lacking sleep from partying too hard, and most likely sub-par sleeping conditions.
- Did I mention you’re partying really hard and dancing nonstop?
- Mentally Draining
- Festivals can be overwhelming for your brain which is trying to make sense of the craziness- the people, the noise the lights, the sensations.
- Trying to make decisions, or have a conversation after getting your mind blown by some insane musical phenomenon in itself is a challenge, combine that with the fact that you’re probably in an altered state of mind and sleep deprived can really make your head hurt.
- Party and Drug Culture
- There’s no denying that there is a heavy presence of drugs and obviously partying at certain music festivals.
- Of course certain genres of music and types of festivals tend to attract seedier scenes than others, but for a first time festival goer who hasn’t been exposed to that type of culture, it could be very uncomfortable and intimidating.
- Full Commitment
- Often times going to a festival involves sharing a ride with a group of people, traveling a long distance to the venue, and setting up a campsite in which you plan to stay for the next few days. Leaving on a whim is not so easy.
- When you commit to going to a festival know that it is going to be extremely hard to leave once you get there, and that other people are depending on you to stay the whole time.
- Bad Experiences
- At a festival, there is a lot of potential for bad things to happen to those who aren’t prepared, or open minded.
- Externally it could be the elements, the weather, and not having proper shelter or protection.
- Internally you could get way too crunk, you could injure yourself, get arrested, or have friend / relationship problems.
- The worst part about it is- there’s not much you can do about it, you’re stuck. As mentioned before, a festival is a commitment and it’s hard to just pack up and leave when you’re far from home, and with a big crew.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF FESTIVALS
FACTORS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION
- Size, Vibe, Environment (population)
- My recommendation for a first time festival goer is to choose a smaller festival, and one that features their favorite type of music genres.
- Smaller festivals tend to be more intimate, and the crowd is typically more of a similar / like-minded group of people. They are also more condensed meaning shorter distances to walk, and they’re generally less of a shit-show.
- Larger festivals may be overwhelming, and much more time consuming, and mentally and physically draining for a newbie.
- You have to walk much farther, wait in longer lines, and stand in a huge crowd of people.
- Camping or Urban?
- Do you prefer a festival in which you camp out on site, or where you stay off site, and leave each night when the music is over?
- On-site camping can be a lot more work and preparation, but it is also a lot more immersive.
- Once you’re there and set up you can be carefree, and not worry about having to coordinate anything or drive anywhere for days. Party Time 🙂
- Other festivals don’t offer on-site camping, so once the music ends everyone must leave the venue, usually in a giant horde, and transport to their next destination.
- Staying off-site can be nice and usually is a better sleeping condition such as a hotel or house. However, it can be more costly, and less convenient.
- This is possibly one of the most important things to consider when choosing is a festival, what is your budget?
- Cost Calculator
- Tickets + Fees
- Supplies and Gear
- Food, Drink, Party Supplies
- Cost Calculator
- Season / Weather
- Do some research about the venue and figure out what kind of conditions you can expect.
- If you hate cold weather, don’t go to an outdoor festival in the winter.
- You can find a festival in every type of environment imaginable- tropical, desert, mountainous, forest, lake, beach, urban, rural, etc. Don’t choose a festival in an environment that you’re not comfortable in.
- Location (drive / party ratio) (convenience)
- Some festivals offer a line-up or experience that’s worth a long journey to get there, but make sure it’s worth your time.
- Factor in the drive to party ratio: How much time will you spend driving, compared to partying? I usually like to keep the ratio to 1:3 or better. *
- It’s also crucial to know if you can recruit, or recrewt a crew to go with you. You can always roll solo, but I prefer to roll up with a crew, and if I can’t find anyone to go with me, I’ll probably set my sights somewhere else.
- Resources Available
- Is getting to this festival going to be a pain in the ass? Do you have a crew, an easy form of transportation, and all of the gear you need? Or are you going to have to figure out and maneuver a thousand things to make it work?
- Also, do you have any connections there, can you get hooked up in any way?
- Venue (Amenities)
- What is the venue like and what type of amenities does it offer?
- Some venues are beautiful, have good vibes, good camping options, are spread out, offer great facilities and amenities, and they have an over-all good reputation.
- Other venues might have seedy staff and security, shitty facilities, get packed out with too many people in a small space, and any number of things could give them a bad rep.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR FIRST FESTIVAL
- Sample Music
- You will obviously have the best time at a festival that features the type of music you love the most.
- You will not only get to see some of your favorite songs played live by your favorite bands, but you’ll be surrounded by other like minded people who are just as stoked as you are.
- Listen to a variety of different types of music, go to lots of shows in your hometown and see how you like it live. Eventually you’ll start to single out certain genres that really spark your fire and energize you more than others.
- A lot of festivals have their own accounts on music apps like spotify and soundcloud, and create playlists of all of the artists performing there.
- Go to a Show (Can you handle the crowds ?)
- Start going to shows and concerts in different environments. Ease into it little by little and make sure you enjoy it.
- If you can handle the crowds, the craziness, the lights, and the action.
- All Day event
- Attend a daytime festival, watch bands play back to back. See what it’s like to kick it outside all day for several hours listening to music.
- Show 2 Nights in a Row
- Often times bands will play for two nights in a row in some of the bigger cities.
- Find a band you like and attend a 2 night run, maybe even throw in a few after parties.
- Go Camping
- If you’ve never been camping then definitely try that out on it’s own before you attempt camping at festival.
- Pre-detox (Bender vs. Mender)
- If you’ve done all of the things above and you’re still set on attending a festival, I’d recommend a pre-detox to give you a physical advantage.
- Music festivals require a lot of stamina in the partying department, so you want to be as healthy as possible when you arrive.
- I recommend eating well, resting and sleeping well, taking lots of vitamin C and vitamins, and avoiding partying too hard the week before you go to one.
- I do NOT recommend raging every day up until the festival, and arriving already slightly sick and sleep deprived.
- Get in Shape
- Not only are there lots of good looking people at these events that you want to impress, but festivals are very physically draining, and if you don’t have some built up stamina, you won’t be able to keep up.
- The weeks leading up to a festival you should work out, get some cardio and do some yoga so you’re nice and limber and well balanced before you arrive. Better yet- do HOT yoga, then you’ll be better acclimated to an outdoor festival in a hot environment if that’s the case.
- Research / Education*
- Research the festival you’re going to.
- What will the weather be like? What is the venue like? What artists/ bands do you want to see?
- Check out videos and pictures from last year- what kind of clothing / outfits are people wearing?
MUSIC FESTIVAL RESOURCES (COMING SOON)