*This post was written by my friend and frequent blog collaborator Madelyn! Check out her do’s and don’t’s below for the perfect musical festival experience (I can attest to these as I have been with her to Firefly and soon to be Lolla!)*
Music festival season has been in full swing since the weather warmed up, and it’s one of my favorite events I’m able to attend each year. While my part-time job wages don’t allow me to take a trip out to Coachella, I’ve been lucky enough to attend Firefly in 2015/17, Governor’s Ball in 2016, and this year I’ll be attending Lollapalooza! Firefly is still my all-time favorite festival, but my friends and I decided to try something new this year and venture out to Chicago. There are many ways to go about having an amazing festival experience with your friends, and I’m here to give you my insights into what I’ve learned over the last three years. Coachella and other large festivals are beasts of their own, so I’m here to give you some tips for the smaller, less overwhelming festivals as a way to help you navigate your way around the best 3 days of your summer.
- PLAN AHEAD – If you’re going with a group of people, odds are you’ll have a couple type-A friends (me, myself, and I) who will have downloaded the festival app weeks in advance to plan out who they want to see perform and when. Either find some friends who will do this for you (aka invite me) or take some time the week before the festival to familiarize yourself with where certain landmarks are in the festival grounds. The most important ones are: Concert stages, bathrooms, water refill stations, and your entrance/exit (in the event there are more than one). Once you arrive at the festival, this will give you a little more context of where everything is situated and help make it feel less overwhelming once you’ve entered the grounds.
- It is basically impossible to see every performance at a festival (unless you’re extremely good at running to each artist within one time frame) so my friends and I have found it very helpful to make a solid list of acts you want to see beforehand and compare with each other. We usually have a list of MUST SEES, newer artists we’d be happy to pass by, and people we’re ok with missing if we’ve seen them perform before. If your group has to split up at some point, that’s ok! Make sure everyone has a buddy or you’ve established a good meeting place for after those performances (it’s should be something very specific or stands out, saying ‘near that Budlight stand’ when there’s five Budlight stands is a recipe for disaster).
- HYDRATE YOSELF – Most festivals happen during the peak of summer heat, and it is extremely easy to become dehydrated after dancing in a sweaty tent to your favorite artist (oh wait, is that just me?). Some festivals will not allow you to bring in a pre-filled water bottle, so it’s a great excuse to go out and buy yourself a good Nalgene/Yeti/Hydroflask that you can love and cherish for the festival. The first year I went to Firefly it was 90 degrees out all day with little shade, and the lines for water were outrageous, so try to bring a bigger water bottle and fill it up the second you arrive at the festival.
- LOOK & FEEL YOUR BEST/COMFIEST – As someone who has a hard time telling the difference between dark blue and black, I try to lean towards dressing myself in something light and fun for the festival that I can sweat/run around in all day. Others may see the festival as a time to pull out their coolest and most outrageous outfits. Whatever your choice may be, pick something you know you can spend the day in and won’t be sad if it gets dirty or gross. Shoes, on the other hand, should be the comfiest damn things you’ve ever worn. You’re on your feet for a solid 12+ hours each day, and there’s nothing worse than finding giant blisters on your feet and not being able to walk/dance the next day.
- BRING DOPE FRIENDS – Whether you’re traveling with a huge squad or 3 of your close friends, make sure your group is awesome and down for anything. Everyone has their own way of doing festivals, but it’s more fun to go with people who you know are there for the same reasons you are. If you have a friend who’s just trying to get the best Instagram pic and you’re really trying to make it to 30 Seconds to Mars, try to find someone in your group that matches up with the same concerts in mind.
- DRINK YOURSELF TO DEATH – Everyone has their own way of doing festivals which I’m here for, but I slightly caution about day drinking through a 3 day long festival. As mentioned above, it is HOT, and drinking will cause you to get dehydrated faster without you knowing. Limiting your alcohol intake for the weekend will decrease your chances of this happening. That being said, checking out the beer tent is a great way to beat the heat, especially during a point in the day where you have some free time.
- SPEND THE DAY ON YOUR PHONE – It’s really easy to get into the habit of taking pictures of everything you see at a festival, but this will definitely take away from the experience. Odds are you will not watch any of the videos you took of performances after the weekend, and your friends on snapchat don’t want to sit through five minutes of your story. Get the pictures you’re going to really cherish of your friends and the bands that you love, and throw your phone on Airplane Mode so you don’t waste your battery searching for service (spoiler alert: there is none).
- STRESS – Festivals are FUN! There is a LOT to do- concerts, food stalls, free activities, and sometimes it feels like you can’t do it all. That’s ok! Your festival experience is your own, and try to live in the moment as much as possible. While I love a good, well-thought out plan, sometimes you just have to let go a little bit and allow yourself to go with the flow.
That’s all I got for you! Take care of each other, and say hi to strangers in the crowd! If you come home with no voice and your whole body feels like it’s gotten hit by a train, you know you’ve done your festival the right way.