It’s festival season—that awesome time of year where favorite artists and thousands of people come together for days of the best music. Festivals are an intense experience and have specialty logistics so you can make the most of the music and free-spirited fun. Whether you’re getting ready for your first festival or you’re a pro, try this checklist of festival to-dos to keep you looking good and feeling great for all the tunes.
1. Book your camping or hotel when you buy your ticket.
Don’t waffle on this. From the minute you get your ticket, think tens of thousands of other people are doing the same thing. Things only get more expensive or sell out from then on. Before you get your tickets, know if you plan to camp on or offsite, stay in a hotel, or rent a house with friends. There are perks and pitfalls to all of them.
2. Try all your gear before you go.
Most of us don’t camp regularly in our backyards anymore. Pull out all your festival gear—tents, camp stoves, backpack water bottles, etc—and put it together as if you were actually using it. You don’t want to get onside to the festival and find something is broken or missing or simply doesn’t work.
3. Pack up the car the night before.
You’re trying to get to the festival with plenty of time for weekend setup and to see the first acts. There will be a lot of gear involved, and packing the car takes longer than you think. To ensure a midday arrival, load the car with 95% of what you need the night before.
4. Establish a meeting place inside the festival
For many festivals, phone service is spotty and battery reliability for the duration is iffy. Make a buddy plan if a larger group breaks, and pick a meeting spot inside the festival if you get separated. Set meeting times to check in, and also pick meeting points outside of stage areas so you can connect after each show and go to the next.
5. Scope out medical tent and water stations first thing
When you need these is not the time to go looking for them. Before you get into the festival, find these emergency things on your first day. Finding the water is also key. Fill up whenever you see one, but also know where they’re located so you can stay hydrated.
6. Stay Hydrated
Everyone will say this over and over again—signs, artists from the stage, your grandma, everyone—because it’s a big issue. You have to drink twice the water you think you’ll need. Some recommend 3- 4 liters a day. Beyond being safe, being hydrated is key to feeling energetic and headache-free during the best bands.
7. Set up during daylight hours
Do all your scoping and tent setup and picking of a meeting point before you go exploring or get into the music. Know there are a few chores you’ll have to do when you get there, and they are things that you never really get around to doing otherwise. Spending a few minutes with setup up front will give you comfort all week you woudn’t have otherwise.
8. Comfortable shoes
Despite how Instagram might make it look, festivals are physically grueling. You’re on your feet all day and night, and you’re walking around a lot. A pair of broken-in sneakers far outweighs the fashion benefits of those brand-new platforms. Consider lightweight hiking boots, even; festival grounds can inexplicably turn into mud pits. Keeping feet supported, clean and dry lets you take in much more music.
9. Practice Patience.
There are few places with crowds like a festival. There’s no beating the traffic, beating the lines, or getting away from the throngs of people. Just embrace it! Festivals are known for their fun, free-loving atmosphere and you might make new friends. You’ll have a better time if you count the waiting and the crowds and the queues as simply part of the experience.
10. Pack For Success
Here are a few things you’ll want in your daypack to keep you comfortable during the festival
- Mini Dry Shampoo
- Mist fan
- Hand sanitizer (for the outdoor portable toilets)
- Lip balm
- Battery pack and portable chargers (to keep your phone going strong)
- Earplugs (helps reduce headaches and enjoy the music the second or third day)
- Wet wipes (quick cleanup or “showering”)
- Gum (helps combat dry mouth in the desert)
- Painkillers (for headaches, sore muscles, etc)
- Garbage bags (So many uses, including for trash)
- Book or cards for downtime between shows
That’s it! Follow these tips and you’re ready for your best festival yet.
Check out these music experiences for bucket-list festival experiences.