Kids, I just came back from one of the most amazing music festival experiences I have ever lived through – no exaggeration at all. As I’m jotting down these words, I am having all these crazy memories of the larger-than-life adventure that was this year’s Firefly Music Festival. The vibes, the energy, the varied performances and the overall quality of the event’s production made of Firefly a truly unforgettable event.
Looking back, I've had the chance to attend to some of the world’s best music festivals, and I still have so many others to check off on my list! But in the meantime, I've decided to create and curate the following summer music festival survival guide for your reading and check-listing pleasure.
Whether you’re a rookie or an avid festival-goer, I will be giving you full disclosure of the “do’s”, “don’ts” and “why not’s”, so that you can manage to go wild, stay alive and have the best time ever during your next music festival experience!
Part One: Festival Pro Tips
#1 Plan Ahead - From the tent and camping gear to the performances you want to catch, strategy is key when it comes to music festivals. How many vacation days will you be taking to attend? Are there things you need to buy? How will you be getting there? Any performances you want to catch that might be overlapping each other? The full works. I suggest making a mental or written checklist a few weeks in advance and going over the essentials with your crew. Try splitting up responsibilities – divide and conquer my friend.
#2 Good Crew, Good Karma - Tell me who you go with and I’ll tell you who you are? More like, tell me who you go with and I’ll tell you how much fun or how miserable you’ll be. In all seriousness, and for some unexplainable reason, certain people can be some real Debbie Downers and hassles during music festivals. So make sure you tag along with friends who’re on your same page and who’ll be on your same level, because there’s nothing worse than having that one kid who’s constantly complaining about how sweaty, dirty, tired and disgusting he/she feels. No need for unnecessary drama.
#3 Check the Weather - Need some rain boots and a poncho? That’s what I thought. On our second night at Firefly we experienced a very interesting turn of events – a thunderstorm of epic proportions; or at least that’s how it felt. Things got so bad that we all got evacuated from the festival grounds and were directed to return to the campsite to “seek shelter". We were completely unprepared for what was coming, but somehow managed to make it through the night inside of our very sturdy tent. Because sturdy tents will save your life.
#4 Think Sunscreen and Light Clothing - Along these same lines, if you’re attending a festival in the middle of the desert or during a very bright summer weekend, bathe in sunscreen and wear light and breezy pieces. 70’s inspired festival fashion is so in right now, but when it comes down to standing underneath the blazing sun for hours, functionality will result to be much more effective than the latest trends. I mean, I am all up for that boho-chic look, but I’d rather cut down on the fabrics and wear something comfortable. It’s a music festival, not fashion week.
#5 Airplane Mode and Time Stamping Texts - If you decide on bringing your phone into the festival grounds, try leaving it on airplane mode while not in use to better conserve battery life. Portable phone chargers are always a plus, but keep in mind that the very cheap ones might experience some serious heat or water damage. Also, phone reception at music festivals is somewhat of a nightmare. I suggest time stamping your texts so that when your friends reas that super delayed text message saying “Meet you at our tent in two hours. 2:24pm” and realize it’s 2:00pm, they’ll run for it.
#6 Download the Festival App - Trust me, for easy access to festival maps, lineups and event notifications of any foreseeable changes (like the ones we received for the storm on Saturday), festival apps can be ultimately handy! Some festival apps even let you create your own schedule, register your wristband and will even send you notices of when your selected performances are about to start – talk about convenient!
#7 Bring Cash - Now days, most vendors at music festivals are accepting credit card purchases, but that’s not always the case. If you want to avoid those annoying ATM processing fees, it wouldn’t hurt to have a little cash on hand. You never know when the nacho stand’s credit card machine will get busted.
#8 Eat Throughout the Day and Drink Sensibly - Oh boy… I think I’ve seen it all, from nasty black outs to people puking all over themselves and falling into trash bins (and everything in between). It’s like dude, you paid +$300 to enjoy this festival, right? Pace yourself, it’s a tough combo; drugs, heat, alcohol, super delicious but extremely unhealthy food, dehydration, more alcohol. Don’t be silly. Stay hydrated, fuel up on healthy snacks, get underneath the shade from time to time, and try to enjoy yourself, the music and your surroundings in a non-suicidal manner. It’s a music festival, live it up, but don’t die on me kid.
Part Two: What to Bring (The Checklist)
1. Wristband: Yo, don’t forget your wristband. Sounds pretty obvious, but this is like rookie mistake #1. I swear I’ve known people who’ve been so excited about the music festival, talking about it all year long and when the time comes, they pack up, head out and end up leaving their wristbands at home. Dreadful.
2. Footwear: Two words, walking shoes. Sandals? Don’t even go there. You’ll have people stepping on your toes, you’ll get those unflattering tan lines, blisters and you can even run the chance of your sandal breaking halfway through someone’s incredible set! I mean, you can keep at it barefoot, but save yourself the trouble. Also, I highly suggest bringing rain boots and packing up on extra socks. You can thank me later.
3. Sunnies: Bringing a pair of cheap sunglasses will spare you and your wallet from suffering the consequences of losing those really, really expensive ones you just bought online. With all the madness and commotion, you’ll be dropping them in no time. Keep it simple.
4. The Totem: Trouble finding your friends? These obnoxious things are even better than the good ol’ buddy system. Just try to be considerate of those around you during performances, I’m known for knocking those things down if they’re blocking my view. So get creative with it and be respectful of other festival goers. Easy.
5. Reusable Water Bottle: Some festivals can be extra nitpicky when it comes to bringing liquids into festival grounds. I’d say, get a reusable water bottle, make sure it’s completely empty before going in and you can fill it up with water once you’re inside. It’s all about staying hydrated.
6. Small Carryall Bag: Whether a backpack, a crossbody bag or a fanny, make sure you can fit your reusable water bottle, wallet, keys, phone, phone charger and any other useful knick-knack that might come in handy while on festival grounds. Think Marry Poppins.
1. The Baby Wipe Shower: ‘Cause when the shower is too cold and the line is too long, you might wanna try to freshen up in a more efficient manner. The goods?
- Baby wipes and/or face wipes
- Oil absorbing sheets