As the days get longer and warmer, festival season quickly begins to approach. Whether this is your first festival ever, or you’ve lost count of how many you’ve been to, here’s a list of advice to help make things easier for you.
- Getting Tickets
The first thing you need to actually go to the festival are the tickets. Most of the festivals put their tickets on sale months in advance. Many offer better prices the earlier you buy. Most of the World’s Loudest Month festivals (Rock on the Range, Welcome To Rockville, Carolina Rebellion, etc.) have tickets that go up in price as time goes on. For instance, weekend field tickets for Rock on the Range began at $199.50, and increased as each price level sold out. The third price level was $249.50. It is best to buy your tickets as soon as possible. Many multi-day festivals do not release their daily line-up until after tickets have gone on sale. If you know that you’re going to want to go to each day of the festival, then get your tickets right away. Otherwise, you should weigh your options and debate waiting to get your tickets, to see which bands are playing on which day.
- Staying Overnight
If you don’t live near to the venue, then you’ll probably want to consider staying overnight somewhere. If you have to drive more than a few hours, you may want to consider spending the night before in town, so you’re not already exhausted when you get there. If you have friends or family who live nearby, then great! Maybe they’ll let you stay with them. If you don’t know anybody in the area, then you’ll want to start looking at hotels and other options. Depending on the festival, they may offer camping packages. Those generally include tickets and you would get to stay close to the venue. Some festivals also offer hotel packages. Like the camping packages, they offer tickets and a room at a nearby hotel. If you’re booking your own hotel, you’ll want to do it a bit in advance, since many nearby hotels sell out soon after the festival is announced. The hotels closest to the venue will probably be the most expensive, meaning you’ll be more likely to find a better deal if you’re fine with driving a bit.
For most of these festivals, the daily schedule is only released a week or two in advance. I print out at least one copy, since you may not get one at the venue. I plan out what bands I want to see in advance, along with the bands my friends want to see. If you’re not a big planner, you may want to just make note of the bands you have to see, and try to fit in whatever else you feel like when you’re at the festival.
If you’re going to Vans Warped Tour, this section will be different, since the daily schedule isn’t available until the morning of your date, and it changes for each stop of the tour. It’s best to buy a paper copy of the schedule once you get in. Like with any other festival, know who your “must see” bands are, and plan the day around them.
- What To Bring
For any festival, there are some things that you should probably bring along with you. It’s always best to check the festival’s official website and see what their security policy is for bringing in specific items.
If you can, bring in the largest water bottle you can, even if you have to bring in an empty one and fill it up inside. If you’re allowed, bring in some small snacks. If it’s going to be sunny out, bring extra sunscreen, or at least apply a bunch before you go in. If the weather isn’t going to be the best bring a rain jacket or a poncho, or a lightweight jacket if it’s going to be chilly out. Make sure you have your cell phone with you. I always bring my external battery to make sure my phone stays charged throughout the day, just in case there’s some sort of emergency or I need to meet up with my friends. If you want to take some pictures, bring a small point-and-shoot camera. Selfie sticks and Go Pro cameras may not be allowed, so double check on the festival’s website before bringing those. I always have a Sharpie on me, because you never know when you’re going to run into a band member. Not everybody uses them, but you can bring earplugs with you. You may want to bring a bag to hold everything, especially if you’re planning on buying merch. I prefer lightweight string backpacks. This is something you’d want to double check with the festival first, as many were only allowing clear or mesh bags in last year. Make sure to bring cash, credit or debit cards, and your ID, especially if you plan on drinking. Most importantly, do not forget your tickets.
- Eating and Drinking
One of the most important things to remember at a festival is to stay hydrated. You don’t want to miss any bands, nor do you want to be that person who passes out in the middle of your favorite band’s set. If you have a water bottle, make sure you refill it as frequently as you can. You should also make sure you eat something throughout the day. If you want, you can find your favorite alcoholic beverage, but beware of the high price that will be attached to it.
Like with any concert, you’re going to have a different experience depending on where you are in the crowd. If you want to take it easy, you can stand in the back or even sit down. Depending on what type of venue the festival is in, you may be able to find seats at some of the stages. You can also go in the crowd, but keep an eye out for mosh pits and crowd surfers, if those aren’t your things. You can also try to get up front. I’ve found the best way to get up front for a band you want to see is to get to the stage while the previous band is still playing. When they end and some of the crowd leaves, you can easily get closer into their empty spots. I’ll advise against pushing your way to the front, since nobody likes people who do that. If you’re up for it, you can also claim a good spot in front of one stage as soon as doors open, and hang out there until the night is over.
- Going With A Group
Festivals are always fun if you can get a group of people to go together. Even if you’re just going with one other person, you may end up seeing different bands throughout the day. This is where cell phones come in handy. Cell reception can be spotty at some festivals, and batteries can always die, so it’s best to set up a meeting time and place before you go.
- Have Fun!
Above all, you should have fun! Even if something goes wrong, it’s still a day or weekend dedicated to music. You can see some of your favorite bands and find a few new ones. You can hang out with old friends and meet new people too.
Post by Anna Rhodes
What advice do you have for festival season? Comment below.
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