Music festivals have become the most popular summer pastime for the charged-up, fun-loving, vibe-seeking millennial generation. The joyous sensory overload of seeing so many incredible music acts alongside so many happy people is much more memorable than turning yourself into a drunken lobster on a beach in Cancun.
The whole point of these events is to experience music, connect with other human beings and to celebrate creativity and love in all their forms. And we will assume that you are ready and willing to do that in a compassionate and respectful manner, so we don’t have to tell you not to slur drunken obscenities at passersby, or urinate in public.
So whether you’re going to get your dank rave on at EDC or pop a quick selfie in front of the Coachella Ferris wheel, here’s a hard and fast guide to important things you need to get dialed in before you get your festival freak on this summer.
Pick Your Festival Squad Wisely
The squad you roll with can truly make or break your festival experience. Before assembling your elite crew of hardened rinsers, you need to decide what kind of time you’re looking to have. Are you going for the music? The vibes? The experience? Build your team around the objectives.
If you’re trying to stick to a militaristic schedule that has you pinballing around the festival grounds to catch every single act, you’re going to struggle in a team that likes to chill and take in the vibes. Balance is key. Patience is a virtue. Always be prepared to compromise.
The best festival squad is one that has a couple of savvy music heads, a few chatty socialites, and some distractible explorers.
They’ve stacked the lineup with like 50 acts you’d love to see over the course of the weekend, but unless you’re going on your own and going in sober, there’s absolutely no way that you’re going to be able to see everything you want.
Pick the ones that you want to see, make sure to space them out, and experience some new things, too.
Scope Out the Grounds
As soon as you get to the festival grounds, make a loop around to get familiar with the layout. If it’s a big festival like Coachella or Bonnaroo, you won’t be able to get your head around it straight away, but figure out where the important things are: stages, beer garden, bathrooms, medical tent, info point.
Try Not to Split Up
If you’re in a group of five or more, it isn’t the worst thing in the world if you split up for a while. It’s very liberating to shed some weight and become a more svelte unit, as you tend to interact with more strangers and go with the flow when you’re in a smaller group. But don’t split any lower than a duo.
Leaving someone alone, particularly at night when he or she might be a bit faded, is an absolute no-no. You have to watch out for one another.
Get a Solid Phone Charge in Before Each Day
Perhaps you want to take thousands of blurry photographs of every act or plunder your phone’s memory with increasingly sloppy selfies, but remember that you do need to call the inevitably MIA members of your squad at the end of each day.
So always roll up with a full charge, switch off the draining apps (we’re looking at you, Facebook), and enjoy the moment. You don’t need to document everything you see.
Pack the Essentials
Hat, sunglasses, chapstick, sunscreen, cell phone charger, cash, a hoodie or sweater, a poncho if it might rain. And if you smoke make sure to bring an unopened pack as some festivals forbid you bringing in open boxes.
Yah yah, you’d love to wear those super cute flats that are just a little bit too small, but be smart. And come on, when have you ever cared about anyone’s shoes at a concert? Never. No one cares about yours. They’re just going to get stepped on anyway. Always think comfort.
Don’t Forget To Eat
I don’t care if you’re not hungry – eat. Your body is in for a long day of abnormal levels of sunlight and stimulation. Get a substantial breakfast in and try to eat at least twice more throughout the day.
You Can Always Take More, but You Can Never Take Less
These could be the wisest words ever offered to anyone that has indulged in any kind of chemically lewd behavior. We’re not going to tell you not to do anything, but we will certainly tell you to be smart, patient, and informed of the risks involved. Drink water, take breaks and always remember that the security and medical staff are there to help you.
Go Off on Your Own
Yes, I know that I said not to do this under any circumstances at the beginning, but now it’s Sunday afternoon. You know the festival layout well, you’re not trying to get completely turnt, you’re pretty tired, and you’re sick of listening to your stupid friends argue over EDM vs. indie rock.
Disappear for a while. Either arrange to all meet back at a certain place or make sure you have enough signal and battery to hit them up later. Be smart, keep your wits about you, and make some new friends!
Girls, don’t get yourself in a position where you have lost your friends, and some creepy dudes have latched on. Guys, don’t be creepy. Drinking in the sun is not safe. Pace yourself, stay in the shade when possible, and drink lots of water.
If one of your friends or someone you happened to come across is struggling, take them to the medical tent. That’s why they are there. There will be no judgment, no legal or financial repercussions, and they are unquestionably the safest places in the whole festival. Don’t become a statistic.
Have a wonderful time and respect the vibes.