Planning on attending an outdoor music festival this year? Single artist concerts (plus openers) are fun, but a full outdoor music festival as long as 3-4 days is a whole other animal. Add the outdoor weather, elements, and increased crowd everywhere and there are some very important music festival tips you should know in advance to prepare yourself.
The information below is meant as a guideline and is not the end-all-be-all guide to music festival tips, but it is a GREAT start, is constantly updated, and will help you be more prepared than you were before reading this article. Before you check out a festival this year, such as Coachella, get yourself prepared.
Buckle in and let Stadium Help make your music festival experience great.
1. Pick your accommodations wisely: on-site vs off-site
After buying your ticket, the first decision you’ll have to make is where to stay, usually on-site right at the festival (if available) or off-site in a number of different options such as campground, hotel, resort, private house, or other. Choosing wisely is the best of our music festival tips because it lays the groundwork for your entire trip outside of the festival when you want a break from the music, people, and chaos.
Before choosing to stay on-site in the music festival campgrounds, consider what that means for you:
- Shortage of sleep. You’ll be in bed late and up early with the sun.
- People all around you. Music festival on-site accommodations are designed to fit as many people as possible, leaving you with little privacy.
- Public bathrooms and showers. You’ll be clean enough, but never truly clean for the duration of the festival.
- Harder access to replenish supplies. You’ll want to prepare better for the duration of the festival as everything will be overpriced to buy on-site and navigating out and back in will be tough, especially if you don’t have access to a vehicle.
- Quick access to the music. Not everything is bad, you’ll have the quickest path to the music each day.
- No waiting in line to get in to the festival each day.
- You’ll be amongst the party the entire time.
For a true festival party experience, nothing can beat on-site accommodations. However, all of the negative aspects above become advantages to staying offsite. Your age way sway you to one option or the other, depending on how much you value a good night sleep and a break away from the music festival atmosphere.
2. Pack appropriately
If you plan on taking a wallet and your phone in to an outdoor music festival for a 12+ hour day, you are going to have a terrible time. We’ve compiled a list of things that are absolute must-haves during the festival:
- A hat. You will be outside for many hours each day in the blistering sun and you WILL get burnt. Always wear a hat or if you insist on being stubborn, buy scalp sunscreen lotion to protect your head.
- You will want to apply at least twice per day, maybe even more.
- Day bag / back pack to store all of your things.
- Change of clothes or at the very least a light jacket for night.
- Research in advance whether water must all be bought on-site or whether free fill-up stations are available. Either way, bring double or triple the amount of water you have imagined in your head. You can never drink enough, especially in the summer heat.
- Comfortable shoes. When you think of a good concert you only remember the music. However, you’ll be doing an insane amount of walking at a music festival, so keep your feet comfortable and your body will thank you later.
You may only be thinking about the music right now, but these music festival tips and items above may save you a lot of headache after the festival is done. A festival isn’t like going out to the bar for a couple of hours, getting dressed up to impress. You are heading in to a marathon where being prepared will save you now and your body will thank you later.
3. Consider renting a locker (if available)
We bet you didn’t expect that you needed to pack so many things above and now you are wondering how you are going to carry it around in your day bag or store it for quick access. Luckily most music festivals offer locker rentals where you can store your stuff and come back to it In between music sets.
Rent a locker and store everything you don’t need immediately in it. Some music festivals offer keyless entry through the use of a combination or smart phone, which means you can share with a friend and each access the locker whenever it is necessary without needing to be on the same schedule.
Should a festival offer multiple locker solutions, find one that is central to where you will be walking or to the food. Either stop at your locker in between your travels from one stage to another or at the same time you need to grab money for food, which will minimize the time you are away from the music for.
Locker options have become more and more popular and is now on many music festivals tips guides so consider checking into whether you can rent a locker ahead of time online to get the most premium option for you.
4. Be smart about eating
During the show, you’ll most likely be forced to eat on-site. Expect all food to be over-priced, lukewarm, and generally disappointing. However, make sure that you are smart about what you eat to keep nutrients up and give you energy. Remember, a music festival is a marathon, not a sprint, and good eating will go a long way to helping you through.
Some concert food tips we recommend include:
- Choose protein. Everything on the menu will be loaded with carbs and fats and your body will become protein depleted throughout your trip. If given the choice of pizza or a burger, go with the burger for the extra protein and you won’t feel as sluggish and awful later.
- Grab a drink with your meal. It will be easy to forgot to drink during the concerts, so make sure you finish a bottle (preferably water) to prep you for the next stretch.
- Stay away from the deep fryer. Over the last few years, more gourmet food options have become available at shows. Stay away from deep fried to again help you feel better later on when you need the energy.
- Eat in the shade. Use your food time as a chance to find some shade or cover out of the sun.
- Consider heading out of the festival for one meal per day. This will give you a break from the chaos and allow you to recharge. Standard restaurant meals will have more variety and bigger portion sizes to chew on, which will help later. This tip is dependent on where your festival is and where the local amenities are.
Use your eating as downtime to recharge and refresh yourself for the next sprint.
5. Research your music in advance
You’ll most likely already know the headline performers (or else why did you get tickets?) but music festivals offer a chance to discover new artists and expand your musical palette. When the stadium setlist is unveiled, open up your music app of choice, such as Apple Music, and listen to the top songs from each artist you’ve never heard of. Make a list of each band that interests you and use the time before the festival to discover and play more music.
When it’s time for the festival, multiple smaller bands often play at the same time and you’ll have to make a decision on which band you want to see or whether it is a good time for some food and cooldown. Don’t head to a music festival for only the headliners – you’ll be fighting with everyone at the festival for those shows. Take the time to enjoy music you normally wouldn’t see. Not only will you get to see good up and coming stars, you’ll be a lot closer to the stage and be near a more authentic performance.
Smaller bands will often interact with the crowd more and stick around after the set to meet new fans and sign autographs. Take this opportunity to meet new people and create stories you can share later.
6. Arrive early to see your favourite artists
Have a look at how many tickets are sold to the music festival you are going to this year. Headline performers will draw 80-100% of this crowd, which can be over 100,000 people in some cases. If you think you can wait until the performance starts and then push your way past all these people to the front, you are in for some trouble.
If you care enough, show up for the headline performance over one hour before it begins. The crowd will be thin enough that you should have your pick of location before everyone else pushes in. Make sure that you have your food, water, and bathroom break out of the way because you don’t want to leave halfway through the performance.
You may miss a pre-headliner using this strategy, but the headliner is probably the reason you bought your tickets and you want it to be memorable.
If you are late to the main show, find a spot at the very back. You won’t be close enough to see them sweat, but the big video board is a better view than halfway up in the mix of people.
7. Put your phone away and enjoy yourself
You will probably get the urge at some point to pull out your phone and get a thirty second video of some cool new band you are watching. Stop yourself. Who really looks at their concert videos later on after the show is done? You’ve just wasted your time and missed enjoying a performance.
Someone within ten feet of you has a better camera and is recording a longer video than you are, rushing home to upload the video to YouTube. One of the best music festival tips you can get is to enjoy yourself. You’ll be able to relive the event later on through someone else’s lenses.
A music festival is a truly unique experience that some people never get to experience and most only get to experience once or twice. Don’t waste time “remembering” it with your phone. Spend time actually remembering the concert by following these music festival tips!
8. Use your phone battery wisely
At the music festival, your phone battery should be for essential usage only. Charging your phone takes time that you won’t want to waste so keep that in mind. Keep your phone on you for emergencies such as if you need to find your party and meet up with people.
Turn Bluetooth and Wifi on your phone off (unless the festival has a solid wifi connection). Both eat up a ton of battery as they are looking for new networks. As you walk around the festival, your phone will be constantly fighting for a connection.
Consider turning your phone to Airplane Mode as well. Everybody at the festival will have their phones fighting for bandwidth on the local cell tower and there will be heavy congestion. If you want to save your battery, turn it to Airplane Mode at all times. Reconnect your phone when disconnected from your party so that you don’t get lost.
Consider buying a battery pack for your phone for some extra power throughout the day. Battery packs are cheap nowadays and can double your battery life. Here is a good quality option from Amazon that will charge your phone FIVE times on a single charge: http://amzn.to/2DCxbD3
9. Drink water!
Despite mentioning it in both the packing and the food bullets, we put it here again. There is a 0% chance that you will drink enough water at your festival. Being outside in the hot sun will suppress your urge to drink water. However, if you want to stick around for the full 6-12 hours each day, you’ll need to stay hydrated.
In addition to water, it’s not a bad idea to buy some electrolyte tablets so that you make the most of your break time. These tablets will keep your energy high for the event and your body in a better position to succeed the music festival.
Do your research for the event to see if the venue supplies water fill stations. Plastic bottles are a pain and take up a lot of room in an area where personal space is a premium. If you can bring a big 1L water bottle and fill it up, its will be worth it. Even if you have to wait in line for a little bit, you’ll be thankful for this festival tip.
A good strategy is to fill your 1L bottle up and chug it as fast as you can in the lineup. Then, fill it up again as you set off back to your locker or wherever you are going.
10. Say high to your neighbour in the moment
Everyone at the music festival around you is there because they enjoy the same music as you and want to have a good time. Spend time at the festival getting to know your neighbours wherever you are. Exchange numbers, have a good time, and make some friends. You may never see them after the show is over, but enjoy their company for that moment.
Music festivals are often enjoyed in groups of friends, but don’t let your friends be your only source of fun. Otherwise when they go off on tangents, you’ll be lost and that’s no fun! Number one priority at a festival is the music and number two priority is YOU, so make the most of it with these music festival tips!
With these outdoor music festival tips, you’ll be sure to have a blast. Have a a bad ass time, be safe, and enjoy!
Check out a listing of music festivals and concerts you can check out this year on our home page!