Music festivals are a social media staple of the modern age. Between Coachella, Lolla and Bonnaroo, there are so many extremely crowded and popular music festivals. They’re popular for good reason: Many of them get pretty amazing acts together, there’s always great food and fun activities and it’s a great experience to share with good friends.
However, for many people, they can be really stressful. They’re crowded and often very hot. They tend to double book many of your favorite artists, so you have to choose which one to see.
As I’m writing this, I just got back from O’Sheaga in Montreal. It was a great experience; I attended with three other friends, two of whom I wasn’t super close with, and I definitely feel like we bonded. We saw some great artists, and I ate lots of poutine, which was awesome.
Based on my experience there and at the other festivals I’ve attended, I would give a festival newcomer these suggestions:
1. Don’t be afraid of getting a little dirty.
Music festivals are more often than not outside, which means that you’re probably standing in the sun for a 12-hour day. You’ll be sweaty and probably get some grass and dirt stains. It’s not uncommon for an attack from a spilled beer to occur.
Don’t let these things ruin the experience. It’s life, it’s messy, and that’s OK.
One more day of work then two weeks of dirty fields, warm alcohol and non-stop music. FeStIvaLs ARe My LiFe ???
— Phoebe (@_phoebeburt) July 31, 2018
2. Plan who to see earlier in the day.
By the middle of each day, it’ll probably feel like you’re running back and forth from stage to stage, show to show. That’s intentional — the people who plan festivals put the more popular artists later in the day.
It can be really overwhelming getting from artist to artist in the moment, so it’s best to plan ahead.
3. Get on the same page with your friends.
Because artists at festivals are so often double-booked, groups of friends often want to watch different people. It’s important that the whole squad knows where the other is going. If you’re not willing to split up with your friends, you’ll probably have to sacrifice a few of the acts you wanted to see for a few you think are snoozers.
If you do choose to split (which I don’t really recommend), then be sure to designate a very specific meeting spot.
4. Learn to get comfortable in crowds.
This is the hardest for me. Music festivals can become extremely claustrophobic.
Learn to accept that the crowd is part of the experience: You’re connecting and enjoying a shared piece of art with everyone around you.
5. Have fun and stay safe.
Obviously, and most importantly, manage having fun with staying safe. Be sure to dance around while still keeping an eye on your backpack. Have a drink or two as long as you’re not driving.
Keep in mind that you’re having a unique experience and roll with the punches!