A Beginner’s Guide to Music Festivals

School is winding down and summer is approaching, which can only mean one thing to music lovers…. Festival season! I started going to music festivals in 2013 and have been to three since: Firefly Music Festival, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza in that order. Fest’s are an amazing experience if you’re as into music as me, but there are some things you need to know if you’re a virgin Festie.


IF you’re camping it is essential that you leave as early as you can to drive or get there. It’s okay if you get there before the gates open, there will be plenty of other people there waiting too and it’s a chance to stretch your legs, meet some cool people and make sure you get the best camping spot!

2) Fill up your gas tank BEFORE you enter the festival grounds

Your car is going to be parked for at least four days and you’ll need that gas to escape to some air-conditioning or charge up your electronics throughout that time. You don’t want to get to the end of the fest and have an empty tank and no way out.


You know the essentials (air mattress, tent, chairs, water, blankets and backpacks) but here are some things I didn’t think to bring my first time around… A unique flag to mark your campsite or carry with you for when you lose your friends, an electric grill (food is expensive, bring your own), a battery powered radio for your campsite, glowsticks, glitter, body paint and other fun accessories – it’s not a festival without a little funky apparel, and last but not least an EZ Up tent – if you’re camping with multiple cars or people bring a canopy tent and set it up between your separate tents. It will make it feel more like a community when you all have a place to chill outside of your tents.

4) Don’t be afraid to go to the early shows

I know sometimes you don’t want to march over to the grounds at noon when it opens for a band you’ve never heard of… but they’re on the lineup for a reason. Go see those small acts early in the morning, who knows you could be like me and see Sam Smith at 12:30 on Friday and then see him win a Grammy a couple months later…

5) Be Friendly

Of course you go to festivals with friends and want to hang out with them, but there are so many cool and unique individuals that festivals draw in, talk to people, compliment their outfits or totem poles and make new friends. You’ll have a lot in common to start off because you’re both there.

6) Don’t day drink to get drunk

– if you’re over 21 (of course) DON’T get drunk during the day if you can’t bounce back. Sure the day is fun at festivals but the night is when things really come alive… you don’t want to be like this guy and miss an unbelievable headliner or late-night show.


If you’re camping or just there for the day (a la Lolla style) you will be thanking me for bringing baby wipes. When you can’t shower, you’re sweating your butt off and just in a dirty environment nothing feels better than having some baby wipes to clean yourself with. Things at festivals get sweaty, sticky and gross… baby wipes fix everything.

8) Festival fashion is all the rage…

but when you’re actually at one comfort is your key to success. Combat boots or rain boots will be your friend… if it rains there is mud, if it doesn’t rain there will still be mud. To avoid your feet getting gross ditch the cute sandals for some actual footwear. Plus, standing all day in heels (why people every think this is smart I will never know) or uncomfortable sandals will not make for a fun experience.

9) Don’t take anything with you you’re not okay with losing

Leave the laptops or expensive tech things at home. You only need your phone and a good camera (if your phone doesn’t do the job). Anything you DO take that you don’t want to lose though I would recommend locking in your car for the day. It’s harder for thieves to break into a car than cut open a tent.

10) Last but not least… HAVE FUN!

This will be an unforgettable experience. Expand your horizons and open your mind and you will have the time of your life. Be safe and smart with your surroundings and stay hydrated! If you follow these tips, I am positive you’ll be set for any fest!

* These tips only apply for camping festivals – Lollapalooza and other day fests don’t require camping so you’ll need to book a hotel in the area or stay with friends/family.

Alison McDonald

Enjoys breakfast for dinner, geeking out about various fandoms and driving around in her 16 year old car. If she's not at the radio station, check the nearest coffee shop.

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