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What To Expect At Music Festivals


The summer concert season is upon us, and that means one thing: outdoor festivals. These glorious events offer hours of brilliant fun and adventure if you come prepared and avoid the pitfalls. These top survival tips will help.

1. Do your research

Learn as much as you can about the festival, its policies and surrounding area ahead of time. Go to the general information or FAQs section of the festival’s main website to get maps, transportation information, and a list of what you can and should pack, as well as items prohibited on festival grounds, which may include seemingly harmless products. For instance, Firefly Music Festival prohibits eye drops and stuffed animals, and Boston Calling Music Festival has banned glow sticks and umbrellas.

Before you leave for the festival, you should also download the festival’s mobile application, along with other travel and festival apps like Festival Ready and Yelp, to get minute-by-minute updates on the weather, discounts and other fun promotions.

2. Make a plan of attack

All major music festivals follow a pretty standard format: book dozens of amazing and talented acts, and scatter them across sprawling venue grounds. Once you arrive (or if possible, earlier), find a festival guide and make a plan for the day. Highlight any “must-see acts” and their performance locations and times. The general rule of thumb for catching any act up close is to arrive to the stage at least 10 minutes before the lead-in act closes their set. This strategy, however does not account for headlining acts, in which some attendees mark their territory first thing in the morning. Choose your battles wisely.

If you’re with a group, DO NOT depend solely on cell phones to touch base with one another. Large crowds typically mean poor service connection, and thus, more often than not, a drained battery that won’t last beyond sunset. Make it a point to pencil in a common meeting place and check-in times for the night.

3. Break your rules

Festivals are about adventure and discovery, so keep an open mind and don’t follow your plan so strictly. If you’re walking past an unfamiliar band, stop and take a moment to listen to what just may be next year’s headliner. Enter a random booth and discover new art, or even take a moment to chat with the local merchandise personnel (usually these individuals are just as passionate about the music and can even offer insider tips or information on meet & greets, etc).

And don’t be afraid to go at it alone. If you want to see a band that your friends aren’t as jazzed about, go for it—there are thousands of other potential companions standing right by you.

4. Follow health recommendations

DO NOT get too carried away with the free flowing spirit of festivals and sacrifice your physical and mental health. Passing out and ending up in a medical tent or hospital is the opposite of fun. Keep the water chugging by bringing in an empty, soft water bottle and utilizing refill stations (verify festival policy), eat meals regularly, and consider sunscreen non-negotiable. After some serious heat exposure during a Montreal Vans Warped Tour stop in 2010, trust me when I say that dehydration and a sunburn is the last thing you need while constantly rubbing shoulders with strangers.

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Marissa Framarini

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