Festival Survival Guide Part 2: the Do’s and Don’ts

Cristina Peralta

Jul. 14, 2017

Festivals. From Neon Desert to Desert Daze, Burger Boogaloo to CRSSD Fest, these open air kaleidoscopes of dawn-to-dusk entertainment are more popular than ever. They’re also a world unto themselves, and to get the most out of your experience, you need a guide. Luckily, we’re here to be your Mr. Miyagi (without the wax on, wax off business).

Part 2 of our guide (here’s Part 1 in case you missed it) is all about getting the most from your festival experience while avoiding anything that could make it a bummer– for you or the people around you. Yep, we’re telling you what to do and what not to do.

Do these:

When you arrive, size up meeting spots. No matter how many charging stations or extra towers are set up, it’s nearly impossible to communicate in real time throughout the festival. Even with a phone, be prepared to connect with your squad the old fashioned way. Compare schedules with your friends and create a meeting spot for the end of the night as well as a meeting spot toward the back or sides of each stage for all the bands you want to see together. Agree on what times you’ll meet up. Study the map to find the most efficient ways to get between stages, as well as the “off the grid” bathrooms that will have the shortest line.

Wander around, make some new friends, discover a new band or act that you’d never heard of. Despite your best laid plans, you’re likely not going to find your crew at every planned meeting. So just roll with it. These will be the magical moments that you’ll remember long after the sun has set and the festival has packed up the stages.

Check the schedule. Many festivals have their own apps to help you navigate the crowds and make sure you don’t miss out on anything you want to see or do. Download it ahead of time and use it to plan out your day. For festivals without an app, take a photo of the schedule with your phone.

Time out your meals so you can give yourself an entire set length to decide, order, and eat. There has been a marked improvement in food quality at festivals over the last few years. In fact, sometimes the food is being whipped up by bigger names than the bands! That said, better food means longer lines. You don’t want to miss Drive Like Jehu’s triumphant return to the stage while your free range, paleo chicken ‘n waffles wrap is being plucked.

Here’s a hot tip: Look for the people giving away samples. Because FREE! Granola bars, coconut water, dehydrated veggie chips, whatever (beggars can’t be chooser, amiright?).

HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRATE! At any outdoor event you should refill a 24-oz. canteen 3-5 times a day. If you aren’t, you aren’t drinking enough water. Also, If you’re planning on being in the front row for a main stage headliner, remember to bring some trail mix and fruit so you have the energy to stick out a full day on the barrier.

While music is the main draw, festival organizers are increasingly going to great efforts to install amazing artwork across the event grounds. You’ll seldom experience large-scale installations like this, so when you’re ready for a break, be sure to take a stroll and see that meditation temple made from aluminum cans.

Last, but certainly not least: Enjoy the damn event, because ultimately, that’s what you’re there for. These amazing artists have travelled in vans, buses, cars, trains, planes, and probably canoes to get to this festival to perform for you. Go a little crazy, be wild but be safe. Dance, don’t dance. Just enjoy!

Don’t do these:

Please do not hold any flags or poles up while a band is playing or sit on someone’s shoulders. If you’re worried about your friends not finding you, see “Size up meeting spots” in the section above. If you want the best view, well, sorry, that’s just not good festival etiquette. If you are waving some giant stick (or your body) in the air, somebody behind you can’t see the stage, and that’s just not cool.

Be mindful of people’s personal belongings and space. If you need to cross somebody’s blanket to get to where you need to go, only step on grass. Be careful of things like eyeglasses, food, hands, etc. (But let’s be real, don’t be that guy who leaves your eyeglasses on the ground at a festival, because that’s just bananas.) Also, don’t roll out the king size blanket if you are only two people, leave room for others! On that note, you can save space for one or two people right in front of the stage, but don’t think you’ll be able to pack 20 of your closest friends in with you.

Leave the iPad at home. People didn’t just cough up a bunch of dough to experience a festival through somebody’s extra large screen.

Are you a super fan that knows every word to every song on every album for a band? Awesome! But save your vocal chords for cheering and key song moments, not for every word to every song the band plays. Other fans came to hear the band, not you. Unless you sound exactly like FKA Twigs. In which case, carry on.

There you have it. Follow these suggestions and the festival gods will smile upon you. You’ll be the master of your destiny, have a great time, and the thousands of people you encounter will shower you in hi-fives for being such a pro.

What makes us festival experts? We’re the folks working behind the scenes with the festivals you love, providing end-to-end event technology and on-site support to more than 200 of ‘em, including Life is Beautiful, Pitchfork Music Festival, Riot Fest, Beale Street Music Fest, and the Broccoli City Festival. Nobody knows festivals better than your friends at the ‘fly.

Looking for more festival tips and tricks? Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 3 of our survival guide.

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