How to Plan For a Music Festival: 5 Tips Before You Go
Festivals take some planning, but it’s worth it for a weekend of music you’ll never forget. Here are some of our favorite tried-and-true festival tips, including how to get there, what to do if you lose your crew, and a packing list of the things everyone forgets:
Figure Out Accommodations
Depending on the festival, a camping package added to your admission price is probably your most affordable choice. Definitely bring a canopy—some of us learned this the hard way at Coachella! (And it’s just as necessary in the rain.) But if pitching a tent in a field with thousands of other people is not your style, look up other campgrounds in the area or go in on a hotel or Airbnb room together and look up the festival’s shuttle system.
Pack the Stuff Everyone Forgets
Coordinate ahead of time and decide who’s bringing what: a big blanket, sunscreen, backup phone chargers, rain gear, portable speakers for the campground. Bring the stuff everyone forgets and you’ll make fast friends: gum, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, an extra pack of tissues, a lighter, face paint, ping pong balls and a frisbee to pass the time between sets. Stock up on Gatorade or your favorite sports drink in advance as well.
Plan Your Festival Style
Even if you’re not the costume type, this is the time to have fun. The more playful you dress, the more you add to the overall festival vibe. For a bit of practicality, boots are a classic standby no matter the festival.
Pick Your Shows and Find Your Crew
Download the festival app, print a venue map, decide which acts you want to see. Pick one show per time slot and commit to it; there’s no point in trying to see more than one. You’ll just end up missing part of each show during the trek between them and end up with a crappy spot.
Pick a location at each stage that’s your go-to spot for you and your crew. That way, no matter what stage you’re at, you know where to go to find your friends or where to wait for everyone else to show up. But be prepared to lose track of your friends too, and that’s OK. You’ll meet tons of people and the moment you stop looking for your crew is when you’ll find them.
Choose Your Festival and Transportation
Now that you’ve got the basics nailed down, find the festival you want to attend. In spring, check out South by Southwest in Texas (March) or Coachella in California (April). A few summer favorites are Glastonbury Festival in England (June), Bonnaroo in Tennessee (June), and Squamish in British Columbia, Canada (August). We know we’re biased, but getting there by bus is the most affordable option. Check out these popular routes:
- SxSW: Bus to Austin from Dallas.
- Coachella: Bus to Los Angeles from San Diego. Then take the LAX shuttle bus.
- Glastonbury: Bus to Glastonbury from London.
- Bonnaroo: Bus to Nashville from Chicago.
- Squamish: Bus to Squamish from Vancouver.
If you don’t see your city listed here, you can search for more bus routes here. All that’s left is to load up your phone with music for the trip and catch some shut-eye on the ride there.