It’s hard to say no to the fun and festivities of a summer music festival, but without the right attitude and supplies, you could end up sunburned and grumpy. Whether you head to Bonnaroo or Coachella, most festivals involve summer heat, long days, and tricky packing. All it takes is a well-prepared bag and a cheery outlook to make your experience the best one of the summer.

DO YOUR RESEARCH. Check out the festival website and know the lineup. Take a listen to some of the bands you don’t know. This will help you decide which bands you have no interest in, and which bands you might like live. Get excited about seeing new music! Also: take note of what the festival rules and regulations might be. Bring sealed water bottles and snacks in clear bags just to be safe.

TAKE ADVANTAGE. Make sure to take advantage of everything your festival has to offer. If there is a campground for the festival, save yourself some money and join in on the fun. You probably won’t get many showers, but you will make friends with your neighbors, hear group jam sessions, and be in the middle of the party. Besides, you’re never too old for roasting marshmallows around the fire.


PLAN AHEAD. If you are going with a group of people, look at the festival schedule ahead of time. If someone in your group is interested in the same shows as you are, stick with them throughout the day. Decide how to split up for any major conflicts. Have a protocol in case a member of the group gets separated. Carry a note card with everyone’s phone numbers on it in case your phone dies and you need to use someone else’s.

PACK SMART. Most festivals last all day and do not allow re-entry, so make sure you have all of your essentials on hand. Sunscreen is a must, as well as hand sanitizer, a refillable water bottle, and sunglasses. Festival grounds tend to be dirty and dusty, so keep face wipes and moisturizer in your bag to freshen up throughout the day. Pack a printed festival guide (most festivals offer one at entry) to read during downtime.

DRESS IN LAYERS. Although most festivals are under the heat of the summer sun, you should be prepared for a change in weather. It may be shorts and tank top weather, but pack a lightweight pair of leggings and a sweater in case a sudden storm hits or for the evening chill. Even if it’s sweltering during the day, it can cool off dramatically by the time the concerts end at 1 or 2 a.m.

BE FLEXIBLE. Don’t go to a festival to only see your favorite band of all time. Keep an open mind. There will be bands that you are familiar with, but discovering new and upcoming musicians will make your experience all the more worthwhile. When your favorite bands aren’t playing, wander around to smaller stages and see if you like what you hear. Don’t be afraid to strike out on your own if your friends would rather stay in one spot. You’ll be glad you did when you discover a great new band that none of your friends knew about.

MAKE FRIENDS. Don’t be afraid to be friendly with other festival-goers. They usually have carefree mentalities and are easy to make friends with. Downtime between shows is a great time to get to know new comrades. Plus, you already have something in common.

LET LOOSE. This is not the time to be worried about frizzy hair or getting dirt on your shoes. Come with a carefree attitude and embrace the laid-back atmosphere. Everyone is in the same boat, so go with the flow and don’t bring the mood down by complaining. Try to have fun even when you aren’t a fan of the band. Festivals are one big party and it’s exhausting to be uber critical all the time.

DON’T FORGET TO EAT! AND DRINK! While you may want to stand in the front row at the main stage all day long, make sure to get enough food and water throughout the day. Festival food prices are often ludicrous. Bring plenty of energy bars and snacks (trail mix stays tasty in the heat) with you, especially if you are going to be spending money on beer or $14 frozen margaritas. Take plenty of water breaks and find a spot in the shade to relax if the heat or sun is too overbearing. Avoid dehydration and hunger and you will be ready to rock out all day.

BE BOLD. Music Festivals are a great place to spot and meet your favorite artists. Many artists like to enjoy the festival before or after they play and will be roaming around just like the rest of us. If you see an artist that you like, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and show your appreciation. Just don’t open the conversation with “I love you!”

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