Festival Prep 101: Surviving Festival Season

Festivals are abundant during spring and summer months. Crowds gather to enjoy good music, great food, and magnificent art. Festival goers start planning for their favorite events months ahead of time, but when the big day arrives many aren’t as prepared as they once thought.

Prepare Yourself

Over 100,000 people attend the annual Coachella festival. Not all festivals are that grandiose, but the gathering can still be overwhelming. If you’re a rookie, you’ll learn early on that patience gets you a long way when maneuvering through the sea of congestion. Any time large crowds of people congregate in the same area there will be heated moments. There will be inconsiderate people.

It’s easy to concentrate on the fun times to be had at festivals, but there are a few steps you should take to make sure your fun isn’t lost in the long port-a-potty lines.

Don’t wait until the last minute to buy tickets. Festivals are known for being able to house large crowds, so you may feel no rush to purchase tickets. This could be trouble. Warm weather festivals are growing in popularity and tend to sell out faster these days. Buy tickets from reputable sources. If you choose online ticket resellers, be sure there is a policy in place to protect you from scams. Avoid ticket scalpers; the only reassurance that the ticket is genuine is the smile on the scalper’s face. Don’t trust it.

Treat the event like a final exam. Tests aren’t always fun, neither is failing. Knowing the policies of the festival, the sources of food and water, and restroom locations gives you a leg up in the game. Research the festival online to learn tricks and past grievances, if any, from festival goers to equip yourself for the fun times ahead. A good online source is Last.fm— search: festivals in the United States. Also, when you arrive at the festival grab a brochure. It will have all important information plus onstage times for all performers.

Pack a Bag. Many festivals, especially music festivals, are multi-day events, stocking a backpack with the essentials is a necessity. Pick a pack that is rugged yet comfortable, you’ll be attached to this thing through the whole festival. If not, chances are it will get stolen. Petty theft just isn’t the name of a band on the second stage.

When packing make a checklist—personal hygiene products, energy bars, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, prescription medicine, aspirin, first aid kit, etc.

When researching the festival be sure to check for anything that is prohibited. If it’s on your checklist, scratch it off or risk confiscation.

Protect Yourself

The first thing you should do when entering a festival is to locate the medical station. Chances are you will not assistance, but on the rare instance that you do, it’s good to know where to go ahead of time. If you have a preexisting medical condition, be sure to wear a medical id bracelet. Give friends advance notice of what to do in case of an emergency. An ounce of prevention could save your life.

Festivals are oftentimes held in locations notorious for bad cell phone reception. Don’t bank on having signal. Set up a meeting place and time to catch up with your friends in case you get separated.


Sunscreen is something you should never leave home without when heading to a festival. Even on cloudy days, eighty percent of sunshine can still break through, bombarding you with harmful UVA and UVB rays. Look for sunscreen that contains zinc oxide as it shields against the entire spectrum of UVA and UVB rays. Bring lip protection, sunglasses, and a hat as well for protection.


As the sun can be your nemesis, so can dehydration. It’s crucial to stay hydrated. Some festivals have free water stations. Find them and fill up your water bottle. If you feel that you are becoming dehydrated seek help immediately.

Early Signs of Dehydration

Increased Thirst
Dry Mouth
Heart Palpitations
Lack of Sweat Production
Decreased Urine

It’s also important to be very cautious when accepting beverages from strangers. The simple rule is don’t do it.


Don’t forget to eat. It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels even. Bring foods such as energy bars, apples, dried fruit, and nuts. Avoid food that will succumb to the heat —cheese, meat, etc.


Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) will go on long after the band strums its last chord. Ringing in the ears will continue long after your camping buddy falls asleep after screaming, “Play Freebird,” all day. To ensure that you will be able to enjoy the music for years to come, play it safe and wear ear plugs. It doesn’t make you any less cool.


With warm weather you may be tempted to wear sandals. Ignore the temptation. Closed-toe shoes will protect your feet from rhythmically-challenged festival goers around you. Closed-toe shoes also give you an added protection against the sun. Feet are often neglected when applying sunscreen.


The afternoon heat may mock you for bringing a hoodie to a summer festival, but your body will curse you at night if the temperatures dip. You have limited space when it comes to packing for a festival, but it’s important to never forget that Mother Nature has a mind of her own. Arm yourself for one of her tantrums. Bring a rain poncho too.

Have an Open Mind

Getting a large group of people together and mixing in hot weather, long lines for food and restrooms, tight spaces in front of the stage can be a recipe for disaster. Understand that even with all of the planning, something will not go right. The people around you are at the festival for the same reasons as you—to have a good time. They are not your enemies. Don’t be a buzzkill. Enjoy the time, make new friends, and create positive memories.