Thanks to Burner Tiffani Weston for contributing this post. Some good general tips here for first-time festival goers. For Burning Man specifically, you should probably read the official Survival Guide as well – ‘coz their ain’t no water filling stations out there in the desert. Every other festival will let you buy a drink if you’re thirsty, or food if you’re hungry, and will provide trash receptacles for your waste.
Having a terrific vs. a terrible time at a summer music festival depends largely on how prepared you are. If you’re headed off to Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival or EDC New York, Chicago’s Lollapalooza or some other festival, you don’t want to worry about your health. Things like sunburn or dehydration can turn your trip into a disaster. Know what to pack and how to act to make the trip one you’ll remember for years to come.
Know What to Bring and What to Leave Home
Festival organizers are understandably concerned about security, and virtually every event has a list of items prohibited inside the festival areas. For instance, Lollapalooza prohibits large backpacks, glass containers, outside food (except water), hard-sided coolers, pets and chairs. Check with your festival’s website for its restrictions.
Dress for the Event
You’ll want to dress for both the weather and the spirit of the event. The best plan is to dress in lightweight layers, and bring a wide-brimmed hat or a baseball cap to keep the sun out of your eyes and off your head. You may want a jacket in case the evenings are cool. Festivals are famous for the sense of style among their attendees; you can find Spirit Hoods and hippie, raver and plus-size costumes online. Whether you’re going for a fun, “laid back” vibe during that Laidback Luke set, or a sexy, Vegas-style swagger for a Mickey Oliver after party, just be sure to plan ahead of time in order to stay dress-stress-free!
USA Today calls dehydration the number one festival health concern. When you’re enjoying the music and the community of like-minded souls, you’re not usually concentrating on preventing things like sunstroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration and sunburn. Bring enough water and visit the festival watering stations. Sunscreen is a must, even on a cloudy day.
Bring Personal Hygiene Supplies
With the number of people at these festivals (Bonaroo alone expects 80,000 attendees), it’s common for restrooms to run out of toilet paper or showers to lack soap. Bring your own supply. Handy wipes and dry shampoo are also useful.
Leave the Sandals at Home
It may seem logical to wear sandals or flip-flops in the heat of the summer, but closed toe shoes are better for a music festival. With solid-toed shoes, you won’t get hurt if an enthusiastic festival-goer tromps on your foot. You’ll also be better able to navigate the fields, straw and dirt that make up most festival sites.
To Camp or Not to Camp?
Camping on or near the festival grounds has its advantages. You’ll have little to no travel time between your base and the festival, you can immerse yourself in the spirit of the event—and, it’s usually cheaper than staying in a hotel. However, camping does have its drawbacks. Rainy weather can turn your camping adventure into a nightmare, and you’ll have to share the shower and restroom facilities with scores of other campers. Plus, the all-night partying can sometimes make sleep nearly impossible.
Leave No Trace
That old camping adage applies to music festivals, too, whether you’re camping or not. Make sure that you dispose of all of your trash properly, and leave the festival site as pristine (or even better) than you found it.