Music Festival Survival Guide
Prepare yourself for the best time possible at your favorite fest.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: June 21st, 2012
estival time is here, which means spending a day or more in the sun rocking out to band after band, fighting crowds, waiting in Port-A-Potty lines, and trying not to suffer heat stroke. Whether you’re just going for the music or you’re hoping to experience some sort of postmodern bacchanal, being prepared will help you have the best time possible.
Each festival has its own rules regarding what you can and cannot bring, and whether or not you can leave and reenter, but in general the more corporate the festival the stricter the policies, mostly because they want you to buy from their vendors.
So whether you’re a Burner or a Lollapaloozer, here are a few things you don’t want to forget to pack on your long, strange trip.
The only dress code for music festivals is “cover your junk” (unless you’re going to Burning Man, in which case, that rule is optional). You do want to dress for the weather, however, which in most cases will be hot, unless you’ll be camping in the desert at night, in which case, the “clothes-optional” rule is superseded by the the “holy-crap-it’s-cold-and-I’m-not-wearing-pants” rule.
Whether or not you can bring outside food is something that varies from festival to festival. If you’re heading to Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, or Coachella, you must eat what they’re selling or go hungry. However, Bumbershoot, Sasquach, and the Newport Folk Festival will let you bring in a small cooler.
Water is likewise a variable. Most festivals will let you bring in one or two water bottles, provided they’re sealed (no sneaking gin or vodka disguised as Poland Spring), but that probably won’t be enough to keep you properly hydrated, so be prepared to trade in hard earned cash for H2O.
Health & Welfare
All festivals have some sort of first aid facility, but you’d be wise to pack some bandages, pain relievers, and Neosporin for any minor slam-dance-related injuries. Probably the most important item to bring to any summer festival is sunblock, unless you want to spend the next few weeks sleeping in an upright position because your entire body has become one massive second-degree sunburn.
Depending on the festival, you may or may not be allowed to bring folding chairs or blankets to the event. Coachella has a no-blanket policy, but most places are okay with blankets. Most are not okay with you bringing your own seating. Chicago’s Ravinia Music Festival even lets you bring your own folding table, just don’t bring a tent, those are verboten.
High on the list of oft-overlooked preparedness items are those related to taking care of one’s business, so to speak. Bringing your own toilet paper or baby wipes is highly recommended, as the supplies in Port-A-Potties tend to get used and abused rather early in the day. Also, a flashlight, or a flashlight app on your phone is a good thing to bring to the loo—it comes in very handy when you need to see what you’re getting yourself into when you open that plastic door. On second thought, maybe it’s best you don’t look.
Only those festivals that allow you to bring coolers (which can be filled with the beverage of your choice) are willing to let you bring your own libations, but even ultra-liberal Ravinia won’t let you roll in a keg, the killjoys.
And of course, it goes without saying that drugs are off limits at every festival (okay, Burning Man doesn’t say anything about them one way or the other), although, curiously, we always seem to smell something faintly pot-like in the air at every festival we’ve been to. Someone must be burning oregano.